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Until recently, Mali was poised to play a significant role in the future of Africa, highlighting the power of it’s progressive culture. And yet, what is currently happening in Northern Mali should not be taking place anywhere in the 21st century.

Even beyond its cultural heritage, it has been evident that Mali has been one of Africa’s most subtle and peaceful nations, one with a stable democratic and secular tradition.

The great Malian empire of the thirteenth to seventeenth centuries was the wellspring of most of the cultural education in surrounding countries. Its cultural references were having a great effect in Africa. But suddenly it is as though a bomb has been placed there to destroy such a wealth of heritage. I think every single person in West Africa should be concerned about this. And we should be anxious as to how to bring back to the citizens of northern Mali their dignity, their culture, and their opportunities to build a better future for themselves and the continent.

No one expected this to happen in Mali, a country of such great tradition. But when things changed in Libya, there appears to have been no consideration of what the impact might be in the nations of the Sahel, which is only just to the south of Libya.

This is a complicated and longstanding issue, because some people in northern Mali certainly have expressed a desire for independence. But is this crisis really connected – as we are being told - with Islam? Or are individuals and religion merely being manipulated?

Is this seizure of northern Mali really caused by the reasons suggested? Are the true causes simply hidden in religion? Or is it because other powers want to control this part of Africa? The entire world needs to pay attention to the fact that this is a very exposed part of Africa, and to prevent the flow of weapons to it. Because this crisis was started by a very small amount of people, a few hundred. And then it began growing: so why are people hurrying from everywhere to join in? I have heard that Malians born in France are now going to northern Mali. This can take the problem to Paris.

I don’t think this is because of spiritual or religious belief. It is so obvious this tragedy is taking place because these people are very vulnerable, very poor, and therefore easy to manipulate. It is about power and controlling people.

But who is doing it? Who is behind this? It is very difficult to judge precisely what is happening. Among other things, it is hard not to believe that this Mali dilemma is concerned with the movement of drugs, money, and people-smuggling.

The people who live in northern Mali often have had no formal schooling. They need to be helped up to another level, where at least they can achieve a degree of education and see that they have their freedom and gain an understanding of the process of achieving that freedom.

Also, crucially, it needs to be made evident that in Mali women play a prominent role in society yet are now being pushed backwards in their development by bullying invaders who insist that women should not be educated. Of late, it has been inspiring to observe the leaps forward that are being made in Africa, changes in which women have been very much on the front line. But these people want to return women to the Dark Ages.

Timbuktu, the principal city in northern Mali, is historically a place of reference in the Sahel, an iconic name, home to Africa’s earliest university. Sadly, people who live there, and whose lives were starting to progress, are now living under a reign of terror.

Until only last year people of the region were improving their lives through education; and women were getting their rights to raise their voices and enter into politics, offering their opinion of how to develop Africa. But now such plans for development have had to be put on one side: all the positive policies that were declared as the millennium goals for Africa will be delayed.

Moreover, many people have fled northern Mali, but are now living in refugee camps, their normal daily lives utterly disrupted. If you are a refugee, you are not in control of your life. It becomes very difficult to look after yourself and your children without autonomy. It diminishes your vision of yourself when you cannot work and feed your family.

But those militants who have usurped power in northern Mali have no interest in how their actions affect other individuals: how they have been removed from all their reference points to everything they are and do, and from their families – instead, these refugees have been made to start a very hard new life.

So it is imperative that the African Union together with the United Nations act immediately. The world cannot wait to allow this to escalate: the situation is already desperate.

Last year women of Africa met in Mali to celebrate International Woman’s Day: not to play drums and sing but to evaluate the position of women in Africa now. Why did they chose Mali? Because the nature of the country made it very sympathetic to such thinking. Now that has become impossible: this annexation of the north of the country is destroying the intellectually astute role that Mali had carved out for itself.

But to get rid of a problem, you have to discover what the roots of it are. Who really are these invaders? What is crucial is to find out why they are really doing this. Who is benefiting from this situation?

We must create a strong plan to overcome these difficulties: to bring back peace, and return people to their homes. And once again to give power to the culture, and provide education for the young generation.

St Louis, le 30 Décembre 2012

A St Louis, Baaba MAAL invite les Africains de tous bords et les amis du continent de prier pour le retour de la stabilité sociale au Mali et à entrer dans le combat pour le développement en adhérant à la campagne carton rouge contre le Sida.

Baaba Maal qui s’exprimait lors d’un point de presse en prélude de l’ouverture de la 14e édition du fanal de St Louis a prôné l’implication de toutes les forces pour le règlement de la situation est au Mali. La situation qui perdure dans ce pays voisin n’est pas un cas isolé. Autant j’apprécie la guerre en Casamance comme un problème du Sénégal dans la partie Sud du pays autant la situation au Mali représente pour moi un problème de l’Afrique qui se déroule au Mali. De ce point vu, je considère que nous devons tous, africains et amis de l’Afrique, nous mobiliser pour le retour à la normale de situation dans ce pays de la sous région. Dans la même veine, Baaba MAAL a formulé ses vœux de nouvel en souhaitant que la stabilité et la cohésion sociale à tous les niveaux règne sur le continent en 2013.

Interpellé sur les Objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement, Le chanteur sénégalais nommé ambassadeur par le système des Nations estime que l’atteinte des objectifs est hypothéquée par plusieurs facteurs. Baaba MAAL reste d’avis qu’un pas important dans la lutte pour le développement pourrait être franchi en 2015 si l’Afrique adhère à la campagne Carton Rouge. Il a rappelé que l’ONUSIDA lui a chargé de diriger le programme culturel de cette campagne en direction de la prochaine coupe du monde au Brésil et en faire la porte d’entrée pour la lutte contre la pauvreté. Une mission que Baaba MAAL compte accomplir avec des célébrités du monde sportif et de la culture.

Intervenant sur le parrainage de la 14e édition du fanal de St Louis, Baaba MAAL a indiqué que son acceptation tient à sa reconnaissance à la veille ville et à la promotrice du fanal, Marie Madeleine DIALLO, avec qui il a partagé des scènes de théâtre à ses débuts dans la culture. Au-delà de la ville de St Louis, ce fanal initié depuis quatorze ans par Jaalore Productions constitue un événement qui peut contribuer au rayonnement de la région naturelle du fleuve par sa capacité de développement du tourisme et de rapprochement des peuples dont il participe à l’exhibition de leur diversité culturelle a aussi souligné Baaba MAAL s’expliquant sur les raisons de sa présence à l’ancienne capitale du Nord.

La possibilité d’associer le fanal à une édition de son festival ‘’Les Blues du fleuve’’ a figuré dans les perspectives annoncées par Baaba MAAL. Lors de cette rencontre avec la presse en prélude à l’ouverture ce Samedi, 30 Décembre 2012 de la 14e édition, Baaba MAAL a également indiqué qu’il travaille sur sa prochaine production musicale et sur son planning international qui sera caractérisé selon le leader du Daande Leňol par une série de tournée en Afrique et en Amérique en 2013.



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