A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘mali

[AH] Seven #alternatehistory r/imaginarymaps maps: Vinland, Mali, Korea, Poland, Balkans …

  • This r/imaginarymaps map traces a slow diffusion of Christianity westwards from a Vinland colony.
  • This r/imaginarymaps map imagines a transatlantic empire based in Africa, with the late 15th century Mali Empire extending its rule to Brazil and elsewhere.
  • This r/imaginarymaps map imagines a Joseon Korea that becomes the seat of a transpacific empire.
  • What if, this r/imaginarymaps map imagines, instead of turning east to Lithuania Poland turned west towards Czechia?
  • What if, this r/imaginarymaps map imagines, the Balkans retained a substantially larger Muslim population?
  • This r/imaginarymaps map imagines a Greater Denmark, expanding east and south.
  • Could Scotland ever have become, as this r/imaginarymaps map imagines, a maritime mercantile power?

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Sainte-Élisabeth, Montréal, Winnipeg, Glasgow, Bondy

  • The Québec town of Sainte-Élisabeth, thanks to long cooperation with their Malian sister community of Sanankoroba, is concerned about the outcome of the Canadian peacekeeping mission there. Global News reports.
  • The relatively low incomes of Montréal compared to other North American cities is one factor making it vulnerable to real estate price shifts. Global News notes.
  • Winnipeg, too, is faced with the question of how to protect its citizens from excessive unexpected heat. Global News reports.
  • The showpeople of the Scottish city of Glasgow are at risk of dislocation from their unique niche thanks to gentrification. The Guardian reports.
  • The hometown of the French World Cup team star Kylian Mbappé, the Paris suburb of Bondy, was on tenterhooks watching the national team play against Croatia. VICE reports.

[LINK] “In Mali and Egypt, as music goes, so does democracy”

Al Jazeera’s Mark LeVine has an inspiring piece about popular culture and its impact on democratic politics.

In the past five years, the West African nation of Mali has suffered through a military coup, an attempted countercoup and the eruption of a major insurgency in the northern part of the country. But the capital, Bamako, still pulses with the culture of music, from traditional kora and ngoni to slow Songhoy Blues jams and from Touareg rock to West African hip-hop. Two festivals ran concurrently there last month, the Festival Acoustik de Bamako and a Dogon heritage festival.

Meanwhile, Egypt is in the midst of the most invasive crackdown on citizens in its modern history, five years after the overthrow of the dictator Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of people have been killed, and tens of thousands have been imprisoned, tortured and disappeared. Police are breaking into people’s homes around Cairo’s Tahrir Square and searching their Facebook and email accounts, looking for anyone who might still espouse the goals of the Jan. 25, 2011, revolution. On once occupied streets, the music has gone silent. In the Sinai desert, an anti-government insurgency rages on, but the government has little incentive to end it, since it functions as a justification for suspending freedoms.

Why are these two countries in opposite circumstances five years after what should always have been understood as an Afro-Arab Spring? In theory, the situation should be the reverse. Egypt’s GDP per capita is triple Mali’s; its human development index rating, literacy rate and level of industrialization are almost double; and its life expectancy is 20 years longer. Egypt has a relatively educated population and a historically strong state that at least has the potential to govern and develop the country. For its part, Mali remains by almost every measure one of the poorest countries on earth.

The two countries both contain ungoverned desert regions, home to disaffected and marginalized populations who for centuries have been engaged in long-distance trade outside the bounds of state control. More recently, as the level of state neglect and broken promises became intolerable, foreign-influenced religious insurgencies have been able to infiltrate and take over some of these areas.

Mali is certainly not the economic African success story it was once described as, and its government and security forces are not free of corruption and abuse. Yet it is experiencing a renewed democracy and a cultural renaissance, both pitted against the religious extremism that nearly ripped the country in half. In Mali some of the most beautiful, complex and virtuosic music on earth is being weaponized in the struggle against Islamist extremism.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 4, 2016 at 2:52 pm

[LINK] “An Official Language from a Foreign Land”

Starting from an examination of the French language in Mali, Crooked Timber’s Juliet Sorenson starts an interesting debate on the utility of having a foreign language be a local official language. Neutrality in local cultural clashes is one benefit; links with the wider world and with the past are another.

French is the language of instruction from elementary through graduate school, the language of court proceedings and official documents. But according to linguists, Mali has no less than 66 languages spoken across its vast plain.

[. . .]

Many Malians have assured me that there is an upside to their official language: it is predictable and uniform, without favoring one native language or local group over another. To be sure, French is the language of Mali’s colonial past: France governed Mali as a colony from 1892 to 1960, when Mali and France agreed peacefully to Mali’s independence. While one might assume that this translates into present-day resentment, in Mali, yesterday’s colonizer is today’s ally: in January 2013, the French led a military campaign called Operation Serval to stop Islamist rebels aiming to take over the country. According to a poll conducted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in February 2013, 97 percent of Malians approved of the French intervention.

So perhaps an official non-native language is a useful thing. Nonetheless, the problem of illiteracy and inaccessibility remains. For these reasons, the role of local news organizations broadcasting in local languages is vital. In Douentza, where we work, the local public radio station broadcasts the day’s news in Fulani- the most widely spoken language in the area- daily at 6 p.m. Founded in 1993, Rural Radio Daande Douentza was originally founded to provide local residents with information about politics, democracy, and rights. In addition, the station offers programming on health, agricultural work, the environment, social issues, local and international news, local announcements and plenty of local and national music.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 10, 2015 at 9:46 pm

[NEWS] Some Tuesday links

  • Here on Livejournal, Elf Sternberg notes that the sort of homophobia that reduces same-sex partners to sex acts and anatomical parts is also really unflattering to heterosexuals, too.
  • The New Scientist notes a recent paleogenetic study suggesting that among the legacies left to Homo sapiens by Neanderthals may be lighter skin and straighter hair.
  • Bloomberg notes that growing official homophobia is making lives for GLBT people across Africa more difficult than ever before.
  • The Guardian suggests suggests that the growing crackdown on student visas in the United Kingdom may be alienating future professionals from Britain, and notes that migrants from Mali are going to Africa much more than Europe nowadays.
  • Al Jazeera provides background to the ethnic conflict ongoing in the Central African Republic and notes the popularity of Korean popular culture in northeastern India based–among other things–on shared race.
  • New York magazine notes the absurdity of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas claiming that Georgia in the 1960s was race-neutral.
  • In the Caucasus, Eurasianet notes that Georgia wants to join NATO to get its lost territories back (another reason not to let it in) and that Abkhazia has not benefitted from the Olympics as some had hoped.
  • Radio Free Europe notes that Serbian and Bosnian Serb migrant workers at Sochi seem to have gotten screwed over.
  • The New York Post traces the genesis of Suzanne Vega’s songs in different places around New York City.

[LINK] “Timbuktu’s slaves liberated as Islamists flee”

Sudarsan Raghavan’s article in The Washington Post from Timbuktu is the first article I’ve seen taking a look at the aftermath of Tuareg slavery in the Sahel, especially in the aftermath of the fighting in Mali.

Across this sand-swept city, hundreds of modern-day slaves are experiencing a sense of liberation, many for the first time. Nearly all the lighter-skinned Tuaregs and Arab Moors who for generations exploited them have fled the city, fearing reprisal attacks for supporting supporting the Islamists or the Tuareg separatists whose rebellion helped ignite the Islamist takeover of Mali’s north last year.

“Under the Islamists, blacks were exploited even more by the pink-skinned people,” said Roukiatou Cisse, a social worker with Temedt, a human rights group, referring to the Tuaregs and Arab Moors. “They told them, ‘We are with the Islamists. We are in power. We are the masters and you are our slaves. We will do what we want.’ ”

“Now, the slaves have profited by the pink-skinned people leaving.”

The jubilation underscores how deeply divided Mali’s northern communities became during the 10-month rule of the Islamists, who included homegrown jihadists, such as the Tuaregs and Arab Moors, as well as foreigners with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the terror network’s West and North Africa branch. A French-led military intervention that began in January ousted the Islamists from towns in the north, though a guerrilla war continues.

Under the Islamists, many Tuaregs and Arab Moors took advantage of their shared ethnic backgrounds with the jihadists and asserted themselves over their black neighbors. The widened rift between the communities could take years, if not decades, to close, residents say.

“It’s a very deep wound that could prove difficult to heal. It could fester for 10, 20, even 30 years,” said Salem Ould Elhadje, 73, a local historian, who has written four books about Timbuktu. “One side no longer trusts the other side.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 7, 2013 at 7:39 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Crooked Timber has two posts on David Cameron’s announcement of a referendum, hopefully, on British membership in the European Union, to be held in a few years.
  • Eastern Approaches had two posts on the recent Czech election, noting that the defeated candidate, Prince Schwarzenberg, was hobbled as much by his German associations as by his links to the previous government.
  • Far Outliers notes the Americanization of Buddhism, and of the Japanese-Americans who practiced it, in post-Second World War Hawai’i.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money’s Dave Brockington also comments on Britain’s relationship with the European Union.
  • Norman Geras notes the hatred of Mali’s insurgents for music.
  • Registan’s Nathan Hamm warns that a post-Karimov Uzbekistan might intervene on behalf of Uzbek minorities in neighbouring states.
  • Torontoist posted an excerpt from Edward Keenan’s new book about Toronto, Some Great Idea.
  • Might Iran buy water from Tajikistan? Windows on Eurasia notes the statement of interest.

[DM] “A few Friday links”

I’ve a post up at Demography Matters linking to some population-related news items, everything from Sweden’s growing population to the volume of emigration from Mali to the continuing baby boom in Québec. Go, read.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 16, 2010 at 7:50 pm

[DM] “A few links”

Hi, everyone!

I’ve a post up that gathers together from news links on population-related issues I’ve been accumulating for the last bit, everything from the need for a bigger Haitian diaspora to female empowerment in Germany and Taiwan to the plight of Mali’s European immigrants and China’s well-educated ill-employed. Go, read!

Written by Randy McDonald

January 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm