Keita, Modibo(mōdē`bō kā`tä), 1915–77, African political leader in the Republic of Mali. He studied in France and taught in the French Sudan (later the Republic of Mali) before becoming active in nationalist politics in 1946. He represented the French Sudan in the French national assembly from 1956 to 1958. A strong supporter of African unity, Keita promoted the Mali Federation, formed in 1959, and after the federation was dissolved (1960) he was elected the first president of the Republic of Mali. He ruled until 1968, when he was ousted by an army coup.
Born June 4, 1915, in Bamako. Statesman and political figure of the Republic of Mali. A teacher by profession.
Keita graduated in 1936 from the teachers’ training school in Dakar (Senegal). He took part in the national liberation struggle of the Mali people, as a result of which he was harassed and frequently arrested by the colonial authorities. In 1946 he was one of the founders of the Sudanese Union Party; from 1947 to 1968 he was general secretary of the party. In 1956 he was elected mayor of Bamako and a deputy to the French National Assembly. In 1957–58 he was state secretary of the French government for overseas affairs. After the formation in 1959 of the Federation of Mali he headed the government; after the collapse of the federation and the creation on Sept. 22, 1960, of the Republic of Mali, he became president and prime minister. He was removed from power in November 1968, as a result of a military coup.