March 26, 2012


To tell you the truth, I have been totally and utterly flabbergasted by the 'coup d'état' which took place in Mali last week. Or perhaps I should use the word "dumbfounded", - if only for the inclusion of the word that immediately springs to mind: "dumb". For how stupid can you get if you think that overthrowing the government of a respected and liked president like Amadou Toumani Touré is going to solve anything, let alone the trouble Mali is having with rebel groups in the v-a-s-t northern regions of the country?
A.T.T., 1991

The effect is as predictable as it is sad. Mali's reputation as a democratic and stable country, which was carefully built up over the last twenty years, is shot. The reaction to the coup has been resolutely negative, both from African countries and from influential countries like the former colonial power France. Inside the country Malian citizens are in dread of the present (with disorderly troops roaming the streets of the capital), and in fear of the future, with the food situation already getting perilous (prices are doubling from one day to another).

What can possibly have inspired this captain Amadou Sanogo to execute this coup? Does he seriously think that a coup is going to make an end to the "incompetence" he accuses A.T.T.'s government of in handling the Tuareg crisis in the north?
Personally I am inclined to think that if ever Mali had a government capable of resolving this long-time dispute it would have the very government that has been overthrown. Please get me right: I don't mean to say that I know all the ins and outs of the political scene in Mali. I am in all respects an outsider, looking in from the outside, - but still looking in....

The fact that A.T.T. also led a coup d'état, exactly 21 years ago today (i.e. on March 26, 1991), can not be used as an excuse for this coup. Even the fact that the Tuareg rising played a (marginal) part in the 1991 coup can not be used as a justification. The coup in 1991 came after a long period of protests against an autocratic government that had done its utmost to resist any form of democracy, and that had long lost the support of the population. A.T.T. can not be compared to Moussa Traoré.

For further reading about Amadou Toumani Touré I advise you to read the paragraph on him in the Wikipedia.

For now, I would like to share with you a cassette from 1991 (the year in which A.T.T. overtrew Moussa Traoré), bought in Mopti (the town where A.T.T. was born), and recorded by one of my favourites "vendeurs de cassettes" in the local market: Amadou Fofana (more of his cassettes in future posts). The subject of the cassette is A.T.T. himself. And I have no doubt the song is in praise of the man.
About the artist(s) I know absolutely nothing, apart from the fact that they sing in Peul.

Ganari 1991

And to cool myself down, after getting very worked up, I am adding this short relaxing video from the days when peace still reigned in Bamako.....


Anonymous said...

Hi Stefan

yes, Mali is unfortunatly facing a hard time, this year, beside the "coup d' état":
not only that the raining season wasn't bringing enough water, therefore the rice harvest in the Massina was 30% of the usual, but tourisme is very low, due to the "problem in the north" - so at the end of January, very few to none tourist were in Djenné or Mopti.

Your tape looks to me rather like beeing songhoy than fula music - I think I heard the singer calling Samba Cissé, the Ngoni or Hoddu-player and Maigha - at the calebasse another time....

but then you'll find many Maigha within Songhoy's musicians ...

Soumana, Atiya, Shaloum, Assadou... etc Maigha, so its difficult to know exactly...


Andrew Turner said...

Hi Stefan

Like you I am "an outsider, looking in from the outside" and my take on the situation is exactly the same as your's.

My daughter is working with handicapped and blind people in Bamako at the moment. The will now fly home early (I understand that the airport has re-opened) and the people she is working with will miss out.

Lets hope that peace and democracy are restored to Mali sooner rather than later.


aduna said...

You're so right!
This "coup d'état", one month before democratic elections, is a shame.
An example of how some few people manage to ruin more than 20 years of democratic efforts.
It's sad for Mali.

Pieter said...

Interesting insights on Mali @

(and, as always, thanks for the music!)


WrldServ said...

@Pieter: Very interesting indeed! Thanks for the link to this interesting blog.

I must add that the opinion expressed in his last post conflicts with the opinions I have collected in the last week of ordinary Malians in Mali.

Claims of nepotism and corruption have been made throughout the history of Mali since independence. And these can also be made, and with some legitimacy, of nearly every country, including the Netherlands. Nepotism can be seen as a negative thing, but it is also in a way part of the fabric of Malian society.

And, as Aduna has pointed out, there is no justification for a coup when elections were due..

Radio Africa said...

Greetings from Australia.
Yes, incredulous and worried I am. The junta's "legitimacy" seems to be going pear-shaped now, losing Tombouctou was a blow, and hardly a sign of Sanogo improving things. A lot of economic sanctions may do the trick - see - but as each day passes the harder it will be to dislodge the junta. Not good.

NGONI said...

Update on this tape, Gnari or Ñari,
he was a griot of Niafounké mainly working in the circle of Tombouctou, according to my friend his success was greater in Diré, he quickly changed his tongue of flattery to criticism if it was not rewarded his song, so it was greatly feared.
His solo instrument was the Biguine amplified and distorted, in this case accompanied by a Calabash and a Tama.

In Niafounké many Peulh inhabit the region, so there are many words in Poular inside Gnari language, the koroboro.

As for ATT, despite heard anything can be said against him, I still confident, with his mistakes, and perhaps technical illegalities, the country had emerged from nowhere, with a president who spoke to the people on every obstacle.

With time the story will confirm us the real the truth.

mela.... said...

A real electric cassette!

It doesn't bother me that he devotes his watt-verses to ATT because I don't understand almost nothing of what he sings but to me sounds fabulous.

It reminds me a takamba

Thank you for this unique gift