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Mamady Keïta

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Mamady Keïta (surname sometimes also spelled Keita; b. Balandougou, Siguiri Prefecture, Kankan Region, Guinea, August 1950) is a master drummer from the West African nation of Guinea. He specializes in the goblet-shaped hand drum called djembe. He is also the founder of the Tam Tam Mandingue school of drumming. He is a member of the Manding ethnic group.

Keïta was born in the small village of Balandougou, Guinea, in the northeastern prefecture of Siguiri, near the border of Mali. His initiation to the djembe started at the early age of seven, under Karinkadjan Kondé, elder master djembefola of Balandugu, who initiated him to the secrets of the djembe. Keïta was educated in the traditions of his village, learning the history and music of the Malinke people. At the age of twelve, he became a member of the first regional federal ballet of Siguiri after Balanka Sidiki, a recruiter for the group, came to Balandugu looking for performers.
At the time, Guinea was governed by Sékou Touré, who put special emphasis on Guinean culture through live performances and a system of local, regional, and national competitions that recruited the greatest artists of the land. During the National Festival in 1964, Keïta, then aged fourteen, along with fifty other percussionists and numerous other artists, was selected by Guinea’s Minister of Culture to form Le Ballet National Djoliba (The Djoliba National Ballet), which was intended to serve as a showcase for Touré’s revolution in Guinea.

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