The Ghandi of Mali – A Muslim Imam’s Courage On A Path Of Peaceful Resistance

My wooden Africa from my years in Ivory Coast, and my Timbuktu medallion from a Tamasheque speaker, with supposed symbols of the city engraved on it.

….. that cost him his life. Have you heard? Yet another unknown story Of locals resisting Islamic radicalism and extreme political ideologies.

A while back I highlighted the story about Timbuktu residents standing up to walk out of local mosques when radicals, the ones taking over their region, were entering to teach their indoctrination. Talk about BALLSY.

Who in the West hears these kinds of courageous Malian stories on CNN? We have arrived to save them, with locals contributing little…. right?

These quiet acts of resistance cost the residents of Timbuktu dearly.  Some were beaten, killed, then leading to the destruction of venerated saintly tombs, shrines, sites, and ancient Arabic documents, in the city by radicals accusing the residence of being under an idolatrous spell.

I asked this question at that time, “Where are the stories of locals resisting?”

I was certain there were stories out there, because this radicalism, the one seeing abuse of neighbors, was not the Malian ethos I had come to know, experience, or live with….. even as a Western Christian (think we all are).

In central Mali, another hero story emerges. Mali has many Gandhi like people, people paying the price for their peaceful resistance.

Jihadists (of whatever ideology they are) killed a village imam in central Mali who had refused their repeated attempts to recruit him, a local official told AFP on Friday.

Gunmen with suspected links to radical Islamic preacher Amadou Koufa killed the imam of Barkerou village, Aladji Sekou, on Thursday night, the official said on condition of anonymity. The two men arrived by motorbike, leaving it on the edge of the village before approaching the imam’s home on foot where they shot him, he said, adding that the assailants appeared to be familiar with the area.

“In recent months, the jihadists have tried without success to get the imam of Barkerou to back their cause,” he said. The 63-year-old imam’s nephew Oumar Sekou also confirmed his death, adding that he had been killed “because, for them, he is their opponent”.

(Imam killed by suspected jihadists in Mali 17.08.2015)

These stories need to be heard.  Men and women similar to this Imam need to be given a wider voice by journalists in the west.

We naively believe the greater wage for this “fight against terror” is predominantly covered by westerners.

No it isn’t.  We are paying the big money, while we sit comfortably at a distance, far removed from the human cost, which is the more significant cost, if we believe humans matter more than money. The human toll, the suffering, the hunger, the death, is all a hundred fold costlier for the local people. A price paid by tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of peaceful Malian Muslims who quietly, passively, and peacefully resist, resent, while harassed, killed, or displaced.

Let me introduce you to Ghandis ……..  the ones in Mali.

An Imam resisted, and died, and no westerner mourned his passing, no one thanked him for the ultimate price he paid to resist radicals seeking to recruit and corrupt him, his village, his region, and his country.

Ghandi (Aladji Sekou)…. thank you!

I’m sorry.

“Mohammed’s wife said of the Dakar-Bamako trains that they are “certain to be sadder than any train I’ve been on.”
(To Timbuktu For a Haircut. Rick Antonson)

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you for telling this man’s courageous story to Americans. I wish many people here would read about his life and death.


    1. It is an amazing story indeed. Thanks for reading and commenting.


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