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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #30 of 54: Malawi | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #32 of 54: Mauritania »

July 23, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #31 of 54: Mali

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
31. MALI
Flag of Mali

Formal Name: Republic of Mali.

Term of Citizens: Malians.

Capital: Bamako. Population: 1, 161, 000

Independence Achieved: June 20, 1960, from France.

Major Cities: Timbuktu, Bamako.


Mali is in West Africa. It is bordered by Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Mauritania. The republic of Mali covers 478, 766 square miles. The topography is flat, consisting of plains and plateaus. River Niger runs through Mali and its riverside areas provide the fertile agricultural parts of the country. The country has three climatic zones: the south, the Sudanic climate zone; it has very little rain fall annually, usually 15 inches annually; the Sahel north with little rain, very hot; and the Sahara in the extreme north, this area has scant rain, if at all; drought is very common here.


Mali’s population is estimated at 13, 007,000. Overall the country is sparsely populated, with most of the people living along the Niger River, particularly around the Bamako, Seguo, Mopti, Kayes, Sikasso, and San.

Ethnic Groups:

The main ethnic groups are Bambara, Malinke, Peule (Fula), Sarakole (Soninke), Songhay, Dogon, Senufo, Bobo, Bozo, Somono, Taureg, Maure, Diawara, Dioula, and many smaller groups.


Each of the ethnic groups speaks specific languages. The major languages are: Bambara, the lingua franca of Mali, Fulfulde, and Songhay. The Bambara and the Malinke dominate the political discourse of the country.

Religion: 70% of Malians identify themselves as Muslim. A few Christians are found in the capital city area.

Education: Education in Islamic reading is common but education in the Western sense is very sparse. Literacy is estimated at 46.4%.

Economy: Agriculture along the Niger River and fishing has been Mali’s historic economic activities. GDP estimate: $9.8 billion; Per Capita GDP: $860. Monetary Unit: CFA Franc BCEAO (XOF)

History and Government:

Contemporary Mali is the setting of three Middle-Ages African empires: Ghana, Mali and Songhai. It became Muslim and produced one of the most famous African places of learning, Timbuktu. France eventually conquered Mali and the country became a French colony in the 19th century. Upon independence from France, Mali inherited the French style of government. However, the Bambara and Malinke traditionally dominated Malian government and that dealt a blow to democratic processes. Ethnic rivalries are very rampant in Mali. Mali is divided into 8 regions and one capital district. The head of state is the president who governs through a prime minister.


Present day Mali was part of the famed Mali Empire of West Africa. Indeed, it was also part of Songhai and Ghana Empires. It would, therefore, seem that Mali is an ancient state. Alas, that is not the case, for the present Mali is not continuous with those ancient empires.

Present Mali was put together by France in 1880 as part of what was called French Sudan. That French Sudanese colony included present day Mauritania and Senegal.

In 1960, France gave independence to Mali and Modibo Keita became the president. After Keita’s dictatorship, other dictators took over until the 1990s when Africa was under international pressure to turn democratic. Mali wrote a new constitution and in 1992 an election was held and Mr. Alpha Oumar Konare won Mali’s first democratic election. In 2002 he was succeeded by Amadou Toumani Toure.

Mali seems to have the apparatus for democratic governance in place: an elected president who serves two five years, (term limits), a National Assembly, a Prime Minister and council of minister who are responsible for the day to day affairs of the government, and an independent judiciary.

The Country is divided into eight regions, which are further subdivided into 49 cercles and further subdivided into 288 arondissements.

Mali’s economy is virtually non-existent. 65% of the country is desert; marginal agriculture exists along the banks of River Niger. 80% of the people irk out a living through subsistence agriculture and 10% are nomadic. The Tuaregs and Maurs roam the Sahara desert, refusing attempts to organize them into permanent settlements.

Posted by Administrator at July 23, 2006 03:25 PM


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