Folo Folo Kuma or A Prefatory Word
Before the events of late March 2012, most people - even those who regularly follow global news - probably had very little awareness of Mali, its location, its history, its culture, its challenges. Today, a large number of people across the globe have become aware of the country and its current predicament. Indeed, Mali has become a focal theme for discussion and analysis by journalists, pundits and even academics, many of whom have very little direct experience or knowledge of the region. This has not impeded some from issuing strongly worded pronouncements about the future of the peoples of the area or of the country's potential role in the realm of geopolitics and terrorism in particular.
Fortunately, as the months have worn on, keen observers of the scene - from afar and from close up - have endeavored to make sense of the events that have transpired over the last year or so and to help us to better understand the issues and processes that gave rise to them. Some these commentators have even begun to envision ways forward, tentative and fragile as they may be.
This forum is designed to highlight some of the most thoughtful and informed voices on Mali at the present moment. In addition to shedding light on key issues and concerns, I hope that the contributions here provide a gateway to a wider domain of commentary and analysis that I believe has the power to help transform thinking on Mali's current situation and future prospects. The contributors to this special forum represent some of the most seasoned and astute observers of the region and its complicated dynamics. They include academics working within the discipline of anthropology, scholars in allied fields such as history and religious studies, as well as an artist and an astute blogger. It is significant and important to me that the group includes sage Malian commentators. All of the contributors offer important insights and perspectives. With any luck this collection will inspire further engagement, discussion and commentary. I am grateful to my friends and colleagues for agreeing to join the forum, for their investment in its goals and commitments to the processes that it will foster. May our work honor the diverse peoples of Mali and help, in even a small way, to support the return of peace and security to the region.
Stephen Wooten is Associate Professor of International Studies and Anthropology at the University of Oregon.
Posts in This Series
On the morning of March 22, 2012, Malians tuning into state television saw images of young soldiers crowding into the broadcasting studio. A lieutenant announce... More
The the first signs of coming turmoil arose in the afternoon on March 21st 2012 when startling reports began to appear on the websites of local news outlets. Se... More
On April 6, 2012, a segment of Tuareg rebels in the northern Malian city of Timbuktu unilaterally declared their independence from Mali and announced the birth ... More
For centuries, the Tuareg minority in Mali has applied violence or the threat of violence to get what they have wanted from their Black neighbors. French coloni... More
What many observers do not appreciate is that northern Mali forms part of the Sahara: an internally coherent social-political and cultural space with a long his... More
In 2005, during a conversation about the democratization of public culture with a group of Malian professionals I had interviewed three years earlier, I noticed... More
Did Mali lose fifty years of sovereignty in two days in January, when French forces went to war on Malian soil at the behest of the government in Bamako? There ... More
Present day Mali speaks not only to the legendary Mali Empire but also celebrates secular civilizations predating the 7th century (Ballo et al 2002: 1-3). To da... More
Two decades of success for Malian democracy (1991-2012) can be explained, according to many observers, by the power of the political consensus generated by form... More
When Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo and other low ranking soldiers deposed Mali's elected President Amadou Toumani Toure in a coup d'etat last March, the internatio... More
As political turmoil and violence in Mali have garnered international attention, the role of Islam in Mali has drawn considerable public notice as journalists w... More
Before the 2012 coup in Mali, for many observers Islam was just one taken-for-granted feature of the country’s rich cultural landscape with its spectacular mosq... More
A long brewing crisis in Mali erupted over a year ago exposing wide spread corruption and nepotism that had frustrated Malians for a long time. Although Malians... More
The Oxford English Dictionary “word of the year” for 2012 was “omnishambles;” and it could have been coined with Mali, 2012 (and continuing), in mind for it has... More
Since 2001, the world has been invited to attend Le Festival au Desert in a setting just outside the ancient city of Timbuktu. Inspired by local festivals, this... More