General or Other

Letter To Africa: Dear Mali

Dear Bamako

You will be glad to know that my trip, both the bus and the airplane legs, were uneventful and I am safely back home in Kampala. There was a small incident with a baby donkey in the luggage compartment, but it is barely worth remarking on except to commend the ingenuity of the flight cabin crew who, on realizing that they were out of snacks, did some quick thinking and put the confiscated animal to use. Donkey sandwiches are delicious. One of our continents many young Innovators should look into an app for donkey cuisine.

I was disappointed when I left, as you know, because I did not manage to see everyone on my short visit. Especially young Mamoudou, who I was told had left for France.

Imagine my shock when I ended up seeing him after all, right there on my internet feed, that crazy boy and his climbing craziness, clambering up French apartments grabbing at dangling infants with no regard.

I was petrified, guys, petrified to the very soul. What is wrong with this boy? I remember how he used to fall asleep during geography class and, when chastised, argue that this will never be relevant in the real world, and that is what I blame for the fact that he thought climbing walls in France is as safe as it is in Mali.

As he scaled the first floor I was sure someone was about to call the police and report a burglary in progress.

Once he reached the second floor I was sure the police had arrived and would be opening fire any second now.

The next floor I noticed a baby suspended above him and the bottom of my bowels dropped out. They are going to call the SWAT team now, under the assumption that the black African with the Muslim name was climbing walls to abduct a child, probably to take him to ISIS. “Mamadou!” wept my heart, “why didn’t you listen to me when I told you to pay attention in Geography class?”

It all turned out well in the end for everybody (Except the father of the neglected child. I tend to get my facts muddled up but I understand that his French citizenship has been stripped from him and handed to Mamadou. Does this include the child? Is Mamadou now a father?)

What I am more perturbed about is the future, now that Mamadou is French and probably a French father, he will not be coming back. A great loss to not only you, dear Mali, but to Africa as a whole. Brain drain is one thing, where we lose our finest, most curious minds to Europe and North America which pay better… that is not as much a problem as losing people like Mamadou himself.

A person who will brave the treacherous journeys necessary to achieve illegal European immigration and then, once it is achieved, still have enough energy, grit, soul and strength of character to risk his own life climbing French edifices to the rescue of a stranger’s child is a valuable person, far more valuable than doctors, footballers, journalists and, yes, I dare say it, we all loved Salif Keita, and Mory Kante had that hit in the nineties, but making us dance pales in comparison to climbing to save children.

Meanwhile, Fatouma must be kicking herself for having dumped Mamadou to marry Toure way back then. Toure, of all the deadbeats in the graveyard of beatings, who spends all day playing XBox instead of looking after the kids while she is out hustling at the mobile tech hub.

We spend a lot of time on the issue of educated and skilled labour leaving Africa, but it’s much worse than that, and we don’t realise it until now. Losing clever people is one thing; losing good people, on the other hand, especially while each day every African looks to the left and sees some repulsive waste person who really should just leave us alone and fly away and get recolonised or something instead of blighting our land and our lives.

We can never have enough heroes, we can’t keep losing them.

So, maybe let’s build a wall to lock them in.

But that won’t stop the ones who can climb, will it?

Dear Bamako, I have no advice, I have no solutions to offer, except to recommit myself to making Africa better. One step at a time, eyes on the goal above us, kind of like climbing a wall to grab a child above us. Until at least the people of Paris are one hero safer.

Your brother forever and always

Bazanye, son of Bazanye, Muzukulu of Sempebwa

Born of Nagawa, and often called Elenesiti

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