Mory Kanté

When Mory passed in May 2020, his last interview with me became the inspiration to work with the new generation of griots to "go global" while staying true to their role as truth sayers in their society and the world at large. 

In 2018-2019 I had the great pleasure of spending some time with Mory Kanté. His manager, Juan Yriart and I were working on a project for Mory to tell the story of the "Return of Soundiata," one small part of the oral history of the griots that Mr. Kanté had started while still with the Rail Band of Bamako in the 1970s.  

I took this video as a preparation for a professional filming, but my preparation turned out more sincere and intimate than the real footage, so I kept it. 

Photo shows Mory Kanté and his wife, Sira Kouyaté Kante at the Griot Festival, Paris, April 2018. 

In April 2019, Paris, Jeli Bakary Diabaté hosted a party for jelis (griots) by jelis in order to re-kindle jeli spirit in the diaspora community in France. Mory Kanté came and praised Mr. Diabaté for his good efforts in bringing the jelis together and for doing a noble act for the Manding people.


Mory had the chorus of women sing "Mangolu." He was explaining, with humour, that when kids are good friends they have trust in one another, "we sneak off to pick the mangos from the compound yard when the mangos are ripe."

So that no one knows what they are up to, the kids will sing to one another "mangolu, ka koro, mangolu, sita la, mangolu." It's time to pick the mango, because it's ripe for eating!

Translated and explained by Famoro Dioubate to Lisa Feder, November 2022