WASHINGTON, D.C. – Voice of America today launched broadcasts in a key regional language in the troubled West African nation of Mali, where Islamic militants continue to resist French and African forces trying to oust them from their strongholds.
The 30-minute VOA program in Bambara, called Mali Kura (in English, New Mali), airs Monday through Friday and focuses on politics, regional and local developments, health and culture.
“This new program gives our audience an additional source of news and information about the dramatic events taking place in their country, in a language easily understood by much of the population,” says VOA Africa Division Director Gwen Dillard. Bambara is spoken by more than two-million people, mainly in central and southern Mali, and Burkina Faso.
The program includes daily segments from local reporters in Mali who have been experiencing the changes swirling around life in villages, towns and cities throughout the country.
In February, VOA added Monday through Friday broadcasts in the Songhai language, which is spoken mainly in the north of the country, where French military forces had just intervened to help push out Islamic extremists who seized control of key towns last year.
VOA’s French to Africa Service, which has a long history of broadcasts to Mali, recently added a new 15-minute French-language program called Sahel Plus that focuses on the vast region of Africa stretching from Mauritania in the West, to Sudan and Djibouti in the East. All of the programs provide analysis of the growing threat of violent extremism in the region, and offer opportunities for listeners to share their stories.
VOA also provides breaking news to Mali through Mali 1, a mobile platform that offers three short newscasts daily, two in French and one in Songhai.
With the addition of Bambara and Songhai, Voice of America now broadcasts in 45 languages, 15 of them to Africa.