Daniel Halliday
Aug 4 · Last update 3 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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Violence here follows from the Tuareg independence movement and a push for an independent state
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The empire ended, Mali is simply named after this historic empire
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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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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 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 there took place between government continued ethnic tensions following the last push for independence that ended in 2013.

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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, with the abundance of the 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 name changes for the region under French colonial rule. Although these states share a name they haven’t even shared the same territory...

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French colonisers failure to eradicate slavery and bring together a divided country

Although there is arguably a long period of time between the Empire of Mali and modern Mali with many changes taking place, it is arguably under the years of French colonialism that policy put Mali’s current state of affairs in place. In 1905 France officially ended the slave trade in the French West African colony, 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 Tuareg households for decades later. This coupled with a French colonial policy intended to not let Islam become too powerful a force in the country left a sharp ethnic/religious divide in the country also. This has arguably laid the foundation for current conflict and strive for regional autonomy in the country.

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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, giving unthinkable amounts of gold to the poor on the way. 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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