To the South of Mopti, the Cercle of Tominian in the Segou region shares a boarder with the Cercles of Djenné, Bandiagara, and Bankass. The Cercle of Tominan is composed of Bwa, Mianka, Dafing, Bobofings, Bambara, and Fulani people. The majority of the population still practices traditional religion, and there are also growing Christian and Muslim communities. While the youth of Tominian have not yet begun to organize into ethnic defense militias, extremist activity has already begun to spill into this cercle along the peripheries, particularly the border with Mopti. Doing Cercle wide, multi ethnic community building activities like this before the divisions begin helps protect the population, foster community resilience, and bring attention to areas where government services are limited. Many young people believe that if they don’t organize into militias, they won’t get the attention of the central government, and thus won’t have representation in the national dialogue. One of the goals of this event is to bring national attention to this area, and address these issues through a Cercle wide dialogue, to develop a plan of action so the local, regional, and national government can address these issues before the problem intensifies. Youth must be taught alternative ways to work within the democratic framework to achieve their goals without forming or joining militias. i4A partnered with the Association for the Development of Arts and Culture of Mali, (ADECA Mali), to produce the Festival which included a ten-day cultural and sports caravan through five rural communes and culminated with a two-day cultural main event in the district’s administrative center, featuring modern artists from across the country. One of the central objectives of ADECA is to contribute to the growth of the Mali’s arts and cultural sector, specifically in the Circle of Tominian. A second objective is to promote cultural awareness and social cohesion through the arts, sports, education, and dialogue. In addition to music and dance performances, storytelling, and trainings, there was a conference debate on The Role of Arts and Culture in Local Development and Social Cohesion in the Circle of Tominian. Cultural development is a key factor for social cohesion, and one of the necessary building blocks for sustainable development. The conference leader, Mr. Djibril Guissé, is activities coordinator for the Foundation Festival Sur le Niger. Coordinator Guisse showed the audience how they can develop the festival, with an emphasis on getting the entire community involved. He talked about the possibility of organizing fairs on local products, agricultural and artisanal, the development of secondary industry, and the potential events like this have in developing the Cercle economically. This festival was an opportunity for the administrative authorities to
|Opening Ceremony Speech
I’m not very religious, but I strongly believe in the power of culture for the solution to our problems. To the population of Tominian and especially the youth, I want them to take ownership of this festival, it is for them. I need young people to wake up and know that the future of this country is on them, and it is up to them to wake up and move things forward because I feel that young people of Tominia are sleeping. This is an important exercise because is starts at home”
Mr. Seydou Traoré
Sub-Prefect Central Tominian
communicate with the population, particularly the youth. Two nights of concerts followed the conference. The first included three traditional troupes, one from Tominia, one from Kouana, and another from Mafouné, and performances by six rappers from San (Segou) and Tominia completed the show. The second night included performances by Bwa artists Delphine Mouncoro and Ben Zabo, Wassoulou artist Sadio Sidibe, and the group Amanar from Kidal led by Ahmed Ag Kaedi. These four artists, who all have extensive international resumés, shared their experiences and knowledge with the locally based artists.
The ten-day event culminated with a tree planting activity to offset desertification due to climate change effects in the zone. The trees also represent the Festival of Arts of Tominian (FESTAT) and indicate that it is up to the Tominian population to work together, to reflect on how to sustain this festival, so that one day it will grow big enough to be a testimony of all the hard work and dedication that was put into it. Other festival partners included: The Malian Ministry of Culture, The Tominan Youth Council, Festival on the Niger, Festival in the Desert, World Vision, and the Association of Nationals of the Municipality of Diora.