The eighth-largest country in Africa, Mali has a population of 18 million, with 67 percent estimated to be under the age of 25.
It has eight regions and its northern border reaches deep into the middle of the Sahara Desert. With an economy centered on agriculture and mining, its prominent natural resources include gold and salt, making it the third-largest producer of gold in Africa.
Mali, in the past, was part of three famed West African empires which controlled trans-Saharan trade in gold, salt, slaves and other precious commodities.
The country has also been blessed with personalities who have distinguished themselves in various fields.
To celebrate their independence, here are 5 people who continue to place Mali on the global map:
Probably one of the most decorated soccer players from Mali, Seydou Keita was a versatile midfielder who could play as both a central and defensive midfielder.
Born in Bamako, Mali, he moved to Lens where he started his footballing career. The move to Barcelona proved to be the biggest of his career as he won 14 titles between 2008 and 2012.
He made his debut at the age of 18 and appeared in seven Africa Cup of Nations tournament, winning 102 caps. His uncle, Salif Keita, played for Valencia CF and Sporting CP and was voted African Footballer of the Year once.
Known for his ability to play multiple instruments, Salif Keita is a member of the Keita Royal family and holds a reputation as the “Golden Voice of Africa”.
He fled Mali with his music group in 1973 over political unrest and subsequently moved to Paris, where his fame in music began.
His hit song, Africa, became a global hit upon its release.
Ali Fark Touré
A musician of repute, Malian singer and multi-instrumentalist, Ali Fark, was one of Africa’s most internationally recognized and renowned musicians. His ability to play the guitar with finesse landed him in number 76 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and number 37 on Spin magazine’s “100 Guitarists of All Time.”
Fark sadly passed away at the age of 66 through bone cancer.
Rokia is an artist and guitarist born to an influential father who travelled the whole of Africa. Due to this, she was exposed to a variety of cultures at her tender age. While she was in school, she performed publicly as a university student in Bamako, playing the acoustic guitar.
She has performed in a host of international platforms, including the Africa Live festival in Dakar and Youssou N’dour and Friends concert in Geneva.
She has six albums to her credit and in 2004 she won the Critics Award category at the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music.
Koman is a popular Malian International referee who officiated his first international match in April 2000 between Mali and Burkina Faso. He is one of the most experienced officials, having officiated in five Africa Cup of Nations tournament and the 2010 World Cup.