Ethics and Development in Mali: Dialogue and Reconciliation

Dean Steve Esquith and students from the Ethics and Development in Mali: Dialogue and Reconciliation study abroad program concluded their time in Kati, Mali, on August 1, 2014.

The goal of this program is to create a space in which the group examines and explores the ways in which education can advance the cause of dialogue and reconciliation in Mali today in the wake of the coup and occupation of 2012-13. It began with the program's work in Mali in July 2014, and it will continue in Mali throughout the coming academic year building on the models for dialogue and reconciliation developed this summer.

Educational projects are often part of the processes of peacebuilding and transitional justice in post-conflict societies, but they do not always reflect the central importance of education for addressing human rights violations and other wrongdoing. Nor do they often take advantage of the potential that education has for empowering future citizens to build a more democratic society and for making them more resilient in the face of violence.

This study abroad program in Mali, located in the small town of Kati approximately 15 kilometers from the capital city of Bamako, in one sense is very ambitious. The program participants developed a model of engaged education in Kati capable of making a fundamental contribution to local peacebuilding and transitional justice, and will design a plan to apply this model more broadly.

The basis for such an ambitious program is the strong working relationship that the RCAH already has with its Malian partner, the Ciwara School, and parent NGO, the Institute for Popular Education (IEP) in Kati. Participants lived and worked in Kati at the Ciwara School and IEP, where they collaborated with Ciwara students and staff, other local young people, university students from the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENSUP) from Bamako, and local visual and performing artists.

Included in the photo below are all of the participants the group worked with from a partnership with the Ecole Normale Superieure and the local Ciwara School.

The participants worked in small mixed teams of three to five people and interviewed displaced women and children, victims of human rights violations, and other survivors of the violent conflicts throughout Mali during the past two years. Then, with the help of humanitarian aid workers, artists, and theater professionals, they composed nine short stories which they performed before audiences of 40 to 50 people at the end of the month-long research project. Each of the nine presentations was followed by dialogue and discussion with the audience members who shared their reactions to the presentations and their own experiences during this difficult period of conflict and reconciliation.

The scene below is from a short play titled "Defier le Silence" (Challenge the Silence) about the fate of a young girl raped during the conflict in Northern Mali and treated harshly by her father because of it. Nikki Turek plays the daughter, Adama Diallo plays the father, and Aicha Napon plays the mother who tries to protect her daughter.

Aminata Fongora, Rae Chaloult, and Mariko Boureima are featured in a photo below from "Les Sans Voix" (The Voiceless), a multimedia presentation about rape and the violation of women’s human rights.

Header photo details: Aminata Fongora performing poetry