Malick Sidibé’s death has passed
me by almost unnoticed
in the shadow of
Keita’s demise. But today a friend shared with me the TIMES obituary of him,
and I remembered with fondness the gentle and modest photographer whom we
commissioned to come to Djenné and take pictures of Hotel Djenné Djenno in
He was of course already a
by then and had just won the life time award
to Photography at the Venice Biennale.
Nevertheless, in order to commission him
I had to first go and find him in the crowded popular neighbourhood of
Bagadadji in Bamako where he sat outside his unassuming studio shaving with the
help of a cracked mirror. ‘Oh yes’, he agreed, he would come to Djenné to take
pictures of my hotel. I like Swedish people’ he said. ‘The Swedes gave me a
And indeed so they
did in 2003, one of the first of many prizes and accolades he accumulated in the last decade of
his long career.
I offered to fly him up with his
son and assistant from Bamako to Mopti- this was in the days of a commercial
air plane servicing this part of Mali- but no, that would not be necessary at
all he said. ‘We will take the Bani bus’. And so they did. This is Malick boarding the Bani bus: see blog August 20, 2007.
The couple of days that he stayed
with us were punctuated with amusing and interesting conversations: one I remember was
about his four wives, or rather about polygamy. ‘Well’, said Malick with just a
hint of mischief in his eye ‘ Wouldn’t it be just a little boring to wake up
next to the same woman your whole life?’
I agreed that it might be so but I asked him if he didn’t think that his
wives might feel the same about always waking up next to him? This he thought
was extremely funny...
He took his pictures with his
Hasselblad camera and they came out in Condé Nast Traveller and that was of
course quite a scoop for us as a new hotel.
At this time he also did our portrait
with Keita in traditional boubou.
Keita and I popped in to see him
in his studio sometimes when we were passing in Bamako and he also took pictures of
me in Malimali clothing.
I am so glad that we knew him and so
we were able to commission
him: RIP Malick Sidibé.