If you read my other post Mali’s at the Bottom you know that I can get very frustrated living here in Mali. In further reflection as to the source and management of my frustrations I was made to think about resilience. (Please mote that I am learning a lot here in my first post – so some of this may seem like early/naive learnings to those of you who are more seasoned travelers/development workers.)
Recently a new kid on the Bamako scene remarked that one of their impressions of Mali was that people seemed to lack a sense of pride in their country. I am not going to lie that my initial reaction was to agree in some ways. We litter, we set double standards, we consume astronomically with little environmental or social consideration, and corruption holds us back on a number of fronts. But with further reflection I think there is more to it than I first thought.
Mali had a coup in 2012 – conflict took over this poor nation and people had to fear for their lives and the lives of their families. Then with the calming change of political leadership people had hope – hope that things would be better, would be different. Here we are only three years later and the bright future people were/are hoping for is taking a long time to come along. There is active armed conflict in the north, there is political pressures from the US, France, and China, and there is the ever constant looming of the conflict moving further south and occupying more of the country.
These are not the conditions for smooth and seamless transitions to peace. These are not the conditions for a restoration of faith in political systems, or for realizing dreams. People’s world view took a major battering only three years ago and we haven’t fully bounced back. We haven’t transitioned to the phase of moving forward – we are still in recuperation phase. With time Mali will bounce back, and it is my deepest prayer that we move forward to a new chapter that is full of hope, optimism, and opportunity. But that will come with time and right now I need to try and be patient and understanding as this country and it’s people take a few moments of rest before they try to take on the next big step.