Multiculturalism: “the positive side of Mali”
Paris 7th of April, it is four o’clock in the morning and I am just about to go to bed when I receive a message on my IPhone4: “The state of Azawad officially declares its independence from Mali (France24.com)”. Dream or reality? That is the question. I do not know what to answer yet. The long day I had with all its “ponder” and “wonder” is now blurring my mind. Is it that during my life time the country of my ancestors is to be split into two different countries?
On very few occasions, not to say only one, did I take the opportunity to visit my fathers’ land; not that I was not interested in it, but rather the circumstances of life, most often wanted it otherwise. 1993, my first and only trip to Mali, enables me to complete the personal research on my backgrounds started some 5 years ago through the reading of books of African literature. The five successive Empires: the empire of Ghana, the one of Mali and Songhai, the Bambara kingdom of Segou, or again the Pulah Empire of Macina spoke for their time, while my visit on that occasion gave me a true understanding of contemporary Mali.
Different peoples across time had had their moment of glory in the West African country, bringing on each occasion part of their culture while integrating those of others who before them had also known glory and supremacy. The Mali I was discovering in 1993, two years after the military coup against Moussa TRAORE and few weeks after the establishment of the country’s first democracy, partly resulted from this cultural mixture. Multiculturalism was without doubt the key word to describe the country at the time. In the early 18th century, René Caillé in his work “Voyage to Timbuktu” already illustrated the exceptional and harmonious cohabitation between the different peoples, cultures and languages in that part of the world. What had then happened for my IPhone to broadcast such news in that first week of April 2012?
At this stage
I find it important to underline that the kingdom of Mali was first created in the XI century as a response to the devastating slavery trade that ravaged the region at the time. Mansa Soundjiata Keita of the Mandingo ethnic group placed himself on the throne after declaring the Mande Charter also known as “Kurukan Fuga”. He converted to Islam and ordered the replacement of slave trade by that of gold as the basis for the economic system. It is worth noting that most of the new Muslim populations, especially those from the Tuareg ethnic group, continued to rely on the former arrangement for their livelihoods. This continued to be true even after Kangou Musa’s passage to Mecca, where his arrival with massive amounts of gold provoked the collapse of the market for many years, but nevertheless gave the Arab world another image of the black man, other than that of a mere slave.
Corruption: “the negative side of Malian”
However, in terms of organization, today’s Mali has not much to do with that of those days. Colonization and westernization has completely altered Malian realities and principles. The laws and rules of the ancestors have progressively been replaced by that of the imperialists and capitalists. To some extent the country that was first created by Soundiata Keita around 1235, often appears today as being at the forefront in the defense of the European values for the only interest of the Europeans; with the only difference yet, that corruption in Mali has become more obvious than anywhere else on earth. The lack of modern education associated with the loss of the old African traditions and values is without doubt what is plunging many African countries such as Mali in complete chaos today.
A nap or a rather a quick sleep, and three hours later I am ready to start a new day again. Later in the morning, in front of a coffee mug, I spend a couple of hours investigating and trying to collect information on what is currently happening in the country. My sources of information and contacts are unanimous; the last government was so corrupt that the money that should have been invested in armament for the defense and protection of the nation has strangely disappeared with no clue as to where. In other words before he was ousted from power, the last president was sending the young soldiers, totally empty handed and with no weapon, to the front, to fight against the secessionist Tuaregs. While the co-opted soldiers, at the top rank in the Malian military force were drinking their teas all day long, many soldiers from poor families with no connection or relation in the administrations were getting killed. For many families in Bamako, this irresponsibility from the government is a crime hence the support of the population in general for the military coup carried out by few low ranked soldiers against the government and establishment.
My conclusion: “Mali is one and indivisible” I often hear these days; however my research of the morning shows that the first source of division in the country is corruption, which creates individualism, opportunism and favoritism. In other words, Azawad and the partition of Mali is nothing else but the mere reflexion of a nation mismanaged through corruption. It is also indeed hard to expect much from an African nation that dropped its values and principles to adopt that
of the Europeans. The first enemy of the Malian integrity
is without doubt briberies anarchy which came with the loss of African values and principles. And it is clear that no matter how good the monkey is at imitating human beings, he will never better or replace the latter…