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« June 2006 | Main | August 2006 »

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.

Geography:

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.

Society:

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.

Languages:

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.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS

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.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #30 of 54: Malawi

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
30. MALAWI
Flag of Malawi

Formal Name: Republic of Malawi.

Term for Citizens: Malawians.

Capital: Lilongwe. Population: 523, 000.

Independence Achieved: July 6, 1964, from Britain.

Major Cities: Blantyre, Population: 2,000,000.

Geography:

Malawi is in South Africa. It is bordered by Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Malawi is about 45, 749 square miles. It is about 560 miles in length but about 50-100 miles in length. The Great Rift Valley is in North Malawi. Lake Malawi is also in the north. The region around lake Malawi is rolling grassy plains. The soil is fertile and is heavily cultivated. The climate is tropical; three seasons are recognizable. Warm days and cool nights, May to August, hot September through November and rainy December through April. Average rainfall is 50 inches annually, although there are areas with over 120 inches of annual rainfall.

Society:

The population of Malawi is estimated at 12, 105,000.

Ethnic Groups:

The major ethnic groups are: Ngonde, Tumbuka, Tonga, Chewa, Yao, Ngoni, Sena, Lomwe, Nyanja and Swahili Arabs.

Languages: each of the ethnic groups speaks its own language. English is the official language.

Religion: Christians 80%, Indigenous and Islamic beliefs make up the rest.

Education: universal free primary education. Literacy rate is estimated at 62.7%.

Economy: Subsistence agriculture dominates the economy. GDP estimate: $7.2 billion; Per Capita GDP: $670. Monetary Unit: Kwacha (MWK).

History and Government:

Malawi was a British colony. In the 19th century it was called the British protectorate of Nyasaland. Upon independence from Britain, Malawi inherited British form of parliamentary democracy. However, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda and his party quickly transformed Malawi into a one party, personal rule. The death of Banda saw the return of some democracy in Malawi. Today, many political parties exist in Malawi, each vying for the opportunity to govern the people. The president tends to be stronger than the other branches of government. The country is divided into three regions and 26 districts. The head of state is an elected president.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS


The original people who lived in Malawi were Khoisan/Bushmen. Bantus, migrating from West Africa, eventually entered the area and constitute the majority of the inhabitants of Malawi.

Malawi is in interior Africa and was not a stopping ground for Europeans trading with India. However, Arab traders appeared to have been in Malawi buying slaves.

In 1859 David Livingstone explored Lake Nyasaland, now Lake Malawi. In 1891 the British made the area a protectorate, the protectorate of Nyasaland.

In the 1950s, Nyasaland was joined with the protectorates of Northern and Southern Rhodesia. In the meantime, this was the era of nationalist struggles for independence. Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda came back from his extended stay in America and Britain and joined the struggle for Malawi’s independence. His party, Malawi Congress Party, MCP, became the dominant party and won the pre-independence elections.

In 1963 Malawi became independent and Banda became the prime minister and in 1965 Malawi became a republic and Banda became its president.

Mr. Banda proceeded to ban all other parties and transformed his own party into an instrument for personal rule. Mr. Banda ruled Malawi as a one man autocrat.

In the 1990s, there was clamor for democracy in Africa and Banda was pressured into the train and amended the constitution and permitted multi political parties to compete in elections. In 1994 Mr. Bakali Muluzi and his United Democratic Front swept into office. Mr. Bakali Muzuli was reelected in 1999. In 2005, barred from competing for a third term, his party, under Bingy wa Mutharika, won the presidential election.

In 2005, Mr. Mutharika had a falling out with his UDF party and is currently ruling without it.

On the surface, the apparatus for democratic governance seem in place in Malawi: a National Assembly, a Senate, an elected President, and a judiciary.

The country is divided into three regions, which are further subdivided into 27 districts; 137 traditional authorities and 69 sub chiefs.

Malawi is dependent on agriculture, which accounts for 87% of all employment. The industrial sector is beginning to take some root but is so insignificant that it might as well not be mentioned. Malawi asks for foreign Aid, without which she would be in worse shape than she already is.

Posted by Administrator at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #29 of 54: Madagascar

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
29. MADAGASCAR
Flag of Madagascar

Formal Name: Republic of Madagascar.

Term for Citizens: Malagasy.

Capital: Antananarivo. Population: 1,689,000.

Date of Independence: June 25, 1960 from France.

Major Cities: Antananarivo.

Geography:

Madagascar is an island off the coast of East Africa, in the Indian Ocean. The nearest mainland African countries to Madagascar are Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa. Madagascar encompasses about 226,657 square miles. There are volcanic mountains in the north, broad plains in the west, and plateau in the southwest. The country broadly has two seasons: hot and rainy from November to April and cool, and dry season from May to October.

Society: The estimated population is 17, 404,000.

Ethnic groups: An estimated twenty ethnic groups exist in the country, the principal ones are: Merina, Betsileo, and Cotiers-mixed Arab, African and Malayo-Indonesian ancestry. Others are Comorans, French, Indo-Pakistanis, and Chinese.

Languages: The dominant language is Malagasy, which belongs to Malayo-Polynesian language family. The educated elements also tend to speak French.

Religion: About 50% practice indigenous religions and 45% Christians and 5% Muslim.

Education: There is free and compulsory elementary education. Literacy rate is estimated at 68.9%.

Economy: Agriculture is the larger part of the economy. Most exports are to France. GDP estimate: $12.6 billion; Per Capita GDP: $760. Monetary Unit: Malagasy Franc (MGF)

History and Government:

Madagascar is a confluence of African and Asian peoples. Malayan-Indonesian people settled on the Island 2000 years ago and ruled it until the 19th century when the French took over. When Independence was achieved in 1960, Madagascar adopted the French form of parliamentary democracy, with a president governing through a prime minister, who is in charge of the day-to-day affairs of governance. The three branches of government are formally separated, with strong political party activities. The president is elected every five years. He appoints a prime minister from the party with majority in the national Assembly. There is a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary. The country is divided into 6 provinces.



CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS


Madagascar is composed of Malays, Africans, Polynesians, Arabs and, lately, Europeans. The people reflect their mixed racial and cultural heritage, and it is difficult to ascertain whether they are Africans or Asians.

Arabs came calling buying African slaves and selling them in the Middle East. During the fifteenth century, the Portuguese came calling, too. When Britain outlawed slave trade its war ships patrolled the Indian Ocean checking Arab slavers. The British momentarily took control of Madagascar; at least, the coastal parts of it but eventually traded it with the French for the tiny island of Zanzibar, the hub of Arab slave trading. Thus in 1885, the French made Madagascar their protectorate. Madagascar was ruled by France until after the end of the Second World War. In 1960, Madagascar was given independence by France.

The politics of Madagascar has been the politics of competition by a few well known personalities for who would rule the country. Ratsiraka, Ravalomanana and Albert Zafy jostle for who would be the president and whichever comes to power alters the constitution to serve him.

The government itself is modeled after the French government; with a National Assembly and Senate, a Prime Minister who is appointed from the National Assembly by the executive President, a council of ministers nominated by the prime minister and approved by the president, and a supposedly independent judiciary.

The country is divided into six provinces, and further divided into regions, departments and communes.

The economy of Madagascar is based on the production and selling of crops like vanilla. The price of these produce is subject to fluctuations in the international market. Vanilla, for example, is a specialty crop that if those who use it, such as soft drink manufactures and ice cream manufactures, do not desire it in great quantity, little is sold and Madagascar’s economy goes into a tizzy. Madagascar has borrowed rather extensively and like other third world countries had been subjected to World Bank, IMF structural readjustment plans. This means being told to privatize her economy, sell off government owned corporations and tighten public spending.

President Ravalomanana is negotiating all these arrangements with his foreign creditors and little money is left for economic development of the country.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 07:26 AM | Comments (0)


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