Festival Spotlight: Cheick Hamala Diabate continues the Malian giot tradition of storytelling

Cheick Hamala Diabate is a professional artist, musician, storyteller and a native of Mali, a country in West Africa. Hamala has spent his time in the US traveling all over the country performing and spreading “health and happiness around the world.” As a griot (West African troubadour-historian), his job is to preserve the genealogies, historical narratives, and oral traditions of their people. According to Hamala, “One griot is like a library. If one dies, it is like a library has burned down.” As a griot he works with the Mali embassy in DC to help Malians throughout the US make sure they know who they are and that they have not forgotten where they come from.


A professional musician, Cheick Hamala has been nominated for a Grammy and continues to make appearances in concert halls, festivals, performing arts centers and more. He is most famous for his expertise in ngoni playing. The ngoni is an instrument from West Africa that can be compared to a modern banjo. Hamala travels endorsing his CD, Anka Ben Mali Denou. He uses his music as a medium to unite his people, even though he is halfway across the world from his native country.


When asked the best advice he would give to our audience Hamala said, “Anywhere you go if you are good, you will find good people.” He spreads this message through his music. Anywhere he performs he willingly gives out his personal card and tells people to reach out to him if they are ever in need.


This year will not be Hamala’s first time performing at the One Journey Festival. As mentioned earlier, his job is to teach people their history and ancestry. Therefore, performing at the One Journey festival allows him to spread his message and show the importance of migrants and refugees. To see him perform live on June 25 at the One Journey Festival, RSVP on Eventbrite today!