Stories from Quick Reads and Mali
Don Osborne discusses a news feature on the Olivet Nazarene University website showing a map of “The Second Most Spoken Languages Around the World.” He points out key problems from the map:
The first issue is assuming that “The most spoken language in any country is often obvious; usually, it’s the official language of the country.” In Africa this often is not the case, if by “most spoken” one counts number of speakers. An example is Mali, whose linguistic profile was explored on this blog in discussing the long-tail of languages – Bambara is certainly more used than the official French.
Official language is a category that doesn't lend itself to ranking use of languages in Africa, beyond the (admittedly important) context of official use and its spillover to popular use. In the case of two countries at least, this runs into additional problems:
•South Africa has 11 official languages (the Olivet site incorrectly lists only one of them – Zulu – as official). So one of the official languages will be second most spoken. Perhaps that is Xhosa as indicated, but the model focusing on official languages hasn't worked here.
•Rwanda has three official languages (Kinyarwanda, French, and English), and Central African Republic two (Sango and French). Since the site doesn't consider these official languages in discussing second most widely spoken, it is reduced to stating that Swahili is “second” most used in Rwanda, and that indigenous languages are used in CAR – which doesn't tell us much.
Read part 2 of his discussion here.
The LGBT Muslims blog identified 5 Muslim nations where the legal system does not outlaw homosexuality. The 5 countries are : Mali, Jordan, Indonesia, Turkey and Albania. While the law in these countries does not criminalize gay lifestyles, the LGBT Muslims blog points out that LGBT communities still suffer from discrimination and non-negligible pressure to remain discreet regarding their lifestyles. Still, the main take away lesson is that gay rights may be more advanced than most would believe in the aforementioned countries.
— Jason Morrell (@CNNJason) July 25, 2014
The first footage of the plane crash are now available thanks to a Burkinabe soldier present on the site of the wreck near Gossi, in Northern Mali. There are no survivors among the 118 people on board, including more than 50 French nationals. Algerian website Algérie Focus reports in French that:
Cette vidéo montre des débris éparpillés et broyés. La zone sablonneuse a été noircie par le crash. Sur cette vidéo, il est pratiquement impossible de repérer les pièces maîtresses de l’avion au milieu des débris.
The video shows scattered and crushed debris. The sand at the site was blackened by the crash. In the video, it is virtually impossible to identify the key components of the aircraft amid the debris.
Fasokan explains why elders in rural Mali pay special attention to the protection of doves [fr] :
Les vieilles personnes font tout pour protéger ces oiseaux contre la tuerie des enfants pendant leurs chasses avec des lance-pierres. Si par hasard il arrive qu’un groupe de jeunes garçons attrape une tourterelle vivante, une vieilles personne du village rachète l’oiseau et le libère. Cet achat a pour but de mettre les enfants dans leur droit parce qu’ils ont fourni de l’effort pour l’attraper.[..] les tourterelles sont considérées comme annonciatrices d’évènements futurs selon leurs chants, comme l’arrivée d’un étranger ou d’une étrangère. De village en village pour les commissions des parents, les tourterelles informaient les jeunes envoyés en cours de route, sur la position de celui ou celle qu’ils devaient aller voir dans un autre village.
Elders would do everything in their power to protect doves when children go for a hunt with their slingshots. If a group of young boys happen catch a live dove, an old person from the village would buy the dove from them and then release it. The purchase aims not only to protect the dove but also to not punish the kids because it took some effort and ingenuity to make the catch [The reason why Doves are protected is because] they are considered harbingers of future events based on their songs of the moment. For instance it could announce the arrival of a guest. When children run errands for their parents from village to village, doves would inform children whether the people they were looking for were at home.
Il est disponible sur les traitements de texte et outils bureautiques libres et gratuit : Open Office, Libre Office, Néo Office, et sur les ordinateurs Windows, Mac, et Linux. Qu’est-ce qui a rendu ceci possible ? D’abord l’énorme travail fait par les linguistes qui ont publié des dictionnaires et des grammaires ces dernières années : ces dictionnaires sont maintenant disponibles sur ordinateur [..] Ces linguistes ont rencontré des informaticiens, tous ces gens là ont eu des rêves..
The spell checker is available on open source word processors and office software such as: Open Office, Libre Office, Neo Office, and on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. What made this possible? First, there was the enormous amount of work done by linguists who published dictionaries and grammar books that are now available online [..] These linguists came together with IT engineers with a dream of building a Bambara spell checker..
Blogger Wirriyamu mourns the two French journalists killed [fr] in Kidal, Mali. But beside his immense sadness, Wirriyamu also feels angry at seeing Northern Mali left helpless yet again to terrorists attacks. He writes [fr] about his silent anger at the situation there :
Tant qu’il ne sera pas possible de patrouiller dans Kidal, tant que cette ville ne sera pas réellement dans une situation normale, ce genre d’assassinat continuera hélas à être possible. Si la paix doit avoir pour prix cette zone de non droit, alors (que les maliens me pardonnent) nous devons y renoncer au moins momentanément.
As long as the army is not allowed to patrol in Kidal, this type of assassination will continue to happen. If there were to be real peace in this stateless zone, the price to pay (May my Malian friends forgive me) might be to renounce peace temporarily.
Today (July 28) is the first round of the presidential election in Mali. To keep track of the proceedings in real time, updates are available on twitter via the hashtag #Mali2013, on the twitter accounts @Malivote (and its website) and @angaelections (site) and on the news group “Info élections 2013″ on Facebook [fr].
Benjamin Roger for Jeune Afrique reports [fr] that 18 soldiers, one civilian and four terrorists were killed early morning in an suicide car bombing in Agadez, Niger on May 23. He adds that military school students are currently being held hostages by another attacker following the bombing. Simultaneously, another car exploded in an uranium mine exploited by the Areva Group in Arlit, Niger. The militant group MOJWA has claimed responsibility for both terror attacks.
Ousmane Gueye on the site Mondoblog writes [fr] about the slow deployment of African troops in northern Mali :
If we were to judge the impact of the intervention in Mali by the jubilant euphoria of liberated populations, then it should be obvious that by deploying so slowly, African countries failed Mali once again ….. All the posturing by African heads of state and yet they could not achieve a single action of their own to slow down the Islamists in Mali.
A shooting in a restaurant in Bamako, capital city of Mali, claimed the lives of five people on Friday night, March, 6. The attack took place around midnight in a restaurant called La Terrasse in Downtown Bamako and a dozen people are seriously injured. Two suspects are in detention and are being interrogated by security forces. A local officer reports that the two individuals were armed and hooded. One burst into the restaurant and opened fire. Three Malians, one French and one Belgian were killed. A local blogger posted a video of police forces as they come to investigate the crime scene:
Global Voices contributor Marc- André Boisvert wrote on Twitter that such an attack was inevitable, given that Mali is still trying to re-establish peace in the northern region:
— Marc-André Boisvert (@boisvertma) March 7, 2015
Philippe Paoletta, a resident of Bamako, agrees with Marc-André:
Everyone always thought this was bound to happen at some point in #bamako. Doesn't make it any less shocking or horrifying. Rip
— Phil Paɔlεtta (@philinthe_) March 7, 2015
All our thoughts are with the victims of the attack.
While the Islamist group Boko Haram threatens to extend its caliphate in the north -east part of Nigeria, major developments are taking place in the Sahel with respect to the security of the region. Kaci Racelma, a Nigerien blogger wrote in his blog A Niamey ( In Niamey) about the relationship that terrorist groups forge and then undo (in french) :
Fort d’importants relais au Maghreb et en Afrique subsaharienne, le mouvement qui a déclaré, en juillet 2014, un Califat à cheval entre la Syrie et l’Irak, pourrait entrainer dans son sillage d’autres groupuscules. Et ce malgré les discriminations pratiquées en interne à l’égard des combattants djihadistes africains. En prenant appui sur plusieurs groupes terroristes présents en Afrique comme le Mujao, Ansar al-Charia et AQMI, l’EI pourrait gagner du terrain dans la sous-région du Sahel. Une zone d’importance stratégique pour le leader Abou Bakr Al-Baghdadi qui souhaite y étendre son influence [..] Au Sahel, l’EI avance aussi ses pions. Le leader mauritanien du Mujao, Hamada Ould Mohamed Khayrou, qui a à son actif plusieurs attentats contre les services de sécurité algériens, est la principale cheville ouvrière de cette avancée. Même s’il s’est affranchi de Mokhtar Belmokhtar, l’émir algérien d’AQMI, pour créer le Mujao qui rassemble des djihadistes subsahariens, Ould Mohamed Khayrou entretient toujours de bons rapports avec lui. Or ce dernier tisse actuellement des liens avec l'EI. Après avoir prêté allégeance à l’EI, le leader du Mujao a par ailleurs créé à Gao, un Conseil de la magistrature destiné à appliquer la charia. “Nous avons réussi à régler de nombreux litiges. La loi coranique nous sert à trancher et rendre justice” a-t-il annoncé le mois dernier. Même si pour des raisons de compétition, le chef d’AQMI, Abdelmalek Droukdal refuse pour le moment de prêter allégeance à l’EI, beaucoup de ses cadres ont cependant rejoint les rangs de ce mouvement. Cette situation nouvelle fragilise les fondements d’Al Qaida qui perd de plus en plus de terrain.
Thanks to strong connection in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa, Daesh, could recruit a few additional groups in its wake, despite their well-known discrimination internally against African jihadist fighters.
Building upon the support of several terrorist groups present in Africa such as as Mojwa , Ansar al- Sharia and AQIM , Daish could gain ground in the Sahel region. A strategic importance for the leader Abu Bakr al -Baghdadi who wishes to expand its influence area [..] In the Sahel, Daish is progressing fast. The Mauritanian leader of Mojwa, Hamada Ould Mohamed Khayrou , who was responsible for several attacks against the Algerian security services, is the leading force behind this progress. Even if he decided to grow his group away from the ifnluence of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the ex-leader of Algerian AQIM, to create the Mojwa by bringing together several sub-Saharan jihadists, Ould Mohamed Khayrou still maintains a good relationship with AQIM. Ould Mohamed Khayrou is now the main contact of Daeish in the region . Having now sworn allegiance to Daeish ,Ould Mohamed Khayrou also created Gao, a Judicial Council for Sharia Law. ” We are now able to settle many disputes. We use the Quranic law to sort out justice ” he announced last month. Although for political reasons, the current AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdal refuses to swear allegiance to Daeish, many of its army leaders have now joined the ranks of Daeish. This new situation weakens the foundations of AQIM, who is clearly losing more and more ground in the region.
In the past few weeks, hundreds of Sub-Saharan immigrants from Mali or Niger have migrated to Algerian cities by the Eastern border. Liberté Algérie narrates the stories of those who made the choice to immigrate and why [fr] :
Les conditions de vie au hangar de la cité Bourroh sont inhumaines. A l’intérieur du hangar, les Subsahariens ont dressé des tentes, une soixantaine environ. A l’intérieur de chaque tente, trop exiguë, vivent, serrés les uns contre les autres, tous les membres d’une même famille. [..] Meriem et Aïcha sont deux sœurs âgées respectivement de 10 et 12 ans. Avec leur mère, elles ont fui leur pays d’origine, le Niger, à cause de la pauvreté. “Nous avons quitté notre pays, parce que nous n’avions plus quoi manger. Meriem et Aïcha sont deux sœurs âgées respectivement de 10 et 12 ans. Egalement originaires du Niger, Sakina, sa fille Asma et ses deux petits-enfants s’étaient réfugiés à Aïn Guezzam, dans la wilaya de Tamanrasset, à l’extrême sud du Sahara. Dans un arabe approximatif, notre interlocutrice nous apprendra qu’ils font partie d’un groupe qui a fui la faim au Niger.
The living conditions in the shed of the city of Bourroh are inhumane. Inside the shed, Sub-Saharan immigrants have pitched about sixty tents. Inside each (very small) tent, they all live together, tight against each other, all members of the same family. [..] Meriem and Aisha are two sisters aged respectively 10 and 12. With their mother, they fled their country of origin, Niger, because of poverty. “We left our country because we did not have enough to eat’ Meriem says. Also from Niger, Sakina, her daughter Asma and her two grandchildren are refugees in Ain Guezzam in the wilaya of Tamanrasset, at the extreme south of the Sahara desert. In a hesitant arabic language, Sakira tell us that they are part of a group who fled the rampant famine in Niger.
As part of our series on innovation made in Africa, we recently showcased the 3D printer made from E-waste in Togo and a spell checker for Bambara language. Today, we present the first low-power PC made in Mali. The PC called Limmorgal (Calculator in Peul language) is the brainchild of two Malian groups, Internet society Mali (ISOC Mali) and Intelec 3. Mamadou Iam Diallo, president of ISOC Mali, explains the needs they want to fulfill with this PC [fr] to Bamako Blog:
Nous avons conçu cette machine pour contribuer à la réduction du fossé numérique, mais également à la vulgarisation de l’outil informatique surtout en milieu scolaire. Limmorgal est aussi un ordinateur adapté à l’alimentation par l’énergie solaire grâce à sa faible consommation d’énergie.
We designed this PC to help reduce the digital divide, but also the expansion of the use of computers in schools. Limmorgal is a computer adapted to be powered by solar energy and requires low energy consumption (24 Watts required).
The basic specifications of the PC are:
- Operating system: Ubuntu (open source)
- 1.4 G Hertz microprocessor
- 1GB RAM
- Unit pricing : 171000 Fcfa (260 euros)
An accidental fire destroyed the basin market [fr] located near the Wahhabites Mosque of Bamako yesterday (12/15). It is the third tragedy of such kind in market area of Bamako in 4 years. Nama explains why such incident seems to repeat itself in his city [fr] :
Plusieurs plans d'aménagement de l'Artisanat ont été proposés par les autorités depuis la construction de la grande mosquée. Aucune de ces études n'a pas pu être concrétisée. Tout semble géré par une mafia qui ne dit pas son nom. Partout règnent l'anarchie et l'incivisme à zéro pas de l'Assemblée Nationale.
Several estate developments for the handicraft have been proposed by the authorities since the construction of the Great Mosque. None of these studies have ever materialized. Everything seems to be run by an invisible mafia. Anarchy and incivility prevail everywhere in the district, right under the nose of the National Assembly.
The FIRE programme awards, an initiative of AFRINIC, acknowledge the actors from the African region who strive to provide solutions to internet development for the African Continent. The 2013 FIRE Awards Winners are :
- Nikohapa Ventures Ltd for their customer engagement platform (Kenya)
- HSoft Africa, Ltd for an adapted mail-order pharmacy (Benin & more)
- Make Every Woman count (MEWC) for empowering African women and girls through the use of online resources (all nations)
- CINETCORE for the VENAME Platform that aims to promote, management and sale of African cc TLDs through mobile payment (Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal and Mali)
Below is the presentation of the MEWC initiative :
Voters are overwhelmingly concerned about the high cost of living, unemployment, corruption, law and order, and everyday quality-of-life questions, particularly water and sanitation. Preserving national unity and ending conflict are also concerns, but much further down the list of priorities.
Ramzy Baroud writes [fr] about the conflict in Mali on Pambazuka:
British security firm G4S will rake in enormous profits due to the crisis taking place in Mali, Libya and Algeria. Recognized as the biggest security firm in the world, the group was downgraded at the time of the Olympic Games in London last year, as a result of its inability to meet the terms of a government contract. However, with the growing instability in Northern and Western Africa, it is expected that the firm will make a strong recovery in the near future.
The Malian army has committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) during the ongoing conflict against armed groups, including extrajudicial executions of civilians, according to testimonies collected by Amnesty International during a ten days mission in Mali.
Jihadis venture capitalism extended to an even more lucrative business: kidnapping western hostages all over the Sahara yielded over 90 Million Euros over a decade [..] The modus operandi was very simple: why get killed trying to create an Islamist emirate in “apostate-ruled” neighboring countries when you can build your own sanctuary AND have the West pay for it?
Nasser Weddady unpacks the reasons for the current troubles in Mali. He opines that the roots of the problem are more complex than the existing narratives in the media lead us to believe.