Recently the Malian military sacked their president. They forced the president to resign and dissolve his cabinet. Mali, another restive nation in the Sahel, presents a disturbing picture of Africa as a continent living on the fringes of competing interests.
Mali is key to understanding the fate of hope, human life and survival in the West African sub-region. Not only that, Mali stands as the intersection of competing capitalist interests and the struggle between faith and dogma on the sub-region. Furthermore, Mali is the home of Timbuktu, the unstable proprietor of Africa’s cultural rights. Timbuktu is the last frontline of the ultimate fight between humans and history. It is the dying mother of ancient wisdom. Mali, the final anchor of the Sahel’s drifting ship has fallen once again.
Mali stands at a crucial intersection. Rebels escaping from Libya after the fall of Ghaddafi had found a new space to test their supremacy and their capacity to vanquish, plunder, maraud and subdue. They found it in this home of Timbuktu and despite the international military presence, their reign has been overwhelmingly devastating.
What is happening in Mali today is exactly the fate of the West African sub-region. There is near Armageddon in the entire sub-region. Mali is only on the threshold of this Armageddon, perhaps, because of its well-positioned role as the cradle of ancient knowledge. This is a knowledge that many are laying claims to. The Islamic fundamentalists are claiming that Timbuktu should be delivered from Western stronghold to serve as the epicenter of religious impunity. There are so many other reasons why Timbuktu is at the center of this war. They’re beyond the scope of this short piece.
Taking a radical departure from the mainstream narrative we can argue that Mali is an experimental ground for testing the workability of western democracy. Yet western democracy has failed multiple times. It failed in the Majority of the sub-region, including in Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria. It failed again with the ousting of the Malian president. How did this democracy fail?
The failure is seen in two opposing forces: the Malian populace are jubilating because the military has just rescued them from their grand oppressor while the ECOWAS presidents have sanctioned the Malian military for doing the bid of the citizens. How does this bizarre democracy work? The French are also on one side condemning the sack of the Malian tyrant. What we have is a democratic system of officially sanctioned profiteers who prefer that the system collapses under a strange constitution. It is a democratic system that profits under official corruption, preferring the entire masses to die instead of altering this strange constitution. Any attempt to alter this constitution will dislocate national and international capital. That is why the French are on the same page with ECOWAS.
Today, Nigeria is not different from Mali. We may no longer doubt the Nigerian president who once declared that the bandits currently overrunning the nation are warlords escaping from Libya after the fall of Ghaddafi. Malian experience can attest to this fact and we all are now vulnerable. May God help us.
-By Prof. Okechukwu Nwafor