Penda Diakité

Mansa Musso

(She Is King)



Mansa Musow (She is King) is a celebration of the women who played integral roles in the creation of the Mali Empire, now modern day West Africa. Rarely mentioned in history, many of these women have been lost in history’s shadows of kings, yet behind the scenes were the true wealth, backbone and driving force that transformed West Africa— from founding cities, winning and ending wars, to building empires. This body of work pays homage to strong women of Mali, without whose contribution there would be no West Africa as we know it today. 


From a lifelong journey of consulting griots and storytellers in Mali, West Africa, Diakite has created from the words of her people to bring this deep-rooted history to life.


Learn more:

Nana Trouba

60” x 60” x 2”

Collage, acrylic and hand engraving on Wood Panel

in 12th century pre-imperial Mali (now present day West Africa), Mansa (King) Sumanguru Kanté, the king of Sosso, was known to terrorize the surrounding kingdoms.


Nana Trouba, half-sister of Sundiata Keita, (future King of the Mandé Empire of Mali), would eventually help ensure her brother’s victory over Mansa Sumanguru Kanté.


“He is my brother and I will help him in any fight that he needs me,” she is known to have said.


Nana Trouba became known as the princess of all Mali.

Kankou Musa

60” x 60” x 2”

Collage, acrylic and hand engraving on Wood Panel


At the end of 13th century, a Mandinka woman Kankou gave birth to a son: Musa.

As he grew into a man, Musa performed great deeds and became a great leader, and was bestowed with the name of Mansa Musa (King Musa).

Buktu is known as one of the first and most successful entrepreneurs of the time. 


In the 11th century, Buktu found a brilliant idea to dig a well to accommodate the traffic and make money near a merchant crossroads in the western part of the Sahara Desert..


Timbuktu (the well of Buktu) grew into an intellectual hub of literacy, building the first library and becoming the top place in the world for higher education: growing the first university to teach physics, math, writing and poetry, and creating one of the world’s first libraries which People traveled from all over the world to visit.





MeeAn and balakononifin

60” x 48” x 2”

Collage, acrylic and hand engraving on Wood Panel

Do Kamissa

60” x 60” x 2”

Collage, acrylic and hand engraving on Wood Panel


(Carefully crafted with stampeding buffalos running through her body, the iconic silver horns and golden tail in her hand symbolize her submission made in exchange to free her daughter from the kingdom of Do and it’s ruthless King Mogo Jata)

Do Kamissa was the apple of her father, Mansa Do Samo’s eye. As a little girl, her father entrusted her with many powerful secrets of their ancestral line, including a special gift of Taana—the spirit of the Buffalo…


In her adulthood, Kamissa adopted a hunchback little girl she named Sogolon, whom she loved dearly. Years later, life faded away from Mansa Do Samo, and Kamissa’s nephew, the prideful Mogo Jata Kondé was crowned king of Do. Lost in his ego, the new king banished Kamissa from the kingdom of Do in the heat of an argument. Separated from her adopted daughter, she would transform herself into the spiritual totem of her family, the fearless Buffalo, to punish her nephew…

Sogolon

48” x 60” x 2”

Collage, acrylic and hand engraving on Wood Panel


In the continuation of the epic of Do Kamissa, Sogolon, the daughter of the fearless buffalo, carried a child in her belly who she birthed after 10 months.


Despite the great efforts of Sogolon, her newborn son would not walk or talk for many, many years. The son who possessed the spirit of the Lion and the Buffalo was named Sunjata, the Buffalo Lion. Sunjata would have a difficult life, but to him would also be granted a great legacy…


Buktu

60” x 48” x 2”

Collage, acrylic and hand engraving on Wood Panel

Shea Musso and Musso Koro Ba
48”x48”x1.5”
Collage, acrylic, resin, 4k gold leaf, gold leaf, hand engraving sealed on wood panel


Background is engraved with traditional Malian bogolanfini patterns symbolizing ‘dabiri so’ (successful relationships) homage/remembrance, creativity, courage & bravery) The body of the mother in this piece is adorned with images of the process of shea butter making.

Keleya
48”x36”x1.5”
Collage, acrylic, gold leaf, hand engraving sealed on wood panel



SHe Musso and Tamankali the dog

60” x 60” x 2”

Collage, acrylic, resin sealed on Wood Panel

Dajé Musso

48” x 60” x 2”

Collage, acrylic, hand engraving on Wood Panel


(Background engraved with traditional bogolan mudcloth patterns symbolizing the donso)

Dajé (meaning antelope) possessing the spirit of an antelope, could transform herself into a woman...


With the guidance of his mothers’ spirit, Her only son became the greatest Simbon (great healer), in touch with many spiritual medicines and remedies...

Sasumata Bereté
48”x36”x1.5”
Collage, acrylic, gold leaf, hand engraving sealed on wood panel


(Background engraved with traditional Malian bogolanfini patterns symbolizing wealth,


abundance & luxury)



Known as the most beautiful woman in the kingdom of Niani, the capital of Mande in the 11-12th century, Sasumata Bereté did everything in her power to keep her son as the one and only heir of Mali…

Mean and minima the serpent
72”x36”x1.2”
Collage, acrylic, hand engraving sealed on wood panel