BAMAKO:– Pioneering Malian photographer Malick Sidibe, whose powerful black and white images of local life won him global fame and top awards, has died aged 80, his family said Friday. Sidibe's vibrant images of life in the Malian capital Bamako in the 1960s, when the country gained independence from France, were a social commentary chronicling both pop culture and traditional society. In 2007, he was the first African and the first photographer to be awarded the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice film festival.–AFP

His nephew Oumar Sidibe said the photographer had been ailing for some time but did not give details of when he died. "It's a great loss for Mali. He was part of our cultural heritage," said Mali's Culture Minister N'Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo. "The whole of Mali is in mourning," Diallo said.