Tag Archives: war

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.

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Cheick Tidiane Seck – Fera Na Fere

It has been a long time since Cheick “The Keyboard Warrior” Seck made his way onto the Hub. Inspired by last week’s post about the ‘Festival Sur la Niger’, Ségou-born Cheick Tidiane Seck is making a fitting appearance. Seck is well known for his political beliefs and is especially outspoken on the issue of war and peace. These views are not confined to protesting against wars fought with guns and armoured vehicles however as they also extend to a range of issues including liberal globalisation. For Seck this outspoken attitude has not come with age as it is evident that his personality and political passions have long been a defining part of his character, earning him the nickname ‘Che Guevara’ in his early years.

As with Seck’s previous selection by the Hub, this week’s Song comes from his 2013 album ‘Guerrier’ (that’s “Warrior”, in French). There is a key, confusing, and ultimately troubling, reason for this. Over the last 9 months, since defeat in late May 2014, Malian’s have been dealing with the fallout from the Malian government’s failure to secure Kidal, a key northern-eastern town, from Tuareg rebel group MNLA. Frustration is mounting into violent outbursts again the UN Peacekeeping force MINUSMA, which has been authorised with the mission of stabilizing the country, re-establishing state authority and notably in expanding  “…its presence, including through long-range patrols and within its capacities, in the north of Mali beyond key population centres, notably in areas where civilians were at risk”. It is on this specific point in which government and international agencies appear to be having most difficulty.

As often happens in these moments of high-tension and conflict, some have decided to take matters into their own hands. This is a quite confusing and troubling development. According to a patchwork of reports, this has manifested in a new, also Tuareg, rebel group called GATIA. It appears that GATIA are a loyalist outfit, a “self-defence” militia made up of Malian army veterans and until recently has drawn no comment of condemnation or praise from Malian officials – despite its emergence in August last year. In what appears to be a very grim state of affairs the BBC reported the following:

Correspondents say there are strong suspicions that the government is increasingly relying on militia groups such as Gatia to strengthen its position against the MNLA in the north. A UN source told the AFP news agency that two bombers blew themselves up in the attack near Tabankort town while a third was killed before he could detonate himself.

It is the BBC’s use of the word ‘relying’ which is most troubling perhaps. Is the state of affairs so bleak, the government’s strength so shattered that they are willing to rely on the bloody, twisted, tit-for-tat battles of suicide bombers to win their war? Its a frightening prospect. One which the UN in an ever familiar role seems, at best, only able to spectate over. And with this news another vicious blow is dealt to that other prospect, throwing it long past the horizon again. That is, of course, the prospect of there being an end to the war in Mali.



Cheick Tidaine Seck – Fera Na Fere