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Other national languages promoted by the DNAFLA include Fulfuldé, Songhai, Senufo, Dogon, Soninké, and Tamasheq. A number of symbols reinforce and elaborate such central aspects of Malian national culture as the struggle against colonization, the celebration of Mali's rich history, and its long multicultural tradition.The text of Mali's national anthem was composed by an influential politician and novelist, Seydou Badian Kouyaté, at the request of Mali's first president, Modibo Keita.
Bamana has progressively become the lingua franca of Mali and is spoken by 80 percent of the Malian people, although it is the mother tongue of only 38 percent of the population.
The ongoing project of Malian national construction can also be viewed as a site of contestation insofar as it is viewed and experienced differently by different strata of the Malian population.
In other words, the dominant or hegemonic construct of the Malian nation is based on the reflections of the Westernized Malian elite and does not necessarily coincide with the view of peasants or disenfranchised urban populations.
Indeed, it was affected by transnational economic and political forces as well as by local popular responses to the policies implemented by local governments.
Since independence, the Malian political leadership has pursued the syncretic integration at the national level of various elements deriving from ethnic and regional cultures.
Major ethnic groups in Mali are the Mande (e.g., Bamana, Jula, Malinke), who comprise 50 percent of the population; Peul or Fulbe, 17 percent; Voltaic, 12 percent (e.g.
Bobo, Senufo, Minyanka); Tuareg and Moor, 10 percent; Songhai, 6 percent; and other, 5 percent.
After independence, Bamako's population grew exponentially, from 100,000 in 1960 to approximately 1,000,000 in 1998 (59 percent of Mali's total urban population).
This was partly the outcome of the fall in 1960 of the short-lived Mali Federation (uniting Mali and Senegal) and the subsequent forced return of many Malian citizens living in Senegal.
It should be mentioned that the rigidity of such ethnic categories dates back to colonization.
In other words, the classification of local populations into neatly defined ethnic groups is the product of the interaction and misunderstandings between locals and colonial administrators as well as some ethnographers.
Malian national culture can be best defined as a project that was developed with different emphasis and credibility by the governments that led Mali (formerly French Sudan) in the postindependence period (1960 to the present). As in most post-colonial nations, the territorial and administrative boundaries established by the colonial power, in this case France, remained essentially unchanged long after independence.