Mr. Modibo Keita, President I the Republic of Mali, is one of the most powerful and able leaders West Africa has ever produced. He presents a figure of immense astuteness, dignity, and respectability. He deeply saturated in French culture and knows Africa’s problems inside out.
He was born in Bamako on May 4, 1915. He is a devoted Moslem, and is the descended of the famous Keita dynasty of the ancient African can Empire of Mali. He was educated at William Ponty Ecole Normale in Dakar and taught for 10 years before becoming active in politics. In 1945, with the assistance of friends like Mamadaou Konate, he formed the Soudan Bloc, which later aligned itself with the French socialist parties. The French government jailed him for a year on charges of his so-called “extreme policies”, and “radical tendencies.” In the years to come, he embarked upon a number of calculated risks, which in the end, worked out to his favor and popularity. Before occupying his present office, he served his country and the Government of France in a variety of capacities and posts.
At one time, he was secretary-general of the Soudanese section of the RAD; member of the first Soudanese territorial assembly; a Deputy in the French Assembly, and later on, turned out to be its firs African vice-president; Secretary of State for French Overseas Territories; Secretary of State of the president of the council in the Gailard Government; and last but not least, he was mayor of the city Bamako.
Turning towards the concept of West African Federation, a meeting between Upper Volta, Soudan, Dahomey and Senegal was held in Bamako. In January 1959, he was elected President of the General Council of French West Africa, and worked energetically for a federation of West African states. When Dahomey and Upper Volta withdrew from the proposed federation, Senegal and the Soudan merged to form the Federation of Mali. Modibo Keita became Secretary-General of the new Federation. In April of that year, he became premier and advocated a unitary government, but Senegal preferred the federal system.
Personality clashes among other things, led to the failure of the Federation. Modibo Keita became President of Mali and followed a more radical policy drawing closer to Guinea and Ghana. Besides signing a number of agreements with the heads of foreign governments, in 1961 he attended a Summit Conference at Casablanca, thus making the Republic of Mali, a member of the Casablanca group of African States. Thanks to his competency, Mali’s shaky economy has been made stable, and the country has been able to avoid its pitfalls and overcome its initial struggles.