Monday, July 01, 2013

Manuscripts and Voting...


The biggest news today is the acceptance by London of my reworked proposal for a further 2 years of funding for the Djenne Manuscript Library. We will receive £56000 and the project will keep  6 people working full time for two more years – I am quite chuffed! The team has worked faithfully through two years of difficult conditions- during the last year when Mali has been at war we have often been without electricity  during the day, but in the spirit of Dunkirk the staff has soldiered on regardless even if it meant working during the night, and we are now going to be able to present a collection of in excess of 130 000  images from these precious and ancient Arabic manuscripts.

And what else?
There is trouble brewing with regards to the elections. My dear friend the journalist Levy went to  pick up his ‘Carte Nina’ the other day here in Djenne. This is the identity card necessary to be able to vote in the forthcoming  Presidential elections on 28th of July. But no, there was no card available for him. He was told that he would have to wait until the next elections! Now, Levy is exactly the sort of Malian that absolutely has to be given his chance to vote! Passionately concerned about the future of his country, vocal and encouraging others to seize their chance to exercise their democratic right to vote, he has been told ‘ No, sorry , there has been a mistake, we can’t find your registration’.

It seems, according to the newspaper Echo (for which Levy often writes)  of Friday that there are1 167 000 people like Levy in Mali!
And that is not all: there are 360 000 people who are now 18 years old, and therefore have the right to vote, but cannot. Why? Because they never had the chance to register. The registration took place in 2011, for the forthcoming 2012 elections which never happened, as we know too well. These young people were too young to vote in 2012, but not now! So, the arithmetic is worrying to say the least: out of 7 000 000 people who theoretically should be able to vote, there are already 1 527 000 that cannot! And that is before we even start talking of the displaced population of the north, whose voting possibilities will be very difficult to secure. In a population which has never exceeded 30% at the ballot boxes, it may raise questions of legitimacy for the president that is voted in, and that can turn spark further unrest.
But the Americans and the French plow on regardless. There has to be an election at any price, right now! it seems.
Of course. Democracy and elections are always right. Just look at Egypt!

12 Comments:

Blogger David said...

Brava re the BL. Sorry about the bad news re the elections. Will it ever change? Is there the public will?

10:35 AM  
Blogger Charlotte Joy said...

Yes, very well done re. BL and well deserved.
Do give me a shout if there is anything I can do to help.

Thinking of you all as always

Charlotte

9:01 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Thank you both!
will be in London on July 30!have seen Anta, Charlotte.She greets you and is hard at the embroidery- she seems to have decided she'll do it all herself...
XCSophie

9:48 PM  
Blogger Susan Scheid said...

Brava about the Mss project!

As for the election issues, terrible. Recently here, the Supreme Court delivered a terrible setback, gutting the central tenets of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with the court's majority deciding that "current conditions" make the statute unnecessary. Immediately, Texas, I think it was, re-instituted restrictions akin to those you mention here. Will we never learn?

As for the issue of democracy and elections as always right, there is no question that the US is too blithe about this. Democracy is about much more than the vote. Fareed Zakaria wrote, for example: "From Peru to the Palestinian Authority, from Sierra Leone to Slovakia, from Pakistan to the Philippines, we see the rise of a disturbing phenomenon in international life -- illiberal democracy.

"It has been difficult to recognize this problem because for almost a century in the West, democracy has meant liberal democracy -- a political system marked not only by free and fair elections, but also by the rule of law, a separation of powers, and the protection of basic liberties of speech, assembly, religion, and property. In fact, this latter bundle of freedoms -- what might be termed constitutional liberalism -- is theoretically different and historically distinct from democracy."

I think we in the US tend to put on our blinders about this issue, feeling relief that a "democratic election" is possible without understanding that so much more is at stake.

12:41 AM  
Blogger David said...

That's a quotation to treasure, Sue, and confirms a hunch. It seems unbelievable under the present circumstances that Morsi insists on hanging on, like any people-blind dictator, determined to cause his country more suffering and bloodshed.

8:24 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Indeed a marvellous quotation Susan.
And Alhamdilullah! since you wrote the above,David, Morsi is gone! I suppose this could be technically be called a Military coup,so the US should condemn it? but if it clearly has the backing of the majority, then it is a Democratic Coup????

9:26 PM  
Blogger David said...

Ah, I was wondering as the train rolled towards Cheltenham - and you are the first to break the news to me, just as Sue was the first to tell me about the gay marriage rights outcome in America. Now I must go and see what's happening on the Beeb.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Laurent said...

Democracy and voting rights is a moving target. Unfortunately countries like the USA and France and many others estimate that if there is an election everyone votes, not so. It should be ensured first that all who are eligible can actually vote, then have an election. If 1.5 million people cannot vote in Mali then there is a serious problem. In Canada we have had elections since 1838 and women have been able to vote since 1919. In all countries it is a long process and a difficult one to ensure that all can vote.
Bravo on the manuscript project and all your efforts.

2:47 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Thank you Laurent!

4:16 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Thank you Laurent!

4:16 PM  
Blogger wanderer said...

Well, if I were finger pointing at disenfranchised voters, I would be forced to include the USA (pace readers of residency). I cite Australia, where voting is in fact compulsory and a fine is issued in a default, as setting a fine example in how to run the ballot box.

1:49 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Yes, it might be a good idea to make voting compulsory. But here it would be hard to enforce. It is difficult to punish 70% of the population!

11:05 PM  

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