Moammar Gaddafi, the former leader of Libya, remains a popular figure across much of sub-Saharan Africa.

In Bamako, the capital of Mali, a landlocked desert nation in West Africa, thousands of Muslims honored the memory of Gaddafi at a special prayer service. The large portrait of the recently murdered Libyan strongman was hung at the entrance of the Bamako’s principal mosque, hailing him as a benefactor and visionary.

Earlier in the week, a similar prayer service for Gaddafi was held in Agadez in northern Niger, a country directly east of Mali.

Gaddafi has historically enjoyed the support of the nomadic Tuareg people who live across much of the Sahara, particularly in Mali and Niger. Gaddafi provided financial and military support to Tuareg rebel groups who demanded increased autonomy from local governments.
Many Tuareg soldiers served Gaddafi as fighters during the civil war that raged across Libya for the past eight months.

A number of Tuareg have reportedly fled Libya for Mali and Niger and other nations since the Libyan rebels deposed Gaddafi.

Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam who has now agreed to speak to the International Criminal Court of Europe and now faces a war crimes trial, reportedly hid out in Mali for much of the conflict in Libya.

However, ordinary people in places like Mali and Niger also admired Gaddafi, whose regime sent tens of billions of dollars into a local economy.