Daniel Halliday
Aug 4 · Last update 1 mo. ago.
How did Mali's history lead it to its current tense and violent elections?
How did Mali go from one of the richest pre-colonial empires in the world to a country so wrought with lasting politically violent tensions?
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The empire ended, Mali is simply named after this historic empire
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Violence here follows from the Tuareg independence movement and a push for an independent state
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French colonisers failure to eradicate slavery and bring together a divided country
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There was a slow and steady decline in the Malian Empire which has lead to its current circumstances
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The empire ended, Mali is simply named after this historic empire

There are few parallels to be drawn between the historical Empire of Mali and the current Republic of Mali. The Empire of Mali rose to dominate the trans-Saharan gold, salt and slave trade in the early 14th century. It became the second largest empire in the world geographically at the time, smaller only than the Mongol Empire, and arguably the richest, due to the abundance of gold mines in the region. This however came to an end long before the modern Republic of Mali, which took its name from the Historic Empire following countless regional name changes under French colonial rule. Although these states share a name they haven’t even shared the same territory...

Although these states share a name they haven’t even shared the same territory, the territory that is today known as Mali is only part of what made up this historical empire. The boarders of the Republic of Mali where drawn up in 1891 when the region was colonised originally as French Sudan. Moreover, the latest violence surrounding the Mali election were amidst the backdrop of a recent history of violent tensions, but a large reason for this violent protest was also police mistreatment and the failure of president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta to improve security in the country since 2013. Again the link between the two is questionable...

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 17
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DH edited this paragraph
Although these states share a name they haven’t even shared the same territory, the territory that is today known as Mali is only part of what made up this historical empire. The boarders of the Republic of Mali where drawn up in 1891 when the region was colonised originally as French Sudan. Moreover, the latest violence surrounding the Mali election were amidst the backdrop of a recent history of violent tensions, but a large reason for this violent protest was also police mistreatment and the failure of president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta to improve security in the country since 2013. Again the link between the two is questionable...
Violence here follows from the Tuareg independence movement and a push for an independent state

The Tuareg fight for independence arguably goes back to rebelling against French colonialism in 1881. Tuareg territory and culture was dismantled through colonialism and there have been a long run of rebellions pushing for independence in the post-colonial era. Violence surrounding the latest elections in Mali took place originally as a protest against the re-election of president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, but was arguably more pronounced due to the long history of ethnic tensions following the last push for Tuareg independence in the country that ended in 2013.

In the late 19th Century as French colonialism pushed through central Sahara, the former French soldier Paul Flatters lead the Flatters expedition to investigate the possibility of a trans-Saharan railroad. The expedition ended in a massacre committed by Tuareg groups (the Kel Ahaggar, the Awlad Sidi Shaykh and the Senussi) and marked the start of a bloody French campaign in North Africa. Numerous battles continued and massacres occurred on both sides as the French pushed to take over the region, and Tuareg groups such as the Kel Ahaggar in southern Algeria fought hard to resist French colonialism. All Tuareg tribes slowly fell victim to superior French weaponry and signed Treaties in Mali and Niger ceding power to France in 1905 and 1917 respectively, as a result the Tuareg’s confederate tribal system that spanned 5 North Africa countries was dismantled and split between Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Burkina Faso.

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 17
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DH edited this paragraph
In the late 19th Century as French colonialism pushed through central Sahara, the former French soldier Paul Flatters lead the Flatters expedition to investigate the possibility of a trans-Saharan railroad. The expedition ended in a massacre committed by Tuareg groups (the Kel Ahaggar, the Awlad Sidi Shaykh and the Senussi) and marked the start of a bloody French campaign in North Africa. Numerous battles continued and massacres occurred on both sides as the French pushed to take over the region, and Tuareg groups such as the Kel Ahaggar in southern Algeria fought hard to resist French colonialism. All Tuareg tribes slowly fell victim to superior French weaponry and signed Treaties in Mali and Niger ceding power to France in 1905 and 1917 respectively, as a result the Tuareg’s confederate tribal system that spanned 5 North Africa countries was dismantled and split between Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Burkina Faso.
French colonisers failure to eradicate slavery and bring together a divided country

The period between the Empire of Mali and modern Mali is a vast amount of time with many changes taking place, however it is arguably under the years of French colonialism that policy put Mali’s current state of affairs in place. The Ancient Mali Empire was thought to have been where Sufi Islam merged with indigenous animist beliefs that many ethnic groups still practice today. This was distinct from the Sunni Islam of the subsequent Tuareg Berber tribes that came to occupy a region of central Sahara that covers present day Mali, Algeria, Libya, Niger and as far south as Burkina Faso.

In the twentieth century France came to control most of North-West Africa during the ’scramble for Africa’ and the Tuareg territory, then divided into confederations, was dismantled and rearranged to fit todays modern country borders. In 1905 France officially ended the slave trade in the French West African colony, and many slaves were given French sponsored land to move away from their former masters. However, this decree was only maintained in the South West of the territory, and the Tuareg population of the North East carried on with slaves as a normal part of their households for decades later. These large differences coupled with a French colonial policy intended to not let Islam become too powerful a force in the country left a sharp ethnic and religious divide in the country. This has arguably laid the foundation for current conflict and strife for regional autonomy in the country.

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 12
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DH edited this paragraph
The period between the Empire of Mali and modern Mali is a vast amount of time with many changes taking place, however it is arguably under the years of French colonialism that policy put Mali’s current state of affairs in place. The Ancient Mali Empire was thought to have been where Sufi Islam merged with indigenous animist beliefs that many ethnic groups still practice today. This was distinct from the Sunni Islam of the subsequent Tuareg Berber tribes that came to occupy a region of central Sahara that covers present day Mali, Algeria, Libya, Niger and as far south as Burkina Faso.
There was a slow and steady decline in the Malian Empire which has lead to its current circumstances

Mali’s Empire is well known from the Hajj of Mansa Musa, the Emperor of Mali, thought to be one of the richest men in history, who carried out a pilgrimage from Timbuktu to Mecca in 1324, building a mosque every Friday and giving unthinkable amounts of gold to peasants on the way. Musa’s unimaginable wealth is thought to have been a combination of a comprehensive tax system and a large amount of natural resources, namely gold and salt. His trade and generosity was also so great that his pilgrimage is reported to have devalued the price of gold in Egypt and Arabia for 12 years. Musa returned to Mali in 1325 and continued to have mosques and palaces built in Timbuktu and Gao, even converting Sankoré University to have one of the largest libraries in the world before his death in 1337.

However after generations of weak emperors throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, the Songhai Empire rose to prominence as Mali declined. The Mali empire continued to loose its once massive territories in subsequent generations until a famine in the 19th century devastated the region. This was followed by French colonial rule in the latter part of the century and independence from French rule in 1960. After a period of one party rule of the country a coup in 1991 gave rise to the current multiparty system in Mali.

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 12
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DH edited this paragraph
However after generations of weak emperors throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, the Songhai Empire rose to prominence as Mali declined. The Mali empire continued to loose its once massive territories in subsequent generations until a famine in the 19th century devastated the region. This was followed by French colonial rule in the latter part of the century and independence from French rule in 1960. After a period of one party rule of the country a coup in 1991 gave rise to the current multiparty system in Mali.
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