Fatoumata Diabate

I completed my studies at the Centre de Formation Audiovisuel Promo-Femmes before joining the Centre de Formation en Photographie (CFP) of Bamako between 2002 and 2004. Since then, internationally known, I participated in collective exhibitions and carried out individual exhibitions as well. As a portraitist and a social photographer, my work focuses principally on women and young generations. In 2005, I received a Africa in Creation Laureate prize (AFAA) and in 2011 I received a Laureate prize from the Blachère Foundation and from the HRA Foundation. You can see more of my work on my


I have always been fascinated by the social value of the children’s tales. Since the beginning of time, they have been a powerful vehicles for transmitting knowledge from elders to children. Through allegories, parables, and metaphors, grandparents and parents have taught their children and grandchildren moral lessons. It is this journey to wonderland that I wanted to reproduce in images. I was inspired by a theatrical tale from a festival organized in January 2011 by Moussa Diallo, master ls Demba. These strange and ambiguous characters, half-human, half-animal, are heroes of our African tales, and breviaries of humility, wisdom, love and peace.

The tale helps us instill values such as honesty, generosity, and a sense of sharing in our children. The masks worn by these characters are not only a symbol of protection against attacks from the outside, but also the materialization of the veil of lies, misinformation and falseness.

Thus, this series is a reaction to a world where the human condition is weakened by the loss of cultural and moral standards, and where men become monsters to each other—the stories we already have been teaching so well. It is time for us to realize the value of these stories around the fire. As an old proverb eloquently says, the older hyena dung gets, the more it whitens.

"Nie a ta yoro min mbe a bila yee"

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