Unlike the United States where everything is not negotiable, in Mali, everything is and is encouraged, unless you’re a tourist without any background on the culture of Mali (Dettwyler 1994: 55).
With Mali’s economics very different from ours in America, family size and gender ideas also are very different than ours.
One of the biggest reasons for this is because all mothers nurse their babies from their milk up to almost age 3, which contain nutrients and antibodies that is more beneficial than the millet or rice.
Disease on the other hand, is what kills most babies/children in Mali.
A very intense-labor for the women of Mali is making vegetable oil from the karite nuts and not only do they have to spend several weeks collecting the nuts, but also extracting the oil (Dettwyler 1994: 124).
In a western society, men are usually the ones who are seen as strong and do intense labor, but in Mali, the men harvest the fields and the women take care of everything else.
In the United States, the more children you have, the more you have to provide for, but in Mali, the more children you have measures a man’s status and success, and that’s for each of his wives.
The more children you have not only provide those two things, but increases the income of a family because children in Mali, at a young age, may start to work to provide for their mothers and younger siblings.
When Dettwyler returned to Bamako, six years after her first visit, she explains that Bamako, even though it’s in the same country, differs substantially from a village outside of Bamako named Magnambougou.
The people of Bamako (close to a million people) live in traditional mud huts along the bluffs and banks of the Niger River (Dettwyler 1994: 18), whereas the people of Magnambougou live in “compounds” along dirt paths surrounding the community center.