I believe through many of my posts I have shown how Mali isn’t developed but I’d like to take some time to talk about some of the things that work in Mali and that may set it apart from other so-called “developing nations.”
- People are generally happy and healthy
Aside from Malaria and GI issues there isn’t too much bothering people here. There is the occasional illness or cold but AIDS doesn’t affect as many people in Mali as it does other African countries for one reason or another. Most of the people I encounter are friendly and willing to help. A typical greeting will include asking how someone is doing, how their family’s doing, etc and will take several minutes. Of course people complain about different things but isn’t that what makes us human? It’s kind of crazy but in the few months I’ve been here there have been two Peace Corps countries (Guinea and Mauritania) which border Mali and have been suspended. We have a few transfers from Mauritania and I think they’re hoping a few Guinea volunteers choose to transfer to Mali as well. It seems to me that relatively speaking things have been pretty calm in Mali and in many ways Mali is the model for democracy in West Africa (as crazy as that sounds).
- Mali is a functioning democracy
I use the word democracy very loosely here and so have chosen to describe Mali as a functioning democracy because there have been successful transitions of power from one president to the next. However, the real challenge for this untested democracy will be the succession of the next president as the powers that be choose candidates and we see whether or not someone besides ATT (the current president) can succeed.
- Transportation is adequate
There are planes, trains, automobiles, and buses that will take you from end of Mali to the other. It might take you several days and frustrate you but it’s possible. Since Mali is a landlocked country building a solid transportation network is crucial to its economic success. There is an international airport in Bamako although it could use a major upgrade. There are several bus lines in Mali so that if you can get into Bamako you can go pretty much anywhere in Mali. There are even trains (although I hear you should pay more for first class because if the train were to derail you wouldn’t get killed).
So come one, come all to the land of opportunity in West Africa!