Blogging the road 2 Timbuktu
All quiet on the Burkina Frontier as Presidential Election Day takes place in Mali. Where is everybody?
Election day went by with hardly a ripple in the Malian refugee camps in Burkina Faso, though the wind did pick up in the evening followed by a wall of sand and dust and a quick African storm.Apart from that, a lazy day was had by all.
The momentous democratic date in Mali’s history passed us by. Probably because no one seemed to care - either inside the camps or outside. No state functionary, no interim government minister, no UN monitors, no ECOWAS representative, no presidential candidate, no international or domestic journalists or media came in the lead up to the election nor indeed for the day itself.
No one seemed to know where they were to vote and nobody had their voting cards. Some had receipts which should deliver a card on polling day. At the Malian embassy in Ouagadougou a few days before the election the Ambassador was going through a few pages of electoral lists. He admitted the camps had all been mixed up and asked my friend to help identify those he knew and explain where they were.
Daily life as a refugee is not as bad as you might assume. At least
not here at MENTAO Central, Djibo Burkina Faso where I have come to
stay with my Tuareg friends.
Mali’s crisis does not follow the patterns of most of the continent’s
wars. The active combatants on the ground are predominantly foreigners
for a start when most wars in Africa are civil; most Â refugees flee
warring forces seeking to control the government, these ones flee
their own national army, the defenders of the peace left behind by the
liberating French forces.
The Berbers are a proud race with one of the longest histories on earth. They called North Africa their home long before the arrival of the Arabs. Their culture is believed to date back more than 4,000 years and ancient Berber states called Mauritania and Numidia existed in classical times.
Between the 11th and 13th centuries, two great Berber dynasties – the Almoravids and the Almohads – much of north-west Africa and parts of Spain. Today, there are substantial Berber populations in Morocco and Algeria, plus smaller numbers in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.