Mali can teach Detroit a lot about being a community

http://www.freep.com/article/20090823/OPINION05/908230458/1336/opinion/Detroit-can-learn-from-Mali

BY DAWUD WALID

The prospective renaissance of Detroit will not be found in new City Council members or restructuring the school system but with a major paradigm shift in what is deemed culturally acceptable related to family and community life.

I recently returned from a 10-day trip to Mali, which naturally caused me to compare its capital, Bamako, with Detroit. What I saw provided further instruction as to why I disagree with the commonly held notion that poverty and our miserably performing school system are the primary factors behind Detroit’s social ills.

Bamako, a city whose population size is similar to Detroit, resides in a post-colonial nation whose average household income is $275 per year with an 80% illiteracy rate in the national language of instruction, French. Remarkably, however, Bamako’s crime rate is extremely low, drug abuse is almost nonexistent and the HIV/AIDS rate is slightly less than 2%. Based on conventional wisdom, Bamako should be like the Wild West due to its abject poverty and illiteracy. In fact, I felt significantly safer walking the streets of Bamako as a non-French speaking American.

 

 

What Bamako has that Detroit currently lacks is a culture that has no acceptance for overt antisocial behaviors that compromise the family and community life. Crime is low in Bamako because it is interwoven into the cultural fabric that an offense toward one’s neighbor is literally a threat to the entire society. Out-of-wedlock births are not punishable by law yet viewed as antithetical to mores that bind the community together. Detroiters have to admit that we have come to accept the unacceptable, and that a vigorous cultural critique has to be in constant motion before there is any real paradigm shift within the city.

 

 

Robert Bobb can weed out corruption in DPS, but we cannot intelligently expect that the climate of schools will significantly change while approximately 7 out of 10 children in the city are born out of wedlock. Young men have taken to the gang and thug life as normative because most of them grew up without fathers and have accepted what Pope John Paul II dubbed “the culture of death,” which the entertainment industry has promoted as an acceptable lifestyle.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong; I love Detroit. And Mali, whose citizens’ life expectancy averages only 43 years due to malaria and infant mortality, is no utopia. However, Detroit can learn a lot from this “developing” nation.

 

 

Obviously, there are also deep historical factors and bad government policies reaching back to the era of President Lyndon Johnson that account for Detroit’s decline. There are many layers as to why many compare Detroit to a Third World city. However, until what is commonly accepted as the norm is vigorously challenged, though it may seem harsh and painful to many, Detroit will continue to sink further into depravity and mayhem even with a new city charter commission, new city council members and a housecleaning of DPS.

 

 

Dawud Walid is assistant imam of Masjid Wali Muhammad — Detroit.

Walid gives sermon about Ramadan, the month of mercy

Yesterday’s sermons focused on Ramadan being the month of mercy, the month in which the Qur’an was revealed, the month in which a Mercy to the Worlds Muhammad (SAAS) came into his prophetic office and the month of fasting which brings more mercy from G’d.

Click here to listen to sermon at the American Muslim Center in Dearborn, Michigan.

Click to hear second sermon (partial) at Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Doubts of credible Afghan election

I was quoted in an Associated Press (AP) story today regarding the upcoming Afghan elections.  The current administration has high, and perhaps very unrealistic hopes, that the election will have significant voter turnout, which would grant more legitimacy to the Afghan governmental structure, and by de-facto, American policy in the country.

The question is, however, how can a worn torn country, the majority of whose rural areas are controlled by the Taliban and has drug money floating around to bribe voters possibly have any resemblance of credible elections?

Click here to read AP story titled “Afghan vote tests U.S. resolve on war.”