Ibrahim ag Idbaltanat

Ashoka Fellow
Menaka, Mali
Fellow Since 2008

Citation

This profile was prepared when Ibrahim ag Idbaltanat was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
To address widespread denial of the slave system—including by slaves themselves—Ibrahim had to get Touaregs to acknowledge that slavery existed and was a problem. Ibrahim brought black Touaregs together for discussion and reflection, and eventually invited the entire community to participate. In both private and public meetings, public events such as trainings, forums and cultural events, he encourages dialogue within the community to acknowledge the system and its harm to both individuals and the Touaregs’ community. This approach brings slavery into the public domain for critique and advances Ibrahim’s vision for a new type of Touareg community: A community that embraces all its members, regardless of skin color.

Once the abolition of slavery gained root in Touareg groups, Ibrahim approached citizen organizations (COs) to establish the need for action, especially within professional circles. The slave movement within Touareg communities in the north resulted in the founding of Temedt (meaning “belly-button” in the Touareg language of Tamacheq): The association of the Malian Black Tamacheq people. Thriving membership brought enthusiastic volunteers to set up field offices throughout the country to advocate in new venues. Ibrahim and Temedt connected with organizations whose missions could encompass an anti-slavery focus, and this allowed them to tap into existing resources and networks to promote their cause. By building a network of partners and supporters to compliment a growing grassroots base, Ibrahim ensured the growing institutionalization of the problem.

With enough community support and visibility, Ibrahim has appealed to the government for support. With the administration and other civil society representatives, Ibrahim is working towards the first law in Mali to criminalize slavery. After achieving institutional and legislative support, Ibrahim’s movement will incorporate legal advocacy for slaves, economic development for black Touareg communities, and awareness raising within the education system.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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