In Mali, the gold mine of Africa, a military coup took place, the country’s top leadership was arrested, and the president agreed to abdicate. This caused sharply negative comments from the Russian and French Foreign Ministries, and the next part of this story could be the French invasion. In general, the Malian crisis confirms what was known before: democracy does not work without money.
Colonialism is now blamed for all the troubles in black Africa. The list of troubles is well known – appalling poverty, extremely low quality of life, chronic wars and odious regimes replacing each other through coups d’etat.
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“The whites will still answer for this,” the legendary President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe , who was sometimes called “black Hitler” by the media, used to say .
This is the rare case when the diagnosis is correct, but the history is worthless.
From the point of view of the “new ethics”, colonialism must be blamed for sucking resources out of African peoples, preventing them from developing – and here you are, a continent of a thousand troubles.
However, the real fault of the colonialists lies elsewhere. Thanks to them, the modern states of black Africa dripping with sweat, pus and blood did not arise in a natural (that is, national) way, as, for example, in Europe. Their borders are the borders of former colonies that did not take into account the ethnic picture on the ground. So, within the framework of one country, tribes and peoples were united, which often could not stand each other, spoke completely different languages and worshiped different gods. This extremely complicated the nation-building, preserved tribalism, gave rise to conflicts, an atmosphere of mutual distrust and ugly political systems created according to the principle of “the winner-tribe takes everything and oppresses everyone else.”
The Republic of Mali is almost like that – a multi-ethnic, though predominantly Muslim state (more than 80% of the population), but you also need to understand that other Malians adhere to traditional beliefs, that is, they are polytheists and are subject to destruction from the point of view of radical Islam.
Now another military coup has taken place there, which began with a mutiny of the armed forces under the command of General Sheik Fantamadi Dembele and two brothers-colonels Diau and Mama Seku Lelant. Less than a day after the storming of the military base in the city of Kati, which became the headquarters of the putschists, all the country’s top leadership – President Ibrahim Boubakar Keita, Prime Minister Bubu Sisse and Speaker of Parliament Moussa Timbine – were there.
Shortly thereafter, 75-year-old Keita, who took over the country in 2013, resigned. And the opposition “June 5 Movement” declared that it was not a military coup at all, but a natural result of the “people’s revolution”.
Indeed, in recent months, the republic has had its own version of “Belarus”: opposition rallies of many thousands demanded the president’s resignation, accusing him of conniving at corruption and falsifying the will of the people. Keita, through the Supreme Court, succeeded in overturning the results of parliamentary elections in several single-member constituencies, as a result of which his party won a majority.
It is highly likely that later all this will be declared not just a “victory of democracy”, but altogether – a “democratic process.” Even despite the fact that Paris – the main guardian of Mali – now pretends that everyone is out of anger and categorically condemns what is happening.
“Democracy”, if we are talking about Mali, is basically the key word. Until relatively recently, this country was considered an established, relatively developed and even advanced democracy by African standards. Moreover, this was the opinion of the same people who considered Russia to be among the states with a rigid form of authoritarianism.
This made Mali something almost unique in black Africa. The republic was set as an example.
The history of the Malian state is interesting and very long. Its lands were decisive for two empires, the first of which – Ghana – appeared in the 3rd century, and the second, which existed in the late Middle Ages, was also called Mali. Then the Songhai trade power arose, followed by several more, the period of the Moroccan conquest was followed by the period of the Bambara nation state (one of the largest ethnic groups in the country) and the Islamic empire of Vassulu.
For about a century, Mali and neighboring Senegal formed a single French colony, and from the end of World War II to the second half of the 1950s, they were overseas territories of France, that is, the Malians had full French citizenship. Having gained independence, they began to build socialism, preach the Marxist-Leninist doctrine and make friends with Moscow. This did not bring any particular benefit to anyone – neither the USSR nor Mali, and after the coup d’état of 1968, the pro-Western dictatorship of Moussa Traore came to replace the hungry Malian socialism, which lasted until 1991, that is, until the next putsch.
It was then that democracy is said to have flourished in Mali. The press in the country was recognized as free, elections – fair, politics – public. The courts seemed to be working, the opposition opposed the authorities, and the authorities did not touch the opposition. The French were sincerely proud that under their tutelage the former colony had become a part of the “free world”, because, it would seem, what a wilderness – and such customs.
The truth, however, is that compliance with high Western standards did not give Mali much more happiness than Marxism-Leninism. A well-known feature of its statehood was and remains the impenetrable poverty of the population.
Malians could look down on their neighbors when it came to all kinds of democracy indices, but otherwise everything was very, very bad, wherever you stick – life expectancy or infant mortality, per capita income or the availability of basic goods.
The most eloquent figure, perhaps, is this: among Malian men, only half are literate, among women – only one third.
An uneducated society is easy to manipulate, and this was the dark secret of Malian democracy, as well as democracy, for example, in India, where the ruling party won elections for decades, filling millions of votes with administrative measures from the very bottom of society.
India, however, has since gone far ahead, while Mali has stagnated. The population grew rapidly, but there was no more food, and in 2012 the vaunted democracy also fell apart. First, the separatist formation Azavad, created by the Tuaregs and Islamists, arose in the desert north. This was followed by a new military coup, and the Islamists went to war against the Tuaregs, dragging the country into the bloodbath of the “Arab Spring”. Since then, with French military assistance, it has been possible to pacify both those and these, but the past, 2019, year was marked by the ethnic cleansing of the Fulbe people, who were suspected of having links with Islamists.
Being under the obsessive military and political patronage of France, Mali did not degenerate into a typical dictatorship, and the cunning President Keita was always ready to cooperate with any human rights activists. But now everything seems to have come to a critical point. What is happening sharply does not suit Paris, which means that even a military intervention is possible (the French visit their former colonies crowded and armed much more often than anyone else), and chaos, and a lot of blood, and the collapse of the unfortunate country, the poverty of the population of which by the standards of the 21st century, it seems simply indecent.
With another coup, Mali once again confirms the long-known truth. Progressive institutions, carefully constructed in Western fashion, will still not work if almost the entire population is struggling to make ends meet. The country will endlessly be thrown into extremes – unrest, revolutions and coups – simply because people have nothing to eat.
In theory, such a life may correspond to very high political standards, but in practice we are talking about endless manipulation, exploitation and purely corrupt interactions between the elites and the people.
And the main smirk of history, perhaps, is that the lands of Mali are rich in gold (but they are not rich in anything else, apart from peanuts, cotton and unique monuments of imperial times). A beautiful, classical literary move would be to portray the Malian mines as the root of evil and the reason that the French are still patronizing the Malians. However, the heirs of Napoleon have let and continue to pour in these sands much more money than they could earn on Malian gold, even in theory.
It will only get worse in the future, since the population of the impoverished republic is growing rapidly, and the combination of youth and disorder is a breeding ground for Islamism. As practice shows, in such cases, even Western curators forget about democracy and confidently rely on a tough police regime so that local terrorism does not reach the international level.