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Recent Local and World News in Mali – Mali News Today
The Tuareg are historic, nomadic inhabitants of northern Mali.
Mali’s population encompasses a number of sub-Saharan ethnic groups. The Bambara (Bambara: Bamanankaw) are by far the largest single ethnic group, making up 36.5% of the population.
Collectively, the Bambara, Soninké, Khassonké, and Malinké (also called Mandinka), all part of the broader Mandé group, constitute 50% of Mali’s population. Other significant groups are the Fula (French: Peul; Fula: Fulɓe) (17%), Voltaic (12%), Songhai (6%), and Tuareg and Moor (10%). In Mali as well as Niger, the Moors are also known as Azawagh Arabs, named after the Azawagh region of the Sahara. They speak mainly Hassaniya Arabic which is one of the regional varieties of Arabic.
In the far north, there is a division between Berber-descended Tuareg nomad populations and the darker-skinned Bella or Tamasheq people, due to the historical spread of slavery in the region.
An estimated 800,000 people in Mali are descended from slaves.[Slavery in Mali has persisted for centuries.
The Arabic population kept slaves well into the 20th century, until slavery was suppressed by French authorities around the mid-20th century. There still persist certain hereditary servitude relationships,and according to some estimates, even today approximately 200,000 Malians are still enslaved.
Mixed European/African descendants of Muslims of Spanish, as well some French, Irish, Italian and Portuguese origins live in Mali, they are known as the Arma people (1% of the nation’s population).
Although Mali has enjoyed a reasonably good inter-ethnic relationships based on the long history of coexistence, some hereditary servitude and bondage relationship exist, as well as ethnic tension between settled Songhai and nomadic Tuaregs of the north. Due to a backlash against the northern population after independence, Mali is now in a situation where both groups complain about discrimination on the part of the other group. This conflict also plays a role in the continuing Northern Mali conflict where there is a tension between both Tuaregs and the Malian government, and the Tuaregs and radical Islamists who are trying to establish sharia law.