Northern Mali – Options, what options??!!

The Rubik’s cube-like complexity of Mali’s problems, especially in the north, presents one of the greatest conflict resolution challenges in recent African history. Success relies on solving a short list of pressing problems, each of which look like a challenge fit for gods not men.

What do the Touareg want?

Camel procession Essouk 2007 (c) Andy Morgan

A nation or people rarely if ever think as one. In the case of the Touareg, difference and disharmony is exacerbated by their vast desert habitat and dispersed nomadic lifestyle

GUNS, CIGARETTES AND SALAFI DREAMS – The roots of Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)

Mokhtar Belmokhtar

There are facts about Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) that are reassuringly hard and verifiable. The organisation exists. It’s run by Algerian Arabs. It’s made a home from home in the north east of Mali, on Tinariwen’s native earth. It earns millions and millions of euros from kidnapping westerners. No one knows exactly how much. Every now and then it chops the head off one of its victims. All in the service of a dream that has become a nightmare for the people of the Sahara

MATOUB LOUNES – A lifetime dancing with death

Matoub Lounes

“Silence is death and yet if you speak you die.  If you keep quiet you die.  So then speak and die.” Tahar Djaout “I want to speak and I don’t want to die” Matoub Lounès A grave between an olive and a cherry tree Death finally caught up with him on the lonely bend of…

INESS MEZEL – Beyond trance, beyond identity

Iness Mezel

It was one of those perfect moments, when passion burns up the concept, and Iness Mezel’s words begin to canter excitedly as she remembers it: “You arrive at the studio with all your baggage and paraphernalia and you lay them out and something just happens, beyond all expectations. Beyond trance. Beyond consciousness. And I love…