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A Very Simple and Straightforward 5 Part Plan to Retake Northern Mali

Diplomats, analysts, neocons, ECOWAS, the AU, the UN, and the government of France, among others, are talking about how to best dislodge the armed Islamist groups occupying northern Mali. I have a simple 5 part plan that does not involve negotiation or the use of force.

1. Assemble a team of 10 people, give or take. P.S. I will lead the team.. because this is my idea and I want some real machine gun preacher type shit to go down. If you’re wondering how I will sneak into northern Mali as a toubabu of the highest order, don’t worry — I’ve already bought capris and I’m growing out my beard (Omar Hamaha, who has seemingly held various leadership roles in all of the armed groups currently in north Mali, also has a red beard).

2. Gather supplies:

– Landcruiser
– Camels
– Capris and beards
– 20 ft. projector screen
– Laptop
– Orange 3g USB modem
– Twin 10 ft. speaker stacks
– Generator

3. Take the landcruiser to Mopti. From there we will go by camel. South and then east, with a detour through Dogon country, eventually arriving in Gao.

4. At night, sneak into Place de l’Indépendance, where MUJAO has been amputating the hands of thieves who have been convicted by 10 minute “trials,” and assemble the rest of the supplies.

5. Load up the following song on the computer/projector/speakers and turn the volume up to 11:

link to the video

“Bobaraba” (“big ass” in jula/bamana) – that salacious Ivorian classic. My thinking here is that this song and this video will cause the members of Ansar Dine, AQMI, MUJAO, etc. to flee, or perhaps to combust. Another possibility is that the song will affect the Islamists in the same way that water affects Gremlins. Even if we concede this possibility, I still think that my plan will be more effective than a military intervention that involves France and ECOWAS.

Truth is, I’m freaked out. I’m reading the latest Human Rights Watch report on north Mali and it is making me physically ill. At the same time, I am dreading the prospect of a military intervention, especially one that involves foreign troops. Do you realize that despite the awful events that have transpired in this country, there has been little actual fighting? (yet)

I don’t have a solution. I’m just upset about all of it. Right now, my mission is to convince the family I stayed with in Timbuktu (they are currently camped in the desert with 3 other families) that they need to leave the north of the country.

Keep Mali in your thoughts, folks.

And here’s some real weepy music courtesy of Bela Fleck and Oumou Sangare:


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{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Kay Johnson September 26, 2012, 9:08 am

    Well done not to quit, Phil. It is heartbreaking though ! Why should a load of thugs move in & disrupt other people’s lives – and get away with it to boot !!? Why don’t you keep us posted on the Timbuktu family and what can be done to help these folks ? Make sure u reply. K

    • phil September 26, 2012, 1:13 pm

      I am sending them money regularly via an informal money transfer network. Right now, they just need to figure out the best way to get out of the area.

  • Jeremy Branham September 26, 2012, 10:29 am

    Thanks for the update on what is going on there. Being so close to the situation and the people, I can understand your frustrations. It’s a very different world there than what we have here. I don’t really understand all the issues but I hope for a peaceful resolution.

    • phil September 26, 2012, 1:14 pm

      Me too, Jeremy

  • djibril doum September 26, 2012, 11:02 am

    Don’t forget to parachute nuked mannequins that really look like sex toys with pubic hair and sexual talking computer chips.

    • phil September 26, 2012, 1:15 pm

      Yes!! ON it!!

  • Monique September 26, 2012, 4:46 pm

    Recognizing the mixed feelings & physical symptoms.
    Thanks for your ungoing support to Mali & its people!

  • Monique September 26, 2012, 4:55 pm

    Feeling the same feelings. So unsure of what help to offer. supporting by donation through channels much as your self. Thanks for writing your blog it is such a great space to read thoughtful ideas. I will also grow a beard!! “Are there any woman in the crowd”!!. Humour also has its place.

  • Kari September 26, 2012, 7:33 pm

    Excellent post, as always. Thanks for sharing in a way that conveys the seriousness, but still that great humor.

    Your guide to Bamako was wonderful, btw. My husband loved it and I am still hearing cool stories a month later. Thank you.

  • Brendan van Son September 27, 2012, 8:12 am

    Haha, brilliant… Here I thought I was about to get a thoughtful piece from you, and of course I got exactly what I was hoping for.

  • Daniel McBane - Funny Travel Stories September 30, 2012, 5:30 pm

    I hate to say it, but I barely even knew anything about this and I generally consider myself pretty well informed. I vaguely remember hearing about the Islamists taking over and not much else. At the same time, I can probably name all the Kardashians. Actually, I just realized I can’t…but I bet there are more people who can, than there are people who can find Mali on a map.

  • Addison - Visa Hunter October 4, 2012, 2:25 pm

    Mali was one of the most amazing trips I have ever had. Eating goat meat and rice with a local family in Timbuktu was one of my most memorable travel experiences EVER! And this, coming from someone who has been to over 50 countries. I really want to go back in January for the Festival Au Desert.

  • Harouna niang January 6, 2013, 9:50 pm

    Hi ! to All ,
    Thank you for your support to Mali . we really need this with all that is going on .
    There are so many lies from MNLA and An Sardine only people like you can help to clarify the situation.


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