Baba Wagué Diakité of Mali on the importance of story and his upcoming offerings at the Earth and Spirit Council

program date: 
Thu, 03/08/2012

 Host Tami Dean speaks with local artist, writer, illustrator and story teller Baba Wagué Diakité, who will be giving a lecture on Fading From the Past: Ancient Mali and Beyond and a workshop on Why We Tell Stories as part of The Natural Way: Indigenous Voices of the Earth and Spirit Council.  Larry Hawk is also present to talk some about the work of Earth and Spirit Council.

The lecture is Friday, March 9, 2012, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the PSU Native American Student and Community Center, 710 SW Jackson Street, Portland, Oregon. Donation: $10-20 requested. No one will be turned away.

The workshop is Saturday, March 10, 2012, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 1838 Southwest Jefferson Street, Portland, OR. Cost: $50 (Register at

Baba Wagué Diakité introduces the epic story of the creation of Mali from the union of the Buffalo and Lion spirits. Their child Sundiata Keita, considered insignificant as a frail child, survives to fulfill a prophecy that unites a vast region known as Mali. Retold for generations, this epic gives insight into customs, values and wisdom of historical West Africa. Diakité will discuss how this collective history informs present day life of Malians and their place in a global society.

Writer, illustrator, sculptor and ceramic artist Baba Wagué Diakité was born in Mali, West Africa. He spent his early childhood in the small agricultural village of Kassaro. There he tended sheep, helped his grandparents in their rice and peanut fields, and listened to their parables and folktales as guidance in life. Diakité grew up drawing, first for his own pleasure, then for schoolwork and finally for part-time jobs. He first learned claywork after meeting American sculptor Ronna Neuenschwander, whom he later married. After moving to Portland, Oregon in 1985 Diakité soon gained attention as a ceramic artist and sculptor.

Diakité has presented drawing workshops and storytelling sessions throughout the United States, including the Smithsonian’s Museum of African Art. He also gained recognition as a storyteller, and began writing children’s books as well as illustrating. His first children’s book, The Hunterman and the Crocodile, won a Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award in 1998.

Diakité’s workshop, Why We Tell Stories, will introduce participants to his home country of Mali and discuss the importance of storytelling as a tool for imparting knowledge, tell short stories, and then open up the workshop to a writing exercise entitled "Flexing Your Mind: Collaborative Storytelling". More information about Baba Wagué Diakité is available at

Details about Natural Way: Indigenous Voices programs can be found on the Earth and Spirit
Council website


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