Mali over the centuries and decades has managed to keep a lot of its cultural heritage and is still very much a so called authentic country. However things are – and will be – changing here too.
Malians devour first world TV soaps, watching stock-still, eyes fixed on the screen, mouths open. You can hear a pin drop while they take in all the luxury unfolding before their eyes with people leading lives that are so immensely different from theirs.
As a result of what they see on TV and experience through visiting tourists, many think that all people in the occident have endless sources of money. They can buy all they want, travel to far away countries and all their needs are being met.
We can tell them life is not as in the movies, but to them it’s our reality and – having little – many dream of having all those luxuries.
Others detest our reality, it being associated with adultery, hatred, jealousy, disrespect, alcohol, drugs and a total lack of social and family values.
These are mainly the elders, forbidding their youngsters to dress and behave modern style.
The don’ts do often result in sneaky behavior, probably leading to even worse situations than the ones they try to protect their children from.
Of course it is an illusion that they will be capable of preventing change from happening. But trying to stop them, the changes may come with pain, disappointments and sorrow.
It’s another illusion that their world is better than ours or that ours is better than theirs.
Yes, there are a lot of differences and there are a lot of similarities too.
Adultery, hatred, jealousy and disrespect for instance are part of life in Mali, often not talked about and taken for granted or as God’s will. Poverty, a (poor) scholar system and medical care not being widely available (or at an affordable price) are often complained about.
Social services may have contributed to lesser family values in the occident. They also resulted in a higher standard of living, independency as well as in medical care and schooling being available to many. Through schooling we have become (re)aware of the need to take care of our precious environment and of many other things.
There are Malians who do not close their eyes for the ongoing changes in the world, realising their country is part of that too. They are the people who accept it, are part of it and allow their children to go with the flow of their generation. Supporting them, without letting go of their own values, traditions and believes, creating a steady home base for their children.
Mariama is a lucky girl being born in such a family. Her parents highly value their family life and are devout Muslims. They don’t fear the changes, they embrace them, knowing they’ll contribute to a life that suits their children. Knowing that when their children are doing well, they will be fine also.
Mariama’s mother even buys her daughter trendy clothes. And contrary to many others she doesn’t have to change back into traditional clothes before entering the family courtyard.
Soon Mariama will be starting university, being the first of her family. Her parents, her older brothers, everyone who can, contributes to make it happen. Meaning they will all bring huge sacrifices for the years to come, to give Mariama a chance to break out of the ongoing circle of poverty. To build a life of her own, and contribute to the development of her beloved Mali.
Change is the only constant..!