Mali – Tweeting in a war

Ibrahim Sysawane, @sysawane on Twitter, is a Malian student of 29 years old native from Kayes in Eastern Mali. He started to daily use Twitter after the coup in March 22th 2012 which deposed President Amadou Toumani Toure. Since the beginning of the war, he has been tweeting everyday about his daily life in Bamako and the war news.


What kind of Tweets do you send on a daily basis? Informative? Sharing? 

My use of twitter is primarily to share and inform the outside world about live news related to Mali especially about the war in the north. I also tell about stories of the armed groups such as the MNLA, Ansar Dine or AQIM, and discuss national policy.

Why do you prefer to use Twitter? 

Twitter for me is a place where freedom of speech is guaranteed, without censorship. It is the freedom of expression for the voiceless. During the insurrection of the Malian army last year, a friend told me via phone that things were degrading along the road to Kati. At that time I started to do a live on twitter about the military coup. Many people from the Malian diaspora asked me to go on Twitter and I discovered at that time the importance of this social network.

Do you find that bloggers and Tweeples are useful for providing news in this war?

In my opinion, it is very useful for spreading informationen in real time with speed and especially to inform directly about the war for those who don’t have access to the information. And I hope I can help in a way, by providing information, to also show what happens on the ground.

What do you think of the news about Abu Zeid’s death and the picture of him that appeared on Twitter before the global media?

The death of Abu Zeid was also confirmed by President Idriss Deby with a photo as a proof. It showed that one head of AQIM was actually killed in battle by the French and Chadian troops. But it was reliable news only when  another nearby site AQIM (Sahara Media) confirmed it.

How much can you trust this kind of information on Twitter compared with what you read in global media?

The war in northern Mali is a war going on “behind closed doors” or “without images”, but we are informed and we provide news through social networks like Twitter. I notice that when some media can not cover this war, Twitter succeeds where mainstream media have failed because it’s less controlled. Social networks like Twitter are the best place to inform and be informed.

An example of Ibrahim’s discussing on Twitter: information, sharing and debate are his daily tweets.


Interview by Lilia Blaise

Twitter accounts to follow for updates about Mali by RFI


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