Aminata Traoré ... A large African Voice
Badly affected by wars, coups, epidemics ... Africa has long played the role of victim face to rich countries. However, women and men have ceased to believe in the economic and social development of the continent and fight with courage and determination. Aminata Traoré is one of those influential African personalities who believe strongly in the future of their continent. Here is an interview with Aminata Traoré, a charismatic figure of anti-globalization, activist and committed to the emancipation of Africa.
Could you elaborate on your career and politics?
I was a researcher at the University of Abidjan from 1975 to 1988 and seconded to the Ministry of Women's Affairs of Côte d'Ivoire. I then worked from 1988 to 1992 as a UNDP regional program to promote the role of women and disadvantaged communities in managing water and sanitation. This route has taught me to better understand the relationship between cause and effect between the internal realities in our country and the world order. I served as Minister of Culture and Tourism in Mali from 1997 to 2000. I am an essayist and one of the leaders of the social movement in Mali and Africa. In the field, I try to live my speech about another possible world through micro-projects in the fields of culture, infrastructure rehabilitation of neighbourhoods, including mine, and the promotion of textiles and the African crafts.
You're also a writer and you just published Letter to the President of the French on the Côte d'Ivoire and Africa in general, could you elaborate?
Given the weight of France's former colonies, especially in Côte d'Ivoire, which was the French showcase in West Africa, it seemed important to remind the President of the French about the need for shared responsibility. Dealing with conflicts plaguing Africa through the lens of tribalism allows France to escape, and to trivialize the evils of capitalism in its former colonies. The Ivorian is indeed one of the expressions of intolerance that is exacerbated by unemployment, inequality and injustice whose causes are beyond macroeconomic populations. In other words, the Ivorian as an ideology of exclusion, would not have emerged and received an important echo had there not been misinformation of the public about the shortness of the economic model of a prosperous Côte d'Ivoire. The bad faith of the French authorities is understandable but unfortunate. Why not admit the end of the capitalist model that has succeeded in Côte d'Ivoire, in the 60s and 70s, and question the merits of the French presence in Côte d'Ivoire and West Africa. What is not feasible is for France or some African elite ideologically to be politically dependent.
Thanks to your perseverance, you have awakened the conscience of continuous dramatic African dependencies that plague the continent's development efforts. What are your current actions and future?
Micro-projects mentioned above, which I am working on, participate in the rehabilitation of the gaze of Malians and Africans themselves and their country. At least that is my wish because the renewed confidence in ourselves is fundamental, indeed essential. The awakening of conscience that they will create will bring Africans, non-voters and consumers, who are all citizens who participate in making decisions in an informed way, to exercise their right to examine reforms that are implemented on their behalf . The next World Social Forum in Bamako, which will be one of the sites in January 2006 will, hopefully, be one of the highlights of this work.
How do you perceive the current relationship between France and Africa?
The powerful relations between France and our country, that have always been uneven, are even more so today. France can not take the risk of a genuine disengagement in Africa that it needs in the race for market share imposed by neoliberalism. She pretended to withdraw for failing to address the consequences of the past and present depravity, but operates through various devices including the Francophonie summit of Heads of State, military cooperation agreements, and media economics. France could operate better, offering more cooperation with Africa, but for the liberal virus eating into her bosom that she insists on exporting. But in France, I have a network of friends and allies with whom I fight, convinced that another Africa is possible only with a social Europe based on solidarity.
December 16, 2005