27 October 2017

VFOM elects 2017-2018 Board of Directors

VFOM new president, Lydie Alapini-Sakponou, in 2012, with then Malian
Ambassador Mamoun KEITA, Segou Project Manager Robin Poulton and the
ambassador's Chief of Protocol, during our annual National Mali Day program.

VFOM held its annual board meeting on October 26, 2017 and elected a new president and vice president. Ana Edwards, who has served as president since the formation of the sister city relationship with Segou MALI in 2009, has shifted to vice president and organizational representative on the Richmond Sister Cities Commission. "I happily and proudly yield the leadership position to Lydie Alapini-Sakponou. She was a founding member of the organization and has a long record as an outstanding educator in Chesterfield County schools. Lydie will bring warmth, experience and a keen talent to the job."

The board also welcomed a new category, Student Board Member, and with it three new student members from Virginia Commonwealth University.

11 October 2017

October 6 Photos

Minister Counselor M A. CISSE of the Malian Embassy and members
of the Malian Association of DC are flanked by Papa Susso on the left and 
VFOM founder and  Segou Projects Coordinator, Robin Poulton on the right.

Segou Governor Georges TOGO received gifts from VFOM.
Former city councilor Madani Sissoko prepares to distribute
gifts from the University of Segou to VFOM and Conference guests.

VCU PhD students.

VCU graduate students.

Conference participant from Switzerland and Conference co-organizer
Van Wood enjoy the West African cuisine of Chef MaMusu's Africanne on Main.

TOP: Student volunteers who ran the day-of operations of the conference.
LEFT: President of Richmond Sister Cities Commission.
RIGHT: Rector of Segou University and Mayor of Segou.

Guest from 19 African and European countries attended.

09 September 2017

VFOM to host Cultural Night at Africa Business Conference

Virginia Friends of Mali is organizing the Friday night dinner + concert + dancing for the 200 attendees of the Africa Business Conference .

Featuring the music of

Papa Susso (kora)

Video from 2012 performance at Creighton University
Video from concert in Medallin Colombia, Suso with an Afro Columbian poet

Balla Kouyate (balafon)

Balla Kouyate - Homegrown Museum series, DC, Folklife Festival.

About the Conference

Virginia Commonwealth University will host the eighth annual Conference on Business and Entrepreneurship in Africa, which will bring together academic researchers, business professionals and government officials from around the world.

The conference, “The Big Emerging Continent: The Rise of Africa – Challenges and Opportunities,” is sponsored by the Africa Business and Entrepreneurship Research Society and the Center for International Business Advancement in the VCU School of Business. It will be held Oct. 4-7.

Through paper presentations, panel discussions and keynote addresses, the conference will seek to understand the pivotal role of entrepreneurship in Africa’s economic and social development. Participants from an array of disciplines and backgrounds will present their insights and offer diverse perspectives on Africa’s place in the world and promise in the market. Read more...


NOTE: For a full list of conference events and to register, visit www.africabusiness.org. Roughly one-third of the sessions have food and require registration, though sessions without food are free of charge to VCU students, alumni and the community.

15 May 2017

Congratulations to our Malian Scholar!

One day in the fall of 2013, a young Malian, Konaté Kadijah M Samaké, arrived in Richmond in to study at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her father Mr. Samaké (originally from Segou) is rector of the University of Bamako College of Humanities, and her mother, Mme. Samaké (a Bamako native), is an executive with BorneFund (ChildFund). She majored in International Studies and while a junior in 2015, Kadijah (known better as Didi) started an NGO in her hometown to help provide food and supplies to families in need. Didi graduated from the VCU School of World Studies with her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies on Saturday, 13 May 2017 and said she intends to continue the work of her NGO while pursuing a career in diplomacy and development back home, and, of course, raising a family--because (and talk about multitasking!) Didi got married last summer and this spring gave birth to a healthy baby boy at VCU's materinity center just after her final exams and just in time for graduation! Didi is a member of Virginia Friends of Mali, which, in a way, has been her family away from home. She has made lots of friends while here and we will miss her (and her gingembre) when she returns to Mali, but expect her to remain an ambassador for our two countries and our sister cities for years to come. Her parents are proud, her husband is proud, her son will be proud.

Félicitations Didi! Nous sommes très fier de toi!

11 April 2017

Two new books

Here are two new books that have been the result of our sister city relationship with Segou and ongoing work in Mali:

Sunjata: Children of the Empire of Mali ~ Then & Now (published on Kindle) by Robin Poulton / Macky Tall - this book is intended for teachers and anyone with an interest in Malian history, life and culture as experienced by children of the region over several centuries.

The Most Vulnerable: Women, HIV and Islam in Mali by Christopher A. Brooks with translations by Salim Coumare (city councilor of Segou), based on research conducted in 2013 and provides a thoughtful, concise view of the experience and handling of HIV as a public health priority for Mali's women.

04 April 2017

Segou welcomes $450,000 medical supplies!

On March 16, 2017, almost a year after the funding was secured,  the shipping container filled with medical supplies and equipment destined for our sister city's main Hopital Niankorofomba and Community Health Care Clinic in the Darasallam neighborhood arrived! City officials hosted a grand ceremony to celebrate the $450,000+ supplies donated through Project CURE, a Denver, Colorado USA-based non profit. Led by Segou's newly elected Mayor Nouhoum Diarra, the ceremony included representatives from the city's Sister City Committee and regional officials. You can learn more about the city's political and economic development goals and structures by visiting CPEL Segou

Segou Sister City Committee, former city councilor Sissoko,
Mayor Nouhoum Diarra, and Kalifa Toure

Segou Mayor Diarra and hospital director Dr. Sanogo accept
first box off-loaded from container.
Boxes of supplies

VFOM Bamako representative Kalifa Toure conveys message
on behalf of VFOM Richmond. 

Beds, crutches, cabinets, IV stands, and ... 

Malian officials invited to attend celebrate arrival of the
Project CURE shipment of equipment and supplies!  

BOXES, and more BOXES! 

Scales, bed frames, examination tables, mattresses, ... 
More bed brames, cabinets, and carts.

20 February 2017

Solar powered festival transport & solidarity from Lagos

So much of what we share from Mali is music.

From Lagos to Mali: Bantu goes on 5000km anti-war road trip

Feb 15, 2017 • by IfeOluwa Nihinlola

Bantu, the 13-piece Afro-funk band led by the host of Lagos' Afropolitan Vibes, Ade Bantu, embarked on a grueling road trip from Africa's Big Apple to Mali for Festival sur le Niger earlier this month.

The band undertook the 5 000km trip to be part of the festival's 13th edition and to make a statement against violence in war-torn Mali.

"Someone asked me why we would go through all this stress for a festival in some remote place,” Ade Bantu said.

“It’s simple, we were determined to show solidarity with our fellow brothers and sisters in Mali who have been battling with Islamist insurgency for years. This festival was important to help heal wounds and build bridges."

And, apparently at this year's festival they used solar powered vehicles to transport musicians around the grounds... Go Segou! Go Fondation Festival Sur Le Niger! Go Doumbia et Daffe!

03 February 2017

Le Festival Sur le Niger began on Feb. 1 - Wow!

This video features sampling of the contemporary artist workshops now going on at the festival: visual, spoken word and music arts ...

An ad for the festival, discusses the value of cultural celebrations ...

01 January 2017

Improving Health Care & Lowering Barriers to Girls' Education

Virginia Friends of Mali invites you to plan your 2017 gift to support our mission through two projects:

Project CURE

In 2016, $25,000 was raised to send $450,000 worth of materiel that has JUST ARRIVED IN Segou! Project CURE cargo containers of hospital and medical supplies were shipped in December and arrived the last week of January in Segou (Richmond's sister city since 2009). The destination was L’Hôpital Niankoro Fomba and one of its associated community healthcare centers. Segou's sister city committee president, M Madani Sissoko, was on hand with hospital director, Dr. Abdoulaye Sanogo, to accept delivery of the materiel. In partnership with Rotary Club partners in the US and Mali, we are raising funds to send a second container this year. We have commitments for $15,000 and need your help to raise the remaining $10,000. Two anonymous donors have so far pledged $500 each. Perhaps you'll join them!

2017 Goal: $10,000    Raised: $1,000    Remaining: $9,000

Richmond House 

Maaya Muso Girls Empowerment Center to promote leadership roles for women through a range of cultural, artistic, sporting and entrepreneurial activities, built around a library-IT center where women will gain access to the technologies of tomorrow. From Nyéléni to Maaya Musow: nurturing Ségou’s adolescent girls to be tomorrow’s urban leaders & entrepreneurs. In 2015, five acres was donated to launch the project. In 2016, the well was completed to supply water for construction phase of the project, including the local manufacture of bricks (banco). Built into this project is requisite that all contracts, materials and employment are locally based. In 2017 the bricks will be made, plans finalized, complex schematics and construction of the first building will begin. 

Project Goal: $ 221,000    2017 Goal: $12,000

Please be generous!