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Faces of Mali


Mask Seller, by Edgar Gomez Palmieri

The images for “Faces of Mali” were captured by Edgar Gomez and Yeah Samake during working visits for two Utah-based non-profits, the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) and the Mali Rising Foundation mostly in typical villages in the south region of the country.

“The people of rural Mali have a culture that is rich in tradition and history, and it is delightful that people all over Utah will be able to enjoy this photo essay,” said Samake. “Many Utahns already have a positive connection with Malians by helping us explore and record our ancestry, build schools and better educate our children.” For five years a Utah non-profit research organization collected DNA samples and family history information from Malians in the process of creating a large global repository of correlated genetic genealogical information.

Mali has a population of 15 million and is one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 169 of 185 in measures of wealth according to the World Bank. Today’s Republic of Mali includes the legendary Saharan Desert city of Timbuktu, a name once used as shorthand for remoteness in Western civilization. Timbuktu was a crossroads for ancient commercial routes and is believed to have established one of the world’s first universities in the 14th century.


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