My name is Bruce Whitehouse, and I’m author of “Bridges from Bamako.” I am a cultural anthropologist based at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I have spent about five years in Mali, initially as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Sikasso region (1997 – 2000), and subsequently as a Fulbright Scholar in Bamako (August 2011 – June 2012). I consider Bamako a “budding metropolis” because, while it’s nowhere near as large as cities like Lagos, Kinshasa or Johannesburg, it is believed to have about two million inhabitants and to be Africa’s fastest-growing city. I created this blog in 2011 to describe some of the changes that have been taking place in Bamako, and some of the delights and challenges of living in this city. Since Mali’s political crisis began in early 2012 I’ve been writing about national-level issues as well. To learn more about my research and work as a professor of anthropology at Lehigh University, see my professional website. Follow me on Twitter at @BridgesFromBKO.
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Wow! I’ve been following your blog since yesterday after a Mali RPCV friend sent me the link, but only just now noticed that it was you! I’m sure you must be the same Bruce Whitehouse from Vermont that met up with my parents before you shipped out to Mali that first time! Stay safe, Bruce. For all of us who have Mali deep in our hearts, this is agonizing to watch, as it must be for you. Your reports are greatly appreciated. “Amba yigiri” – May god fix this (dogon benediction)
Bruce- I am REALLY appreciating your on-the-ground updates about the coup and am also enjoying going through your past posts and photos. I’m an RPCV from Bamako (Korafina Nord) ’02-’04 and this is some of the best and most reliable info I’ve found online.
Allah ka here caya! Please be safe and thank you again!
Thanks guys for writing. I’ve been getting lots of e-mails from fellow RPCVs (I was in the Sikasso region from 1997 to 2000). It’s great to hear from you.
Hey Bruce: Shawn Davis sent us a link to your blog and we have been getting more info from it than from BBC or RFI. Keep up the good reporting.
Our best regards from your neighbors in Dakar.
Djeure djeff, Todd.
Isn’t it ironic that when you pronounce CNRDRE it sounds like “Cendres”? I’m sure that this is the current morose joke on the Bamakois streets…
I”m just wondering if they’ll burn the Culture Bank in Douentza as Haaram….
Bruce, your blog is the best, most in-depth, insightful news I’ve found all week.
I just stumbled across your blog through friend’s posts on Facebook and remembered that we’d corresponded briefly last year about Peace Corps Sikasso and grad schools. I’ll finish my master’s in Public Administration at Syracuse University this summer, at which point I was supposed to head back to Mali to do some research for a professor. My fingers are crossed that the situation stabilizes so my trip can happen.
Thanks so much for your detailed reporting about the coup. I’ve been sitting here pouring over your blog since I found it a few hours ago and will continue to follow in the coming days.
Stay safe (and cool) in Mali.
RPCV, Sikasso ’08-11
salam bruce, thanks for the great blogging, it’s a wonderful source of information on the situation in mali at the moment. best regards holger brune, orientalist m.a. germany
Bruce – I really appreciate your updates and insights as there is little quality reporting. I graduated from Lehigh in 1985 and got an MBA there in 1990. Last June I took my son to Mali to build a school in a village named Bafaga with an NGO called buildOn (over 170 schools built in Mali to date). I must admit Bamako was a bit overwhelming after time in a small village. thanks
Just picked this up via a friend and I was delighted to find just a balanced report in English
Just discovered your blog, Bruce, and haven’t had the chance to read much other than today’s post. I graduated from Lehigh in June of 1982 and headed to Mali a month later for my Peace Corps Stage.
I lived in Loulouni, (region Sikasso) from 1982-Sept 1984. It remains one of the greatest experiences of my life! Enjoy, stay safe!
Carla Askonas (dite Rokiya Sylla)
I Sylla! I know Loulouni – I was perhaps 30 km from there, in a village called Lofine which is NW of Kadiolo. I had a PCV friend in Loulouni whom I visited occasionally. Thanks for writing, Allah ka Mali haminakow nogoya.
Hi Bruce, Just got a link to your site from another RPCV (surprise, right!). Thanks for posting all this, and so glad to hear that you’re also into anthropology. After Peace Corps (I was in Bankass), I ended up in India, but hope to make my way back to northern Mali. Sad that all this has broken out! Thanks for keeping all of us informed from a cultural perspective and not just “press” coverage. Your compassion for the nation and its people bleeds through. I ni ce. I ni bara.
Hello Bruce, Thanks for your reporting. The broader regional implications are pretty edgy. Stay safe. I travelled for a year throughout Africa in ’87 and found the Tuareg some of the most intriguing groups we met. Noble, proud and marginalised, they saved our lives and others, routinely as we stumbled through their homeland. It would be interesting to hear your take on how they are playing into the social problems further south in the Sahel.
ciao Bruce … thanks for all the info … please I have some questions for you about photographers in Mali and about CMD. I am not a journalist … just an ordinary african citizen 🙂 How can I possibly contact you privately? Email? Phone?
Thank you for your picture of the happenings in Bamako. This is a most painful time for those outside looking in. I worked in Bamako and Koulikouro Region 2000 – 2010. Leota Haynes
Bruce! Congrats on your blog and your book. Great to see you in print. I always liked your writing. All best wishes to your family, and to Mali…
I would like to thank you for this blog. I have worked in Mali for three years (University of Bamako, FLASH) and since the beginning of the crisis I’m desperately trying to get as much (and diverse) information as possible. Your blog is an important contribution.
Conny (Bamako 2008-11)
It is very interesting to read your “reports” from Bamakonad surroundings, my wife and I were in Bamako and Segu last year after invitation from our daughter and really enjoyed it, but very sad that things are going the way they do. We got the web adress from our daughter so we could get
“latest news” have enjoyed it very much
You take care and we look forward to see latest news, which we hope will soon bring some positive
things for the country.
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I’ve just arrived back in Bamako for my third assignment in Mali with USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program. Thanks for the posts from the inside. It was very helpful in planning for my trip to have your information about what you’ve been observing and your analysis of the political situation. From what I’ve heard from my friends here already it was a scary time during the first few days of the coup and the resulting instability until Sonogo backed down and started to honor his commitment to an interim government. I was able to reverse the order of my trips to Mali and Ghana. I’m glad I did. Now all appears to be calm here on the street and my friends and associates are confident there will be resolution. Good luck to you as you finish your time here in Bamako.
Hi Bruce! I am so thankful for your website and the analysis you’re able to provide. I have been following Les Sofas du Republique for quite some time since I am interested in the intersection of music and resistance. I wish there was some sort of nascent Pan-African, International Brigade/Popular Front organizing happening. That would short-circuit these fallacious arguments about French “neo-colonialism” and send a message to all authoritarian, imperialist groups like Ansar Dine that there is no freedom for the enemies of freedom. What would someone like de Villepin offer as an alternative to what the French are doing now? There should have been an immediate and global action against Ansar Dine a year ago when they began targeting Sufi communites and their holy sites. It is the same immoral program al-Shabab perpetrated against Ahlu Sunna Waljama, and it will result in the same unconscionable loss of lives all in the name of a shallow ideology that believes the ends justifies the means. I’d be curious as to your thoughts on all of this, and please let us know if you do indeed hear/are aware of an organized, grassroots defense either affiliated with a group like Les Sofas or others.
Wow, thanks to either serendipity or the RPCV network, I came across a link to your blog. It’s incredibly thoughtful and balanced. Thanks for keeping us in the loop–and also for making me homesick for memorable years in Mali. Wishing you all the best.
Thanks Bruce for the blog and I will be following your entries. Appreciate the work and thanks again.
Mali RPCV, Segou Region 10′-12′
I love this, very informative. I was born and raised in Cote d’Ivoire, as missionary kid and travelled to Mali yearly on long, exciting and eventful journeys over dusty roads. Have a deep love and appreciation for all things African!
Bonjour Bruce, j’ai découvert ton blog par hasard. J’ai rarement lu en ces temps de passion et de subjectivité, des articles qui fassent le point sur la crise du Mali avec autant d’équilibre et surtout d’objectivité.Nous avons souvent l’impression que le Mali (avec ses forces et ses faiblesses ) dont certaines presses parlent n’est pas celui dans lequel nous vivons au quotidien. Je viens de lire ton dernier blog sur l’accord de Ouagadougou. Je le partage entièrement. Que Dieu te garde et te bénisse.
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Bruce, my congratulations for the very informative blog. I read your articles with great interest.I know Mali since 1985 when I started working there and lived there logngtime. I am back now for an evaluation. Since a I from Holland and my written english has not your leven I only write in Dutch but would like also to write in English. If you need extra info please ask me for it. I have been working in Goa, Tombouctou, Mopti, Segou, Sikasso. Koulikoro but only not in Kayes. My question is how Mali came in this terrible situation. I ask many malians about it and get very different answers. This week one person told me: It is our own error because we accepted multi-party democracy. My reactions was that is true but Mitterrand and his allies imposed Mali to accept it. You must know that Moussa Traore is very popular here now. Why? He never fled away and prays now a lot. I worked in Mali when he was still in power. He was a traditional ruler when all Malians were poor but shared their poverty.
Im intrested in Cultural Heritage in Mali by Rosa Dejorio could you blog about it?!
I think it is so interesting!
Excellent coverage Bruce, especially of the level of corruption involved with IBK’s 737, over-priced “D” checks and links with that dodgy Stephane Poncet. I only discovered your articles today. Stay safe in Bamako and keep up the good work. Following you from New Zealand.