translated from the original first published 27 January 2021
on L`AFRIQUE DU FUTUR
The Union of People against the Oligarchy: Our Action in Mali
by Sébastien Périmony 27 January 2021
image: with the members of Yéréwolo
« I would not want to end without sending you, all the brotherly peoples of Africa and the world a message of fraternity and peace. Whatever the differences that may have opposed us, that oppose us, we will never confuse the peoples, whoever they may be, with the Governments that sometimes direct them against their will.
Our policy is a policy of peace with all the people of the world. On the threshold of the year 1961, we express the wish that the forces of progress and peace strengthen their union and contribute to the building of a better humanity. »
« However, Mali will remain faithful to its policy of cooperation with all countries without exception, including France.
We are not anti-French, we do not exist as a function for anyone, we refuse this exaggerated sentimentalism which, in the circumstances, is nothing but childishness unworthy of the mature and strong people that is ours. Now that France has evacuated its military bases installed in our country, and that our independence has found its crowning glory, we are ready, as a sovereign people, to continue the normalization of our relations with the French Republic in all areas. »
– Modibo Keïta, 1961 New Year’s speech and Independence Anniversary speech, September 22, 1961.
Mali: a paradise turned into hell
As of January 20, 2021, we have celebrated the 60th anniversary of the departure of the French colonial troops from Mali. On this occasion, the members of the Yéréwolo (« Standing on the Ramparts« ) organization, called for a large peaceful demonstration in Bamako, to demand the departure of French troops from Mali, who have been here since 2013, via Operation Barkhane. This military presence is seen in Mali as a continuation of the Western military presence that has been in place since September 11, 2001, with the invasion and destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and now the entire Sahel region, that is on the brink of implosion.
Yéréwolo – some of whose members sit on the National Transitional Council (NTC) currently in power in Mali – is one of the various branches of civil society that along with a few politicians and the military, brought down the regime of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK) in August 2020. The population blamed him, among others, for his inaction in the face of the need to redress this country, which had become one of the poorest in the world, and his submission to French policy – as the world witnessed on January 13, 2020, at the Pau Summit organized by President Emmanuel Macron. The NTC is ensuring the transition while awaiting new elections, scheduled to take place within 18 months.
For this major event on January 20, Kémi Séba, president of Urgences Panafricanistes, Sékou Tounkoura, a Malian activist living in New York, Yannick Caroff, from the Yellow Vests constituency 93, and myself, representative of the Africa office of the Schiller Institute, were invited alongside the Malian people. We had the pleasure of being welcomed by Ty Chérie, a Malian activist, but also Amina Fofana and Adama Ben Diarra (known as « Ben the Brain« ), both members of Yéréwolo and the NTC; as well as by Moussa Diarra, a former member of parliament.
Tribute to Modibo Keïta
September 22, 1960. Mali has just won its independence. Its first president, Modibo Keïta, comes to power and acts without waiting for the necessary measures of sovereignty, to make independence a long-term reality.
It was on 1 October 1960, that he decided to create a national army (and not on 20 January 1961, which is the official Army Day). In his December 1961 speech at Konaté Stadium, in the presence of Félix Houphouet-Boigny (then president of Côte d’Ivoire), he explained the necessity of a national army:
« We are only well defended by ourselves, and that is why we have our national army, well equipped and solidly supported by the people themselves. Indeed, it is the duty of an entire people to defend the country (…) It is the patriot, the soldier, attached to the homeland, it is the peasant, vigilant guardian of the heritage of his ancestors, it is the fervent youth, impatient to raise the country to the rank of great free nations, it is the mobilized women, eager to ensure their heirs a radiant life in a land of freedom, who enable Mali to lead in confidence, the struggle for its security and total independence. »
On June 11, 1960, Modibo Keïta creates the Banque Populaire Malienne in order to adapt credit policy to the political, economic and social objectives that the government had set for itself. Article 2 of the statutes of the Banque Populaire stipulates that its purpose is « to grant short, medium and long-term credits to companies and organizations with a cooperative or mutualist form or purpose whose activity is carried out in the field of agriculture, trade, livestock breeding and fishing« (1). To this end, he will have the Assembly vote on Mali’s Five-Year Plan, which provides for the establishment of consumer industries (food, textiles, leather, production of building materials, etc.).
What does this five-year plan consist of ? « The 5-year plan that will soon see the light of day is intended to free us from economic domination, to free us from the grip of the forces of money. At the end of these 5 years, we should have realized the conditions of our true development, we should have laid the foundations of a healthy, modern and national economy. »
Not only does this plan aim at effective state control over production and trade, but it also intends to ensure that :
– the suppression, by protectionism, of the « anomaly« constituted by the fact of importing goods that the country already produces on its soil;
– the nationalization of vital sectors;
– the creation of cooperatives in the sectors of production and consumption;
– the control of choice and investment credits.
« We will impose conditions on the installation of industries in our country, which is why we say that we must be masters of investment credits. This obviously requires courage and firmness. »
To this will be added the creation of SOMIEX, the Malian Import and Export Company. Still according to Modibo Keïta :
« The government expects the action of SOMIEX to achieve the following objectives:
– On the economic level, to regulate and direct the market, both in supply and production, to obtain fairer prices;
– On the social level: to harmonize and stabilize living conditions throughout Mali, and to eliminate the inequities and disparities in treatment from which our farming brothers suffered during the colonial era. »
But its objectives are even more ambitious for the total sovereignty of the Republic of Mali. Thus, from the very beginning of his term of office, Keïta will launch a real « New Deal« for the industrial renaissance of the country. For this he will create all the following institutions:
– the Transport Authority of Mali;
– the National Railways Board;
– the Civil Aviation Company Air-Mali (which will have up to 16 planes, before its bankruptcy due to the corruption of the dictators who will succeed it);
– the National Company of Public Works Enterprises;
– The Popular Pharmacy;
– the company « Energie du Mali« ;
– the Banque Populaire and the Banque de Crédit et de Développement;
– the Malian Navigation Company.
« Our will is to be master in our own country! « says Modibo Keïta at the time.
But was it still enough? No. In his famous speech of September 22, 1961, he took stock of what had already been achieved. Here are a few examples:
– schools built for rural populations: 167 new classes, including 36 sixth grade; 13 literacy centres;
– the opening of the regional hospital of Segou and the dental centres of Mopti, Gao and 18 dispensaries in villages and districts;
– the expansion of the hospitals of point G and Mopti;
– the creation of the School of Nurses and Social Workers;
– the creation of Seasonal Agricultural Schools in rural areas, providing vocational training for young farmers;
– health education of villagers by the Civic Service (hygiene, weeding and cleaning of the alleyways and village outskirts, disinfection or emptying of stagnant water, etc.) ;
– the constitution of the country’s sports federations. Since 22 September 1960, eight federations have been created: those for soccer, basketball, volleyball, athletics, cycling, boxing, judo and water sports.
Understanding the fundamental role of culture, Modibo Keïta is determined to put art and science at the service of the people. Within each youth section, a theatre and folklore troupe and an orchestra are instituted. A national orchestra is set up to interpret Malian and African rhythms and introduce young amateurs to music. In order to detect talents, a competition is created in the field of academia and a scientific research section called « young science« .
We could go on listing for a long time about the development projects initiated by this great leader, which would make people dream even in France today. Teachers are given a bonus two and a half times higher in the rural villages than in Bamako and the big cities, in order to encourage education in the rural world. 43 maternal and child protection centres, 8 large hygiene centres, 41 anti-tuberculosis centres will be set up. In addition, 19,000 ploughs, 3,000 sprayers, 6,000 tons of fertilizers and 25,000 tons of insecticides will be made available to farmers to increase their productivity. Not to mention the asphalting of roads, the Baguinda canning factory, etc., etc.
But here’s the thing: from the paradise that Modibo Keïta began to create, today only hell remains. EVERYTHING has disappeared… The railway line is the most tragic symbol: disused, it has become a public dump where we see hundreds of kilos of garbage burning in the flames of hell. And this, under the desperate gaze of Mali’s children, abandoned, malnourished, poorly cared for… And deprived of any hope for the future.
image: the railway line turned into a garbage dump
Since the first coup d’état against Modibo Keïta in 1968, which led to his imprisonment until his assassination in 1977, successive dictators have systematically supported the networks of Françafrique and destroyed his legacy. To the political slavery put in place by these puppets of French imperialism, monetary slavery was added with the return of the CFA franc in July 1984, 22 years after the creation of the Malian national currency by Modibo Keïta.
Let us recall what Keïta said during the creation of the national currency:
« In a few hours, exactly at zero hour on July 1, 1962, the Republic of Mali will have its national currency, the Malian franc, which will henceforth be the sole legal tender and will have unlimited liberatory power throughout the national territory. For this purpose, the privilege of the issue will be exercised by a National Issuing Institute, the Bank of the Republic of Mali, which will hold all the monetary powers previously exercised by the Central Bank of West African States.
My dear colleagues, as far back as we go in time, history teaches us that political power is always and necessarily, accompanied by the regalian right to mint money, that monetary power is inseparable from national sovereignty, that is its indispensable accompaniment, its essential attribute.
Political power and monetary power are thus, in truth, only complementary aspects of one and the same reality: national sovereignty.
To have monetary autonomy, to have monetary powers, is, on the internal level, to be able to regulate and control, as one understands it, the issue of metallic and fiduciary money, the direction of credit, both to companies, private or public, and to the State. »
Modibo Keïta is not dead: the revolution of January 20, 2021
As the newspaper Le Point explicitly stated on January 11, 2021: « For the first time, a poll shows that half of the French people disapprove of the presence of French soldiers in the Sahel. « – French forces have been present there since January 2013.
This is why my colleagues and I agreed to participate in the January 20 demonstration in Bamako, aimed, it should be recalled, at demanding the definitive departure of French troops from Mali. For the Malians, things are clear: the French military presence is intended to balkanize their country. It is part of the Western neo-conservative strategy, which has long been tried and tested; to associate itself with minorities – arming them in exchange for support – and thus to dismantle the country in order in the long run, to be able to get its hands on gas, oil and gold resources. As Amina Fofana explained in the Afrique Média program of January 25, 2021, to which we were invited to speak upon our return from Mali:
« This is not new what is happening, because we have always seen the French state at work. Each time there has been a revolution, the French state has put all its weight behind it to be able to recover it. But this revolution is different. It does not only exist in Mali, it is a revolution on an African scale. (…) We know the evil extent of the French state, its degree of nuisance through corruption, and we can expect it. (…)
It all began with Moussa Traoré, who did not hesitate for a second to carry out a coup d’état to our total independence and he worked for whom, for France. Then ATT [Amadou Toumani Touré, NDA] came because the people rose up, and every time the people rise up, rebel, it is a soldier who is brought in to kill the revolution. So we are not surprised by what is happening. (…)
But what is worse in all this is the partition of Mali, the Algiers agreement is an agreement that has been disavowed by everyone. An agreement that was during the national dialogue, supposed to go to the revision, they said they wanted to apply the Algiers peace agreement, which is not a peace agreement. It is a divisive agreement. In a word, it is France that wants to take over the Malian subsoil, stay in Mali and cut Mali in two as they did in Sudan or at the Berlin conference of 1884-1885. That is the real problem and that is what we don’t want. And this is what the military wants to carry as a project for society today. To divide Mali and leave all the parts that have uranium, oil, gold in abundance, fresh water, that’s what France wants to recover. (…)
The Algiers agreement sides with the armed rebels, it defends the armed rebels because in any case, because it is France that has prevented us from returning to Kidal, and wants Mali to be divided and all this part to be theirs, so they can be exploited by France. They will stay armed against us, they will destabilize us all the time. (…) They want the national army to be reconstituted. Out of every 100 soldiers, 70 are from the North and 30 are from the South. They are the ones who brought this story from the North, the South, the Center. (…) And that our national budget for 20 years must be divided by 3. Namely, we are going to work for 20 years, and 40% of our national economy will be given to Azawad [territory of northern Mali], the other 40% to Gatia [Tuareg self-defense group Imghad and allies, NDA] and we ourselves, who represent more than 95% of the population, must be satisfied with 20%. This agreement is dangerous, it is not even an agreement, it is a crime against humanity. (…) And the transition is moving openly towards the implementation of this agreement. (…) What we want is an inter-Malian dialogue. (…) Mali in our constitution is one and indivisible, we are one people, one goal, one faith. »
On our arrival we were invited by the association Yéréwolo to visit the tomb of Modibo Keïta in the cemetery of Bamako, in order to pay tribute to him, and explain to the Malian press the reasons of our visit. What an honour for us! And what a moving moment…
image: grave of Modibo Keïta in Bamako
The following day (January 17), a press conference was held in our presence in front of about thirty journalists to remind them that this was not an anti-French demonstration, but a peaceful mobilization to end neo-colonial politics.
During his speech, Yannick Caroff, Yellow Vests Constituency 93, said: « I came to tell you that there are (…) French people who are fed up with leaders who practice neo-colonialism, who do not benefit the French workers and civil servants, but a small group of people called the oligarchs who finance the elections« . Present in Mali since 2013, « the French army has been ineffective,« he said, before calling for the departure of French troops.
Excerpt from the speech I then gave: « Hello everyone, my name is Sébastien Périmony. I joined the first demonstrations of the Yellow Vests, and I work in an international organization called the Schiller Institute, which was created in 1984 following the death of the movement of the non-aligned countries, which basically wanted the sovereignty of people. Unfortunately it failed, but today I think we have an historic opportunity to unite the people of the world against this system. First of all, I would like to thank the organizers, and in particular Yéréwolo, for the struggle it is leading here in Mali, the struggle of the Malian people, which is joining the struggle of the French people. You should know that with Ty-Chérie, already in 2019, we were organizing demonstrations in support of the Malian army. And I would like, on behalf of my country, to congratulate the courage of the Malian army, which is facing a chaotic situation, which was unfortunately created by my country, against the interests of our two peoples. (…) The French people are fighting against their own government and in particular French policy in Africa. (…) »
I then mentioned the state of the French troops sent to the theatres of operation in Africa: « All were victims of the explosive devices that the jihadists are burying in the ground. And also victims of the very weak armour of their old LAV (11.5 mm in protection of the machine gun that carries it). This should come as no surprise to anyone: a third of the 55 Frenchmen who fell in the Sahel (if one counts the accidents) lost their lives in the same conditions. And the army refuses to admit the number of amputees, crippled for life. » (2)
I then added: « The NTC has been created, you’ll have to go through with it now. But never listen to it, if the NTC does not present you with development projects. (…) There won’t be a successful revolution if you don’t have a project. (…) There is a project that is very close to my heart: the re-watering of the Faguibine lakes. (…) A project that could make Mali the food granary for West Africa. If tomorrow the Malian army, with its extraordinary courage, could secure this area, send young people, buy mechanical tools, over-drill the channels to bring water and redevelop this entire region. We must see Mali with the eyes of the future. (…) China has shown it, China was as poor as some African countries 30 years ago. Today there is no longer a person in extreme poverty in China, not a single one. They have made roads in every corner of the country, they go to the moon and have trains that go at 600 km/h. And it’s because they have a policy of planning their economy and besides Modibo Keïta, the first thing he did when he took , he created a Ministry of Planning, a five-year plan to implement all this modern industrial development « .
To be like Modibo Keïta, never be satisfied with pushing back the enemy, but have a long term strategy to build a viable physical economy, with infrastructures, industry, health system, agricultural production, skilled workers, teachers, artists, researchers and engineers, etc. This is what I tried to convey as a message during my trip.
Following my speech, the moderator expressed the importance that such an international convergence of struggles represents for them:
« … It can be said of this intervention that it is the call for a sacred union of the peoples of the world to definitively get rid of imperialism, for the benefit of the total satisfaction of all the peoples of the world…, of universal unity. Long live humanism. Down with all criminal policies that are against the peoples. »
image: at the press conference with Adama Ben Diarra of Yéréwolo, to the right of Yannick Caroff of the Yellow Vests.
The following days were used to build on the mobilization of January 20 by meeting with members of civil society. In particular, we received: the office of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the president of the Bamako market. They told us about the great difficulties faced by workers, artisans, and merchants. At issue: the bankruptcy of the country due to the corruption of the elites.
We also had the pleasure of meeting personalities such as the singer Salif Keïta, also a member of the NTC and supporter of Yéréwolo, and the wife of Modibo Keïta with her family.She expressed her joy to finally see her husband’s inheritance rehabilitated, who was also an active leader of the non-aligned. Indeed, since the coup d’état of 1968, everything has been done to destroy even his fame. Modibo Keïta had never taken a single penny of the Malians’ money, his adopted daughter assured us. He didn’t even have a house of his own and spent the weekends working his field. They used to say: « On Sundays, you have to keep running away from the circles around the glass and go to your field« .
image : with Salif Keïta
image: Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie de Mali
image: Kémi Séba
image: the wife and family of Modibo Keïta
Through these meetings and our multiple interventions on the media and social networks, we were able to reach several hundred thousand Malians, and even more…
Earthquake in Bamako and Paris
As reported by the newspaper Mondafrique in a January 22 article, « Le Quai d’Orsay successfully intervened with the junta in power in Bamako to stop the « French bashing« of part of the Malian population. (…) No sooner had it started walking on the Boulevard de l’indépendance than the tear gas started to rain. (…) The police force resembled the one set up during the Yellow Vests rallies. Dispersion of the demonstration before it even had time to form; blockade of the streets adjacent to Independence Boulevard; chase after small groups of young people who were gathering here and there; release of irritant gas to deter the most reckless.
The doctrine of the very repressive police prefect of Paris Lallement was nevertheless slightly tropicalized, with a smiling policeman who came towards a small group shouting « Honest citizens must leave, we’re going to shoot« (…) Bloodshed in Paris: According to a Malian minister, the Quai d’Orsay banged his fist on the table. After this call to order, Malik Diaw went to Canossa and had to publish a long communiqué in which he disavowed the declarations against the French presence« .
It was therefore to everyone’s surprise that the peaceful demonstration of January 20 was not only cancelled but also militarily repressed by the president of the NTC, who was supposed to be on the side of the people. And this despite the fact that the previous president himself, IBK, had authorized the demonstrations that had led the people and the military to oust him from power. For Adama Ben Diarra of Yéréwolo, the organizer of the demonstration: « We drove out IBK based on our convictions, if the same practices continue, I swear to you, the earth must tremble again in Bamako for us to respect each other in this country. We are going to organize ourselves to launch a new assault to liberate the homeland« . A declaration was completed during the press conference held on Friday, January 22 (12) in which was declared: « We have not accepted that we are colonized and we will never accept that we are colonized« !
We ended our trip with a two-hour program, at the invitation of Radio Musoya (which means « woman« ), to take stock of this mobilization and to maintain pressure on the Malian elites so that the voice of the people can be heard.
Mali must once again become a paradise. For as Modibo Keïta said, « Mali was the melting pot where African, Berber and Arab cultures merged into one, and will continue to play this role as a link without losing its own characteristics. We will thus constitute the most solid nucleus from which universal civilization will be built« .
And it is with the aim of building this universal civilization, that the Schiller Institute which advocates for the dialogue of civilizations and peace through mutual development, was able to present to Mali its vision of the future of Africa, which is in total harmony with the spirit of the nation’s founding father, Modibo Keïta, and the Malian youth.
image: presentation of the Schiller Institute publication (with Amina Fofana et Adama Ben Diarra)
by Sébastien Périmony
1) Find most of Modibo Keïta’s speeches on the following website: http://modibokeita.free.fr/discours.php
2) See the article in Le Canard enchaîné of January 6, 2021: « Ces généraux qui font pression sur Macron« (« Those generals who put pressure on Macron« ).
3) See my 2013 video on the issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWQZM4qUKuI
Facebook pages of Urgences Panafricanistes and Kémi Séba: https://www.facebook.com/UrgencesPanafricanistes/ ;
Sékou’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Fier-detre-Malien-103462738246618
Mali’s military junta represses anti-French demonstrations
The entire press conference of January 22, 2021 following the cancelled event of January 20: https://www.facebook.com/300613374181222/videos/423392228984691
On our return we went on the panafrican channel Africa Media Tv : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPCfkpeYsJ8
Source: Afrique du Futur