05 August 2012

Interview: Mayor of Segou, Richmond's Sister City in Republic of Mali


Defender Interview with Ousmane Simaga, Mayor of Segou, Republic of Mali
By Phil Wilayto
Translation by Ana Edwards


RICHMOND, VA; Aug. 1, 2012 – Ousmane Simaga is the mayor of Segou, the second largest city in the Republic of Mali, West Africa. The city of 135,000 is located in southern Mali near a bend of the Niger River, just as Richmond, with its 204,000 people, sits on a bend of the James. Segou and Richmond have an official Sister City relationship. It's not the only connection. As pointed out by local Richmond columnist Michael Paul Williams, the majority of Africans brought to Virginia to be sold into slavery came from the nine West African countries that once were part of the great Malian Empire.

Mayor Simaga was in Richmond from July 24 to Aug. 1 to try and raise funds to help deal with a humanitarian crisis now facing his city. Since March, 7,238 people, nearly 4,000 of them children, have arrived in Segou, displaced by the civil war raging hundreds of miles to the north.  CLICK HERE TO READ FULL INTERVIEW