Mali cries out for help

By Kofi Ayim

The insurgence of Islamic radicals and militants that infiltrated and invaded northern Mali has brought untold hardships to citizens, the depth of which the world is yet to fully understand. The invasion of January 2012 with highly sophisticated weaponry from Libya and elsewhere included the Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), Ancar Dine, Al-Queda of Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), and the Movement for the Oneness of Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).

The siege and occupation was characterized by savagery that included rape, amputation, torture, stoning, and summary execution brought forth by stringent Sharia laws. The Mali military, unable to take on the insurgence with their outdated weaponry turned on the government in a botched takeover. The commotion in the capital Bamako emboldened the insurgence up north and precipitated a ripple effect that eventually saw the MNLA and its several Tuareg mercenaries kicked out of Mali by the mostly foreign Islamic groups.  The Economic Community of West Africa –ECOWAS – placed an embargo on the military rulers urging them to hand over to a constitutionally elected leader. Both the embargo and the upheaval by the jihadists collapsed the economy resulting in untold hardship in Mali. This stark and gloomy portrait was painted by Malian nationals at a press conference organized June 16 by the African Commission of the Office of the Mayor of the Mayor of Newark and the Association Benkadi of Malians in New Jersey.

In a presentation, Professor Diola Bagayoko, a Malian indigene and distinguished professor of Physics at the Southern University System, who returned from Mali in May pointed out that even though the embargo has long been lifted, and the invaders defeated, the effects of the invasion continue to cripple the economy of Mali. According to Professor Bakayoko, hundreds of thousands of Malians have been displaced and basic necessities of life such as food, shelter, clothing, water, and medication are a daily herculean challenge.

He traced the history of the Mali Empire at its apogee in the 13th and 14th century to its current state of 1.2 million square km with a population of about 15.5 million. The gift of Mali to the world, Prof Bagayoko emphasized, is well documented, and lamented on the sad and sorrowful state of an empire that was once the envy of the world. He said the occupying Islamists destroyed several UNESCO designated World Heritage monuments, however, about 95 percent of rare ancient manuscripts were able to be smuggled out to Bamako. He appealed to international bodies and governments as well as individuals, as a matter of urgency to answer Mali’s desperate call for help.

Other speakers included Dosso Kassimou, Chair of the African Commission, Michael Gray (for Congressman Donald M. Payne Jnr.), Newark City Councilwoman-at-large Mildred Crump, Community leader and activist Barbara, King, and Youssouf Camara, a recent graduate of the University of Pennslyvania. All called on the United States to take a leading role in the humanitarian needs of the suffering population of Mali.

 For further information, contact Dosso Kassimou @ 973 849-5209  

Posted by on Jul 12 2013. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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