BABA WAGUÉ DIAKITÉ

Baba Wagué Diakité was born in 1961 in Bamako, Mali in West Africa.  His mother gave him her father’s name of “Wagué”, which means “A Man of Trust”.  He spent his early childhood with his grandmother in the village of Kassaro for his first education.  There, he tended his uncles’ sheep and helped in his grandmother’s rice and peanut fields.  His free time was spent with friends in the bush; catching lizards and protecting rice and peanut fields from birds and monkeys.

Wagué grew up drawing–first for his own pleasure, then for schoolwork and finally for part-time jobs.  He first learned claywork however, after meeting American artist Ronna Neuenschwander, and moving to Portland, Oregon in the US in 1985.  There, he began using clay as his canvas.

Scholastic Press published Wagué’s first children’s book “The Hunterman and the Crocodile” in 1997.  It received a Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award.  His 2nd and 3rd children’s books entitled “The Hatseller and the Monkeys” and “The Magic Gourd” were published by Scholastic in 1999 and 2003 respectively. He has illustrated numerous children’s books including “The Pot of Wisdom” and “Jamari’s Drum” for Groundwood Books of Canada. Wague also illustrated a book written by his daughter, Penda Diakité, entitled “I Lost My Tooth in Africa” which was published in 2006 by Scholastic Press.  It won the Africana Book Award in 2007.  In March 2007, Groundwood Books published his 4th book, “Mee-An and the Magic Serpent”.  His most recent project is an autobiography, published in 2010 by Groundwood Books entitled “A Gift From Childhood: Memories of an African Boyhood”.  His childrens books have been published in numerous languages for worldwide distribution.

Wagué is founder and director of the Ko-Falen Cultural Center in Bamako, Mali, which enables artists and travelers from other countries to live, meet, study and collaborate with artists of Mali.  The Ko-Falen Cultural Center encourages cross-cultural exchanges through art, dance, music and ceremony to promote a greater understanding and respect between people.  Ko-Falen also manages education programs for youth of artisans in Mali.  Visit www.ko-falen.org for more information.