United States Embassy in Mali
No: 14-EN Bamako, Mali, December 16, 2021
U.S. Ambassador Dennis B. Hankins joined M. Andogoly Guindo, Minister of Handicrafts, Culture, the Hotel Industry and Tourism, for a ceremony to launch the 2021 U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation project on the textiles of central Mali. Ambassador Hankins stated, “This project is motivated by the belief that preserving Mali’s cultural heritage is a key component to ensuring a shared sense of Malian identity gets passed to the next generation.” He went on to note youth will play key roles in this project to ensure fading traditions get carried on for another generation.
The cultural missions of Djenne and Bandiagara will document the textile traditions of the Dogon, Fulani, and other communities of central Mali, and help those communities revitalize production methods, designs, skills, and tools associated with their unique textile traditions. Central Mali is home to some of the oldest and richest textile heritage in Africa. Protecting and celebrating that heritage is part of the process of uniting all Malians, regardless of ethnicity, in building a positive vision of Mali’s future.
Anne Compton, a Cultural Heritage Analyst from the U.S. Department of State, traveled from Washington, D.C., to participate in the opening ceremony. She carried a message celebrating the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. She emphasized “this fund allows U.S. ambassadors to identify elements of cultural heritage that are particularly vulnerable and in need of protection.” She pointed out Mali and the United States have built robust cultural partnerships through this program, with Mali having participated since the very first year of the fund’s existence. Over those two decades, Mali has received nine grants covering the full spectrum of Mali’s cultural riches, including the preservation of Islamic manuscripts; the preservation of the 14th century mosque of Kankan Moussa in Gao; the documentation of endangered musical traditions; and an inventory of archaeological sites.
Of all the projects in Africa selected in the 2021 competition of the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, this project in Mali is the largest. This is testimony to the talents and dedication of the Malian team who will implement the project. A key feature of Ambassadors Fund projects is that local partners carry out the protection work in a way that is respectful of host country traditions and priorities. The cultural missions of Djenne and Bandiagara are working closely with local communities to ensure local artisans enjoy both cultural and economic benefits from the activities.