Author Archives: brucewhitehouse

Africa comes to Washington

English novelist David Lodge once observed that professional conferences have become a modern form of pilgrimage. Much like medieval pilgrims, he wrote, conference-goers today “indulge themselves in all the pleasures and diversions of travel while appearing to be austerely bent … Continue reading

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Changement et désespoir : lettre d’un ami américain

Mon cher Lamine, Tu m’as demandé, une fois les résultats du scrutin présidentiel américain connus, “Comment cela a-t-il pu se produire ? Comment la démocratie la plus puissante du monde a-t-elle élu un démagogue déséquilibré à la présidence ?” Comme … Continue reading

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Despairing for change: A letter to a Malian friend

Dear Lamine, You asked me, once the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election was apparent: How could this happen? How could the world’s most powerful democracy elect a volatile demagogue to the highest office in the land? Like many … Continue reading

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Kicking the foreigners out

Amid the recent hype over Donald Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric in the US, the anniversary of a landmark crackdown on unwanted foreigners has quietly slipped past. 20 years ago this week, police broke down the doors of the Eglise Saint-Bernard in … Continue reading

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Is Mali heading back to the abyss?

July was a bad month for Mali. On the 12th, government security forces fired on unarmed demonstrators in Gao, killing three. The protestors were denouncing the establishment of interim local authorities–a provision of the peace accord signed in June 2015, … Continue reading

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Getting a read on Serval

From January 2013 through July 2014, the French military carried out on Malian territory a vast intervention codenamed Opération Serval. It has been reputed to be the largest unilateral overseas deployment of France’s armed forces since the Algerian war ended … Continue reading

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Terror comes to Mali’s capital, again

Why the Radisson? Bamako’s Radisson Blu hotel was a natural target for terrorists. There is just a handful of luxury hotels in Bamako, and the Radisson Blu is the only one whose name touts its Western ownership. There are no … Continue reading

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Uncomfortable truths about Mali

Some may recall a candid speech from a French diplomat in July 2012 about Mali and its neighbors. It was delivered by Laurent Bigot, then France’s top diplomat for West Africa. Bigot’s candor got him fired, but earned him a … Continue reading

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How to get filthy rich in sinking Africa

When a government gets serious about fighting corruption, certain effects quickly become visible. As a New York Times article showed last week in the case of Nigeria, once President Buhari’s crackdown got underway a few months ago, the people who’d … Continue reading

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Writing the Afropolis

Ryan Skinner’s Bamako Sounds is undoubtedly the most intelligent book I’ve read about contemporary Bamako in general, and its music scene in particular. It’s an important work, less for what it says about a given set of musical styles than … Continue reading

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