Mali: Tahanouma Walet Abeb

I fight to keep the rainbow over Mali, my beautiful, multi-ethnic homeland, and all the while I continue to help these children who one day will be called upon to build our country.

— Tahanouma Walet Abeb

Born in 1939 in Kidal, this magnificent grandmother served her country well in the Touareg rebellion in the north of Mali between 1990 and 1996. Tahanouma Walet Abeb is the widow of a French colonial administrator and mother of a daughter and son. She has no formal education, but she has learned many things in life that have made her a follower of peace. Many call her “Mother Peace.”

Tahounouna Walet Abeb, a Touareg, lived in Bamako for a number of years to help re-establish peace in her country and reconcile hearts and spirits. She committed to peace throughout the rebellion period until its end to convince the different movements to sit and negotiate with the central government to sign for peace. This objective was attained and Walet was there throughout. She is the leader of the National Women’s Movement for the Safeguarding of Peace and National Unity. It is a powerful structure that has worked for some time for a peaceful and stable Mali. Walet's strength is that she always understood that development problems are not resolved with weapons, but with understanding peace and the initiation of projects supported by the government and development partners. She and her movement strive to sensitize the nomadic women to understand their citizenship regarding the statute of entire life. Additionally, her fight in favor of the young, disinherited Malians has been ongoing since the independence of Mali in 1960. In the early 1990s, the determined lady walked into the bases of the rebels with young women to convince them to start a dialogue with the government.

Mouvement National des Femmes pour la Sauvegarde de la Paix et de l’Unité Nationale