Malick Sidibe: Dolce Vita Africana

The life’s work of famed Malian photographer Malick Sidibe from the 50s through early 70s take us on a journey through a sweet era in Malian history, their new found independence from colonialism.  His thousands of images have become iconic and have won him the love of his country as well as international praise.  Malick is most known for his images of Malian street and nightlife, taken in the glory days of his youth.  These photos captured the carefree spirit of the Malian youth at the threshold of their liberation.

He began his career being commissioned by the rich who wanted to document their wealth.  His work took a new direction once he began to get invited out to the hip night clubs by local urban youth, who came to know him for his distinct eye.  I’m still grinning over the clubs’ quirky names, Las Vegas, Moscow, The Beatles, Tahiti, Tropicana.  Everyone was dancing, kickin’ it and enjoying themselves, and he followed them where ever they would take him.

Things took an unfortunate downward turn after the country was taken by a military dictatorship for several decades.  This did not deter Malick, who continued taking his photos ,which captured the strength and resilience of the Malian people.

It’s quite heartwarming to see him still sitting in front of his studio in Bamako welcoming clients, and taking photos of his small tribe of children at their compound.  So much art, culture and history captured through one man’s’ camera lens.  There is nothing like a creative who has endless passion.

“…I can’t imagine giving up photography.  I don’t look forward to the day I’ll have to give it up.  It means I’ll be dead.”

Check out the documentary on this amazing visionary:

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