© Voice4Thought

Due to the sensitive subject matter, the author of this article is anonymous. The author is known to us. 

In 2008, my home was a good place to live. The young people were ambitious and wanted to see the community develop. The authorities were doing everything in their power to attract as many national and international organizations as possible to Diafarabé.[1] Success was there. The youth could only speak about innovative projects for the present and the future of Diafarabé. We, the youth, were ambitious and ambitious for a better future for this ethnically mixed village.

Today the situation is no longer like that. Since the occupation of a part of Mali by the Jihadists, all our morals and customs, including our festivities, accepted by the greatest connoisseurs of Islam are today forbidden by these so-called men of God.

Like the Yaaral festival, this Peulh festival marks the return of the shepherds and their herds to the regions of Douentza, Bankass among others, after 5 to 6 months of absence, being far away from relatives and friends.[2] On their return and during their stay, festivities are organized to honor them as they are considered to have faced hunger, thirst and long walks, not to mention the dangers of the bush. Every year this traditional Peulhe festival takes place on a Saturday, a date chosen by Sékou Amadou Barry (the Peulh King of Macina whose kingdom was located in Hamdallaye). Sékou Amadou Barry was the greatest marabout and connoisseur of the Holy Koran in all of West Africa. This Yaaral festival brought together Malians in Mali and abroad as well as foreigners from Africa, Europe, America and Asia. But today, the festival is dying in the shadow of insecurity and the monster pressure exerted on this population. If I say that the festival is dying, it is because it is a festival that has always taken place, every year since 1818 until 2012, when the jihadists took control of the whole region of Mopti and my community.

Every year, the Yaaral brought millions of CFA francs into the coffers of our commune through tourists and various personalities from around the world who came to Diafarabé to stay for a week. With the death of the Yaaral we not only lose economic opportunities, but also and above all our identity. Who speaks of the Yaaral speaks of the Peulh and his animals.

© Voice4Thought

The death of the Yaaral is synonymous with the realization of total desolation. Those who had come in the name of Islam, some of them have become the greatest Peulh cattle thieves, the traditional hunters supported and maintained by the Malian State kill and plunder the Peulhs without the slightest hesitation and the army which is supposed to be impartial in its struggle is blinded by the amalgamation towards the Peulh population that they massacre all day long. In order not to lose their lives, some Peulhs have left the village of Diafarabé with their families and animals and those who have nowhere else to go have stayed behind to reach the programmed death to be taken either by the Jihadists, by the Donsos or by the army.

If nothing is done and quickly to protect the population of Diafarabé and especially the Peulhs, the Yaaral, which is classified as a world intangible heritage by UNESCO, will eventually cease to exist.[3]

We call upon all people, actors, and national and international organizations of good will to help Diafarabé.

© Voice4Thought

[1] Diafarabé is a commune in Mali, in the cercle of Ténenkou and the Mopti region. Every year, the Yaaral takes place there, opening the Cultural Space of the Yaaral and the Degal, a series of Peulh festivities surrounding the crossings of the Niger River by herds returning from transhumance in the central Niger Delta.

[2] Video The Cultural Space of Yaaral – Degal : http://www.unesco.org/archives/multimedia/document-3739

[3] https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/cultural-space-of-the-yaaral-and-degal-00132