Mamadou Diabate

Percussion Mania

Mamadou was about 5 years old when his professional education began. His first teacher was his father Peneque Diabate, who in his days was considered the best balafon player far beyond the borders of the Samblaculture. His xylophone solo could be heard as the signal on Radio Burkina for over ten years. His older brothers, Sadama and Sibiri, who, today, are the most popular balafon players of the Sambla, also taught him. He was 8 years old, when he began to complete his apprenticeship with well-known balafon-players of the neighbouring cultures like Siamou, Tusia, Senufo, Gan, Lobi, Dagara and Bobo. Mamadou´s virtuosity - some people say, he would have more than two hands - he owes to his former teacher Daouda Diabate.

Mamadou was still a young boy, when he decided to extend his skills and widen my musical horizons with the help of modern or rather neo-traditional musicians such as Farafina, Sababougnoma, Frères Coulibaly, who later became world-famous. This happened against the will of his parents, who expected him to stick by his Jeli-Tradition. In 1988 they finally reconciled with him, when his father was looking for a suitable second balafon player for the National Cultural Festival (SNC) of Burkina Faso. During the following years they repeatedly won the festival‘s first prize. The video recordings of their successes are to be found in the archives of the Burkina-TV. In 1991 Mamadou met Ousmane Dembele ("Zoumana") from the musician-dynasty Dembele who was the same age as myself and played the jembe excellently. Together with Moussa Coulibaly (a member of an other important musician-dynasty) and Abdoulaye Dembele they formed a group which later became well known as "Landaya". Mamadou became the composer and the balafon soloist of the group. In 1998 we won the first prize for the National Culture Festival.