Ambassador Paul Hare, former US Special Envoy to the Angolan Peace Process and author of Angola's Last Best Chance for Peace, 2005.
Alioune Blondin Beye was one of the most influential figures in the history of Mali, West Africa, and one of the most accomplished mediators of his time.
Lauded for his diplomatic talents and achievements, Maitre Beye's optimism, energy, loyalty, and tenacity won him the respect, and admiration of virtually everyone who came in contact with him, from taxi drivers to diplomats, from laborers to the highest-ranking government officials.
Alioune Blondin Beye was beloved by Malians, Angolans, and throughout the world.
Reflecting his words that "defeat is an orphan and victory has several fathers," Beye was quick to give others credit for successes and always willing to accept responsibility when things went awry. An accomplished jurist and an expert in international law, he became known as "Maitre Beye." This designation as a "master" was undoubtedly deemed appropriate by the myriad dignitaries and delegations who met, conferred, and negotiated with Beye.
Alioune Blondin Beye was born on January 8, 1939 at Bafoulabe, Kayes, in what was then known as the "Soudan Français," now the Republic of Mali. Maitre Beye was born into what might be characterized as a middle class family; his mother, Aminata Diop, was a housewife and his father, Mamadou Beye, served as a teacher for the French Colonial Civil Service.
Beye began his primary schooling immediately after World War II at Mourdiah in the Nara District of Mali. An outstanding student, he was accepted by the famous high school Lycée Terrasson-de-Fougere, Bamako, and subsequently at Auxonne and Semur en Auxois, France where he obtained his high school diploma in 1960. During his studies in France, Beye demonstrated the selflessness and devotion that would characterize his entire life and career. Upon learning that his father had fallen ill, Beye temporarily left his studies in order to return to Mali and care for his stricken father. Remarkably, Beye was named Police Commissioner, a position in which he served until his father passed away.
A Career Marked by Diversity, Versatility, and Dedication
Following his father's death, Maitre Beye returned to France to resume his studies. He was accepted by the School of Law & Sciences at the University of Dijon, where he obtained several diplomas, including: - Masters degree in Law, 1966 - DESS Droit Public (post-graduate diploma) in Public Law - Doctorate degree in International Administration - DESS, in Political Science - Beye passed the Bar of Côte D'or in 1970, and the Bar of Bamako, Mali, in 1972.
At the conclusion of his university studies, Alioune Blondin Beye lectured at various universities in France and could have chosen, as many young Africans did, to remain in France. However, he did not. Again demonstrating his selflessness, as well as his patriotism and commitment to his beliefs and ideals, Maitre Beye returned to his homeland in order to participate in the development of a newly independent Mali. He was named Legal Adviser to the President of Mali, a position he held from 1973 to 1977. He was also appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1978, where he served until 1986. Following a brief stint as Adviser to the Head of State, Beye was appointed Secretary-General of the African Development Bank in 1988 and subsequently became the Director of its Legal Department in 1991.
While Beye's career to this point was already distinguished by tremendous dedication and achievement, he was destined for even greater heights and accomplishments. In 1993, UN Secretary General Boutros-Boutros-Ghali appointed Alioune Blondin Beye as his Special Representative for the Angolan peace process. It was in that capacity that he distinguished himself as a visionary, brilliant leader whose tireless devotion to peace and justice inspired millions. Beye mediated negotiations between the Angolan government and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and conceived the framework of the "Lusaka Protocol," the 1994 peace agreement under which UNITA agreed to relinquish control of territories torn by roughly 30 years of intermittent civil war. Sadly, Mr. Beye did not live to see his dream of peace for the Angolan people become a reality.
On June 26, 1998, Alioune Blondin Beye perished along with seven of his colleagues in a plane crash in a mangrove swamp on its approach to Abidjan. Traveling in his role as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the peace process in Angola, Maitre Beye died on a mission to rally support for the "Lusaka Protocol", giving his life for what he believed in.
Alioune Blondin Beye is most remembered for his diplomatic achievements and unflagging dedication to peace. His friends and family also fondly recall his tremendous generosity, his humility, and his love and respect for all walks of life, especially children and young adults, the elderly, and the downtrodden. Maitre Beye demonstrated those qualities throughout his life, inspiring many Angolans, Malians, and Africans. To date, over 50 children have been named after Beye. Alioune Blondin Beye devoted his life to the pursuit of justice and peace for Angola, Africa, and the world.
Maitre Beye is dearly missed, but his spirit, energy, and ideals will influence and inspire us for generations to come.