By Olivier Salgado
Those who know me, know that a hobby of mine, is audiovisual production. A hobby that I have been practicing for some time here in Mali, and that I can on occasion mix with my occupation of being a Communications Officer at MINUSMA.
When I travel the country, on a mission or during media trips in sometimes remote and often dangerous places, I am lucky enough that I can send my drone up, to view landscape and life as lived, at a time when Mali is experiencing a multidimensional crisis. Currently, these places are unfortunately inaccessible to visitors.
I like to think that despite the multifaceted crisis that Mali is currently going through, along with the unavoidable negative media coverage, these photos are reminiscent of the still untouched beauty of this country. Mali is home of four UNESCO World Heritage sites, but there are many other places of pristine beauty, either formed by the nature itself and/or by the human own activities and interaction with the nature.
I recently published a selection of photos and videos on a dedicated Facebook page I have launched: #BeautifulMali. It attracted a very broad audience, which mainly includes Malians living both in the country or outside. Most comments refer to the happiness of (re-) discovering the diverse beauty of their country in those dark moments and their pride that the whole world is able to see it.
Given the success — and with the permission of the UN — an exhibition is held in June 2019 in Bamako. There is also a book accompanying the exhibition #BeautifulMali.
Profits from the sale “#BeautifulMali, the photo exhibition” will be entirely donated to a local association dedicated to raising awareness on the fragility of the natural environment in general, and the Niger River in particular. A river which is vital for millions of Malians and other inhabitants of the sub-region.
You understand why this project is close to my heart and the enthusiastic welcome is indeed rewarding. With the support of the international community and many other partners, let’s hope that one day this beautiful country is accessible again to the greatest number.
The author is Deputy Director of Communications at MINUSMA, the UN peacekeeping Mission in Mali, as well as a tech and digital enthusiast.