Tuareg merchants and farmers at Mentao Red Cross Camp in northern Burkina Faso, 40 miles from the border with Mali, Image by Peter Chilson. Mali, 2012.
A billboard in Bamako. Tears for a newly divided country. Image by Peter Chilson. Mali, 2012.
Ilagala Ag Amin, former Tuareg rebel fighter at Mentao Red Cross Camp, northern Burkina Faso. He was trained in Moammar Qaddafi's military. Image by Peter Chilson. Burkina Faso, 2012.
Fishing boats on the Bani River in Mopti, Mali. Image by Peter Chilson. Mali, 2012.
Isaac Sagara, the author's Dogon driver and guide across the Bandiagara Plateau, a region in central Mali that borders the jihadist occupied north. Image by Peter Chilson. Mali, 2012.
Looking north, across the Bandiagara highlands into Mali's jihadist held north. Image by Peter Chilson. Mali, 2012.
The Dogon village of Begnemato from the cliffs above in May 2012. Image by Peter Chilson. Mali, 2012.
Isaac Sagara, the author's Dogon guide, and Daniel Andoule, elder of the Malian village of Begnemato. Andoule insisted the jihadists could not successfully invade and hold the Dogon cliff country. Image by Peter Chilson. Mali, 2012.
A view of Mali's Sengo Gondo plain from the village of Begnemato, high up in the Bandiagara cliffs. Tuareg and jihadist bandit groups travel across the plain to raid villages in both Mali and Burkina Faso. Image by Peter Chilson. Mali, 2012.
Lt. Col. Didier Dacko, commander of Mali's army forces in the northern region of Gao until he and his men fled at the end of March. He is now responsible for Mali's forces reorganizing and training in the Mopti region to retake northern Mali. Dacko is shown here at his headquarters in Sevare, outside the city of Mopti. Image by Peter Chilson. Mali, 2012.
Intalamt Ag Air Zaye, prefect of Malil's Koro district, in central eastern Mali, bordering both the jihadist north and Burkina Faso. Air Zaye is also Tuareg and was a member of the Malian government negotiating team that met with Tuareg rebels in November 2011 in a last effort to avoid the rebellion that begin in early January. He is shown here in his office in Koro. Image by Peter Chilson. Mali, 2012.

In March and early April 2012, Tuareg and jihadist rebels overran northern Mali, an area the size of France. The borderland that now divides Mali north from south cuts across the Bandiagara highlands.

Project

Europeans drew Africa’s borders long ago. Today these lines are often deserted and sometimes dangerous. Mali is the legacy: A crumbling state, rump of ancient empire between desert and forest.

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