Malian Culture

Mali is the eighth largest country in Africa and nearly twice the size of Texas. It has a relatively small population and is largely situated along the Niger River. Mali is perhaps known best for its music (some of the best in Africa) and Timbuktu, a center of culture and history. It has a dry climate, one of the hottest in the world. Bamako is a major regional trading center on the Niger River, serving as Mali’s capital and largest city. Agriculture is Mali’s central economic center, with cotton production, cattle and camel herding, and fishing among its main activities.

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Malian People and Community

In Mali, a large emphasis is placed on the family over the individual. Immediate family members and beyond are obligated to help each other. All men are involved in decision-making, typically working together in a communal field during the day. Men are the head of the home and responsible for providing for their families. Women oversee household duties such as cleaning, cooking, and raising children. Most households in rural areas consist of the father, mother(s), uncles and their wives, sons and their wives, and children.

Children are viewed as the responsibility of the entire community and are expected to show respect for their parents. In return, parents protect, advise, and instruct their children. In rural areas, it is acceptable for all adult family members to assist in child-rearing.

Language and Communication Styles

Mali has many languages and dialects. The official language is French and is spoken by government administrators and in urban areas. It is also the primary language of school instruction. However, the most widely spoken language is Bambara, also called Bamanankan.

Food in Mali

The fixtures of a Malian diet are millet, rice, and corn. A thick porridge called  is prepared using millet, corn, or sorghum flour and is dipped in a peanut, vegetable, or meat sauce. Tigadegena (peanut butter sauce) is common, as well as meat sauces made of goat, sheep, beef, or chicken. Milk, dates, and wheat are popular foods in the northern part of Mali. When food stores are low on supplies and new crops are not ready to harvest, Malians rely on fresh mangoes, bananas, guavas, pineapples, watermelons, and oranges.