Sotigui Kouyate (1936-2010)

Posted: September 29, 2012 by phermc10 in Film and its Actor

Sotigui Kouyate, one of the first actors of Burkina Faso whose cinema is a significant part of West African film industry with its establishment of the film festival FESPACO in 1969. He was the father of the film’s director Dani Kouyate, belonging to the Mandinka ethnic group, one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa as well as successors of the Mali Empire.

The members of Kouyate family serve as griots to the Keita clan since 13th century. Keitas provide amenities to the Kouyate in return for advice and help for various affairs.

Sotigui Kouyate was born in Mali on 19, July 1936 and began his career in acting in 1966. In the same year, he established a film company with 25 people. He appeared in over two dozen films. In Keita, he played the central role of Djeliba Kouyate.

After travelling in the United States and Europe from 1990 to 1996 for his story-telling theatre show, he said in an interview (October, 2001) as follows:

“ I’m fighting a battle with words because I’m a storyteller, a griot. They call us masters of the spoken word. Our duty is to encourage the Western countries to appreciate Africa more. It’s true that many Africans don’t really know their own continent. And if you forget your culture, you lose sight of yourself. Our strength lies in our culture. Everything I do as a griot comes from this rooting and openness.”

He won a Silver Bear at the Berlinale Film Festival in 2009 for his role in the film “London River”. Sotigui Kouyate died in Paris at the age of 74 on 17, April 2010.

Thal Sandy Tun


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