In 2017, after having been living for 8 years in Bamako, a Malian friend told me that I could apply to get Malian nationality. This moved me: of course I feel Bamakois. But do I feel Malian ? What does this opportunity mean about identity ? Does law define well identity ?
First of all, this situation confirms the daily feeling foreigners experience living in Bamako : Malian people are keen to welcome foreigners. This instance also shows that each individual has several identities and that time builds identities. But it reminds us that we accept that law, despite all its weaknesses, builds and defines national identities. Most of our identities are not defined by law but we accept it for our national identity/ies.
In order to "test" my Malian identity, I decided to paint the Malian flag and the French flag. Will I have the same feelings while painting each flag ? It turned out that I did not feel a difference : I was focused on painting, not on my identities feelings.
It also turned out that I did not become officialy Malian. Until 2011, someone like me could have become Malian but law changed in 2011. 5 years of residence used to be required to apply to Malian nationality but since 2011, 10 years are required.