The Price Of My Malian Freedom

The ultimate sacrifice for freedom from radicalism and fundamentalism the world over is the death of a soldier…… the accompanying mourning, and the long-term life struggle thrust on his wife and children (or family).

We often hear about the sacrifice of “our” soldiers. If this article is correct, over 13,000 of Afghanistan’s men have paid the price against the Taliban as well. The first hand story from some of their wives broke my heart.

“I was against my husband becoming a soldier. I told him now he had a wife and two children, he should find a job where he could go in the morning and come back in the evening. But he did not listen to me. He said, “if everyone says they can’t fight because they have a wife and children, then what will happen to our country? What will happen to Afghanistan’s future?”

(Marzia. Afghanistan…. grew up under Taliban)

The same story is unfolding in the Sahel as well. There is a massive struggle for a simple peace in the face of some small militant segment of people with an agenda. Who “they” are, what kind of people they consist of, is still a bit murky to me.
As an ignorant outsider, it would seem to me that the village level sentiment seems to be a simple desire to not be neglected or forgotten by their Malian Government. Life is tough in Northern Mali, heck in every corner of Mali, and they need a little help and development.

Most folks are happy with a roof, some food, freedom of religion (for them and the house next door) health care, and education for their children with a hope of more than subsistance living in their children’s future.

However, on the back of these universal fundamental hopes, is a struggle for autonomy within some,  and a desire for Shira Law within others. There is a struggle WITHIN the House of Islam

As an outsider living in Mali, I can see the struggle within the house of Islam. The Muslim majority (99.9% of them) have no desire for guns, beatings (of women and men), executions, amputations, or denying daughters education.

There are Malian soldiers and families paying the price to keep this freedom. There are certainly Northerners of many ethnic groups, Tuareg among them, paying the price. I know, because I see these fair skinned Tuareg soldiers within the Malian military in my town, guarding the bank just below my window. They are accepted in this community just fine.

I love that there is room for amicable community wide conversation in every village and town of Mali. Something, or someone (s) came in hindering that process in the north.

The “palaver tree” or “palaver bench” is a beautiful Malian ethos.
I just pray that Malians, particularly those in the North,  will continue to practice conversation in unity with their neighbors for the decades to come….. and that whatever, or whomever it is that is arresting this process goes away.

Here is the million dollar question. Do such things simply go away with time, or must they be driven out?

Time does not fix a well organized people hell bent on forcing their agenda on others with a gun. In Mali, something, or someone from outside was altering life here and had to be driven out.
Who or what they were in their totality is not known to me. How, or if this altered Tuareg action, sentiments and voices today, I do not know

We are too busy loving our neighbor, and my neighbors too busy loving us, for us to figure it out. 

However, some Malian soldiers, and their now struggling women and children are paying the price for this luxury….. my luxuary…. to work and serve in Mali.
I thank them….

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