The Full Story
Founder Keita Fodeba, who was born in 1921 in Siguri (Republic of Guinea), did not live to see the tremendous on-going success of his efforts to introduce African-style drama to world audiences. Armed with a teaching degree from Dakar (Senegal), Keita headed to Paris in the mid 1940's, where he avidly researched theatre and dance. He founded 'The African Theatre of Keita Fodeba' in 1949, re-naming it 'Les Ballets Africans of Keita Fodeba' in 1954. He chose dance as his primary attraction because it allowed him to express many aspects of African lifestyle by using original rhythms created by numerous unique instruments.
The first 'Les Ballet Africains' performance was staged at the Theatre Etoile de Paris in November of 1952. It was an instant success. After touring in France, Fodeba brought his company to Africa in 1955 and produced an extensive tour among the French colonies of West Africa.
During that time, he was selected to be Minister of Interior of the Republic of Guinea and was later invited to be the head of Defence and Security of Guinea, during the country's war to gain independence.
After returning to Guinea, he published the poetry collection Poèmes africains (1950), the novel Le Maître d'école (1952), and in 1957, Keïta wrote and staged the narrative poem Aube africaine ("African Dawn") as a theatre-ballet based on the Thiaroye massacre. In African Dawn, a young man called Naman complies with the French colonial rulers by fighting in the French Army only to be killed in Thiaroye in Senegal, in a dispute between West-African soldiers and white officers. However, his works were banned in French Africa as he was considered radical and anticolonial.
Politically active in the African Democratic Rally, Keïta worked closely with Guinea's first president Sékou Touré from 1956, and in 1957 was elected to the Territorial Assembly. In 1961, Keïta was appointed minister for defense and security.