A Gift from Childhood
Written by Baba Wague Diakite
Publication Date September 01, 2013
Baba Wagué is only four years old when he is sent to the tiny Malian village of Kassar, West Africa, to be raised by his paternal grandparents, according to the family tradition. He is most unhappy about this at first, but under his grandmother's patient and wise tutelage, he comes to love his close-knit village community, as he listens to his grandmother's stories, learns about his own history and traditions, and experiences many hilarious and sobering adventures along the way. He learns how to catch a catfish with his bare hands, learns the true meaning of the appearance of a snake in the granary, flees from an army of bees and mistakes a hungry albino cobra snake for a pink inner tube. And he survives, with trepidation and pride, his circumcision - a ceremony that brings together the entire village.
Finally, Grandma Sabou decides that Baba is educated enough to go to school, and he moves back to the city, where his family struggles to provide him with a formal education. But he brings his village stories with him, and in the process of sharing them with his neighborhood, he not only uncovers his immense artistic and storytelling talents, but eventually finds his way to America, where he embarks on a new life as a writer and artist.
Diakité's engaging storytelling style and bright, bold illustrations make this a beautiful gift book and a wonderful tribute to Malian village life.
Baba Wague Diakite
Baba Wagué Diakité is an award-winning artist, ceramicist, writer and storyteller. His book The Hunterman and the Crocodile was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. The Magic Gourd (Africana Book Awards Honor Book) and The Hatseller and the Monkeys (Aesop Prize) both received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. I Lost My Tooth in Africa, written by his daughter Penda Diakité and illustrated by Wagué, won the Africana Book Award for Best Book for Young Children. Diakité is also the author/illustrator of Mee-Ann and the Magic Serpent, and he is the illustrator of Jamari’s Drum (by Eboni Bynum and Roland Jackson) and The Pot of Wisdom (by Adwoa Badoe), all Groundwood titles.
He is the founder and director of the Ko-Falen Cultural Center in Bamako, Mali, an organization that promotes cultural, artistic and educational exchanges between people of the US and Mali through art workshops, dance, music and ceremony. He is married to Portland artist Ronna Neuenschwander and divides his time between Bamako and Portland, Oregon.