Djimo Kouyate - Founder - MAC - Kouyate Family - Wato Sita Project -Manding Griot Ensemble - Program Offerings - Resources
Akua Kouyate - Amadou Kouyate - Banfa Kouyate - Bintou Kouyate - Mady Kouyate - Oumou Kouyate- Upcoming Performances

Memory of African Culture

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Kouyate Family

As a performance project of Memory of African Culture, Inc., The Kouyate Family presents African cultural expressions emphasizing their family heritage in the Manding dialiya tradition. The Kouyate Family presents traditional and contemporary songs, recitations of Manding histories, self-accompanied on various traditional African musical instruments including the 21-string kora, and dances accompanied by the djembe and koutiro drums. Honoring their Dialiya heritage and the teaching of their father, Diali Djimo Kouyate, the Kouyate Family includes Mady Kouyate, Amadou Kouyate and Bintou Kouyate and are sometimes joined by other family members including Crystal Shakelford Kouyate (Amadou's wife) and their mother, Akua Femi Kouyate as well as other guest artists as they celebrate through music, song, oral history and dance, the traditions of their family heritage.

As in the Manding tradition of "Fa Kae" --that which is passed down from father, -- Mady Kouyate, Amadou Kouyate and Bintou Kouyate continue the cultural and musical path of their father, mother and ancestors as dynamic musicians and performers of Manding traditions. They are the 150th generation of the Kouyate lineage.

Born in Dakar, Senegal, MADY KOUYATE is a descendent of the Kouyate family of Dialolu, oral historians and musicians of Manding traditions that have honored West Africa for centuries, through their family tradition and artistry of music and verse that records the history of West African societies. Since adolescence, Mady Kouyate began the process of learning the tradition of his ancestral heritage, playing the 21-string kora. At the age of 16 he relocated to Bamako, Mali where he continued his study of kora music and the Diali (griot) tradition with virtuoso artist, Toumani Diabate. In 1993, he began his studies of music education and theory at the L’Institut National des Arts (National Institute of the Arts) in Bamako, Mali. Under Diabate's tutoring, Mady Kouyate began his professional career at the age of 19, performing with Diabate and other great artists of the Diali tradition throughout West Africa in the countries of Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Cote d'Ivoire. Mady Kouyate made in his first international tour in 2000, performing in 15 states throughout the United States and since has made numerous appearances throughout the US, particularly in the great lakes region where he currently resides with his wife and three children. Mady presently performs as a solo artist and with his contemporary band - The Heat of Africa, as well as with the Kouyate Family, and the Manding Griot Ensemble.

AMADOU KOUYATE, born in the Washington, DC, has studied and performed Manding music since the age of three years old. Amadou is a dynamic djembe and koutiro drummer. He also plays the 21-string kora, which he learned first with his father, Djimo Kouyate and other master griots of West Africa. He has performed with Mamaya African Jazz and the African American Dance Ensemble. Currently, Amadou performs as a solo artist, with his band Proper SKANKS, and as a member of Farafina Kan, the Kouyate Family, the Wato Sita Project/World Music Ensemble, the Manding Griot Ensemble, Urban Afrikan, Memory of African Culture, Dono Percussion Ensemble. His credits include performances at The Kennedy Center, The Smithsonian Institution, Lowell, East-Lansing and Dayton National Folk Festivals, DanceAfrica DC and Chicago as well as with The National Symphony Orchestra, Images of Cultural Artistry Performing Company, the production "Soul Possessed," directed by Debbie Allen and in Sweet Honey in The Rock’s premiere performance of “INDABA,” with the WPAS Men and Women of the Gospel. His musical talents have earned him many accolades that include artists-in-residence awards from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities grant award, a Special Talents Scholarship at Howard University, and a Musical Theatre scholarship at the Levine School of the Arts. Amadou has studied in Mali, Guinea, the Gambia and Senegal, West Africa with master musicians of the Diali tradition including Toumani Diabate. Currently, Amadou Kouyate is an Adjunct Lecturer of African Music and Ethnomusicology at the University of Maryland School of Music, an Artist-in-Residence at Montgomery College World Music Ensemble and completing a degree in African Studies at Coppin State University.

BINTOU KOUYATE, born in Washington, DC, is the youngest of her siblings and continues the cultural and musical path of her parents, Djimo Kouyate and Akua Femi Kouyate, and ancestors as a dynamic dance, singer and performing artist of Manding traditions. Bintou performs with Farafina Kan, the Manding Griot Ensemble, Memory of African Culture and Dono Dance & Drum Ensemble. Bintou is a teacher of the pre-primary level at Watoto Shule. She is an active member of the Ankobea Abusia Society. She is currently in training in massage therapy at Potomac Massage Training Institute and pursuing a degree in Hospitality Management at Howard University.

Born in Baltimore, MD, CRYSTAL SHACKELFORD KOUYATE began studying African dance traditions at the age of 15 years old and since 1999 has performed professionally with Sankofa Dance Theatre, a Baltimore based African cultural performance company. With Sankofa, Crystal has toured nationally at venues including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, Baltimore Museum of Arts, the Afram and Artscape festivals in Baltimore, MD and Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Crystal teaches children and adult African dance classes with Sankofa Dance Theatre. Wife of Amadou Kouyate, Crystal has joined the Kouyate Family sharing Manding African cultural expressions through performances and educational experiences. Crystal and Amadou reside in Baltimore, MD with their daughter, Iniko Naima.

AKUA FEMI KOUYATE is the Co-founder and Administrative Director of Memory of African Culture, Inc. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Arts Management and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Performing Arts: Dance from American University and is a recipient of a Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Award. Akua Femi Kouyate has studied African cultural traditions with several master teachers including her husband, Diali Djimo Kouyate, and has conducted postgraduate and independent research in African Cultural Studies at Howard University and in the countries of Mali, Senegal and the Gambia. She has served as a review panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and has presented at national and international conferences on African cultural art traditions and arts education. As an artist and educator of more than 30 years Akua Femi Kouyate has performed with several dance companies and has choreographed several works in African and modern dance idioms. Currently she serves an Adjunct Lecturer/Instructor for Howard University's Dance Major Program and the Associate Director of Local Programs - Education at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.


Born in Dianna, Senegal, Djimo Kouyate is a Diali, oral historian and 149th generation of the Kouyate family of Diali, historians and musicians, who have honored West Africa for centuries. Prior to settling in the United States, Diali Kouyate served the Cultural Ministry of Senegal for twenty years as a founding member of the National Ballet du Senegal, during which time he toured 59 countries on six continents. He served as instructor of kora music at L'Institute National des Arts. He directed and co-found Memory of African Culture, Inc., a cultural arts and education organization based in Washington, DC since 1983, and was the leader of Mamaya African Jazz ensemble. Diali Djimo Kouyate served as an Adjunct Lecturer of African Music and Ethnomusicology at the University of Maryland since 1996 to the period of his transition.

Since residing in the United States, Diali Kouyate performed as a solo artist, and with Memory of African Culture Performing Company, Mamaya African Jazz, the Manding Griot Ensemble and the Kouyate Family at various venues internationally and nationally. He participated in international exchange and artistic development projects in Mexico, Malaysia, and his home community in Tambacounda, Senegal. In addition, Diali Kouyate developed and contributed to the development of several musical arrangements for theatrical and dance productions at the State University of New York at Brockport, Florida International University, Indiana University, Catholic University, Duke University, and Howard University.

Diali Djimo Kouyate, a traditionalist of Manding culture, recognized family as his highest priority. He sincerely accepted his responsibility as father to his children and the children of his siblings whether biological, adopted or extended. There are many who acknowledge him as "Baba" and respected his teaching and guidance. Diali Kouyate's legacy is best described by the words of his son, Amadou: "As in the traditional context of Fasiya, that which is passed through the generations, I am a Diali. Often synonymous to the French word griot- a storyteller, I have inherited a duty far beyond the comprehension of any story. As the 150th generation of the Kouyate clan, it is my responsibility to preserve the history of the Manding peoples and civilizations, and hand this knowledge down to my children."

Diali Djimo Kouyate, Oral Historian of Manding West African traditions, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Uncle, Brother, Educator, Mentor and Friend, made his transition to be with the Ancestors on Sunday, August 1, 2004 at his home in Washington, DC. May the Blessings of the Creator surround all of those whose lives he touched, however great or small the impression. May we all have comfort in knowing that Baba Djimo Kouyate's presence in our lives will continue in the Spirit and through our thoughts and actions as we embrace all that he has shared and taught us through his example and mission.

For additional information, telephone: MAC, Inc. at

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