Mali ambassador holds lecture at the Kennedy Center

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After a coup d’etat on March 22, Mali society was divided. While crisis remains in Mali, BYU is moving forward to help.

His Excellency Al Maamoun Keita made a visit to BYU on November 16 and addressed current problems in Mali. Across campus, Service to the World, a BYU Center for Service and Learning program, made school bags and collected school supplies for children in Mali.

Keita discussed four problems in Mali: terrorism, politics, reconstruction of democratic government and humanitarian aid.

“It is important for all the states in the region to collaborate together in a harmonious way to find solution to the Malian problems,” he said.

The African Union endorsed the harmonized concept of operations for the military intervention in Mali on November 14.

“There is a problem of timing,” he said. “I already presented the military timing of the operations. It’s very well defined. We know what is the process for fighting these groups in Muslim parts of Mali.”

Brady Grayson, a senior from Gypsum, Colo. majoring in economics, asked Keita how the Malian government is going to appease the Tuareg people who feel like the government doesn’t represent them.

“It was enlightening because I didn’t know that Tuareg were divided between the radical Islam and other groups who are willing to negotiate peacefully,” he said. “I was surprised to see how difficult it is to differentiate the two.”

Leslie Hadfield, assistant professor of history, said bringing an ambassador to campus was a privilege.

“He was very open and honest,” she said. “He wasn’t being a politician. He was giving us an update and I appreciated that.”

Service to the World works with different non-government organizations to provide humanitarian help globally and coordinates different monthly activities.

Janalee Selfaison, a junior from Vacaville, Calif. majoring in elementary education, is program director of Service to the World. Selfaison watched a promotional video about the Mali Rising Foundation and said it just made everything more of a reality.

“We’re able to actually see the students, see the school and see the quality of education and see how we can make a difference,” she said. “It just makes us more grateful for the education we have here in America and supplies and resources we have.”

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