Resisting intervention: imperialism and protest in Mali

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Leo Zeilig looks at the latest episode in a long and bloody history of Western imperialism in Africa, fuelled by the scramble for the continent's resources

When French troops entered Mali on 11 January the mainstream media and politicians heralded the intervention as a humanitarian exercise to flush out Islamic militants. The calculation was simple. West Africa was now awash with an array of Islamic terrorists, many aligned with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and they presented the region and the world with the greatest threat to security. Apparently these militants had capitalised on "ungovernable spaces" in West Africa.

These bellicose declarations are mostly false and obscure what is really happening on the continent.

Mali: On-Screen Platform for the Voiceless


Sometimes it seems that the Western powers, the multinationals and the banks get away with murder, confident that no one can challenge them. Anti-capitalists rage that the impoverishment of Africa is a crime and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should be put on trial. I spoke to director Abderrahmane Sissako whose forthcoming film, Bamako, literally puts them in the dock.

In a surreal contrast, a formal trial - with robes, lawyers, witnesses and cross examination - takes place in a domestic courtyard in Bamako, the capital of Mali in West Africa, while everyday life continues all around. Women fetch water from the standpipe. Someone is close to death with no money for medical care; a couple marry; another relationship breaks down as the husband can't find work. A workshop of fabric dyers toil in the background.

Mali: The Farmer with the Guitar has Retired


"Mali is first and foremost a library of the history of African music," said Ali Farka Toure.

On 6 March Ali Farka Toure, Mali's most well-known musician, died in his sleep at his home in Niafunke. After the Malian minister of culture made the announcement the country's radio stations suspended normal programming to play Toure's music.

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