Not so long ago, Mali was one of Africa's success stories. One president ceded power peacefully to the next. Travelers marveled at the centuries-old religious and cultural heritage of Timbuktu. The country's musical talent -- second to none in Africa -- had western artists beating a path to the studios of Bamako. Its footballers found fame and fortune in Europe.
Now, despite the events of the last month, Mali's future looks much more uncertain.
Alex Thurston, author of Sahel Blog, says that "If efforts at national reunification and reconstruction falter, bitterness among northern communities, combined with unaddressed grievances, could plunge Mali back into crisis a few years from now."
Acknowledging the daunting task ahead, more than forty of Mali's best-known musicians gathered in Bamako last month to record a song, "Mali Peace."
"What's going on in Mali?" they sang. "Do we really want to kill each other? Do we really want to betray each other? If we are not careful, our children will suffer tomorrow."