I live in a country where instability seems to be our middle name right now. There are security warnings and recommendations that fly around the cyber world, and by word of mouth, and by any means possible to try and keep people safe. There is a conflict in the North and in the most pessimistic of days it is easy to believe that the bad guys are winning.
We are told to try and avoid large crowded areas; large markets, public events, high traffic areas, and places frequented by foreigners. It’s an attempt to keep us safe, and out of harm’s way. It can make me wary of large crowds – extra vigilant to the point of borderline paranoia.
But I am a supporter of people’s movements. Some of the greatest monuments of societal change have come from the fact that people organized, gathered, and made their voices heard. Whether people are gathering to participate in their local market (often a microcosm of capitalism with it’s own nuances and social rules), or people are mobilizing to make social change happen – their is power in these meetings.
2017 seems to have seen a few more demonstrations here in Mali (or at the very least, the demonstrations are more widely known because of the increased security notifications and instability). And I have yet to show up and support some of the causes that I genuinely believe are in Mali’s best interest. A protest to show your president you won’t accept constitutional changes that would allow him to sit in power for a minimum of 10 years at a time? Yes! A protest of foreign military support that can seem to be fueling the machine of war instead of creating peace in conflict torn northern Mali? Yes! Demonstrations that reject governmental, police, and other forms of corruption? Yes!
It hurts me a little bit that people congregating en-masse in Bamako can be a source of fear for me. I don’t want to shrink away from doing my part in effecting change. I want to stand at the forefront of the issues that I believe to be important. But I coward from the threat of violence or violation. I curse the instability that encourages and feeds these sometimes irrational and sometimes totally reasonable fears.
I am waiting for the day for my courage and passion for the people’s movement to override my fear or for the day when Mali is a little bit more stable and I can stand in support of all the things that Malians themselves are advocating for. Know that I am with you Mali. Always. Even if I don’t take to the streets with you, I am with you.