| · 90% Muslim
Spiritual sand-dunes stopped by the Rock but more prayer and action needed.
There is quite a bit of mission and church planting work going on in Mali. But then again, there is a lot of work to do in this predominantly Muslim country of some 12 million people. Mission organizations often work under the umbrella of humanitarian or health aid, but others are full-time, even building Christian centers, especially in or around the southern regions and capital, Bamako.
In many cultures, Mali is famous thanks to Timbuktu (Tombouctou in French) which is used in phrases and quotes to suggest something beyond ones experience or a great distance which may not be reached. Because Timbuktu is so remote, desolate and terribly difficult to get to, rumors spread about it. If you go up to the north of Africa, Morocco to be exact, you will find a sign post which says, “52 days to Timbuktu”. What it means is 52 days on camel through the heat and torture of the desert to get down south to Mali, which was then an important trading centre.
Center for Islam
From as early as the fourteenth century, Timbuktu was also an important intellectual and spiritual center for the Islamic world. People would travel from as far away as Saudi Arabia to study there. Its importance was not just for the great mosques and universities, but more so for its libraries of Islamic texts, all copied by hand. Many of those still exist today although, because of the encroaching sand, UNESCO has now established a conservation program to safeguard the city.
Gold turns to sand
Sand is indeed a key word in Mali. Gone are the glory days of the empire it is named after and the gold which was in abundance. Today Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert. There is no state religion; the Constitution of Mali defines the country as a secular state and allows for religious practices that do not pose a threat to social stability and peace.
* Mali is one of the continent’s biggest cotton producers yet few of its population have decent cotton products. Pray that the inequality in the country could be used for good and that God’s value of Malians could be preached.
* Mali has produced some of the stars of African music. Pray that God will use talented musicians to write music and songs proclaiming the love and hope of the Gospel. Pray that Christian musicians will be featured at the annual “Festival in the Desert” in Essakane.
* Pray that Christians in Mali would be willing to reach out to the sick, especially those with HIV / AIDS and malaria.
* Pray that building projects such as Healing 2 The Nations church, school and orphanage can be completed soon.
Background on Mali
The Sudanese Republic and Senegal became independent of France in 1960 as the Mali Federation. When Senegal withdrew after only a few months, what formerly made up the Sudanese Republic was renamed Mali. Rule by dictatorship was brought to a close in 1991 by a coup that ushered in democratic government.
The Great Mosque of Djenn (south near Burkina Faso) is the largest mud brick building in the world and is considered by many architects to be the greatest achievement of the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style.
In February 2005, Muslim and Christian organizations joined together to fight AIDS in Mali and registered with the Ministry of Interior. This alliance is also designed to be used by religious communities as a conflict resolution tool. The Government claims it always consults with a “Committee of Wise Men” that includes the Archbishop and Protestant and Muslim leaders before making important decisions on potentially controversial issues regarding the nation.
Economy of Mali
Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert and with a highly unequal distribution of income. Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger. About 10% of the population is nomadic and some 80% of the labor force is engaged in farming and fishing. Industrial activity is concentrated on processing farm commodities. Mali is heavily dependent on foreign aid and vulnerable to fluctuations in world prices for cotton, its main export, along with gold. Worker remittances and external trade routes for the landlocked country have been jeopardized by continued unrest in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, however, Mali is building a road network that will connect it to all adjacent countries and it has a railway line to Senegal. In 2010, Mali experienced a regional drought that hurt livestock and livelihoods.
Statistics on Mali
Population: 15,494,466 (July 2011 est.) World Rank #66
Life expectancy at birth: 53.06 years. World Rank #207
Ethnic groups: Mande 50% (Bambara, Malinke, Soninke), Peul 17%, Voltaic 12%, Songhai 6%, Tuareg and Moor 10%, other 5%
Religions: Muslim 90%, indigenous beliefs 9%, Christian 1%
Languages: French (official), Bambara 80%, numerous African languages
School Life Expectancy: 8 years
Timbuktu, Mali – Video
Documentary about Timbuktu.