H.E. Mr. Mahamane Elhadji Bania TOURE
Ambassador of the Republic of Mali to Japan
—This year Mali is celebrating the 55th anniversary of its independence, the 55th anniversary of the cooperation between Mali and Japan, and the 13th anniversary of the establishment of the Embassy of Mali in Japan. How do you work on deepening the bilateral ties with Japan?
I must recall that the primary mission of the Embassy is strengthening of the bilateral relations between our country and Japan, both at the political and economic levels. To achieve this goal, we maintain a close contact with the Japanese authorities, private sector and other stakeholders. The Embassy also strives to deepen people-to-people relationship between our two countries. In that regard, we work with the civil society organizations, prefectures and municipalities throughout Japan.
To conclude my answer, the bilateral relationship between Mali and Japan is strong and excellent since our cooperation reach all the areas relevant to the development of Mali: education, health, agriculture, food security, infrastructure, water and sanitation, peace and stability.
—On the road to economic development, the Government of Mali is facing security challenges. How are you responding to those issues and what are the main objectives of the government?
As you rightly mentioned, Mali is facing security challenges on the road to economic development. Starting in January 2012, Mali has experienced in its Northern part, armed insurgency and terrorism. His Excellency Ibrahima Boubacar KEITA is fully aware of the challenges you mentioned. Knowing the importance of peace and security for economic development, President Keita has worked relentlessly, since the first hours of his inauguration, to negotiate a peace and a reconciliation accord with the rebel groups of Northern Mali. The efforts of the President and of the Government of Mali, with the support of the international community, have been crowned by a great success with the signing the peace and reconciliation Agreement on May 15th 2015 and the completion of its signing on June 20th 2015.
The major and foremost goal of His Excellency Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is to achieve peace, security and economic development for Mali. To attain this objective, President Keita has assigned to the Government of Mali an action program for 2013-2018, underpinned by six pillars:
- Establishment of strong and credible institutions.
- Restauration of security for people and property across the national territory.
- Implementation of an active national reconciliation policy.
- Rehabilitation of the education system in Mali.
- Building an emerging economy.
- Implementation of an active social development policy.
As Ambassador of Mali, I would like to seize this opportunity to thank the international community for its support to His Excellency President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and the Government of Mali in the efforts to restore peace, security and stability in Mali.
—Mali is renowned for producing musical icons famous on the African continent and beyond, most notably Salif Keita. How do you promote Malian culture in Japan? How is Japanese culture perceived in Mali?
Yes, you are right. Mali has produced some of Africa’s best artists and musicians. And Salif Keita you referred to is undoubtedly one of them. Malian music and handcraft are very appreciated in Japan. There are some Japanese citizens who are promoting Malian musicians in Japan. During the last fifteen years, more than 15 major Malian artists performed in Japan, not only in Tokyo but also in other cities. Many Japanese citizens travel to Mali to learn music, dance and drumming. There is a Japanese band based in Tokyo that plays Malian music called Malinké (Mandingo) music. There is also a Malian band composed of a kora player and a drummer living in Tokyo. There are two Malian artists, a balafon (xylophone) player and a N’Goni player in Southern Japan. The Embassy of Mali supports all those cultural activities. The Embassy takes part in festivals and in cultural events throughout Japan. In all these occasions, the Embassy promotes Malian arts and cuisine through the participation in art and cultural fairs, and exhibitions in Japan.
The Japanese culture is well appreciated in Mali, namely Japanese music, cuisine and martial arts. There are many karate, judo and aikido practitioners in Mali.
—Mali is one of the founder members of the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) and plays a key role in developing and building stronger partnerships within the organization (e.g. supporting the presidential election of 2013). How is Mali and IOF mutually benefiting from this partnership? What does it mean to be a francophone state in Japan?
Indeed, Mali is a founding and an active member of the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF). At the political level, Mali works within IOF to promote democracy and good governance. I think here it is worth reminding that the basis of IOF action in this field was laid in Bamako, the capital city of Mali. This basis is the “Declaration of Bamako” on democracy adopted in November 2000. It is a fact that IOF has developed an expertise in the area of Election Observation. IOF plays a positive role in the promotion of democracy in the francophone world in sending observatory teams.
IOF sent an observatory team during the first and second rounds of the 2013 presidential election in Mali. It is also a good thing that IOF has taken the decision at the recent summit in Dakar to work on the issues of economic development. This will give a new dimension to IOF.
It is a privilege to be a French speaker in Japan. Firstly, it helps to be part of the vibrant francophone community in Japan. Secondly, it allows you to interact with the French speaking Japanese citizens, and, in doing so, widening knowledge about the Japanese world.