Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bamako Troubles

Spending a few days in Bamako, mainly on manuscript library business. Cheik Oumar, Keita’s nephew is driving me around town in the old Merc and we have skirted narrowly around several trouble spots today. The youth of Bamako have taken to the streets in District 4 which incorporates Lafiabougou , the neighbourhood of Keita’s Grande Famille where he grew up and where his old auntie and his cousins still live. As we were arriving for lunch at La Tante’s tyres were burning in the streets and angry youths were milling around- earlier the gendarmes had been out and administered tear gaz.
This civil unrest  has nothing to do with  the matters that have caused Mali’s political instability  during the last few years but is brought about by the arrest of a Rasta radio personality, Ras Bath,  a hero of the youth, and   a fearless whistleblower on mismanagement in public affairs. Among the many misdemeanours he has reported in his radio programme  is an affair involving  the Malian Prime Minister Modibo Keita.  The Prime Minister had been given a sum of 17million CFA from the treasury in order to receive medical treatment in Algeria.  However, the  Algerian government  decided to take on the cost of his treatment as a favour to Mali. Modibo Keita allegedly never paid the seventeen million back into the state funds.  
Ras Bath was arrested on Friday on a vague charge of public indecency. The day before his arrest he  had announced on his radio programme that he was about to denounce a high officer within the Malian Army  for mismanagement of  Army funds. This morning at ten o’clock he trial was heard in the court of District 4 which declenched the civil unrest.  

Bamako seems something of a powder keg at the moment, and people are increasingly dissatisfied with IBK’s government.  It was hardly a co incidence that the rubbish collection vans of District 4 decided to empty the contents of their vans on the streets this morning – they too joined  in the demonstration  of general discontent but their complaint was about the fact that District 4 has been chosen to be the so-called ‘transitory dumping site’ for Bamako’s rubbish. Nothing is being done to move the rubbish from this ‘transitory’ position which has instead become a permanent and increasingly  toxic health hazard: The rubbish mountain is now thirty metres high.

Meanwhile Djenné continues in its sleepy way with never even a minor gust of unrest to ruffle its serenity. But the people of Bamako dare not leave for Djenné, thinking it is a very dangerous place.


Blogger David said...

Good to have a clearer picture on this. It was rather garbled in our press.

6:18 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Oh really? I didn't think it would make the European press at all. Interestingly, both Facebook and Twitter has been taken off the air in Bamako today, undoubtedly not to stoke the flames further...

11:09 PM  
Blogger jm.herraiz said...

Here, in Spain, the international current affaire of the week is the "burkini" controversy...

8:02 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Sounds very intriguing but have no idea what it could mean! But that is just because I have been travelling back to Djenné with my fifteen year old 'son'- Moussa Keita (Keita's son) who is spending some summer holiday time not followed everything as closely as I should!

7:05 PM  
Blogger jm.herraiz said...

I meant to be ironic, but actually, the burkini - the muslim woman swimsuit - is a very difficult issue. Anyway, next day I wrote that, the news about the trial of that individual responsible for the demolition of Timbuktu mausoleums came to the headlines, even here in Spain. Good news about Mali, for a change.

6:34 PM  
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