From Sweden, where he has lived for ten years, Mao Zybamba, Mohamed Ouédraogo in civil status, validly represents the national colors in the field of art, in particular music and storytelling. This native of Mankoula in the province of Boulkiemdé, says he believes in the power of the story, that of “allowing us to fix ourselves, to know how to behave in each situation of life and to make the difference between living, existing and being. ”

It was in the early 2000s that Mao Zybamba discovered the city of Ouagadougou, after 19 years spent in the village where he was lulled by the songs of his mother and the tales of his grandmother. After a quick visit to an establishment in the Tampouy district for accounting studies, he decides to “look for himself”, for lack of means.

After pulling the devil by the tail, he decides to get on the boards. “I threw myself into the theater to relieve my soul. When everything looks dark, you have to hold on to something. Me, it was the theater. I was trained at the Sagl-Taaba theater company in Tampouy with other storytellers like KPG. I also learned storytelling with Hassane Kouyaté’s Yeleen international storytelling festival, ”recalls Mao Zybamba.

During his apprenticeship, he also traveled across the country with his master. This is Charles Oubraogo, a famous Burkinabè artist and actor who has played in films such as Ouagadougou Zoodo or the Rotten City of Aboubacar Zida known as Sidnaaba.

Mao Zibamba on stage with Lamine Cissokho

Culture is not entertainment

“When I started out, I informed my father that I wanted to get into the cultural field. He said to me: you are free, you have my blessing, but it should not be made a profession. The beginnings were difficult. We crossed the city, from Kilwin to Wemtenga to tell tales. We were called lazy, ”recalls Mao Zybamba. He does not miss the opportunity to tell whoever wants to hear it that “culture is not entertainment”. “In the old days,” he maintains, “when a warrior went to war, there was always a musician by his side not to entertain him, but to encourage him and remind him of his responsibility.”

Love at first sight with Sweden

In 2009, Mao Zybamba begins a European tour which will take him to the Scandinavian countries. Seduced by Sweden, he decides to stay there. “Those who love culture accept differences and agree to discuss banal and taboo things. I integrated easily. I didn’t feel marginalized because I am an open man. In Sweden, I tried to understand their stories, their last names. Every human being loves when asked to tell their story. This is where identity and life begin. I have visited tourist sites that some Swedes themselves ignore, ”the artist, musician, actor and storyteller proudly boasts.

Mao Zibamba paid tribute to his master Charles Oubraogo in the Web TV studio of Lefaso editions

Bringing smiles back to the sick

The young Burkinabe is one of the first health workers who were trained in the care of patients with Covid-19 in Sweden. In collaboration with the management of the hospital where he works, he designed a project which consisted in bringing in artists to perform in the hospital courtyard, every Friday in order to bring smiles back to the sick.

From Sweden, Mao Zybamba does not forget Burkina Faso. He claims to have bought bendré, kundé and other instruments for the inhabitants of his village in order to continue to keep the flame of the tradition alive. “Communication and a spirit of openness are the greatest wealth that we can bequeath to children”, he is convinced.

“The tale allows us to fix ourselves”

For Mao Zybamba, art is a refuge for his soul, a place where he dialogues with himself and where he tries to understand people. And in a Burkina plagued by terrorist attacks, the storyteller thinks we need to go back to basics. He says he is convinced that “the tale allows us to fix ourselves, to know how to behave in every situation of life”. “The tale,” he continues, “will allow us to differentiate between living, existing and being. What is the point of running after wealth and power when you have no land? “

“Power, wealth and love must complement each other”

Mao Zybamba has also written a theatrical tale entitled “Unexpected Guests” which brings together power, wealth and love. “Part of what is happening to us is that people have misunderstood the concepts of power, wealth and love. These three elements must complement each other so that man can live better. For example, you have to be guided by an inner power in order not to commit rape. Why amass so much wealth if only to enjoy it with his wife and children and abandon his employees? Should we love, over and over again until losing our sanity, until loving the blood that flows? “Asks the young storyteller.

For the young storyteller, art is a refuge for his soul

This tale will be performed in French and Swedish in Iceland in 2022. An audio version will be produced and broadcast in schools in order to stimulate debate among the pupils. The wish of Mao Zybamba and his production team is to one day perform here in Burkina.

“Artists have too much ego”

When asked whether he maintains good relations with Burkinabè artists, the young storyteller will say that he has practically no relationship with them, except for a few people like the KPG storyteller whom he follows and appreciates enormously. He believes that most of these artists “have too much ego”. And here’s the reason: “I’ve been living in Sweden for ten years. I did scenes with other artists. You don’t need to be solicited to have contact. An artist should be open and not closed. Here in Burkina, we do not really feel the relationship between adults and children. We must be a family ”.

“The artist must be independent”

Mao Zybamba believes that artists should think “culture” and cultural entrepreneurs “money”. “When the artist finds himself an entrepreneur, culture loses its value. You can’t follow two hares at the same time. The artist must be the compass which guides the child, which reminds the old man of his youth, which obliges the politician and the rich to think of mundane things. But when the artist becomes a slave to those in power, then he can no longer say what he has to say. The artist should not compose a text while paying attention to what the person who has helped him thinks. The artist must be independent, ”he concludes.

According to Mao Zibamba, Burkinabè artists have too much ego

Before taking his flight to Sweden in a few days, Mao Zybamba has planned to make a new clip for his music lovers. This clip will be offered to him free of charge by the talented and prolific video clip director Ives Edgard Bonkoungou.

Fredo Bassole

Follow Mao Zybamba on YouTube through the following link:

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