The Malian crisis for the hopeless


Malians went to the polls last Sunday with the hope to change the course of their country’s history. In the modern sense of the term, Mali was the first African nation constituted in history. The nation and kingdom was first established around 1235 after the battle of Kirina which opposed the Soumaro Kante clan to that of Sundiata Keita. The victory of the latter was enacted with the Kurukanfuga charter which established the whole rules and organization of the new kingdom.[1]

Strangely enough, castes, brotherhood, and a culture of cousin and siblings of joke were also developed, creating harmony and good social cohesion between the different citizens, families, clans and even ethnic groups. But big Mali as the numerous griots of the country like calling it, first became known to the rest of the world in the first half of the 14th century. That is the period when King Kankou Mussa left Timbuktu for a pilgrimage in Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. According to different witnesses and historians, he and his convoy carried with them so much gold that the price of gold collapsed in Mecca for more than two decades.

The destruction of the First African Nation

If the eastward expedition to Mecca was a success for the renown of the nation, the interests it aroused within the Arab populations in North Africa was however going to provoke the collapse and partial dismantlement of the kingdom. The Malian Empire was succeeded by another black African empire: the Songhai Empire. In the 16th century after many attacks, razzias and then invasions, all by the nomadic Almoravid dynasty, and the battle of Tondibi in 1591, the Songhai Empire which included different black African Ethnic groups, was defeated. What used to constitute the Malian nation before becoming the Songhai Empire was finally reduced to its Bambara and Mandingo provinces.[2] Never ever again were the people of this region able to regain the complete surface of their vast former territory, even after the independence Mali from the French in 1960.

The Almoravid and the Tuaregs or The Slave traffickers

The Almoravid dynasty who signed the end of the height of the first African nation in history, were Berber nomadic populations originating from Morocco, and whose economy relied on trade, and exchange.[3] The goods they stole from the black populations, as it was often the case, were sold in the northern commercial city centers such as Marrakesh, or farther on the North East African coasts of Egypt and Somalia. Among the different “products” and “goods” they traded in the Arab cities and towns, there were gold, salt and more

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importantly slaves.[4]

I would like to stress on the following here. It is important to understand that no group of people in the world is nomadic for the sake of nomadism. There is always a reason, an explanation for it; in the case of the Almoravid dynasty, it was the trade of goods and slaves.

Independence Mali and first settlement of the nomads

It was only after the independence of Mali with its new frontiers designed by the French in 1960 that the descendants of the Almoravid dynasty known by then as the Tuaregs decided to become a sedentary community. After their cattle and last livelihood had all died due to several years of successive drought, they had no other choice than to settle down in the different new constituted nations such Mauritania, Algeria, Niger, and Libya. Some of them decided to settle next to the black populations of Mali and Burkina Faso who had been under their domination before the arrival of the French colonizers in the end of the 19th century. The Bella Tuaregs, or the black slaves of the white Tuaregs, were the first ones to become sedentary in the northern part of Mali. Both the black -or rather the darker colour of their skin- and their social conditions in Arab dominated regions made it wiser for them

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to settle down within Mali – a country with a black majority. They were joined by other black ethnic groups –the Fula, Songhai and Soninke and others … – who had fled the northern region of Mali after the 1591 defeat…

The Whiteman’s democratic system and the African changes

With the introduction of the European democratic electoral system, the last ones have now become the firsts, and this is especially true with Mali where to some extent minorities have become the political majority. Those who were exploited and subdued are under the Whiteman’s governing and electoral system the new rulers and decisions makers. Also, in the North of Mali, the Tuaregs who had, according to the ancestral tradition, power and were feared because of their habit of practicing razzias, are now, after having become a sedentary community, under the ruling of the very people they molested, and ill-treated. The reverse of the situation is without doubt one of the reasons and explanations for the Tuaregs unwillingness to be part of the same nation as those they, in the past, used to oppress.[5]

In the South of Mali, things have not remained the same either. For the Malian nobility in the Bamako region, going to the Whiteman’s school had as only effect to denaturalize, and alienate the original black man; hence, also, the decision many of them took to school and educate their former slaves and the lower castes instead, when colonial authorities asked them to send the children to school. As a result, the lower castes have also more benefited from the European and Islamic education systems than the upper ones. Today, they are mostly the elites; those with key positions in politics and business, and who very often are more likely to disregard that part of the Malian history, cultural tradition, and values they judge little gratifying towards them. Trying to buy themselves nobility by all means, including bribery in order to gain economic

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power at the stake of the rest of the population, is unfortunately very often their only objective. The current president Dionkunda Traore and his predecessor Amadou Toumani Touré many blame for the chaos in which the country has plunged today are seen by most Malians as personalities illustrating this new social class of former lower caste citizens deeply involved in business and corruption. This also explains the reluctance and criticisms these two characters face in public opinion in general.[6]

Other factors explaining the Malian chaos

However, saying that the caste system or the reverse of the situation between dominated and dominant is the only explanation for the Malian chaos today is not accurate either. The French colonization in that part of the African continent had no other purpose than to alienate the populations so as to better exploit the resources. Under the French domination, forced labour was practiced at large scale until 1947, in Mali, Burkina Faso, and parts of Senegal.[7] A close analysis of the origins of the Malian crisis also suggests that France’s role might, in reality, be that of the pyromaniac fireman. The Tuareg organization known as the MNLA organization which started the hostilities against the Malian government in 2012 is actually a French organization. Its headquarters is not located in Mali but in Paris; it was on a French channel and not the Malian one that they made their first declaration of independence on the 6th of April, 2012.[8] To be sincere, I am not sure that anyone can come to any French TV studio and declare whatever he or she wants without connivance or any kind of approval from the latter.

There is no doubt that with the French military intervention the Malian army and government have been put under guardianship. The French government dictates and gives the orders about what the Malian army and government are or are not allowed to do. Be it in Africa or in the Middle East, France has indeed always preferred to give power to minorities over the majority when giving independence to the different countries it colonized. The French legitimacy given to the Tuareg rebellion in the North of Mali can also be explained by their preference to deal with a minority in order to better exploit the recently discovered gas and oil resources in the region. For many Malians in and outside the country, the Malian crisis was planned, operated, and orchestrated by France.[9] This also explains the reason why the MNLA in Kidal is today openly protected by the French authorities who see in the minority group a future interlocutor they might sign exploitation contracts with if the planned partition of the country is a success.

The MNLA: an unreliable organization

If, as most African think, dignity is what distinguishes the human race from that of rats’, then a doubt can be cast over the MNLA’s belonging to the human race. Shortly after going into hostilities with the Malian authorities, the MNLA signed a pact and associated itself with some terrorist organizations pledging on Sharia Law in the whole of Mali.[10] These groups financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia have proven to the convinced Muslims that their imperialistic agenda was far remote from the true values of Islam. Instead of feeding the poor in the North of the country, and creating and paying for better Islamic institutions and professors, they betrayed themselves in investing in armaments to impose by force their vision of

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Islam, leaving populations quasi-uneducated. The Arab world’s support for the Azawad state and the terrorists’ Sharia law, besides their silence regarding the atrocities on civilians was also criticized by most Malians who eventually became well aware of some hypocrisy in the Muslim community worldwide.

The blame on the Malians themselves

But, if all kinds of stories can be told here and there over why all this happened; there is, however, no doubt that the first responsible for the Malian chaos and crisis are the Malians themselves. It is up to every nation and head of state to equip the country so that it is not easily penetrated and attacked by intruders. Because they were brain washed by the European fake values of freedom, democracy, laicité (secularism) and republic most Malians had rejected their African values for that of the Whiteman. Because of an unconscious complex of inferiority, they abandoned the Kurukanfuga charter as the basis of the Malian system of values, instead of keeping it and adding other more modern laws to it, as the British did with Magna Carta 1215.[11] I have carried out the experiment many times and it is amazing to see how poor and ignorant French are when asked to define what the “republique” is. The mistake of the brainwashed Malians is obviously to have tried to adopt and implement French sets of values and rules that were not even understood by most French citizens. It has to be clear; buying the constitution of the former colonisers or any other country and trying to make it yours does not work. On the contrary, it most often leads nations to inevitable chaos.

A bit of optimism

Mali is undoubtedly under guardianship today. Yet, there is still hope for a less disastrous future. Among the different candidates who were running for the presidential elections in July, Ibrahim Boubakar Keita appeared to be the only one with enough experience and respect for the Malian ancestral values. He is from the Mandingo ethnic group and belongs to the Keita clan, and, as for most of his clan and ethnic group, his position on corruption and the Tuareg issue is clear. If his election is confirmed by the constitutional council, it could mark the rebirth of the nation. One thing is sure, IBK as president could symbolize the re-establishment of the genuine African values and identity, and the burial of any form of imperialism and white supremacy or Touareg rebellion in the country.

Written by Dr. Moustafa Traore

[2] Djibril Tamsir Niane, Soundjata ou l’Épopée mandingue, Édition Présence africaine, 1960


[3] Histoire de l’Afrique du Nord, Ch.-André Julien, Publié par Payot, 1966

[11] James Holt, Magna Carta, Cambridge, 1992.

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