Dakar Senegal – Patricia Tang, an American music professor, reported today the death of one of African music’s greatest ambassadors. "It is with great sadness that I share the news of Mamadou Konté’s death on June 20, 2007, in Dakar, Senegal." He was 62 years old. The news is confirmed by Konté’s Africa Fête web site.
Mamadou Konté was the founder and director of Africa Fête. A Malian immigrant in France during the 1960s, Konté became active in fighting for improved living conditions for immigrant laborers. In order to raise money for this cause, he organized the first Africa Fête concert in 1978, which attracted over 10,000 people.
Soon after he began serving as producer, manager and agent for artists such as Touré Kunda, Manu Dibango, and Xalam. Konté organized Youssou N’Dour‘s first major European tour, and launched the international careers of countless African musicians including Salif Keita, Ismael Lo, Angelique Kidjo, Baaba Maal and Positive Black Soul.
Since 1995 Konté and Africa Fête have been based in Dakar, Senegal, always helping to support and promote new musical talent. The Africa Fête festival is held in Dakar every year in conjunction with World AIDS day.
Mamadou Konté believed first and foremost that music can and should play an active role in the economic development of African countries. He has helped to create laws to protect the rights of musicians and composers, and has led the fight against music piracy in Senegal and throughout Africa.
"Mamadou was an amazing human being with a generous heart and a witty sense of humor whose passion for African music influenced everyone around him. I feel very lucky to have known him and worked with him over the past 10 years. He was a close friend to many of us and we will miss him dearly," said Patricia Tang, Assistant Professor of Music at MIT.
To read more about Mamadou Konté and Africa Fête, or to express your condolences online, visit www.africafete.com.
Biography by Patricia Tang
Photo courtesy of Africa Fête