Bamako was initially a small village with few inhabitants along the Niger River. Its urban history began when French settlers arrived by the end of the 19th century and took control of the site. After the completion of the Kayes-Bamako segment of the Dakar–Niger Railway, Bamako soon became the capital of French Sudan and started to grow exponentially. As a colonial capital, however, the city later emerged as a major center of anti-colonial activity, where the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA) raised as the first French-speaking Pan-African organization in the world aiming at ending colonialism in Francophone Africa. In addition to being Mali’s seat of government, today Bamako also serves as the country’s economic and cultural center. At the National Institute of Arts and at the Artisan Centre of Bamako, for example, artists are trained in both traditional and contemporary artistry.
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