Fostering cultural and social cohesion

Project description

Title: Donko ni Maaya – Crisis prevention and strengthening social cohesion through the promotion of the cultural sector in Mali
Commissioned by: Federal Foreign Office (AA)
Country: Mali
Lead executing agency: Malian Ministry of Culture 
Overall term: 2018 to 2021

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Context

In 2012, a serious political and security crisis arose in the Republic of Mali as a result of a military coup and an alliance between separatist rebels and Islamist terror groups. Following the recapture of the North with the help of international military deployments and the stationing of a United Nations Mission (MINUSMA), the country reverted back to democratic conditions through the implementation of elections in 2013. However, the security situation in many regions has since deteriorated due to the rise in terror attacks and interethnic conflict.

The traditionally moderate Islam in Mali is facing an increasing radical Islamist influence nationwide. This is threatening the traditional cohesion of Malian society and the freedom of cultural expression. The ongoing conflict, the state’s fragility and the spread of extremist forces that use culture as a tool for their own ends and abuse it as a means of identification, have created an ideal climate for violent extremism. The young population is particularly vulnerable. Nevertheless, urban subcultures such as rap, hip-hop, slams and modern dance are emerging in the capital, with the internet playing a pivotal role in their spread. A Mali-specific, independently developing youth culture based on tolerant and good-natured traditions offers young people an alternative, helps curb the spread of extremist forces and promotes political participation. 

Objective

Young people are provided with alternatives to extremist attitudes. As agents of change and through opportunities for cultural expression, they play a positive and active role in combating extremism, in political participation, in strengthening social cohesion and hence in crisis prevention.

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Approach

The project is strengthening social cohesion and offering young people prospects. It is fostering the urban (sub)culture by supporting selected cultural and district centres in improving the quality and quantity of their cultural opportunities. Alongside advising on the professionalisation of the work of the cultural centres, one key focus is providing a special cultural programme for young people.

The project has also been providing advice on to promote cultural initiatives. Creative artists are supported in improving their productions, for example in urban arts, music, modern dance, theatre, art, YouTubing and film, and in using existing channels for nationwide publicity. 

By way of training, the project is also empowering authorities such as the Ministry of Culture to carry out their role in the cultural sector more effectively. The cooperation between communities, culture sector stakeholders and young people within the framework of local policy-making is being improved in order to strengthen social cohesion. In this way, the project also fosters democratic participation.

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Result

  • The Malian Youth Minister, Amadou Koita, and the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, opened the kick-off event for the project together. The event fostered exchange between high-profile actors in the Malian culture scene and also offered young talents a stage. Subsequently, new cooperation emerged between the cultural actors, such as a collaboration involving the women's slam group Malinke and a music video producer. They are working together on a slam that addresses the topic of social cohesion.
  • The German rap duo Zweierpasch, the winners of the Adenauer de Gaulle Prize, hosted a workshop on the social responsibility of rappers at the Rapou Dogon Kun Hip Hop Festival. There they shared their experiences with 150 young Malian artists. Around 10,000 people took part in the festival which promotes responsible rap. The project invited Zweierpasch to Mali and supported the event both in implementing of the workshops and with its communication strategy. 

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