Today’s writing exercice is quite difficult. People who know me , know that i am an adventurer. I like to joke about the fact that I come from a lot of countries and my country is the whole Africa. But do you know that I don’t really know a lot about my own roots? I grew up in Dakar. My mom is from the Songhai ethnic group in the North of Mali, a mix of Tombouctou and Gao. My Dad is a Fulani from Macina and come from Mopti city. And the few I know in Mali is the capital city Bamako where a majority of my family is living.
When I was younger I loved reading and listening stories about Mali. I was happy when my Dad was telling me the story of his childhood in Mopti, the city bordered by the Niger River ; He is and his friends used to go fishing on the river.
As a direct descendant of the Askia Mohamed Touré, Emperor of the Songhai empire, Mum used to tell us the story of Tombouctou the mysterious city , Gao Empire and all the Songhai empire, how it was Wide, Wealthy and Powerful. I also read many books about Mali empire, Mali history and I have been particularly impressed by the story of Sundiata Keita and the Story of Elhadj Omar Tall when he came in Mali.
My deepest dream was to visit all those mythic cities. I wanted to see with my own eyes the Niger river from Mopti and imagine how it was years ago when Dad and his friends was fishing there. I wanted to see the Bandiangara escarpments in the Dogon country and imagine the story of El Hadj Omar Tall and how he miraculously disappeared in those cliffs. I wanted to visit the beautiful Djenne and the outstanding architecture of Djenne mosque. I wanted to visit a part of the legacy of Askia Mohamed, Timbuktu where people came all over the word to get books and knowledge , Timbuktu the mysterious city. I wanted to see the Tomb of Askia, a unesco world heritage in Gao.
What is hapenning to the Mali of Soundiata Keita? The Mali of Da Monzo Diarra ? The Mali of Askia Mohamed Touré? The Mali of Modibo Keita? The Mali of Seydou Badian Kouyaté? The Mali of Hamadou Hampaté Ba?
Since years and years now I don’t recognize this country anymore. I gave up the plan of those roadtrip I was longing for, I also surended to have one day a pirogue tour and a fishing time on the Niger river, Mopti side. I have to confess that when I am in Bamako ; everytime I think about visiting inside the country, fear stops me. Non ending conflicts in the country, many vestiges of the past destroyed. Nobody is feelling safe anymore.
Three years ago I lost a member of my family in the North, in Menaka in Gao region. He was a soldier, serving bravely his country. He was the friend of Everyone, He was the one we were asking for first once arrived in the Family home in Bamako. And one night enemies found them and killed them. When I went there during my last holiday in 2015, I was far to imagine that it was the last time I was talking to him. His family will never burry him poperly.
What is happening to the legacy of our ancestors? How many deaths again and again ? How many decimated families?
Last Saturday at least 150 persons have been killed in the village of Ogossagou near the border with Burkina Faso. 150 persons completely burned ; among them many women and young children…. An indescribable scene of horror. The massacre left the village in smoldering ruins.
The big questions is who are our (Malians) enemies?
From what I read, armed men, dressed as Dogon traditional hunters attacked the Fulany village. And from that one major assumption have been made: “Dogon are Killing Fulany… it is an ethnic conflict, a genocide”.
Like for real? Only the use of the word Genocide can lead to Genocid.
There is at least 20 ethnic groups in Mali living together since years and years, marrying, and having children together , joking and laughing about their differences. Among the new generation, rare are those who can say that they are 100% from one ethnic group. And this diversity is a strength. Fulanies and Dogons are living together in harmony since centuries. Searching enemies among us is breaking up our country and our continent.
I trust in this UNITED Mali, Seydou Badian Kouyaté described it in the national Anthem of the country in 1962. I trust in this ONE and INDIVISIBLE country even all the recents events seems leading to the contrary. I hope that the investigations will quickly identify the authors of this crime. Beyond that I pray for the end of these internal conflicts.
May the soul of all the victims rest in peace.
May these conflicts end , Mali heals his wounds and become a again this Maliba which our ancestors were proud of.