I received a 15-minute audio clip from a friend via WhatsApp in which an unnamed man, apparently a Malian, discusses Mali’s political situation in a tone of utter desperation and indignation at the fact that seven years of foreign intervention has only made matters worse. Given that a delegation from ECOWAS is visiting Bamako today, his analysis struck me as timely and I have decided to feature it here–the original audio clip in French, followed by my English translation (very slightly condensed, with URLs added by me). I feature this anonymous speaker’s analysis not because I agree with much of it (there are plenty of factual errors here) but because it encapsulates a central narrative about Mali’s dire circumstances in 2020 and what is needed to change these circumstances, and because I think this narrative is the dominant framework that Bamako’s street protesters use to explain their country’s crisis. If I could send one message to the ECOWAS delegation, and for that matter the French foreign ministry, it would be: “Listen to this.”
I’m not speaking French because I understand it. I’m speaking French because I’m in pain and I don’t know when this pain will end. But it’s my duty to sound the alarm about what’s happening in Mali today. Before Mali, ECOWAS, MINUSMA, the UN, the G5 Sahel, before the religious leader of Mali, Ousmane Madani Haidara, the so-called president of Mali’s Haut Conseil Islamique, before our brothers living here with us in Mali and before everyone who identifies as African, especially ECOWAS: I sound the alarm.
They finished off Mali’s children, under the gaze of the international community–mainly the creators of this mess and disorder, France. France wants to [destroy] us before the entire world because we are a people without weapons, defenses, or advocates. This is what happened to Rwanda in 1994, before the whole world, the UN, and the French people, they let Rwandans massacre each other until millions were dead.
Today in 2020, France claims it’s helping Mali to end the war. We don’t know–France came to propagate the war, to intensify the war, to take our lands away from us under the gaze of the international community, with the complicity of ECOWAS and our African brothers willing to sacrifice the Malian people for their own interests. There is too much disorder, criminality, corruption, and in the midst of all this Malians cannot reclaim their rights. They’re taking people hostage, killing people in their own homes, kidnapping the opposition leader all with French complicity. Yet not one African in the ECOWAS region has protested. Today I have no more hope for Africa.
If you think that Mali’s problems concern Mali alone, set yourself straight. If you think that what’s happening in Mali will never happen to you, set yourself straight. The enemy is circulating among us–France and its politicians, who have never helped Africa and will never help Africa until the end of the world. We will do what the Rwandans did: look, please, at the anglophone countries around us. The day Paul Kagamé abandoned the French language, he regained work, development, and peace, but the French language is the most–I don’t know how to say it. I’m sounding the alarm.
Before the entire world, France has been killing Malians because of one person, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Whatever France gives Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to sign, he signs! Because he never signs in his people’s interest, only in the interest of the French. Which is why they don’t want Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to leave, because once he’s gone, France will be gone too, full stop. Our soldiers can’t support us because they’ll be stuck with the label “coup d’etat”–even though it’s not the army out there, it’s the people who are fed up with IBK. We don’t want him, we don’t need him, his regime, or his children anymore, everybody knows what his children are up to. Nothing’s hidden.
You who call yourselves ECOWAS, at the moment when Malians are demanding their rights, you’ve come to make things worse–because we know what ECOWAS is about! It’s a clan, when things are getting hot for someone, France sends its so-called ECOWAS people, “Go calm things down,” because if you don’t do things in their favor France itself will intervene. That’s what is happening today in Mali.
I don’t speak French well, I didn’t go to school; I have to speak it to make my point understood. I’m speaking to men of integrity and dignity, the children of Africa who will never let Mali fall into enemy hands. Mali’s people are tired of this unending war, two million Euros spent uselessly each day and our children have no food, no school, no health, no security, no housing…. And the whole world is trying to say that nothing’s going on. When they’re finished killing and massacring, take your phones, go record the deaths, their comings and goings. They’re through killing unarmed civilians. Just imagine what will happen next.
ECOWAS–I don’t know what it means; it’s for destroying their brothers. Could you imagine the European Union destroying a country in Europe over an African? But we see the African Union destroying an African country to turn it over to the EU! That’s what’s happening in 2020. I’m here to bear witness to what France is doing in Mali. They know full well why we are tired of IBK–he didn’t let our children go to school, he didn’t open clinics for them, he didn’t give us security. What good is IBK for Mali? What’s his attachment to Mali? To govern? To take Mali’s wealth? To send his children to the West? This is what we reject. On TV they pretend nothing’s going on–every day Malians are being massacred, north, south and center.
African brothers and sisters, I’m calling on the international community: don’t remain aloof thinking you’re free, you’re the kings–no! God showed His power with the corona virus. God unleashed this virus to show his anger with us. You’re destroying other people to save your own. Africa was born for suffering because its people will not live up to their responsibilities. They think they can stand by while their brothers are being killed, then they will come forward and say “We didn’t know, this is unfortunate!” All this is happening before your eyes. When Qaddafi decided to help Africa, they said no, and you saw what happened to Qaddafi.
And now what are they doing? They’ve sent people to try to kill Mahmoud Dicko because he bothers them, because he’s come to save the Malian people, because he’s not a corrupt person. He doesn’t want their money, their cars, their gold, their houses or their vacations. Mahmoud Dicko, may God protect you and give you long life! To take Mahmoud Dicko they’ll have to destroy Mali, they’ll have to kill all of us to have him! That is what France usually does… with the complicity of a few corrupt men, greedy for money, cars, vacations, and white women. That is why all their solutions operate by killing Africa’s children. We say NO to ECOWAS, no to the international community!
With more than 30,000 military personnel in Mali, look at what has happened! Before the international community, MINUSMA, the UN, ECOWAS, nobody dares to speak up. How can one person command the whole world against us? From Kayes to Kidal, Malians have all said NO to Ibrahim Boubacar Keita; what does France expect? They kill Malians to hang on to power, to terrorize Malians. No, Malians are not a subjugated people, Mali is not a subjugated country! We will fight to the last to get rid of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and France and ECOWAS and MINUSMA. By God, you will see, I promise you this will happen soon because we are determined to do it. We are determined to give our lives for Mali.
The day we elected Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in 2013, there was no international community, MINUSMA, ECOMOG [sic], G5 Sahel, the EU. It was Malians who put him in power, in peace and security, and this is the same power he must give back to Malians. They’re done killing Mali…. Go find another people, not the people of Mali, of Modibo Keita, of Sunjata Keita, of Omar Tall! We Malians, let us recognize who is complicit with France and with Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Let him go where he will: Mali is and will always remain for Malians.
Some Africans are complicit, claiming they want peace. What peace? Would you destroy others to say there is peace? The UN and MINUSMA have set Mali ablaze, we don’t know what’s happening, the north is full of weapons, we don’t know where they’re coming from. The north is full of militiamen, we don’t know where they’re coming from. Now they’re coming to kill us because rumor has it that Mali is a rich country, and France wants to profit to eliminate Malians. That’s what they did in South Sudan, setting people against each other such that they’re still fighting today. This is what these politicians do.
From today, I call on all who speak the French language, get rid of it, learn English! Because they have more [pity?] than the French language. France destroys heads and leaves children orphaned, that is their governance system. Has anyone seen a French factory on the African continent? What factories are there–Jumbo, mosquito nets, Paracetamol? What are they using to develop Africa–their lotteries and horse racing bets? That’s what they give Africans. Have you ever seen a Peugeot factory in an African country? A Citroen factory? France isn’t here for Africa. France is here for its own, with the complicity of those seeking to destroy Africa.
Share this message as far as you can, until it reaches the ear of Macron, because he must know what he’s doing, and because the EU and ECOWAS are complicit with France, we all know what they’re doing to destroy Africa. But Mali is not a country you can destroy because not all of our people are corrupt.
Postscript, 18 July: As I predicted they would on the BBC’s “Focus on Africa” a few days ago, the anti-IBK coalition has roundly rejected overtures from ECOWAS to resolve the political impasse in Bamako.