Sidiki Conde

Guinean dancer and musician
Black man in African shirt and disabled legs singing into a mic on stage.

Photo by Michael G. Stewart


At the age of 14, Sidiki Conde lost the use of his legs as the result of polio. In his village in Guinea, West Africa, disabled people commonly were banished from their homes in order not to bring shame or bad luck upon their family, so he was sent to his grandfather's village deep in the forest. Knowing that he would not be able to participate in the coming-of-age ceremony if he could not dance, Sidiki reconstructed the traditional steps using his hands instead of his feet. He became so adept that he was able to travel to the capital city, Conakry, and form Message de Espair, an orchestra of artists with disabilities he recruited from the city's streets. In 1987, he was asked to join the prestigious troupe Les Merveilles de Guinea and he composed and directed musical arrangements for them as well as serving as director of choreography. While in Africa, Conde also worked as a musician and arranger with popular African musicians, such as Youssou N'Dour, Salifa Keita, and Baba Maal. In addition, he has made a special effort to teach workshops for Very Special Arts and to instruct other young people with challenges in life. In 1998, he formed the Tokounou All-Abilities Dance and Music Ensemble and teaches children in the public schools.

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