When it comes to fixing something in Mali, everyone dives right in – regardless of age. Here in the capital, Bamako, young men and boys transform the shell of a yellow car into a working taxi again. Their workplace is as lively as their work style – open-aired, free, full of laughter. Music blares from a nearby radio as city traffic roars in the background. The taxi, once repaired, will again travel the streets of Bamako, adding to the cacophony of trucks, cars, motorbikes, and donkey carts. Such, of course, is city life. Here, though, at this moment, it is the sound of laughter that catches the ear.
Photo © 1983 Ahn Ly
Mali/République du Mali
Landlocked, West Africa, southwest of Algeria, north of Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire & Burkina Faso, west of Niger. Mostly flat to rolling plains covered by sand; savanna in south, rugged hills northeast. 1,240,192 km2 (slightly < 2 x TX), 4% arable.
Capital Bamako (1.8M)
Population 14.5M (11.7/km2)
Life expectancy 53 years
Lang(s) French OFFICIAL, Bambara 80%, many other African languages
Religions Muslim 90%, Christian 1%, indigenous beliefs 9%
Ethnic Groups Mande 50% (Bambara, Malinke, Soninke), Peul 17%, Voltaic 12%, Songhai 6%, Tuareg and Moor 10%, other 5%
Gov’t Republic, coup in 2012
PCVs 1971-present; micro-enterprise, food production, water availability, environmental conservation, preventive health care, water sanitation and HIV/AIDS. Volunteers in country: 165; total to date: 2,555.
Nat’l holiday Independence Day, 22 September (1960)