Welcome to Mali

Bamako airport (Photo by @glennagordon for everydayafrica.tumblr.com)

Bamako airport (Photo by Glenna Gordon for everydayafrica.tumblr.com)

Bamako doesn’t feel like the capital of a country at war. True, people are stressed, and the pace of life might have slowed. The city’s building frenzy has subsided. Ça va pas, but things are calm, even if late in March, far from cool. In the distant North, a fifth French soldier died over the weekend, and my tantie, a venerable hajja, cried for him. While the government here expresses its gratitude for French sacrifices — and its citizens their shame at having others fight for them — it refuses to say how many of its own soldiers have died in the most recent fighting, which is led mostly by French and Chadian troops. The press here gives the impression that the army’s battles remain first and foremost political and inwardly directed. Meanwhile, more than two months after French helicopters attacked jihadi Salafist fighters on the road to Sevare, more than one war is being fought in the distant Malian Sahara.  Continue reading