Author's note: This is only my initial assessment. I've not been in Mali long enough and I don't know many people yet to really know how conscious they are.
One of my friends told me that Africa’s salvation lays in the hands of the diaspora and that I shouldn't have high expectations of Malians.
I still have mix feelings about his statement. On the one hand, I'm happy to be part of what can save Africa, although we should be careful and not become Black White saviours. On the other, it saddens me that he has such low expectations of those who stayed home.
Mali, a French colony (I say colony and not former colony for a reason), is not particularly known world-wide. Apart from the recent war, people generally don't know much about it. The so-called conscious community has more information about Mali’s past: The Great Mali Empire founded by Sunjata Keita, the universities of Timbuktu and the richest man in human history Mansa Musa.
But we're all oblivious to its present. Just the other day I was watching the French news and I found out that there had been an attack on a military base in Nampala. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the Malian “president”, re-instated a 10-day state of emergency. Generally all the news I get from my country are from the Internet but not all Malians have access to it or know how to use it.
There's an incredible lack of communication between the government and the people it's supposed to rule. I knew more about Mali when I was in Europe than Malians in Mali.
The other problem I noticed is police brutality. The police, 'gendarmerie' and the military/army are institutions that are supposed to protect and serve their people, but more often than not abuse the power given them by the people.
My brother was unfortunately beaten by one 'gendarme' for no reason other than standing in a queue in front of the Modibo Keita Stadium. The following day we went to the gendarmerie station and I let my rage and my utter disgust do the talking.
Initially they laughed, but when I said that not only was I Malian but also an Italian citizen they took me more seriously.
It's very telling of how little consideration they have of their own people.
I was even more disappointed by the reaction of my cousin and his friends. They too laughed at me and said that that's simply how things are in Mali and that there's nothing we can do about it. Everybody complains but no one has the courage to change.
I find 'riconforto' in these words (Assata Shakur: about craziness). I think I know too much and that I'm surrounded by people who know too little, hence resulting in being the crazy one.
Not long ago the French and the Malian army shot and killed some civilians who were protesting against their presence.
My question is: do Malians know what is happening, especially in terms of neo-colonialism, or are they too scared to oppose it?
One thing is for sure, there's an awful lot of work to do.
Malians, wake up.