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News 2015

WAI Director General shares on the Current Developments of the Situation in Mali at the Institute for Theology and Peace, Hamburg, Germany

Presentation DTProf. Dr. Djénéba Traoré, shared on November 16, 2015 at the Research Institute for Theology and Peace of Hamburg a key note address at the round table dedicated to the recent developments of the situation in Mali. Participants at the round table were West African Experts and members of the Institute of Peace Studies and Safe Policy and the German Institute of Global and Area Studies.

Prof. Traoré began her speech by presenting general information on the Republic of Mali, notably its size 1,241,000 Km2 including 60% of desert, its borders with seven countries: Algeria to the north, Ivory Coast and Guinea Conakry to the south, Burkina Faso and Niger to the east and Senegal and Mauritania to the west. With a population of 17,086,022 (World Bank 2014), including 94,8% of Muslims and 2,4% of Christians, the life expectancy is 55 years (2013), the literacy rate 33.4% (UNICEF 2012), the human development index 176/187 countries (UNDP 2013), the growth rate 7.2% (IMF-2014) and the number of migrants totalizes 67,646 for the year 2015. The economy is based on agriculture and livestock, export of gold (50 tons in 2012) and cotton.

WAI Director General stressed that the Malian crisis that hit Mali hard in 2012 was twofold: institutional with the coup of March 22, 2012 and security, further to the attacks of the armed rebellion from the National Liberation Movement of Azawad (MNLA) and the Salafist terrorist groups. She also recalled that Mali had experienced a first tuareg conflict in 1963 severely punished by the Malian armed forces and an armed rebellionin 1990, which ended with the establishment of the  National Pact whose agreements were signed in Tamarasset, 6 January 1991. These agreements focused on the demilitarization of the 6th and 7th regions and the integration of veterans of the rebellion in the Malian Armed Forces under the conditions defined by consensus between the two parties.

In fact, what we call «Malian crisis» began in January 2012 with the battle of Aguel'hoc, during which many soldiers of the Malian army were massacred. According to the Malian Association of Human Rights (AMDH), 153 Aguelhoc camp of soldiers were "slaughtered or killed with a bullet in the head"

The direct consequence of the coup of March 22, 2012 was the weakening of the state and the occupation of the three northern regions (Tombouctou, Gao and Kidal) in nearly three days by the MNLA and Salafist groups from AQIM, MUJAO, An Sardine and Boko Haram.

The intervention of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Community opened the way to a 18-month transition period during which the country found international legitimacy again.

The signing of the Algiers Agreements for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali between the Malian government and the MNLA and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HUCA) intervenes on June 20th, 2015, almost two years after the presidential election avoiding the division of the country between north and south.

The Algier Agreements focus on decentralization as the ultimate solution. However, the country has still not found peace and the state is not yet able to deploy its military forces in the north. On the contrary, religious extremism extends to the detriment of women's rights and religious freedom. In addition, the crisis of the education system, youth unemployment and corruption that merely create a fertile ground for the recruitment of young people for terrorist purposes.

Expressing the strong wish of the definitive return of the Malian administration and army in the three northern regions, WAI Director General stated to conclude that she is convinced that the only way to achieve this goal is dialogue, justice and reconciliation between all the sons and daughters of the country. Furthermore, shesaid that the security situation could be improved with the help of the military training in the country that will soon be reinforced by the German expertise in order to facilitate the deployment of the army in the north and to impose peace by peaceful means .

Regarding terrorist threats in the north and the south of Mali including Bamako the capital city, and in the whole Sahel States, a regional or international cooperation remains an effective field to be explored.

Questions and contributions focused on the nature of the rebellion, the role of ECOWAS and neighboring countries in the resolution of the crisis, Mali jihadist thrust, the conditions of Malian women and the peace perspectives.

Exchange visit of WAI Director General to the Helmut Schmidt University / Bundeswehr University of Hamburg

Presentation der UNI StaackThe Director General of the West Africa Institute (WAI) conducted on 15 and 16 November 2015 an exchange visit to the Helmut Schmidt University / Bundeswehr University of Hambourg at the invitation of the Director of the Research Institute on International Relations, Prof. Dr. Michael Staack.

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WAI Director General presents a contribution at the Regional Workshop on «Culture, History and Ideas: Re-evaluating Pan-Africanism» Dakar, Senegal, 16 – 17 October 2015

Group picThe two day workshop on «Culture, History and Ideas: Re-evaluating Pan-Africanism» was co-hosted by the Graduate School of Development Policy of the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and Practice and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). The meeting was part of a series of discussions on the theme of African economic integration, facilitated by the Building Bridges programme at UCT’s Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice.

 The conference constituted a contribution to critical reflections on the cultural and historical underpinning of regional integration in Africa through the seven following themes:

  •  Regional versus national histories
  • The problem of language and integration
  • Popular culture and Pan-Africanism
  • African literature and African identity
  • Cultural preservation
  • Ethnicity, nationalism and Pan-Africanism
  • African Renaissance” and Pan Africanism 

In her presentation related to the theme «African literature and African identity», Prof. Djénéba Traoré first gave a definition of the term Pan-Africanism:«Movement, founded around 1900, to ensure equal rights, self-government, independence, and unity for African peoples. Inspired by Marcus Garvey, it encouraged self-awareness of Africans by encouraging the study of their history and culture. Leadership came from the Americas until the Sixth Pan-African Congress, in Manchester, UK, in 1945, which saw the emergence of African nationalist figures, notably Kwame Nkrumah and JomoKenyatta, with a programme of African ‘autonomy and independence’. With independence, however, the concept of a politically united Africa was soon replaced by the assertion—within colonial frontiers—of competing national interests». (Source:

Prof. Traoré then stated that although sub-Saharan African literature is highly diversified, it shows similarities, the common denominator of the cultures of the African countries being without any doubt the oral tradition, with few exceptions, like in the Swahili communities at the East-African coast. She also indicated that writing cuture in Black Africa started with the introduction of the Arabic alphabet in the Middle Ages and of the Latin alphabet during the colonial time at the end of the 19th century. Since 1934, with the birth on one side, of the “Negritude” philosophic-literary  movement in the Francophone colonies and on the other side, the “Theory of the African Personality” in the Anglophone colonies, African authors began to write more intensive in French or in English. 

The main topics they treated in their novels, poems and stories were linked with their fascination for the European way of life: for example, Bakary Diallo in «Force Bonté» (1934) and Ousmane Socé Diop in «Karim» (1935) and «Mirage de Paris» (1937). In 1946, the publication by African authors of the first international anthology of poems in French language and the creation in 1947 of the journal «Présence Africaine» and further ones like «La Voix du Congolais» (1946), «Jeune Afrique» (1947) and «Black Orpheus» (1957) were the outcomes of the new philosophical and literary trend called Negritude whose founding members are Aimé Césaire from Martinique, Léopold Sédar Senghor from Senegal and Léon Gontran Damas from Guayana.

 Prof. Traoré pointed out that two major events have played an important role in the development of the African literature:

  • In 1956, the first Congress of African writers and artists, organized at the Sorbonne University in Paris (France);
  • In April 1966, the First World Festival of Negro Arts which found place in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal. From then on, the number of the publications increased considerably.

 As a protest against the philosophic and literary trend of the Negritude, a realistic West African literature appears in the 1960’s. Instead of writing for the former colonial power, like the Negritude authors did, some committed authors describe the negative social and political postcolonial realities at the attention of the African readers. The main representatives in Francophone Africa of this group were the Senegalese Ousmane Sembène, the Ivorian Ahmadou Kourouma, the Cameroonians Mongo Beti and Ferdinand Oyono. In their works, they tried to critically address the period of independence and post-independence.  

Since the 1960’s more and more Africans began to write. Quantitative and qualitative changes could be observed in the field of publication in Francophone and Anglophone countries.  

In the African epic (usually narratives and stories), two prevailing themes can be found: 

  • The return to the history of the continent. From the experience of the 1970’s, and 1980’s some authors explore once again the time of the thirties, forties and fifties: for example Ousmane Sembène in "Le dernier de l'empire" (1981), Francis Bebey in "Le roi Albert d'Effidi" (1976), Mongo Béti in "Remember Ruben” (1974) "La Ruine presque cocasse d’un polichinelle or “Remember Ruben 2” (1979) and not at least MohammedAlioum Fantouré in  "L'homme du troupeau du Sahel" (Présence Africaine,1979). At the same time, African historians began to write the history of their own continent: notably, Joseph Ki-Zerbo (Burkina Faso), Cheickh Anta Diop (Senegal), Ibrahima Baba Kaké (Guinea-Conakry), Amadou Hampaté Bâ, Bakary kamian and Madina Ly Tall (Mali).  Cheikh Anta Diop and the Afrodescendant Ivan Van Sertima (Guyana).
  • After the disillusions of the 1970’s, writers turned to the immediate present of their countries. They target in their novels, with different style-methods, the issues of nepotism, illegal enrichment, and luxurious way of life of the national and bureaucratic bourgeoisie, but also poverty, bad behavior (corruption, prostitution, loss of cultural identity), unemployment and the destruction of the individual through the political system.  This situation is alarming for many authors like Wolé Soyinka (Nobel Prize in literature in 1986):  «Season of Anomy»1973; Ousmane Sembène: «Xala», 1973; Mongo Béti: «Perpetue and the habit of the misfortune»(«Remember Ruben I») 1974, and «La ruine presque cocasse d’un polichinelle» («Remember Ruben II») 1979.

 It is also important to mention the extraordinary reception of Okot P’Bitek’s book «Song of Lawino» (originally written in Luo (Uganda) and translated into English in 1966). Further to the successful reception of the book, the author published in 1970 in English «Song of Ocol», a reply from the husband to the complaints of his wife Lawino further to his second wedding with a modern woman just after the independence of the country.  

After 1990 the topics addressed by African writers focused mainly on the African way of life as well associal and political issues like among others the loss of the cultural values, the failure of the education system, the degradation of ethical rules, the lack of democracy, justice, human rights, and Rule of Law, social inequalities, the social role of the women and their relationships to men, the causes and impact of armed conflicts, wars and terrorism. 

 Concluding, Prof. Traoré underlined that African writers can play a major role in the consolidation of African identity and that given the important contribution of the African diaspora in the struggle for the dignity of the Black people around the world, African unity will not be successfully achieved without building a bridge between the African continent and its diaspora.

Communication on the EU Immigration policy towards Africa at the University of Helmut Schmidt / University of Bundeswehr Hamburg

BEN ABAAt the invitation of Prof. Dr. Phil. Michael Staack, Director of the Research Institute for International Relations of the Helmut Schmidt Universität / Bundeswehr Universität Hamburg, the coordinator of the research project WAI-ZEI between the West Africa Institute of West (WAI) and Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI), Ablam Benjamin Akoutou, gave a communication on November 16th 2015 based on his book "Die europäische Migrationspolitik gegenüber Spannungsfeld im Afrika und zwischen Sicherheits- entwicklungspolitischen Ansprüchen und Wirklichkeiten" (The European immigration Policy towards Africa: Securitization and gap between theories and implementation, Akademiker Verlag, Osnabrück 2014).

Read more: Communication on the EU Immigration policy towards Africa at the University of Helmut Schmidt /...

WAI Director General participates in the International Conference «From HEEFA to SDG4: Building on Achievements» 8 – 9 October 2015, Barcelona, Spain

AIU IAU LogoBarcelona Conclusions and Recommandations

The 2-day meeting organized by the International Association of Universities (IAU) in partnership with the Jaume Bofill Foundation brought together some 60 people from 29 countries with all continents represented. The participants were Members of the IAU Reference Group for HEEFA (Higher Education for Educational For All), representatives of IAU Members, people invited by the Jaume Bofill Foundation, and a representative of the Higher Education Section, UNESCO Paris, France. The main aim of the meeting was to take stock of the IAU and partners achievements for EFA and, in light of these and other initiatives, to comment on the draft Framework for Action (FFA) developed by UNESCO and other UN Agencies and partners and after consultation of their Member States that will support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) on Education, from the higher education perspective. In Barcelona, participants worked on the draft FFA dated 19 July 2015.

Read more: WAI Director General participates in the International Conference «From HEEFA to SDG4: Building...

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