I think about Mali a lot - from reading stories online to listening to shows on the radio to watching the news on television. It is unsettling to see images from a country I called home, and places I visited - the scenes I remembered before for their beauty or maybe how uncomfortable the bus ride was (i.e. our trip to Hombori and Gao in 2009) - dotted with tanks and AK-47s. So much bad news coming out of a country that is filled with so much good. A trite statement but it still seems unfair.
And while I continue to assiduously follow Mali's news, I want to make sure I remind myself, and others, of reasons that Mali is important other than her resources or the potential for terrorist groups to impact the US (or the price on oil). When I think of Gao I will remember the quirky men Cassie and I met on our trip - one man looking for a camel caravan to join and another, Christopher Kirkley, on a mission to collect music from the North of Mali. (Imagine my surprise when I saw his name in this article about Malian music and culture!). I'll think of Malick Sidibe (and this post - aptly named 'Mali Matters'). New Yorkers make sure you check out Portraits of a Continent's Vitality, Past and Present, now showing! I'll think of Annie and Esayi and the whole Coulibaly family and Zana. I'll think of my third-year with PHARE and meeting my cutie-pie husband. I have a lot to be thankful for and my life will forever be tied to Mali.
I hope a year from now I will be writing a blog post about the advances Mali's new government has made and that internally and externally displaced refugees will be back home. I hope I will be writing about how the region is more stable, jobs more secure and peace more prevalent. I have a lot of hopes though my hope is tempered. One thing I do know is that a year from now, and for many more, Mali will still matter.
|I love this picture! Celebrating Valentine's Day with some real cuties who love Mali and know she matters.|