Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


The Presidential Palace in Bamako is empty today.

We're sticking to our slogan this week, folks!  We bet none of our readers were following the insurrection and coup d'etat Northern Mali last week. Don't feel bad...it's pretty easy to miss! Just to give you an idea of how remote this place is...in Azawad, the fabled outpost of TIMBUKTU is considered a cosmopolitan capital!  Anyhow, the rest of the last week's events were painfully predictable and reflect a commonplace cycle in African politics.  First, a group of fierce-looking, machine-gun-totting soldiers packed into Toyota pickup trucks storm into impoverished towns.  Then they announce "regime change" and raid all government buildings.  Upon hearing this, the nation's leader (This time: AMADOU TOUMANI TOURÉ) flees in exile to the French Riviera.  End of story.

We here at the DUNER BLOG want to break this cycle!  So we are not joining in with the rest of the world!  We will not say "tisk, tisk," condemn the coup, and then walk away.  We are not issuing a bland statement like the US State Department: "We stand with the legitimately elected government of Mail."  Nor are we making a silly assessment like the African Union: "This constitutes a significant setback."  And we won't even mention what the UNITED NATIONS, the leader of wishy-washy diplomacy, said.  Not us!  Instead, we are going to look deeper into the issues at stake.  Why?  Because that's what we do here at the DUNER BLOG!

The Tuareg Homeland is in five current nations.
We'll start by looking at the group responsible for the rebellion, the  MNLA (Mouvement National pour la liberation de l'Azawad).  They want an independent state called 'Azawad' as a homeland for the Tuareg people.  Yes...these folks inspired the name of a Volkswagen Sport-Utility vehicle, the Toureg.  Why would you name a jeep after this group?  Because they're a bad-ass bunch. Ask any neighboring group...like the Bambara or the Hausa.  They'll tell you what everyone has known for centuries: THE TUAREG OWN THE SAHARA DESERT.  No one knows why they want to live out there.  No one knows how they manage to live out there.  But they do...and it's their desert!  However, the West disagrees.  It has never been a fan of nomadic people.  They can't be fit into the constraints of a nation-state.  In fact, they roam around from Libya to Algeria to Niger without checking their passports once!

The MNLA wants the world to understand: The African borders drawn up by European nations are horribly arbitrary and need to be removed.  All over the continent, ethnic groups have been thrown together in haphazard fashion or split up in new nations.  Then, people are told they are no longer Berbers or Wolof or Ashanti.  Nope...from now on...they are Malian, Senegalese or Ghanaian.  Never mind that everything else (language, religion, culture) stays the same.  Here's a quote from the website of the MNLA: "Fifty years of forced cohabitation with Mali are too much. This cohabitation imposed by colonial France has produced a number of damaging effects in the country...most of all the destruction of values and the Tuareg identity."

Tuareg people are beautiful!
Sadly, the MNLA movement has been shunned by every nation on earth, and all international organizations and bodies as well.  This means that soon they'll be votes in the UN, NATO and AOS, all calling for economic sanctions on Mali.  This is the last thing the world's 12th poorest nation needs, but they will likely still be imposed.  These will hurt all peoples unfortunate enough to be included in 'Mali'... as well as their intended recipient, the Tuareg.   It seems for the time being, this is how political and social discord is handled in Africa...unless of course you're South Sudan and you have GEORGE CLOONEY on your side!

No comments:

Post a Comment