The ongoing strife in Mali should definitely act as a litmus test to the rest of Africa when it comes to defending a nation's sovereignty: Are we capable of copping by ourselves?
The stakes have been pushed high in Mali, not because it could not hold its own when attacked by a band of well-armed desert nomads, but because it threw out a democratically elected government and put the fate of the country in the hands of foreigners, including its former colonial master; France.
The Malian government had been steadily losing ground to the rebels for close to a year. When it sought help from its neighbours, they were sympathetic but slow to respond. They only raised their heads when France stepped in and cleared the road for them.
But the question remains; what will happen when the French decide to fold their bags next month and call it a day as they have insinuated? Will the centre still hold?
The kind of drama unfolding in the West African country is not the fruit of the newly established radicalisation of Islam, nor an inherent system of poor governance and other external forces, but the source lies closer to the Malian people; It is an ideology that lacks in many African countries; true patriotism.
Once we put aside grandiose speeches in international fora and instead walk the talk for the sake of our nations, we will remain gazing in the horizon waiting for outside help.