Mali - country of the Hippo
Mali is on the southern edge of the Sahara desert in West Africa, and known as the Republic of Mali. Area of 1.24 million square kilometers, with a population of 10,800,000. Mainly muslim, the people speak the Bambara language, but the official language is French. The capital is Bamako.
The flag of Mali is green to symbolize its fertile oasis, red for the fighting for the independence of the motherland at the expense of the blood of martyrs and yellow for Mali's mineral resources. Green, yellow and red are known as the Pan-African colors and are also a symbol of the unity of African countries.
Mali became a French colony in 1895. In 1958 an autonomous republic was established. In June 1979 the Second Republic was established. Then, in March 1991, there was an outbreak of social unrest, and an interim government was set up. On June 1992, the Third Republic was established.
The Malian economy is based on agriculture and animal husbandry, with the main planting millet, sorghum, maize and rice. Mali is a major fish producing country in West Africa, and the Nile perch is most valuable. Mali also produces beautiful hand-woven carpets. Mali women have elegant hair and wear two nose rings, one set in the nose and one between the two nostrils. They also wear big heavy earrings.
The Dogon, Fulani and Tuareg ethnic groups make up the majority in Mali.
The Dogon are an ethnic group located mainly in the administrative districts of Bandiagara and Douentza. Within these regions the Dogon population is most heavily concentrated along a 200 kilometre stretch of escarpment called the cliffs of Bandiagara near Timbuktu, south of the Sahara Desert in West Africa. The cliffs provide a spectacular physical setting for Dogon villages built on the sides of the escarpment. There are approximately 700 Dogon villages. The Dogons are incredibly industrious farmers and their homeland the Pays Dogon, has been designated a World Heritage site because of its cultural significance.The Dogon are also famous for their artistic designs in woodcarvings and elaborate masks. Their dances include over 80 varieties of masks, each depending on the type of celebration.
The Fulani of Mali are also known as the Fulfulde or Peul. Most estimates of their number in Mali range between 850,000 to 1,000,000 people. The majority of the Fulani are from a sub-group known as the Futa Jalon. The Fulani people comprise the largest nomadic society in the world covering at least six nations in West Africa. Fourteen million Fulani are spread throughout Northwest and Central Africa. The major concentration of Mali's Fulani population is located within a 150 kilometre radius of the city of Mopti. Most urban Fulani tend to be sedentary, commercial people, whereas the rural Fulani tend to be migratory herdsmen.
The Tuareg, or 'blue men of the desert' (named for their indigo robes and turbans) are an ancient nomadic tribe still eking out a desert existence. They are a proud race of people, famous for their fighting abilities and artwork, now staring urbanisation and resettlement in the face. Drought and government policy are threatening their traditional way of life but Tuaregs and their camel-caravans still appear unexpectedly on the horizon before melting into the desert again.
Ali Farka Toure
Amadou and Mariam