AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

Malian writer, activist, former member of government Aminata Traoré is unwelcome in France, and, thanks to the ‘open borders’ of the Schengen Area, she is persona non grata in pretty much all of Europe. Another dialogue is possible? Not if you irk les autorités. Traoré was invited to speak at a conference last week, in Berlin. From there she was to go on to France, to participate in public forums in Paris and Lille. She had had a four-year Schengen visa, which allows for ‘free movement’ around the continent …except, of course, when it doesn’t. Much to her surprise, the German Consulate rejected Traoré’s application. Finally, at the last minute, she was given a three-day safe-conduct for Berlin and only Berlin. Since France wouldn’t allow her to transit through, she had to go through Istanbul and Dakar, which extended her return flight to 26 some hours.

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Who is Aminata Traoré, and what makes her so ‘special’? On one hand, in the general fog at the season’s end of the universal Foreign Service, one almost never discovers the reasons for rejection. You’re in or you’re out. Deal with it.

On the other hand, Aminata Traoré is a fairly prominent public figure and activist intellectual. In the late 1990s, she was Mali’s Minister of Culture and Tourism. She’s a writer, perhaps best known for Le Viol de l’imaginaire and L’Afrique humiliée. Both works powerfully address the global, some would say the imperial, aspirations, policies and practices of multinational corporations as well as of former and present colonial national powers. Traoré was one of the lead organizers of the Bamako Social Forum in 2002. At each instance, her work focuses on structures of power, both imposed and resistant, at all levels, including consciousness, and the possibilities of real democracy.

Given we’re talking about Mali, not surprisingly France figures prominently. Traoré is a leader of African, and of African women’s, anti- and counter-globalization movements. At the same time, in writings and political engagements and popular education and theater, Traoré has spent the last decades challenging the common sense of expulsion, specifically of French expulsion of Malians back to Mali. Repeatedly, Traoré has challenged the common sense of development that relies on experts and the annihilation of indigenous knowledge, and she has called out development agencies for their acts and programs of violence, always, of course, ‘in the name of love.’ In particular, Traoré criticized multinational ‘developers’ for the viciousness of their policies and practices when it comes to Malian women, and African women more generally.

Most recently, Traoré has been a prominent critic of the French military intervention in northern Mali. Again, she was particularly pointed in her critique of the impact of French military intervention on Malian women’s rights as well as well being.

Why has Traoré been denied a visa? I don’t know. But I do know that, outside of the Francophone press, neither do you, if you rely on the English-language media. Where is The New York Times, who once, sixteen years ago, relied on Traoré’s views on democracy to help ‘explain’ Mali? Where’s the BBC, who, eleven years ago, featured her work, organizing the 2002 poor people’s summit, where she criticized, and organized against, the G8, NEPAD, and so much more? Where are they all today, when Traoré is denied freedom of movement across the ‘borderless’ expanses of Europe? Silent. Let’s hope another world is possible … soon.

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Director of Women's Studies Program at George Washington University and blogger

9 thoughts on “Why France doesn’t want to let Aminata Traoré in and Germany allowed her only inside Berlin’s city limits

  1. Africans can only be free if Africans accept the fact that they are Africans, by accommodating their fellow Africans. Because , over decades, Africans were been discriminated and repatriated while in their mother land.

  2. I have read Aminata Traoré defending Mugabe and Mariko defending Sango enough to dislike them, but denying them visa may just provide them with another argument.

  3. Now is the time for all African voices to speak in a single cord.We must demand our right to dignity and freedom across the racists white world where we are still viewed as Niggers to those who continue to pillage Africa in their neon-colonialist ways.
    For too long we have accepted the second class status to the white man that today every other race wants to be our masters.By joining forces the world over against these beasts,we will be able to focus on solving our own problems the world over.
    Rather than worry over the faith of Jesus and Prophet Muhammad,Africans must find solutions to the criminal desires of our misguided people who feel crime is the only way out.
    The solution herein lies in us spending our money to build a united and prosperous Africa far from the accepted position of inferiority and the stupid notion that our Tribal genesis makes us different.In fact tribalism is a psychological imposition on African people by the white bastards who know that by distracting us from our single most intention,we would be kept in mental slavery for ever.
    I believe that our religious differences based upon the religion of the white man and Arabs who by themselves are guilty of heinous crimes against Africans.Is the single most evil existence among us this is why Arabs continue to murder our comrades in Mali and Sudan and wherever Islam is been wielded by the Arabs who hate the Black skinned people.
    Lest we forget the genocide in Rwanda and the continued killings in the Congo,Nigeria and other African lands all in the name of the white mans teachings and those of the Arabs who wield swords and guns to enforce Islam on Africans.
    Africa must rise up.

    • My brother Malek Abubekr, if u study a little you will realize that Islam came as a liberating force, not what the colonialists have injected into your mind. Islam was opposed by the elite of Makkah when the Holy Messenger started to preach Islam because they wanted the status quo to remain, that is mans’ enslavement to man, whereas Islam requires man to be free by being the slave of the Creator. May the Almighty guide u brother.

      • My Brother Saleem.Assalam o Alaikum wa Ramathulla wa barakatu.Allahahu laa ha il;aa huu.Al-hayyul-Qay-yuum.I have fully noted your response however I believe that it is important for justice to be handed down by Allah rather than by mankind so in the face of Arab onslaught of people who look like me.I cannot support any religion which is misused.
        The history of Africa is well documented my Brother and I have not missed the role of Arabs in enslaving Africans.I have a duty to Allah and will confirm to sure guidance but I will not support barbarism been effected on my brothers and sisters in Africa by murderers who misuse Islam for their own purpose.
        Evil will be met with evil and all these people do is force those who are afflicted into the corner of the Christians and others.Do you believe that in this enlightened period people will submit to the will of murderers? We are commanded to submit to the will of Allah and Prophet Muhammad made clear that Islam must mot be force3d on anyone,it is a way of life my Brother.
        When Muslims behave this way they appear similar to the Jews who murder in their m,misguided teachings.Since Islam require man to be free,the people of Mali,Sudan and Nigeria must have the right to choose a way of life acceptable to Allah but who are we to judge them when well we be judged ourselves.By the way Brother! I will never be misguided by theories of the White man,i know their history and since I am incapable of forgiveness for them until they apologize for slavery and pay us reparation; I cannot see eye to eye with anything they do.
        Wa-Salaam

      • Excellent greetings to both Malek and Saleem. Submission to Truth is more powerful than any atomic bomb, and rather than destroying it is liberating. African Soul has to go very DEEP to find its redemption. The way is there and AND IT IS NOW. Islam if not properly activated is just a blueprint. I enjoin you to get in touch with yes at yesness.net. RIAD.

      • Assalam o Alaikum.I enjoin you in the desire for spreading of truth,perhaps we Muslims are too self righteous to internalize and therefore cannot see the bigger picture.The world has moved far beyond and religion and its foundation during the time of many Nomads,these are times when all mankind are in search of a more modern way of life.
        All of us must know that in each Dynasty there is a period of blood letting,perhaps this is the time and therefore as you said we must all seek redemption.But from what should we Africans seek redemption? What is it that we have done that is worst than any other ethnic group? Everyone condemns us in such derogatory ways that sometimes it makes us feel less than humans,thus I have a problem with the history of Africa as is as taught by the white man.
        Before white people and Arabs,the life of Africans was nothing short of a quality envied by others.How is it that we have all of a sudden become the worst human beings when well we welcomed the Arabs and White men into our homeland? For too long every other race including the Arabs who pride themselves as the custodian of Islam;have taken advantage of Black African Hospitality.it is this spirit of accommodation which has colonized us and made us a people with out our own religion and leaning to the religion of all others.
        Justice is ordained by the Creator,Allah has ordained peace but peace must some times come at the price of war.To this end I pray for the day when all of Black Africa would rise up in unity and unison to expel all the agents of repression including the current day colonial masters China.
        No religion can therefore have any significance to Africans unless it brings peace,justice and prosperity. This does not come with Islam which has shown that it too violent and is been enforced by fanatics who reside in the history of the past and are unaccommodating to change which is absolute and inevitable.
        One of the few changes I cannot accept is where a Man created by Allah wants to become anything but a man and a Woman created in like form wants to be anything but a woman.In this regard,there must be no bending of the 114 Sura to accommodate this evil practice been perpetrated by the West and especially the United States,Europe and some parts of South America and Asia which wants to undo Allah’ creation. It is this evil which is creeping into Islam as well and which must be made punishable by death without which there will be a clashing of the genders in a war of attrition which would make Sodom and Gomorrah look like child’s play.

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