Yacouba Magassouba (born 1981 in Mali) is a director, puppeteer and event technician. He
was introduced to and trained in the art of puppetry by his grandfather in 1995 and his
uncle, the puppeteer Yaya Coulibaly with the troupe Sogolon from 2000 to 2012.
His work has taken him on tours and to festivals around the world: Burkina Faso, Spain,
Belgium, Canada, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Martinique, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Central
African Republic, Senegal, Niger, Congo, Guinea. Including for example, his commission to
perform the work ‘Tall Horse’ by the Handspring Puppet Company during the tour of 2004
throughout South Africa and Germany.
His desire to depart from the family framework and incorporate his own visions into the art
of puppetry led him to form his own troupe in 2010: the Compagnie Nama a mix of puppetry
incorporating dance and masquerade accompanied by traditional rhythms, chants and percussion.
The Compagnie Nama won the bronze medal in the category of Giant Marionettes at the
Francophonie Games in the Ivory Coast, July 2017 and is the only company in Mali to build
and perform with giant marionettes.
Since 2013, Yacouba has been the president of the association “Art, Marionette, Musique,
Clowns et Danse dans nos rues” (“Art, puppets, music, clowns and dance in our streets”).
Since 2017, he has served as the director of the festival “Rendez-Vous Chez Nous à
Bamako”, the first street art festival in Mali, with the fifth staging planned for November 2021.
In 2017, he took part in a training course with Terry Alban (from the École Supérieure
Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette – School of Puppetry) in Charleville-Mézières in France,
focusing on directing/organising street art festivals.
As a puppeteer and director of the Compagnie Nama, one of his main undertakings is to
train the younger generation in the art of puppetry; over a dozen courses have been
organised in recent years.
His plays combine entertainment with raising audience awareness regarding important
social issues such as social cohesion, diligent school attendance or violence against women.
His latest play “Le Chat Pèlerin” (“The Pilgrim Cat”) is a Malian-French-Canadian coproduction
and is about unity and peace, it reinvents and enriches the art of puppetry by
adapting it to the modern times and creating new “characters”, thus also preserving the
survival of traditional Malian puppetry.