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  • Why Mali ?
    Located between the Sahara in the north and the sahel plains in the south, Mali is the cradle of West African empires and hence of West African culture. The country called today Mali is son of medieval Empires and Kingdoms: Empire of Ghana, Kingdom of Sosso, Kingdom of Mandingo which became Empire of Mali in the 14th century, The Songhoi Empire, the Bambara Kingdom of Segou, The Senoufo Kingdom of Kenedougou The Toucouleur Empire of El Hadj Omar Tall ,The Fulani Kingdom of Macina, and the wassoulou Empire of Almamy Samory Touré This diversity of Empires and Kingdoms make this piece of land very riche in culture and traditions.
    In fact the Foundator of Mali Empire SOUNDIATA KEITA gave the country the name Mali in 1235 on Kurukan Fughan in Kangaba .After his glorious victory upon the sorcerer Soumangourou Kanté, he said the strongest and biggest animal on earth and in water is Hippopotamus which is MALI in local language, since our land is the strongest and the biggest one in the area ,we give the name Mali to our country.

    The Republic of Mali, 6 times the size of the UK, is West Africa’s largest country covering an area of 1,241,000 sq kms.
    Formerly called “Bilad es-Sudan” that is “land of Blacks”, Mali lies in the heart of West Africa, at the crossroads of the gulf of Guinea, North Africa .
    Stretching approximately, 1,500 km north to south and 1,800 km east to west, Mali borders with 7 countries: Senegal, Mauritania, Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Guinea.
    Broadly speaking had it not been for some “geological accidents” which have given origin to some mountain ranges, this despite remaining a lad of great geographical variations can be divided into 2 main sections :
     The hilly-mountains areas in the peripheral regions : Kaarta and Bambouk plateaux (400-600 m), and Mandingo Mt (400-800 m) in the south west ; Kenedougou Massif (600-800 m.) and Bandiagara Plateau (200-500 m.) in the South ; Gandamia Massif (1080 m) and several isolated inselbergs in the north-east ; Adrar des Ifoghas, linked to the Algerian Hoggar, in the north(east. The country’s highest point is Mt Hombori (1.155 mt) in the north-east.
     The vast central plains where several natural regions can be identified.
    The sudaneze zone in the south, continuation of the Guinea forests ;
    The Sahelian strip where savannah still tries to fight desertification ;
    The central Delta of the Niger ;
    The Saharan northern regions, gateway to the real desert.
    Major topographical features are the Niger and the Senegal. The two main rivers of west Africa and theirs tributaries. It is only the central and southern regions of the country, which are irrigated by the two life giving rivers. The vast northern area being exposed to the fast encroaching desert.
    The Senegal river (1.720 km) is made up of the Bafing and Bakoy rivers which merge at Bafoulabé and rise respectively from Fouta-Djalon and the north west plateau of Siguiri.

    The Niger River, whose source is in Guinea, is 4.200 km long and flows across Mali along 1,700 km giving origin to what is known as the Inland Delta. In its upper course “the River of rivers” is also known as Djoliba.
    The terrain is predominately savannah and sand-covered plains ; 65 % being desert or semi desert. The River flows through the heart of Mali flowding annually and creating pasture land for livestock for six months a year. It is precisely the Niger’s amazing size and scope (20,000 sq.km of water in Mali alone) that in part gave the country its reputation as “The granary of West Africa” during colonial times. But despite the potential for irrigation on a colossal scale, population browth, drought and desertification. Mostly caused by goats nibbling away the nation’s groundcover – have made the lives of Mali’s farmers even harder.

    Mali has an estimated 11 millions inhabitants. The majority live in rural areas, 80 % of them relying on the land for their livelihood (rain-fed agriculture on small landholdings). Quite a few raise livestock and some earn their living from fishing.
    Mali’s population includes at least 23 ethnic groups – 73 % sedentary and 27 % nomadic – from pastoralists and fisherman to rural farmers and town dwellers. The main ethnic groups are:
    BAMBARA. The largest ethnic group in the country (30%), they are centred mostly around Ségou and Bamako. Mainly farmers, they are also excellent craftsmen. Their language is well spoken through West Africa.
    MALINKE: Quite a homogeneous group of uncertain origins, centred around Bamako. Mainly farmers and followers of animism.
    SARAKOLE or SONINKE: Originating from the ancient empire of Ghana, they mostly inhabit the north-west frontier. Excellent traders and craftsmen.
    SONGHAI: Powerful in the past, they centre in the inner delta region and are agriculturalists.
    BOZO: Occupying the central part of the Delta, they have the monopoly of fishing between Djenné and lake Debo.
    PEULH or FULANI : Cattle raising nomads originating from north east, they wander between Tibesti and Adrar, Fouta Djalon and Adamaoura. Making one of the main tribes in Sub Sahara Africa, they base their economy on livestock (cattle and zebu).
    TUAREG: Also known as “the blue men of the Sahara” they roam about the desert in searching water for their livestock. Proud of their Berber ancestors, they have always fought the “Black peoples”. Nowadays a few have had to abandon their nomadic life in favour of a sedentary life.
    DOGON: Living along the 250 km long Bandiagara Escarpment which has been listed by UNESCO as a world heritage Site. There is an estimated population of 250.000
    Such cultural and ethnological richness, readily available to travellers, is certainly one of the main reasons for wanting to visit Mali.

    Mali, like many African Countries has not known early writing, this is the main reason why Oral Tradition is of great importance in our Society. Mali, inherited of old Kingdoms and Empires, started being known in the 8th century under the reign of the Saracolle King Kaya Maghan Cisse. He was the King of the Empire of Ghana called by oral traditionalists Empire of Ouagadou.This Empire occupied the North-East part of Mali. This Empire which capital city was Koumbi Saleh Is located on the territory of Mauritania. It collapsed in the 11th century.
    After the decline of the Ghana Empire all the small Kingdoms under his control were independent: among which the Kingdom of Sosso, led by the sorcerer King Soumangourou Kanté. This king was named sorcerer because he was a shape changer. He could transform himself into 63 different things on the field of battle to escape from his enemies. He was defeated in 13th century by the foundator, the legendary Soundiata Keita King of Mandingo Kingdom in 1235 in Kirina ,a small historical Malinké village.
    After his glorious victory on Soumangourou ,he summoned all the allied Kings to a general meeting in Kurukan fuga in Kangaba the capital city, of Mandingo. In this assembly ,he said “as our country is now the biggest and the strongest Kingdom in the area, we can change its name. The biggest and strongest animal in water and on earth is MALI (hippopotamous in Malinké dialect), so let’s give the name Mali to our country, and the Empire of Mali was born. He reigned over the Empire until 1255 AD when he died drown in the Sankarani River. After him ,his first son Mamadi ,Mansa Oulen or Mansa Jurulenko came to the throne .He kept the Empire big and strong. He died in 1270AD leaving the Empire to Aboubakari I who reigned over the Empire up to 1285at his death.He was replaced by Aboubakari II whose ambition was to make the Empire wider. According to AL-Omari and Ibn Battuta , he wanted to see the limit of the Ocean. He made two hundred ships and sent them to to the Atlantic Ocean ,to discover what is beyond it; unfortunately only one of them came back. He prepared another two hundred ships and with himself they went and never came back.
    Serious studies have been done at the beginning of the years 80’s to know the Emperor has reached the American Continent two centuries before the European explorer Christopher Colombus or died on the way,which remained without any proven result But, some South American names are strangely Malinké words and expressions:
    Eg: Guatemala=Middle of compound (in Malinké Dialect)
    Nicaragua =Salut of the soul
    Family name Camara in Brazilia and in Mali
    Keith in USA and Keita in Mandingo
    In 1312, seeing that the Emperor is not coming back, Kankan Moussa, Kankou Moussa or Mansa Moussa came to the throne . In 1324, he did his legendary pilgrimage to Mecca. He brought so much gold with him that the precious metal lost its value for ten years. On his way back to Mali ,he built the famous Mosque Djinguerayber in Tombouctou. He died in 1332,year that marked the decline of the Mali Empire.

    This end gave opportunity to Songhai Empire to become prosperous with Sonny Ali Ber, an animist King who was not appreciated by Moslems. He got drown and was succeeded by his son Sonny Baro who was hilled by Moslems after few months of reign. It was now the time of Askia Mohamed who was Moslem. He extended the Empire .He became blind in 1528, he chose his cousin for succession. This choice made Askia Moussa unhappy,then assassinated him and became Emperor who was also killed at his turn by his brothers and cousins. Askia Mohamed II came to the throne and made the Old Askia Mohamed exiled in Niger.
    This action made Askia Ismael very angry ,killed him and became King. He reigned for two years. In 1539 the Askia dynasty was defeated by the Morrocan invaders.
    That marked the end of the medieval kingdoms and Empires.

    After the medieval Kingdoms and Empires ,Mali has seen the creation of some resistances such as Bambara kingdom of Segou, in the 18th century, Toucouleur Empire of El Hadj OmarTall ,the Fulani Kingdom of Macina.
    In the 19th century ,the Kenedougou Kingdom was created led by MansaDaoula, then by Tičba Traoré and finally by Babemba Traore who preferred committing suicide than being French prisoner. Kenedougou Empire was taken by the French people in May 1898.TheFrench attacked the Empire of wassoulou led by Almamy Samory Touré .He made resistance for 18 years ,then was arrested in September 29th 1898 in his Camp in Guelemou ,deported in Gabon ,he died in 1900,which marked the end of precolonial resistance.
    After defeating all Kingdoms and Empires ,the French settled in Kayes, 1st administrative Region of Mali. Then they came to Bamako on February 1st 1883. One week later they started building the fort of Bamako,followed by the creation of some institutions which goes with development. In 1885 they arrived in Segou, and by the end of the years 80’s all Mali was occupied . It was in 1960 September 22nd that Mali got her Independence, and the 1st elected President was Modibo Keita (1960- 1968)
    He created many national companies .He had a socialist option. In 1968 in November He has been arrested by Lieutenant Moussa Traoré. All the political parties disappeared because of CMLN(COMITEMILTAIRE DE LIBRERATION NATIONALE) In 1979 he created UDPM.
    In 1980 the scholars created an association led by Abdoul Karim Camara Cabral to defend the students’ rights and improve their living conditions. He was arrested and assassinated during one their manifestations.
    The situation will be quiet till 1990 when two political parties were created :ADEMA AND CNID. Living conditions becoming tougher and tougher, the salaries were too low and even not easy to get it.. Multipartism became song of everyday .Finally a general revolution was organized. Friday March 22nd 1991 all the population led by the students decided to walk to the Presidential Palace. The President ordered the soldiers to stop them by all means. With guns and other war weapons ,they were shooting ,killing many people. But being descendants of kings and Emperors people didn’t stop. They were breaking and burning everything belonging to Moussa and his family down. Finally March 26th of the same year Lieutenant Colonel Amadou Toumani Toure arrested Moussa Traore. and led the transition for 14 months. Then Organized democratic election which brought Alpha Omar Konare To the throne in 1992 then in was reelected in 1997 for a second term. In 2002 Amadou Toumani Toure was elected President of Mali.

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