Since it gained independence from the French in 1960, Mali has been a country in search of an identity, A first glance at the capital, Bamako, shows something of the situation: African shocks standing alongside elegant example of French colonial architecture.
GV Bridge leading to Bamako
GV Traffic through centre of Bamako past monument
GV Bamako Cathedral
GV Central market (2 shots)
Street traders and stalls in market (5 shots)
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Background: Since it gained independence from the French in 1960, Mali has been a country in search of an identity, A first glance at the capital, Bamako, shows something of the situation: African shocks standing alongside elegant example of French colonial architecture.
A second glance confirms it. Bamako has become something of a battleground for foreign influence during the last decade. The French are still there, pouring in subsidies to help their former colony fend off mounting debts. But so are teams from the Soviet Union, China, the United States and a host of other countries.
Some of the aid project were beneficial, including the Chinese sugar factory and European Development Fund roads in a city where many of the streets remain unpaved.
Other have been criticised as wasteful. There were reports of a tomato plant in an area where tomatoes won't grow; an abattoir so isolated from the main markets that it's since been officially described as a museum; a national assembly headquarters that has been years in the building.
The disastrous drought in the north of the country has inevitably affected life in the capital. Money is tight and some commodities scarce.
But through it all, this city of 200,000 people defiantly maintain an identity of its own. The hub of life, which no misplaced abattoirs and unfinished skyscrapers can displace, is still to be found in the market areas, housing hundreds of small traders and food sellers, and numbered among the most famous in Africa.