The colonial ghost haunting the rebuilding of a post-war Mali


The French military intervention against Islamist forces in Mali has been widely welcomed by the country’s population, and has produced a radical change in what were often strained relations between the two countries. While the Islamist rebels have been pushed back to the far north of Mali, Operation Serval is now due to begin winding down next month, leaving a series of new and major challenges ahead. Many in the country are hoping France, the former colonial ruler, will play an important part in meeting them. For beyond securing the country from further Jihadist attacks, Mali needs to be rebuilt, from its vital infrastructures to its political institutions, discredited by an aging and corrupt elite. Could the country now find itself under the trusteeship of France?  Thomas Cantaloube reports from the Malian capital Bamako, where the ghost of colonialism haunts the path to a brighter future.

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According to his neighbours, 87 year-old Arounata Diallo is the doyen of their district that lies at the centre of the Malian capital Bamako, between the station and the museum. He spends his days chatting to folk, sharing his memories and experiences, comfortably flopped in a plastic chair in the cool of the shade beside a wall of his house.