Unfortunately, some problems I had using the new WordPress editor’s interface earlier today disrupted my train of thoughts as I was trying to write a post on Mali. I was trying to knit together quickly some information from a few different sources, things I’d read in the past and happened to recall and some background I had added to those things earlier this morning. I was juggling several things around in my head, but WordPress’s new design kept asserting itself. Eventually, after my unfamiliarity with the new interface caused me to make some mistakes and lose some of my writing, I just got too frustrated and published the half-written post.
Anyway, before giving up, I made this map of Mali showing the region that had split away a couple of years ago and the approximate location of the national languages. I thought since I did the work I might as well post it.
One of the things I would have noted had I finished the article was that the breakaway region included some ethnic groups other than the Tuareg.
Unmentioned in most reports, however, is the fact that the relatively densely inhabited southern part of “Azawad” is occupied largely by non-Tuareg peoples, which complicates the political situation considerably. As in-depth reporting, such as that of National Public Radio’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, shows, the Songhai, Fulfulde, and other indigenous residents of the middle Niger region are not happy with the self-declared country. As she reports:
[W] e think of the north and the Sahara Desert as being Tuareg country, but there are many, many other tribes who live there, the biggest being the Songhai, but there are also the Bella who used to be the slaves of the Tuaregs, and other smaller ethnic groups also live in the north. They held a meeting, those living in Bamako, the capital, yesterday to say, no. We are – we don’t want independence. We are part of Mali. We want to remain part of Mali.