We celebrated Carmen’s third birthday on August 4th by visiting the national park of Mali. This was a great adventure. I loved the park. The peacefulness and cleanliness was a unique sight in a bustling polluted capital city. There were two huge parks for children to play in. I literally had to drag the children home when it was time to go.
The last week also saw my nephew Boi get extremely sick. He had malaria and things looked very bad. It was a good thing we could take him to the clinic. 4 days at the clinic had him back to his old self. That was a scary thing to see as Boi is the same age as Keanen and no child deserves to be sick. It is interesting to see the difference in how sickness is treated here. In Mali, because of the cost of the healthcare system and the belief of old traditions, sometimes precious time is wasted and other options pursued before someone goes to the clinic. As people become more accustomed to having affordable healthcare, this will change.
The last week has been a lonely week. Yeah departed to the US to get some more fundraising done. Each of the events he holds in Mali costs $2000. The money covers the sound system, music, travel expenses, food, publicity and place cost. So far Yeah’s campaigns in Markala, Ouelessebougou and Bamako have gotten some serious media attention. The biggest newspapers in Mali have launched him into the spotlight making him a serious contender. However, it is a much-needed expense to continue the campaigning in other villages.
In Mali, newspaper and television are a luxury in many homes, especially rural areas where electricity is not found and illiteracy is high. In these areas, it is essential to focus on huge events so that people will become better informed about the policies and platforms of their candidates. Yeah and his party have attempted to create support organizations in some of these villages. They do this by creating youth organizations first. Meetings happen with these organizations that then spread the word among the villagers. People will be more willing to hear from their neighbor, family or friend regarding who they support as the political candidate. Word of mouth is going to be PACPs success line.
Already people are talking about Yeah, especially in Bamako, Mali’s capital bustling city. At the event the youth turned out in huge numbers. The main concerns among the youth are jobs and education. This is Mali’s next generation and they cannot even fend for themselves. As we were driving in Bamako, I and my friend Dianna stopped at a stop light. The minute we stopped, we were besieged by children that couldn’t have been old than eight or nine years. There were also older men in their early twenties. As we were talking, my friend Dianna told me she had actually had the opportunity to speak with these men. Believe it or not, some of these young men have actually studied in college. However the economy cannot produce the jobs so that they can put their education to work. So they do the things needed to support their families. Another person told Dianna, that on the day of his final exam he could not come up with the 30,000 CFA ($60) to bribe his teacher as the teacher refused to pass anyone that did not pay up. How true are these stories? One will never know. However the current state of the economy shows a 35% unemployment rate and puts Mali as the second poorest country in the world. One of the important things that Yeah will need to focus on is education and the creation of jobs. Yeah comes from a background of education. His father, Tiecourafing Samaké, knew the importance of sending his children to school. He sent all his 18 children (from 3 wives) to school, girls and boys. There were days when there was no food to eat, but the education continued. Today, Yeah’s family enjoys a better living experience than most Malians. That is not to say they are rich. However their education has allowed them to succeed better than most. The vision of one man affected the next generation in a small way. Now think on a bigger scale. If there was someone at the head of the country that made education a necessity and a requirement, what a change that would make in the future of the country. If teachers were paid well, there would be no need to accept bribes. If students would know that secure jobs awaited them, then would they not study harder? That will be the key to creating a stable environment for the next generation. Better education and better jobs. That will be a challenge for the next president. However if money is invested in the right sectors and accountability measures are put in, the country of Mali will prosper. Yeah has the knowledge of holding his own leaders in the mayor’s office accountable for what they do. It is this government transparency that will trickle to all the sectors that it touches. It will be a challenge but not a challenge that comes without a long-term blessing.
The month of Ramadan puts all campaign activities on hold in Mali, which is a Muslim country. Ramadan is the holy month of fasting and praying for Muslims everywhere. However Yeah will be in the US for 3 weeks in an attempt to raise the much-needed funds to be able to campaign effectively. There will be a dinner on August 10th from 7-9pm to raise funds. In addition Yeah has been able so far to meet with some possible donors. Hopefully those will come through.
In a country where the presidential candidates have all embezzled money or are getting donations from embezzled money, Yeah is a clean spot that his country needs at this time. It is time for Mali to catch its break. And that break is Yeah Samaké.