Tag Archives: north mali

Beyond Right And Wrong

“In the stillness after conflict, after the blood dries and the screams fade, the memory of violence transforms survivors into prisoners of their own pain. How do whole societies recover from devastating conflict? Can survivors live—converse, smile, and even laugh—beside someone who blinded them, killed their parents, or murdered their children? Can victims and perpetrators work together to rebuild their lives? This life-changing documentary explores the intersections of justice and forgiveness as survivors heal from these tragedies.”–About the documentary Beyond Right and Wrong

Back in 2012, Mali experienced the peak of instability as a coup destabilized the country. But the coup was just the tipping point. For years, Mali’s North and South have failed to find a common ground. The failure is not on one side but a mish mash of ill feelings, insecurities and economic inequality. The North feels marginalized with no opportunities for a successful future. It is mainly this that pushes them to want separation from Mali. The South feels the North does not deserve this opportunity and that too many things are simply afforded them without them working for it. And so it continues that the two sides of Mali are in dis-accord. It is at this critical time that for the future prosperity, Mali needs to bring all sides to the table and have a national dialogue. Losses have been felt on both sides and nothing that happens now can take away the pain of lost lives and lost opportunities. However, if dialogue and reconciliation do not happen, Mali will remain broken. The power of this great country is not in one side or the other. Peace and prosperity can only come from an understanding between both sides of the table.

Kweku Mandela and Yeah Samake

Kweku Mandela and Yeah Samake

This documentary ‘Beyond Right And Wrong’ first came to our attention when Yeah attended the Sundance screening attended by Nelson Mandela’s grandson Kweku Mandela, who was promoting the film for his own charity. The lessons of the film speak true to what Mali and Africa truly needs from its future leaders and its citizens. Empower Mali is joining forces with Kweku Mandela and FilmRaise to bring attention to this amazing documentary on the lessons learned from past conflicts that have ripped countries and called into question the very meaning of humanity. This is what Mali needs. True dialogue can lead to true reconciliation. It’s where wants and needs must be put aside in favor of the bigger picture. It is not the easiest thing to do when you have lost someone you loved or can’t feed your family because of the situation. But it is the most crucial step that Mali will need to take to move forward.

So I ask you to take some time and watch this movie. It is powerful and the most heart wrenching film but it makes you truly ask yourself whether you can live the meaning of forgiveness.

FilmRaise has kindly agreed to donate $500 to our charity Empower Mali for every 1000 views we get. 10000 views can help us build a school. The power to impact change just got a little easier. All funds raised will be used to help Empower Mali continue impacting our people on the ground.

Watch it at: that detail the real stories below.


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Posted by on April 9, 2014 in Past Posts


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Mali’s Northern mess

In some aspects of life, Mali seems almost normal. There is few things in the South that suggest that only a few months ago, a coup happened that changed the lives of Malians in this generation and for generations to come. The prices of food remain elevated and the increased presence of security are few of the signs that indicate the unrest of 4 months ago.

The story in the North seems to be a different story altogether. With two different operating standards and governments, Mali has indeed been divided. Till last week, Mali’s North was governed heavily by the Tuareg rebels. For centuries this nomadic group has waged its war for independence. It success in Mali came at a weak moment for the Malian government, but it came none the less. With no recognized security in Northern Mali and a weak Malian army, no ground has been made in regaining the North. Last week, Ansar Dine, overtook the region and became the major players. At least with the two sharing power, it seemed that the Tuaregs in Tombouctou would still get their hope to lead themselves. However that was not to be. Last week, the Tuaregs were ousted by Ansar Dine or the “Protectors of the Faith”.

So how dangerous is Ansar Dine? With Ansar Dine being corrupted with elements of AQIM and Boko Haram, Ansar Dine is indeed a tremendous danger to returning stability to the region.  The main aim of Ansar Dine is to make North Mali another depot for extremist Islam. And so far they are having much success. Areas, especially Tombouctou, are teeming with Islamic extremists. While Islam was the practiced religion of the region, it was practiced with moderateness. In fact Tombouctou was known for its age-old monuments that depicted broad-minded Islamic teaching. With Shariah in place now, Islam has become the imprisonment for the people of North Mali. Religious freedoms are no longer allowed, alcohol banned, women made to clothe themselves from head to toe despite the summer heat of 130F and men and women not allowed to mix.  Almost reminds you of prison, doesn’t it?  Many of these individuals have grown up free to practice Islam and their way of life. They have been part of something bigger when they were part of Mali. Now they are dispensable pawns in an extremist Islamic agenda. You know how they say; the grass is always greener on the other side. Sometimes when you get to the other side, you realize the sun must have been playing tricks on your eyes. Now, don’t get me wrong. I would be the first to advocate independence for a group that believes their rights have been infringed on. However, I also believe in happiness of the majority. The Tuaregs are a minority (6%) compared with other ethnicities that call Mali home. By giving the Tuaregs a separate land, the Mali government would be condemning another ethnic group. If the Tuaregs had stood with the Malian army and defeated the Islamic rebels, then the North would probably not be in this state. Yes, the initial failure was the coup, but the domino effect could have been halted by the Tuaregs. Instead, in a moment of personal gratification, we now have a fallen state that has been impossible to regain because of the buildup of rebel groups, each group crazier than the one before it.  Mali’s failure has come from groups that believe in their personal agenda, first the politicians of old, then the junta and now the Tuaregs. The Tuaregs have long distrusted the Malian government believing that they have been marginalized. Other groups in Mali like the Bambara on the other hand believe that the Tuaregs are given special preference over other ethnic groups that Mali has a higher majority of like the Songhai and Peul and believe this is unfair. This was the perfect storm that could have gone either way. Standing with the Mali army would have strengthened the trust relationship.  Standing against them was opening the door to a stronger group taking over.

That is exactly what has happened with Ansar Dine. Now, in addition to the increased humanitarian crisis afflicting the Northern regions of Mali, there has been an attack on century old history. Part of Islamic extremism preaches that people should be focused on Allah (God) alone. Nothing should take his place and there shouldn’t be a distraction of other things or places that Muslims worship. This ideology has seen Ansar Dine destroying the tombs of the Sufi saints that have been there for centuries and setting fire to the contents inside the tomb. They have also broken the gate of a famous 15th-century Sidi Yahya mosque. The door is considered sacred and was to remain closed until the end of the world. In their minds, Ansar Dine is removing the symbols that will distract Muslims in the North from Allah. The destruction has brought about worldwide and UN condemnation, for these places fall under the UN World Heritage sites. Malians, North and South, too are united in their anger by this destruction.  It is angering and dreadful that history has been destroyed and by continuing to destroy these sites, our future generations are being deprived of the things that symbolize culture and tradition. Imagine if the Statue of Liberty or the Washington Monument was attacked and destroyed. When the twin towers fell, the sadness was unspeakable. The loss of life unbearable. The same is happening on a smaller scale in Mali and it is only a matter of time before it worsens.

This has gone on too long. Time is the one thing Malians do not have. We do not have the time to let Ansar Dine get comfortable. To do so would spell doom for Mali’s Northern territory and people. To not do anything would allow terrorism to flourish. This is a war, not just Mali but the world cannot afford to lose.


Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Past Posts


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Newspaper Article: Yeah Samaké se prononce sur les élections et de la crise du nord P3: « Ceux qui ont servi le pays, le servirons… »

Benjamin Sangala from Newspaper Mali Demain posted this nice article in Mali. English translation below.,47384.html.

Yeah Samaké se prononce sur les élections et de la crise du nord P3: « Ceux qui ont servi le pays, le servirons… »

Par Mali Demain du 13 février 2012 @ 09:58 Rubrique: Nord-Mali,Politique

Candidat à la présidentielle d’avril prochain au compte du Parti d’Action Civique et Patriotique(PACP), actuel maire de la commune de Ouélésséboubou, vice président de l’Association des Municipalités du Mali et Directeur exécutif de « Mali Rising fondation », M. Niankoro Yeah Samaké, avec ses 42 ans, se présente comme le « John Kennedy », parle de son parti, des élections générales et de la crise au nord du Mali.  

Nous nous attelons de faire du PACP, le parti le mieux organisé sur l’échiquier national.

Parlant de son parti le  PACP né il y a quelques mois, le président Niakoro pense que le parti se porte très bien. « Il s’organise de mieux en mieux », a-t-il dit.  Pour lui, le parti a démarré avec des difficultés ». Croyant à la vibrance qui anime le parti, il précise que : « nous nous attelons de faire du PACP, le parti le mieux organisé sur l’échiquier national ».

Se penchant sur la conférence des cadres qui s’est tenue, il y a deux semaines, le président dira que : « c’était de présenter la vision du parti et faire en sorte que les cadres non seulement du parti et mais que les maliens puissent être exposés à une nouvelle façon de gérer ce pays au lieu de mettre un pansement sur une plaie aussi profonde ». Pour Samaké, i s’agit pour le parti de : «  rompre avec la vieille tradition de gouvernance afin d’endiguer les racines du mal ». Pour lui : « Il faut cependant trouver des solutions selon lui à tous les maux de la société et cela se trouve dans la parabole de la décentralisation ». Ainsi il a fustigé « le fait que tous les pouvoirs sont détenus par une certaine minorité qui ne représente pas le Mali dans sa diversité ».

Nous n’avions de rapport particulier avec l’URD

Le PACP né des braises du l’URD, s’est résolument tourné vers son destin, à savoir : travailler à se faire accepter par les maliens par la vision qu’il incarne. Cependant au-delà des anciens rapports, il n ya pas, selon M yeah Samaké « de rapport particulier entre son parti et l’URD à part les liens d’amitié personnel.

La gestion actuelle de la crise du nord n’est pas différente de la gestion actuelle du pays.

Nous pensons qu’au PACP cela doit changer a t-il martelé. Pour le président de l’Action Civique et Patriotique : « les maliens ne se reconnaissent pas dans la gestion actuelle du pays. Il faut prendre en compte le désir de changement exprimé par les populations. Malgré tout il faut y faire face » selon le PACP.

La crise du nord est sans nul doute le sujet le plus commenté ces temps- ci  et pour Niakoro Yeah Samaké : «  c’est un problème qui a été entretenu depuis 1960. Elle se répercute de nos jours. Ceux qui nous dirigé n’ont toujours  comme solution la mauvaise habitude de pansement dans de plaies profondes. Nous devons envisager des solutions durable » soutient t-il. Plus que jamais doit demeurer unis « unis nous gagnons tous, divisés nous perdons tous » a t- il déclaré »

Quant à la réclamation de la république de l’AZAWAD, le président du PACP estime que : « S’il ya une certaine population qui réclame, une certaine portion  du pays, cela veut dire, que ces gens vivent seuls ». Pour endiguer, ce mal, il préconise  que chaque coin du Mali soit à l’image de la diversité ethnique, qu’il y ait une interaction entre les coins du pays ». Enfin pour lui : « que les déplacements des personnes et de leurs biens soient protégés et rendre  nos frontières  moins perméables ».

Nous avions des inquiétudes sur la tenue des élections.

Les joutes électorales, doivent bientôt se dérouler dans, à peine trois mois. Le climat social ne favorise pas la bonne tenue de ces échéances. C’est l’avis de bon nombre maliens. Selon le président : « le mieux est que tous les maliens puissent participer à l’expression démocratique. Si les élections, selon lui  se tenaient aujourd’hui beaucoup de maliens seront exclus.  Il en appelle au gouvernement d’ATT de prendre les mesures idoines pour que  retournent  au Mali la paix, la quiétude et surtout la sécurité ».

Nous devons faire prévaloir les valeurs d’intégrité morales chez les différents candidats.

Si les opportunités naissent des difficultés au PACP, le regard est tourné sur la cherté de la vie, la mauvaise qualité de l’enseignement, le difficile accès aux soins de santé pour en sortir de ces maux qui minent notre société. Pour l’élection du 5ème président du Mali, le président du PACP invite les maliens à faire prévaloir les valeurs d’intégrité morale, chez les différents candidats.

Enfin, il dira que : « ceux qui ont servi le pays, le serviront toujours, ceux qui se sont servi, de notre partie, nous devons le leur rendre»

Benjamin SANGALA


Translation of the article.( Thank you to Liz Jessop for helping with this)

Yeah Samake gives his opinion on the elections and on the crisis in the North: “Those who served the country, will continue to serve…”

Written by Benjamin Sangala

Presidential candidate in next April’s election, under the Party for Civic Action and Patriotism (PACP), current mayor of the municipality of Ouélésséboubou, vice president of the Association of Municipalities of Mali and Executive Director of “Mali Rising Foundation,” Mr. Niankoro Yeah Samake, 42 years old, presents himself as a “John Kennedy,” speaks of his party, general elections, and the crisis in northern Mali.When it comes to getting things done, PACP is the best organized party on the national scene.

In speaking of his party, PACP, was born a few months ago, President Niankoro thinks the party is doing very well. “It gets better and better organized,” he said. For him, the party started with difficulties. Believing in the vibrancy that drives the party, he added “We are striving to make PACP the best organized party on the national scene.”

Addressing a leadership conference held two weeks ago, the President says of the conference: “It was to present the vision of the party and ensure that the leaders, not only within the party, but that all Malians can be exposed to a new way of managing this country instead of putting a bandage on a wound so deep.” For Samake, and hisnparty, it is a matter of “breaking the old tradition of governance in order to stem the roots of evil.” For him: “We must, however, find solutions to all the problems of society and it is in the idea of decentralization.” And he continued, “the fact that all power is held by some minority does not represent the diversity in Mali.”

We have not specifically connected with URD.

PACP, born under the embers of the URD, has resolutely focused around its destiny, namely: working to be accepted by the Malians with the vision it embodies. But beyond the old connections, there is not, according to Monsieur Yeah Samaké, a special relationship between his party and the URD, apart from personal friendship.The current management of the crisis in the north is no different than the current management of the country as a whole.

We think that, according to PACP, this must change, he has said. For the president of the Party for Civic Action and Patriotism: “Malians do not identify with the current leadership of the country. We must take into account the desire for change expressed by the people. Nevertheless, we must face them,” according to the PACP.

The crisis in the north is without doubt, the most discussed topic these days and for Niankoro Yeah Samake: “It is a problem that has been maintained since 1960. It has repercussions today. Those that have lead us have managed the solution as a bad habit of dressing the deep wounds. We need to consider sustainable solutions,” he argues. More than ever, we must remain united “united we all win, divided we lose all,” he said .

As for the claim of the Republic of AZAWAD, the president of PACP believes: “If there is a certain population that requires a certain portion of the country, this means that these people live alone.” To stem this evil, he advocated that each corner of Mali adds to the image of ethnic diversity, there is an interaction between the corners of the country. Finally for him: “the movement of people and their property need to be protected and make our borders less permeable.”

There are concerns about the elections.

The electoral contest, must soon take place in just three months.The social climate is not conducive to the good performance of these deadlines. This is the opinion of many Malians. According to the president, “the best thing is if all Malians can participate in the democratic expression. If the election were held today many Malians will be excluded. He appealed to government and ATT to take appropriate steps to ensure that peace and tranquility be returned to Mali, and above all safety. ”

Regarding the values of moral integrity among different candidates.

If the opportunities create new difficulties for PACP, the focus is turned to the high cost of living, poor education, difficult access to health care, that hang around as troubles afflicting our society. For the election of the fifth president of Mali, the president of PACP invites the Malians to hold the different candidates up to a standard of moral integrity.

Finally, he said of the wars that have claimed lives that “those who served the country, will serve it always, on our part we must return (our country to stability) for them.”

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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Past Posts


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