Tag Archives: security

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Fatoumata Diawara – Bissa

Is the situation in Mali getting better? Or is it getting worse? How do we even attempt to answer this question? The common reference point for many is the 2012/13 conflict. What great achievements has Mali secured since then? In what way does the country continue to slide further out of control?

To concentrate temporarily on the good stuff, there has been one headline grabbing ‘break-through’ moment in recent weeks. Even more important than the Bamako-Segou Highway having almost been completed is that Mali has been declared “Ebola Free” after going 42 days without a new reported case. The virus claimed 6 lives and infected 8 since October. The resilience of Mali’s health system has been tested, and comparatively speaking, it has scraped through successfully…for now. Mali, for the most part remains a post-conflict, developing country and the region’s healthcare systems have been decimated by Ebola. Like every internal issue affecting Mali today, it must be considered within its international context.

Balancing and structuring a narrative about the national and international ‘setting’ of Mali’s struggles is done excellently in this piece by Andrew Lebovich. In a succinct and accessible manner, Lebovich reminds us of the complexity of the issues at hand, and indeed contributes plenty more questions to those that started this article – how can we measure success in Mali? Worthy of significant consideration are the issues of the Tuareg, the remnants of the MNLA, illegal drug trade, gangs, French intervention, regional diplomacy and trade to name a few.

One good bit of regional news is the return of the Festival sur le Niger for its 11th edition, at which Fatoumata Diawara is expected to play alongside an all-star cast of fellow Malians. In international news, a Malian-born man has been awarded French citizenship following his “heroic” actions at the kosher restaurant where he worked when it was attacked by a gunman, killing 4. The story of Lassana Bathily is a small beam of goodness is the misery that has racked Parisian society over the last month.

After a such a mixed update of all things Mali, a populist choice for Song of the Week has been made. The song has over 900,000 views on YouTube since its 2011 upload and following its release on Diawara’s first album ‘Fatou‘.


Fatoumata Diawara – Bissa

May events on Mali

Two events coming up in May on Mali.

Trafficking Networks and Threats to Security in West Africa: the case of Mali

LSE: New Theatre, East Building

8th of May 2013 – 6.30-8pm

An examination of the changing strategic security environment in West Africa and the effectiveness of the response initiated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with the support of the international community.


Mali in Transition: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

SOAS: Russell Square: College Buildings, Room G2

29th of May 2013 9am – 30th of May 2013 5pm

rganised by the Centre of African Studies and SOAS, University of London, with the support of the MBI Al Jaber Foundation, ASA-UK and Goldsmiths’ College, this conference aims to provide an interdisciplinary and research-based platform to Africanists from Europe, Africa and the USA, to initiate a debate about the causes of the present political and humanitarian crisis in Mali, but also its impact on the country’s social and cultural diversity.

The four panels will focus on the following themes:
  • Interdisciplinary perspectives on the crisis
  • Emergency crisis and impact of humanitarian action
  • Heritage and conservation
  • Historical perspectives and future scenarios

The conference will also provide an opportunity to present the work of Mohamed Alher Ag Almahdi, a Malian Tuareg artisan who trained in restoring ancient manuscripts at the British Library and subsequently helped with the restoration of ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu.