Our third day in the capital of Mali. We leave the peaceful Missira neighbourhood where the roads are nicely paved at 9.30 a.m. and head for the Centre de la Bande Dessinée de Bamako (Centre of Comics). We’re welcomed there by a group of bright, enthousiastic and dynamic young people. They are Georges Foli, Massiré Tounkara, Assitan Sanogo, Hawa Sémega, Mamadou Diara, Julien Batandéo, Baléari Kané. Most of them are ‘Bédéístes’ (drawers), some are scenario writers. Their pioneering project started in 2002 with a few workshops and activities to promote comic drawing. Some of the participants were clearly noticable for their talent. Interestingly, they continued working together and they even went to France as a group. One year later the initiative turned into The Centre de la BD, a fixed meeting point and well organized place of work, creation and formation for aspiring professional comic drawers.
In the early stage their work was mainly focused on commmunication with the people of Mali. Awareness-raisinig and educational vocation were central. In 2005 they organized ‘La journée de la bande déssinée médicale’.
But in order to achieve artistic recognition on the level they are aiming for it was important to move away from medical and educational themes, Increasingly they opted for work with more creative freedom. From 2007 onwards they organized ‘Le Salon de la Bande Déssiné’ every two years.
When we ask them to describe the Malinese style, they hesitate. At this stage they prefer to develop a strong individual style. Unlike in neighbouring Ivory Coast, the comic scene is only just starting here. It’s too early to make generalisations about a national style.
Though everything is moving quite fastly in the good direction, one of the main problems they’re facing is the lack of specialized publishing houses in Mali. We look at samples of their varied work and enjoy that so much that we’re reluctant to leave. This was a fine encouter. We discoverd a strong and promising team, young optimstic people who know how to work together. That’s a real strenghth!