Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Why Mali Matters:Center for National Policy

Image source
A year ago today, I wrote about the surprise engagement party Cassie & Laura threw for Abdoulaye and me.  Today, Cassie and I attended a panel presentation hosted by the Center for National Policy and the Truman National Security Project on Why Mali Matters: Economics, Extremism, and Energy in North Africa.  So much has changed in a year.  Last night, Abdoulaye, Cassie and I were sitting in our living room thinking about what has changed (and how a year ago we had no idea we'd be roomies together in DC!).  Hard to imagine what the future holds in store when life changes so quickly.

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.


  1. And Mali and her people matter to me, as well: I cherish the 2 trips I was fortunate to make! I'll never forget them. Beautiful blog.

  2. So glad I have someone who will never tire of discussing Mali with me!


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