Plans for audiovisual programme in Mali

March 2009 -

Cultural entrepreneurship is rare in Mali, but it can be found. Young Alioune Ifra N'Dyae is brimming with plans. Plans he puts into motion. Not everyone is happy about that. "Originally I was a television director, but the opportunities available with Malian broadcasting companies are too limited. With Studio Blonba I have my own theatre and editing studio, and I am in the process of establishing an audiovisual training programme. I hope to have thirty participants who will sign an agreement as if they are being employed, and they actually will be. After three years I will close the school and transform it into a centre for animation films, editing, video games and on-line activities."


Studio Blonba

N'Dyae studied in Canada and France, then went to work in Mali. He borrowed capital and constructed a theatre that he also designed. "The space is perfectly suited to taping for television. Most of the income is generated from renting the space. Combined with the six editing stations, we are now better equipped than the national broadcasting company."

N'Dyae regularly organises concerts. Seun Kuti recently gave a performance, but the theatre also regularly hosts stage performances, especially by stand-up comedians. He has invited French performers, whose shows rapidly sold out. Next he coaxed a Malian radio personality to come to his theatre. "Because she was good at improvising, we developed a programme together. All three thousand tickets for the Palais de la Culture were sold. And there is still a demand, so she still performs here once every two weeks."

N'Dyae receives no subsidies. "Later maybe, when the training programme is finished, but it seems to me that the Malian authorities view me as a threat because I have some contacts that they would like to have. I was recently visited by two people from France. They asked if I would organise a music biennial in Bamako. I thought it was a great idea, but I wanted to construct it all here and not rent anything. I never heard from them again. The French want their own festivities. I am all for that as long as it brings jobs for Malians.”