Garrett Sees More of Mali

Where to begin?, why not in Tibuktu?Having spent two long days on the
road
(with widely differing interpretations of the word) we arrived in
Tombouctou. I went off into the desert for a wander with some tuareg,
nice
bunch of lads i must say.
As you do in a desert I had a good little chat with myself, took stock
somewhat at the ‘edge of the world’ and started to make my back to
Bamako.
The journey takes you to a myriad of place and peoples from Bamako to
the
regions of Mopti, Segou, Dogon country and on up to Tombouctou. There
are
many languages with varying customs etc. for each tribe, suffice to say
I
could just about make out what language people were talking, but had no
idea
as to content.
The landscape also changes remarkably from place to place, from scrub
bush,
to pastureland, to paddy fields and desert to the rocky outcrops of the
Dogon Country.
There are times when you can drive some distance and see no-one and
pretty
much just scrub, then people appear and you may not see another person
for
another ten miles. Resilience must be central to their very core, the
unforgiving heat does not show any mercy, and lifestyles must be
difficult.
But surprisingly when you do actually stop a group of people will
invariably
just appear from nowhere, which in a way reminds me of Ireland. When
there
are some strangers around there will always tend to be locals only too
keen
to have a ‘nosy’ as we used to say. To say hello, exchange
pleasanteries,
pass the time of day. some things are universal it seems, I dont think
mans
addiction to socialising has been researched enough to remotely come to
terms with its central focus in day to day life, for everyone, but I
digress, again.
Alongside the road from Mopti further up north there is signs of real
progress, rural electrification and the road being upgraded. This to me
is
a real sign of a commitment to extend the reach of people in these
communites and also to open up many possibilities.
Access to power and transport with the rest of the coutry will likely
greatly increase economic activity as well as offering true development
potential to vast swathes of the country. However there is still plenty
of
work to be done, as the cable laying runs parallel with the road it is
only
people withint distance of this that shall benefit in the early stages.
The
full rolling out of electricity supply to the entire rural population
will
take great efforts from the regions and the towns within these regions,
never mind the sparsely populated rural areas between towns and
villages.
But is definitely a step in the right direction, one of many that I see
the
Mali of today taking.
At present the political will definitely appears to be there, there are
plenty of countries vying for influence in this emerging country and the
people themselves are eager for progress, they have seen it for the
past
number of years, but the common refrain is that it needs to happen
faster.
As ever also the rural folk feel that benefits will come to them slowly
and
that a concentration on their plight is not high on the central
government’s
agenda.
The upgraded roads and the laying of cables do however offer the
opportunity
for the regions to develop themselves, wating for government action is
not
likely the best course of action and it would appear that Malians
themselves
are all too aware of this.
What happens in the coming months and years could truly be remarkable, a
country hungry for development, with plenty of suitors in the wings has
a
real opportunity to effect real, lasting, positive change

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