In February of 2004, Amidou Coulibaly passed away. We are very saddened and wish to express our sympathies with his family. Amidou was a passionate leader of artisans. As we mourn his passing, we thank him for his vision and guidance. An artisan himself without formal education, he served as the spokesman for thousands in his own country, in Switzerland and in the USA, appearing at major conferences including the United Nations. He was a strong and fearless grass-roots leader who fought to sustain his cultural heritage by promoting fair trade and fair treatment of his fellow-artisans.
Amidou Coulibaly, President of the Union of Craft Cooperatives of Northern Cote d'Ivoire (UGAN) is a traditional Malinke weaver.
Amidou began weaving as soon as his legs were long enough to work the loom; he was ten years old. Like all young men that grow up in weaving villages in West Africa, he began by assisting his father by winding bobbins and stretching threads for a new warp.
He began representing his fellow weavers twenty years ago at trade fairs in cultural centers and hotels in urban areas of his country and in 1983, he was invited to Europe as their spokesman. He was also named President of the UGAN Craft Cooperative that same year; now made up of 600 members; weavers, spinners, potters, bronze casters and wood carvers.
In July and August 1998, Amidou taught traditional Malinke strip cloth weaving to American fiber artists who participated in the convention of the Handweaver's Guild of America, held in Atlanta, Ga. He worked as an Artist in Residence at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art where thousands of visitors admired his fine skills as a weaver. There he was joined by his wife Nassouko, who sat in front of his loom spinning thread.