Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Tartit – Tabey Tarate

Two weeks ago we highlighted reports of thousands of women marching in Bamako. A close friend pointed out the similarities between these marches in Mali and those organised by joint Nobel Peace Prize winners Leymah Gbowee and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and their successful campaigns for peace in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Not only are their messages for peace and non-violent activism shared, but the imagery of women marching dressed all in white is a particularly striking similarity.

In an update on the issue of ceasefires and peace agreements Bruce Whitehouse, author of the excellent Bridges from Bamako blog, had this to ask: who wants peace in Mali? The size of the protesting crowds has grown significantly in two weeks to hundreds of thousands of Bamakois turning out to protest about the rebels and the international organisations involved. Through the article Whitehouse addresses another question; if peace (when defined as merely the absence of violence) is achieved, what will it look like and who will it serve? He points to answers found in an International Crises Group report:

“Mali is heading less toward lasting peace than toward a new phase of confrontations …Without the participation of the Coordination des Mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA)*, signing the Bamako accord will not guarantee a way out of lasting crisis…To the contrary, it could lead to a new phase of confrontations for which the two camps have prepared. This could be deadlier than last year’s. It would lead a generation of young militants, let down by the political process, toward more radical forms of engagement.”

Frightening stuff; a peace that brings more war. So that’s why here we look to Tartit for encouragement. Thousands of Malians, men and women, across their country are expressing their dismay on their streets. Tartit is a great ensemble group with everyone, all 9 of them, working together to produce a strong, focused sound. Scale this up to a national level would it be enough to bring the peace the country needs? With the stage set for further conflict it is hard to see any impact mass demonstrations my have.

But then again, people said that about Sierra Leone and Liberia too…



Tartit – Tabey Tarate


*the coalition of the most important separatist rebel groups.

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