Born 1942 in Bamako, Aminata Dramane Traoré is a Malian author and political activist. She has served her country as Minister for Culture and Tourism from 1997 to 2000 and has also worked in United Nations Development Programme.
Traoré has been and is a loud critic of globalization, neo-colonization and gender oppression. She has written several books that criticize the Bretton Woods system and its institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, the exploitation of Africa’s natural resources and the French neo-colonialism and racism present in Africa.
Traoré has received in November 2021 the Blue Planet Award of the German Ethecon Foundation, which describes itself as a “foundation for ethics and economy”.
In the award ceremony, the German Member of Parliament Tobias Pflüger (the Left) and Christine Buchholz have held introductory speeches.
Below United World International presents the speech of Traoré as published by Ethecon in German. Translation was provided by Yunus Soner, subheadings set by UWI.
Ladies and gentlemen, honorable members of the foundation board of Ethecon, the foundation for ethics and economy. It is a great pleasure for me to receive the “International Blue Planet Award 2021”. This is a great honor for me.
Speaking as a women, an African, a Sahelian
I am speaking as a woman, as an African, as a Sahelian in the circumstances of a “war on terror”. The first and most important lesson I have drawn from this situation is the attack on personal liberties and the political sovereignty of my country.
With this ceremony, you have provided me the opportunity to be in Berlin, although from the distance due to the limitations that Covid-19 imposes on us. And you have provided me with the opportunity to say out loud today, what I was going to state in 2013, when France tried to stop me by rejecting the entry visa for the Shengen area. Some of you will remember that in April 2013, I was invited to take part in a debate organized by the Left Party of Germany and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation on “Mali at the crossroads: after the military intervention and before the elections”.
France stopped me in 2013
This topic is still actual, as the situation is still not under control 8 years after the start of the “Opération Serval”, because it lacks exactly on ethics, especially the ethics of development and worldwide partnership, to which the French-Euro-African relations also belong to.
The travel prohibition that targeted me in 2013 is limiting today 149 political personalities – in addition to the freezing of their assets through the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States). The pretext is the non-fulfillment of the election date, scheduled for February 27, 2022, and surely also the possibility that they might cooperate with the private Russian military company Wagner.
Winners of Cold War resist to be overtaken by Russia and China
The winners of the Cold War do not accept to be overtaken by the Russian Federation or China. The struggle is about the access world’s strategic natural resources, of which a huge part belongs to Africa, and about market shares.
In a time when the evil winds of re-colonization have started to whirl again, I turn to Germany, the main partner of France in this damned war, as well as to the African youth, whose unbroken mobilization and decidedness to build itself a future provides reason for hope. This day of November 20, 2021 is marked by a new development: the blockade of a French military convoy in Burkina Faso.
Mali is not “the ill patient from the Sahel”
I want to clarify that Mali is not the “ill patient from the Sahel Zone” that needs treatment by so-called transparent elections and the sale of weapons. The land of President Modibo Keita (President of Mali 1960-68, UWI) is an example to study, a case full of valuable lessons concerning the protection of Africa. Not against Djihadism, but against the state terrorism of great powers in the framework of defending the interests of multinational corporations.
Where is the ethics? Where is the ethics when France, additionally to the distorted official presentation, plays the trump card of “military secret” concerning the event of Bounti, where villagers that had gathered for a wedding became the victim of an attack by the Barkhane troops? The same question can be asked for the convoy of Djihadists, that tried to get from Konna to Bamako in order to establish a Caliphate there.
The deployment and operations of foreign troops on the ground has nothing to do with the formerly requested air support – just the same way as the resolution No. 1973 of a “no-fly-zone” in Libya, accepted by the UN Security Council, should not have led to the toppling of the government of Muammar al Ghaddafi and his murder! Mali this governmental lie’s first collateral victim in the Sub-Saharan Africa, which turned our country into an attacked, occupied and militarized land. The claim that transparent elections would constitute the solution for the chaos caused by the capitalist power’s intervention is un ethical in concern of Mali and Libya.
The Chancellor Angela Merkel has argued that the “democratic transition serves to fight terrorism better”. What kind of democracy are we talking about when the French President can dominate elected leaders here, demands report of them in terms of the war against terror, and ignores their people’s cry for help.
Military bases and CFA Franc serve Africa’s occupation and plundering
As far as development is concerned, the economic model applied in our countries is in no way ethical. It is both, “business” and a project of Westernization, which is at the same time considered to be civilizing. It is about reforming our economies, our societies and thus, changing our deepest identity, converting us to naïve voters and consumers. A foreign investor must have the assurance to achieve and transfer back home – or sometimes to tax heavens – without paying any taxes or duties. The CFA-Franc and the military bases serve this process of Africa’s occupation and plundering. The lobbies of the energy corporations, the weapons industry and pharmaceutical companies flourish, while the political leaders give their peoples flaming speeches from summit to summit.
France’s military intervention in Mali after the destabilization of Libya marks an important step in the militarization of the run on Africa, the enterprise to control the continent’s richness in the name of the war on terror and the not-so-often-admitted war against migrants. “The war on terror is the only justification of our presence demanded by the Malians and the ECOWAS” assure the French authorities. But the “War on Terror” is being imposed on the states of the Sahel Zone, in addition to the consequences of the structural adjustment programs of the IMF and World Bank, consequences such as mass unemployment and mass poverty, caused by the extractivist path of development. These issues are almost never discussed among our own political parties, let alone with our technical and financial partners.
After Libya in 2011 came Mali
It is not ethical to withhold the truth from those it concerns, to impose a so-called development policy on them, which impoverishes and knuckles them down. It is not ethical to build up barricades when they try to escape their destiny, which is forced upon them by these ways.
Walls are being erected – visible and invisible – on the grounds fear, sometimes also hatred against the Other, the different thinking, which often are considered inferior.
Men, women and children flee their countries and leave parts of their beings and dreams behind. On top of all that, they are told: “don’t come!”, “Stay home!”, “Go away!”, “Get lost, die in the desert or the sea, whatever, but don’t come to us!”. The European Union relocates its borders forward and instructs African countries with political, institutional and military force.
French President wants new Europe-Africa Agreement
The French President Emmanuel Macron indicates the path of the European Union’s presidency, which he will take over in January 2022. He will have to prove that he has shown and will show the hard line against migrants. He, who wants to continue his country’s military presence in the Sahel Zone despite all despite all adversities, says that he wants to rule the question of African migration to France and the European Union with a new agreement between Europe and Africa. He wants, I quote: “to improve the protection against illegal migration, prevent new migrants from arriving, transfer them systematically into their countries of origin and reform the Shengen Area”.
What kind of relations should we aspire with France heading to presidential elections in 2022 and Germany that has left the era of Merkel behind, given dead end in terms of security policies and military situation?
Without being an important polluter, Africa is not only the continent that will pay the biggest tribute to the global warming, it will moreover suffer deeper if a change is not made in the paradigm of development. The climate change demands an end to the endless wars. I believe I can state clearly and decidedly that this moral and political imperative turns the retreat of the US from Afghanistan into an environmentally wise decision. The same response is needed for the Sahel Zone. The deceptive retreat of the “Barkhane” troops is of course not the end of the war. Instead, this retreat wants to replace the troops with the Takuba task Force (the multinational troops for the zone, UWI), to Europeanize them and to Africanize them with the participation of the Sahel G5 (Mauretania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, UWI).
Foreign troops must leave Mali – as fast as possible
Facing this situation, all of Africa should fight as one “to silence the weapons”, instead of demanding more weapons with the excuse of the “War on Terror”, wherever these weapons may come from. There must be more ethical ways of international cooperation than this coalition, which is directed against Mali. It is not only time to silence the weapons. Time has also come for the complete withdrawal of foreign troops as fast as possible. Our states do not have to prove that they are male and strong by fighting against terror. What is needed are coordinated and sustainable answers to the problems which have brought up terrorism and which are continuously feeding it. These answers are located on the economic, political and geopolitical levels.
Concluding, I would like to emphasize the following: Africa cannot longer be a continent with endless richness that is plundered while being inhabited with an extremely poor and robbed population. Africa cannot longer be a continent that pollutes less the earth, while paying the highest price for the global warming.
Let us work for a true change of paradigm, because social peace, human security and political stability, which are good for Germany and Europe, are good for us in Mali, the Sahel and Africa too.