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Bram Posthumus

Bamako, Mali
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About Bram
Bram Posthumus is an independent journalist based in Bamako, Mali, with a long experience in (Francophone and Lusophone) West Africa. Countries of special expertise include Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Cabo Verde, Liberia, Mali and Senegal.
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The no-go zones of the Ugandan President

04 Apr 2024  |  zammagazine.com
The article discusses the suppression of media freedom in Uganda, highlighting the government's crackdown on the Daily Monitor newspaper and other media outlets for reporting on sensitive issues such as President Museveni's alleged plan to have his son succeed him. It details the closure of media houses following the publication of a memo by General David Sejusa about an assassination plot, and the subsequent police siege. The article also covers the influence of President Museveni on the legislature and judiciary, his attempts to stifle foreign media, and the increasing intolerance to criticism as he extends his time in power. The author, a Ugandan journalist on sabbatical from the Daily Monitor, is currently interning at the Reuters Africa Bureau in Johannesburg.

Russia’s involvement in Central Africa: A corridor of influence or a mirage?

05 Apr 2023  |  aljazeera.com
The article discusses Russia's increasing influence in the Central African Republic (CAR), particularly through the presence of the Russian private military company Wagner. Wagner has been involved in defending the CAR's capital, Bangui, against rebels and has been welcomed by some locals. The relationship between Russia and the CAR strengthened after the CAR President Faustin Archange Touadéra met with Russian officials and the partial lifting of UN sanctions allowed Russia to sell arms to the CAR. Wagner's operatives have been integrated into the CAR's security architecture, but their presence has also been linked to human rights abuses and resource exploitation. The article suggests that Russia's involvement in the CAR is part of a broader strategy to establish a corridor of influence in Africa, but this plan may be compromised by Russia's focus on the conflict in Ukraine. The article also touches on anti-French sentiment in the CAR and the historical context of foreign involvement in the region.

Ivory Coast's Political Titans Meet, Signaling a New Chapter

14 Jul 2022  |  aljazeera.com
The article discusses a significant meeting between Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara and his predecessors Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bédié, which marks the first time in 12 years the political figures have come together. The meeting is seen as a potential turning point in Ivorian politics, given the trio's influential roles in the country's history, including periods of civil war and political unrest. The article traces the political careers of each man, their impacts on the nation, and the concept of 'Ivoirité' that has shaped Ivorian politics. It also touches on the upcoming local and regional polls in 2023, the presidential election in 2025, and the public's mixed reactions to the meeting, with some calling for a new generation of leadership to reflect the nation's youthful demographic.

In the tiny West African state, President Umaro Embalo faces an uphill task of reforms – and threats to his life.

21 Apr 2022  |  aljazeera.com
The article discusses the political turmoil and challenges faced by President Umaro Embalo of Guinea Bissau. It highlights the country's history of military coups, the influence of the military in politics, and the emergence of drug trafficking as a significant economic force. The military's involvement in politics and the patronage system is linked to the country's history, including the struggle for independence led by the PAIGC. The article also covers the recent assassination attempt on President Embalo and the subsequent crackdown on political parties and media. It emphasizes the need for transparency and accountability in political financing to prevent criminal influence and calls for reforms in governance to address past human rights abuses and improve the fate of the citizens of Guinea Bissau.

Guinea now getting Ebola under control

16 Jun 2021  |  groene.nl
Guinea has effectively responded to a new Ebola case identified on February 14, originating from the funeral of a nurse in Gouécké. Unlike the 2014 outbreak, health authorities quickly mobilized, deploying health workers with test kits and treatment centers. A significant difference was the availability of an Ebola vaccine developed by Merck, with 11,000 doses provided by the WHO and transported by the WFP. Vaccinations were administered using a ring method, prioritizing direct contacts and their connections. Despite initial resistance and misinformation, extensive consultations by WHO, Red Cross, and Guinean authorities, including public vaccinations by Health Minister Remy Lamah, have been successful. Guinea is on the verge of being Ebola-free, with the vaccines administered to the population, enhancing preparedness for potential future outbreaks.

French soldiers are no longer loved in Mali

17 Feb 2021  |  groene.nl
French troops in Mali have faced the worst start to the new year since their arrival seven years ago, with increasing opposition from the Malian public and rising French casualties. The French military mission, initially welcomed, is now seen by many Malians as an occupying force, and over half of the French population opposes sending soldiers to the Sahel, according to a poll by the Institut français d’opinion publique. Recent armed attacks resulted in five French military deaths, raising the total to fifty during Opération Barkhane. A controversial French airstrike on January 3rd caused nineteen deaths in the village of Bounti, with conflicting reports on whether the deceased were jihadists or civilians attending a wedding. President Emmanuel Macron plans to withdraw six hundred soldiers from the Barkhane force next month, with his re-election potentially influenced by the outcome of the situation in the Sahel.

Vote Counting Under Way in Mali's Presidential Election

13 Aug 2018  |  voanews.com
Mali has concluded the second round of its presidential election, with voting taking place peacefully despite concerns of Islamist attacks and political cynicism among citizens. Many Malians did not participate, with some citing disillusionment with politics and fears of election rigging. Despite allegations of vote-buying and the use of fictitious voters, authorities have denied any wrongdoing. The European Union observer mission, led by Cecile Kyenge, emphasized the importance of transparency and has requested the publication of detailed results and electoral lists. Incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is anticipated to win against opposition leader Soumaïla Cisse, although political analyst Ballan Diakite notes Keita's loss of allies and predicts further political polarization in Mali.

Islamist Violence Simmers in Mali as Runoff Vote Count Begins

13 Aug 2018  |  ndtvprofit.com
The article discusses the results of the first round of elections in Mali, where Keita, also known as IBK, emerged as the frontrunner with 41 percent of the votes. His closest competitor, Soumaila Cisse, received 18 percent support but was unable to consolidate the opposition behind him. Voter turnout was noted to be low, with only 43 percent of registered voters participating in the first round. Pocim, a group of citizen observers, reported an even lower average participation rate of 22 percent in the second round at the polling stations they monitored.

Mali Opposition Challenges Presidential Election Results

05 Aug 2018  |  ndtvprofit.com
The article reports on the disruptions to voting in a recent election, where violent incidents prevented people from casting their votes in 767 out of approximately 23,000 polling stations, particularly in the central and northern parts of the country. The Ministry of Territorial Administration provided these figures. Additionally, the European Union's observer mission noted irregularities in the election process, such as issues with the distribution of electoral cards, which cast doubts on the credibility of the election results.

Mali's President, Ex-Finance Minister to Contest Runoff Vote

02 Aug 2018  |  ndtvprofit.com
Regional election observers reported that the voting process in Mali's elections was conducted on time and peacefully in most parts of the country. However, there were incidents of violence where gunmen set ballots on fire and intimidated the public and staff at some polling stations, particularly in the central and northern regions. Due to these disruptions, voting did not occur at 716 of the approximately 23,000 polling stations. The information was confirmed in a statement from the office of Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga.

Third Candidate Claims Spot in Mali Presidential Election Runoff Amid Security Concerns

31 Jul 2018  |  voanews.com
In Mali's presidential election, a third candidate, Aliou Diallo, has claimed to have secured enough votes to compete in a runoff against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and Soumaïla Cissé. Despite this, the election has been marred by low voter turnout, partly due to security threats from Islamist militants. Violent incidents were reported across the country, with over 700 polling stations experiencing disruptions. The Mali Citizens Observation Pool and the European Union Observer Mission have both highlighted concerns regarding the election process. The final decision on the election will be made by Mali's Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization and validated by the Constitutional Court, which has faced scrutiny for its proximity to the president. A runoff is scheduled for August 12 if no candidate receives a majority of the votes.

Mali Holds Presidential Elections Amidst Calm and Violence

30 Jul 2018  |  voanews.com
Mali held its presidential elections amidst a calm atmosphere in the capital, Bamako, but with reported violence in other regions. Voter turnout was low in the morning, and some, like Eli Togo, were unable to vote due to missing voter cards. Violent incidents in the north and central regions, including Timbuktu, Kidal, and Mopti, obstructed voting. Presidential candidate Cheikh Modibo Diarra expressed concerns over the distribution of voting cards and potential election bias. A consensus was reached to eliminate fictitious voters and a parallel register, which the opposition believed favored the government. The international community, particularly France and the United States, as well as neighboring countries, are closely monitoring the election due to its significance in the regional fight against terrorism. The first-round results are expected by Wednesday, with a potential second vote on August 12 if no candidate secures more than 50 percent.

Mali Voting Stations Close After Attacks Disrupt Elections

30 Jul 2018  |  ndtvprofit.com
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali is seeking re-election for a second term amidst challenges including an escalating regional war against jihadists and increasing sophistication in their attacks. The government has been criticized for its inability to reassert control in the central region of the country and to effectively combat corruption, leading to a decline in popular support for the 73-year-old president, who is also known by his initials, IBK. He faces a significant challenge from 23 other candidates in the election.

Mali Voting Stations Close After Attacks Disrupt Key Election

29 Jul 2018  |  ndtvprofit.com
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali is seeking re-election for a second five-year term amidst challenges including an escalating regional war against jihadists. The sophistication of jihadist attacks, such as bombings and hit-and-run tactics, is increasing. Additionally, the government has been unsuccessful in re-establishing state control in central Mali and combating corruption, leading to a decline in popular support for the 73-year-old president, commonly referred to as IBK. He is competing against 23 other candidates in the election.

Politiki magni. Politics is bad business.

27 Jul 2018  |  voanews.com
The article discusses the political climate in Mali, highlighting the public's dissatisfaction with the political system and the rampant corruption that plagues the country. It focuses on the upcoming presidential election, where President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita faces opposition from several candidates, including two businessmen, Aliou Boubacar Diallo and Cheikh Modibo Diarra, who are seen as capable of addressing corruption due to their success in business. Diallo, a gold mine owner, and Diarra, a former NASA employee and Microsoft Africa director, have both been involved in politics but are not considered part of the corrupt establishment. The article also touches on the role of former prime minister Moussa Mara in Diarra's campaign and the widespread belief that corruption is Mali's most significant problem, even more so than the crisis in the north or terrorism.

As Islamist Insurgency Deepens, Mali Leader Seeks New Term

27 Jul 2018  |  ndtvprofit.com
The article discusses the political situation in West Africa, focusing on the declining popularity of the 73-year-old incumbent, known as IBK, who won by a landslide in 2013. It highlights the political maneuvers of his main challenger, Soumaila Cisse, a 68-year-old former finance minister and ex-President of the Commission of the West African Monetary Union. Cisse, originating from Timbuktu, has formed a coalition with opposition politicians and is courting young voters with the aid of a prominent youth activist. The article notes that a candidate needs to secure more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round to avoid a runoff election.

Mali's Presidential Election: Citizens Demand Basic Services and Job Opportunities

26 Jul 2018  |  voanews.com
Mali is preparing for presidential elections with 24 candidates running for the office, including incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and opposition leader Soumaïla Cisse. No candidate is expected to win a majority, indicating a likely second round of voting. Campaign posters have replaced commercial ads in Bamako, reflecting the election's significance. Citizens like teacher Sara Coulibaly and students Dramane Diallo and Araba Keita express concerns over basic needs such as affordable food, water, electricity, and job opportunities. Both Keita and Cisse have similar backgrounds, having worked in France and returned to Mali to enter politics. Keita, who won the presidency in 2013, touts his achievements, while Cisse promises improvement if elected.

Africa's Sahel Armed Groups Not Just Islamist Militants

03 Jul 2018  |  voanews.com
The article discusses the complex motivations behind why young men join armed groups, including Islamist militants, in Mali and the broader Sahel region. It challenges the notion that religious fanaticism is the primary driver, citing economic interests and practical reasons as significant factors. Researchers like Ibrahima Maïga and organizations such as Human Rights Watch have found that issues like economic interests, protection of assets, abuses by security forces, lack of protection from bandits, and endemic corruption are contributing to the recruitment by armed groups. Abdelhak Bassou from the OCP Policy Center emphasizes the need for practical solutions to meet the needs of the Sahel populations, suggesting that failure to do so will result in ongoing rebellion, whether it is labeled Islamist or not.

Ivory Coast Wants Bigger Piece of Chocolate Profits

13 Jun 2018  |  voanews.com
The article discusses Ivory Coast's position as the world's largest producer of cocoa and the disparity between the price of raw cocoa and the chocolate produced from it. It highlights the story of Ivorian entrepreneur Axel Emmanuel Gbaou, who, after leaving his job at a commercial bank, started a chocolate production business with the aim of keeping more of the profits from chocolate within Ivory Coast. His company, which includes a production unit, packaging center, and sales office in Abidjan, sells to customers including Air France. Despite the falling world market prices for cocoa and the government's response to lower the standard price per kilo, Axel's company has adopted a model that adds value to the beans through basic treatment, ensuring more income for the farms and a steady supply of quality beans for the company. Axel's goal is to sell 100 million bars of chocolate in Africa within the next two years, targeting the continent's growing middle class.

UN Chief Seeks More Support for Mali Peacekeeping Force

01 Jun 2018  |  voanews.com
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Mali to mark the 70th anniversary of U.N. peacekeeping and to show support for the MINUSMA mission, which has the highest death toll of any ongoing U.N. operation. Guterres honored the peacekeepers and called for increased international financial support, particularly for the G5 Sahel Force, which combats terrorism and organized crime in the region. Mali's soldiers require better equipment and pay, and until then, the country relies on foreign forces for protection. Guterres announced new security measures for peacekeepers, including surveillance systems and situational awareness training. He emphasized the importance of international support for Mali and the regional forces to prevent broader regional instability.

West Africa Taps Solar Energy Potential

14 May 2018  |  voanews.com
The article discusses the development of solar power infrastructure across Africa, with a focus on West Africa. It highlights the construction of new solar power plants in South Africa and Morocco, and the opening of West Africa's largest solar power station in Burkina Faso. The funding for these projects comes from various sources, including France, the European Union, and private investors. The article features Charlotte Aubin, the founder of Greenwish, who was instrumental in setting up the first solar Independent Power Producer in Sub-Saharan Africa. The piece also touches on the legal changes that have allowed private power production in Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso, and the potential for off-grid solar solutions to address the energy needs of rural African communities.

Malian Activist Urges Shakeup of Country's Politics

21 Feb 2018  |  voanews.com
The article discusses the political climate in Mali ahead of nationwide elections, focusing on the role of activist Mohamed Youssouf Bathily, known as Ras Bath. Ras Bath, despite not running for office, has become a voice for the poor and a critic of the ruling class through his speeches, rallies, and radio program. He founded the citizen's movement Collective for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) and is known for his direct approach to exposing corruption and encouraging civic activism. The article also touches on the influence of movements from neighboring countries and the challenges faced by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, including public discontent over security issues, corruption, and governance. Civic activism, including protests against violence towards women and constitutional changes, is highlighted as a significant factor in the upcoming elections.

“We’re here to stay”: Vigilante policing spreading across Burkina Faso

26 Jan 2018  |  africanarguments.org
The article discusses the rise of local vigilante groups, known as koglwéogo, in Burkina Faso, particularly in the town of Fada Ngourma. These groups have taken on the role of law enforcement due to the state's failure to address criminal activity. While they have been effective in reducing crime, their methods have raised concerns about legal rights and potential abuses. The koglwéogo have the informal support of some government officials, despite operating outside the law. The article also touches on the political rumors surrounding the vigilante groups and the challenges the government faces in integrating them into a lawful framework. The perspective of the local population is mixed, with some expressing gratitude for the improved security, while others are wary of the groups' unchecked power.

Mali Hopes to Revive Industry and Increase Exports

26 Dec 2017  |  voanews.com
The article discusses the decline of Mali's industrial sector and the challenges it faces in reviving its manufacturing capabilities. Mali was once home to a range of factories producing consumer goods, but the industry has significantly diminished since the 1970s. Cyril Achcar, an industry representative and manufacturer, highlights the shift from production to trading, with the majority of goods now being imported, particularly from Asia. The article outlines the obstacles to industrial revival, such as high electricity costs, poor infrastructure, and a tax system that hinders investment. It also mentions efforts by a government agency led by Fatoumata Haidara Bah to boost the agro-industry by focusing on competitive mango and maize production. The piece suggests that regional cooperation with Burkina Faso and Niger could be beneficial and emphasizes the need for government action to attract investment and protect emerging industries.

Why do so many people want the inexperienced and untested former footballer to be president?

01 Nov 2017  |  africanarguments.org
The article discusses the political landscape in Liberia as the country prepares to elect a successor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. George Weah, a former footballer, is running for president again after losing in 2005. Despite his lack of political experience and detailed policy proposals, Weah is popular among voters who desire change and are frustrated with the current economic situation, particularly the high cost of rice. His campaign has been characterized by promises of affordable food, education, and jobs. Weah's opponent, Vice-President Joseph Boakai, represents experience and the status quo. The article also touches on the legal challenge to the election results by the Liberty Party and the potential delay in the run-off. It compares the Liberian election to recent populist movements in the UK and US, suggesting that voters may favor change over expertise.

Liberians Vote Tuesday for Sirleaf's Successor

09 Oct 2017  |  voanews.com
Liberia is conducting presidential elections to find a successor for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Vice President Joseph Boakai, former soccer star and senator George Weah, veteran lawyer Charles Brumskine, and former Coca-Cola executive Alexander Cummings are among the twenty candidates. The election is critical for addressing issues such as the restoration of the public health sector, which was highlighted during the Ebola epidemic, improving the quality of education, and building roads, especially in rural areas. Provisional results are expected later in the week, with a potential runoff if no candidate secures a majority. The National Electoral Commission will announce final results by October 25.

A review for Chatham House, London, of my book Guinea: Masks Music and Minerals, published by Hurst Publisher, London, in 2015.

Africa's Fading Cinemas and the Resurgence of Local Film Culture

07 Mar 2017  |  voanews.com
The article discusses the decline of traditional cinemas in West Africa, highlighting the disappearance of iconic movie theaters and the lack of cinemas in cities like Yaounde. It mentions the impact of DVDs and the failure to transition to digital as contributing factors. The work of Cameroonian journalist Parfait Tabapsi and his organization, Mobile Digital Cinema, is featured for their efforts to bring films to remote areas. The article also covers the digital transition of Fespaco, Africa's largest film festival, and the success of local films like Kadhy Toure's 'L'Interprete' in Ivory Coast. It notes the private initiatives to revive African cinema, including the reconstruction of cinemas like Le Normandie and Guimbi, and the opening of new venues like Canal Olympia. The piece suggests a resurgence of interest in African films and the importance of private efforts in revitalizing the cinema industry on the continent.

Female Pioneers in West African Pop Music and DJ Scene

27 Nov 2016  |  voanews.com
The article discusses the challenges and achievements of two female artists in the African music scene. DJ Rachel from Uganda is celebrated as the country's first female DJ, overcoming initial hurdles such as playing at unpopular hours and facing harassment. Despite these challenges, she has become a staple in the East African club scene. On the other side of the continent, Nakany Kanté from Guinea had to fight against cultural norms that restricted her from pursuing music because she was not born into a griot family. Moving to Spain with her husband, she has been able to follow her passion for music and uses her platform to address social issues, such as the treatment of women and child begging. DJ Rachel is also working to create a network of female DJs in East Africa and beyond, while Nakany Kanté aims to be an international voice for African women.

Malian Musicians’ Peace Caravan Brings Message of Reconciliation

24 Nov 2016  |  voanews.com
The article discusses the impact of the 2012 coup in Mali, which led to a mass exodus of Malians to neighboring countries. It highlights the role of music in Malian culture and how refugee musicians are using it to promote unity and peace, and to counteract the influence of jihadist extremism. The musicians, known as 'jeli', are central to Malian identity and have kept their musical tradition alive for 800 years. The Cultural Caravan for Peace, led by Manny Ansar, director of the Festival in the Desert, is organizing concerts across three continents to encourage reconciliation in Mali and offer an alternative to extremist ideology. The caravan has already held a concert in Mauritania's Mbera Camp and plans to continue with events in Morocco, Burkina Faso, and eventually in Europe and the United States.

Namibian Music Hits the World Stage

08 Nov 2016  |  voanews.com
The article discusses the emergence of Namibian music on the world stage, highlighting the efforts of a young Namibian-born musicologist named Shisani. Despite the scarcity of Namibian music in Europe, with only one compilation titled 'A Handful of Namibians' released in 2004, Shisani is making strides to change this. She has formed a band called Shisani and the Namibian Tales, which blends traditional Namibian sounds with various international influences. The band, which includes members from different countries, is collaborating with the San people to create new musical performances. They have released a new album, Itaala, and are set to perform in the Netherlands in 2017. Shisani's work represents a fusion of cultural influences and aims to promote Namibian culture globally.

Internet Monopolies Could Be Ending in Africa

16 Oct 2016  |  voanews.com
Telecom workers in Burkina Faso went on strike, causing significant disruptions to phone and internet services due to the country's reliance on a single internet service provider, Onatel. The strike led to a week-long internet blackout, prompting the Burkina Faso telecommunications authority to fine Onatel 5 billion CFA francs. The monopoly held by Onatel has been criticized for causing high prices and low capacity. However, the introduction of competition is on the horizon, with a French company laying fiber-optic cable in the country. The article suggests that increased competition and consumer demand will challenge the existing monopolies and potentially improve internet access and affordability in Burkina Faso and other African countries with similar issues.

Desert Tunes: Meet Niger's Tal National

03 May 2016  |  voanews.com
Tal National, a band from Niger, has been gaining international recognition while promoting national unity through their music. The band sings in various local languages and incorporates different rhythms to represent the diverse ethnic groups of Niger. Despite facing challenges such as piracy and initial financial struggles, they have persevered, with their leader Hamadal Moumine Issoufou (stage name Almeida) being a prominent lawyer and judge fighting against music piracy. Tal National has released two international albums and toured the US and Europe, with plans for a third album and a new world tour. Their music addresses themes of peace, tolerance, love, and the beauty of Nigerien women, although some religious leaders have criticized their lyrics.

W. African Performers Bring Real Life, Humor to the Stage

29 Mar 2016  |  Voice of America
The article discusses the performances of two Franco-Ivorian performers, Tatiana Rojo and Roukiata Ouédraogo, at the Abidjan Arts Academy and their impact on the cultural renaissance in West Africa. Rojo's play 'Dame de Fer' is based on her mother's life and has been performed over 800 times. Ouédraogo's 'Ouagadougou pressé' reflects on her personal history and migration experiences. Both plays incorporate humor while addressing serious themes such as women's empowerment and migration. The article highlights the performers' desire to change the narrative and roles available for black actors in the theater world. Rojo's 'Iron Lady' is set to debut in English in New York, and Ouédraogo's 'Tombe la masque' will be performed at the Boufon theater in Paris.

The 2015 AIPC-ZAM Investigations

01 Feb 2016  |  zammagazine.com
The article is an investigative report by AIPC-ZAM team covering the impact of terrorism and the response by governments and local populations in East and West Africa. It highlights the counterproductive nature of a military-only approach to terrorism, detailing how such strategies in Kenya, Mali, Somalia, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria often exacerbate the problem by driving marginalized and abused populations into the arms of jihadist movements like Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram. The report emphasizes the need for good governance, fair treatment, and engagement with communities as more effective means of combating terrorism. It also discusses the role of Western support in these conflicts, the impact of climate change and poverty, and the importance of local languages and media in countering extremist narratives.

Bram Posthumus – Yoff Tales

05 May 2015  |  Bram Posthumus - Yoff Tales
The blog post discusses the film 'Timbuktu' by Abderrahmane Sissako, which portrays the jihadist occupation of northern Mali and its impact on local lives. The author appreciates Sissako's nuanced depiction of jihadists, showing them as humans with weaknesses rather than as monsters. The film is praised for its artistic quality and human-scale storytelling, particularly in the context of a conflict between a fisherman and a herdsman. The author also addresses criticisms of the film, such as accusations of pandering to Western tastes or failing to address slavery in Mauritania. The post argues that such criticisms are misplaced, noting that the film is a work of art, not a documentary. The author suggests that the film's warm reception in France, despite the country's controversial role in Mali, is due to its avoidance of overt political statements.

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