Malians in the capital and other surrounding regions have, even long before the coup, referred to northern Mali as “le probleme du Nord.” Most people in the southern part of the country have never even been to the north. The basis for the divide is based on unwarranted assumptions, and this stereotyped and apathetic thinking needs to be re-framed. It is not a Northern problem; it is a Mali problem. Time to reconceptualize. It is this thinking that has economically limited the north and provided it with scant security, that ultimately led to the rebel takeover. The north has been isolated and excluded physically and emotionally, as the apathy of those in power has kept money, power, and influence in a close circle around the capital. Even after 7 months of rebel occupation, the Malian government has been negligent in addressing the plight of the northern civilian population (one would think they could have taken advantage of this great opportunity to show solidarity!). Thus, attitdes need to be changed for the country to be able to move forward, and there’s no time like the present crisis to create a restructuing of thought. It may be one convenient excuse to blame the French colonial past for dividing up the nation and creating stereotypes for the different ethnic groups, but, isn’t it time to move past that? Malian leaders, time to set an example of “Un Peuple, un but, une foi” (“One People, one goal, one faith” – the national motto).
If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” – Moshe Dayan.