The day started out early as Yeah headed out to Kayes. I found myself fortunate to accompany him on this trip. Thinking the kids could do to see some place other than Bamako and Ouelessebougou. The trip to Kayes was a very long drive. We drove consistently for about 10 hours.
The region of Kayes is bordered to the north by Mauritania, to the west by Senegal, to the south by Guinea and to the east by the region of Koulikoro. In 2009 the region has a population of 1,996,812 inhabitants.
The trip consisted of multiple stops to campaign. The first stop, 5 hours into the road trip, we stopped by Diema. A group of community leaders had gathered to greet Yeah and also ask how they could best support Yeah. Here is a community where the senator was willing to skip an important meeting so that he could be there to meet Yeah. The meeting consisted of welcoming Yeah to the village. There is an interesting tradition that this village displayed. There were two men that carried a conversation between themselves about Yeah and all that he has done so far in Mali. They did this loudly for the benefit of all parties present. Then, the mayor and senator welcomed Yeah as well. Yeah then spoke. He spoke of a change that needs to happen with how government is run. He thanked the various groups for the kind welcome and taking time out of their busy day to come welcome him. This was an important meeting aimed at the key groups in this village. When the leaders of a village are affected, they in turn will go and spread the word to all those that interact with on a daily basis.
We continued our onward journey to Kayes. We stopped in Khouloun, a small village by the water. This is such a scenic spot. The village is only accessible by boat. We had to cross in one to meet the villagers. It was awesome! This was my first of this kind boat ride. Now I am not the bravest when it comes to depths or heights, but this was a great experience. As we crossed the river, we heard the drums beating and saw the villagers anxiously waiting on the other side. When we reached the banks, we were greeted by scores of children. We were led to the main meeting place where the entertainment began. In this village, each girl wears a headdress that is contiguous with the age group she belongs to. Each of the groups performed to beating drums. When the entertainment concluded, the brother of the dugutigi (chief of the village), welcomed us to the village. Here too in this village was an interesting tradition. Here the people of rank did not speak to each other directly. There was a third person that repeated everything that one person said to the other. It was quite interesting to observe. The dugutigi’s brother expressed his support for Yeah and committed his village to helping Yeah achieve his goal of the Presidency.The mayor too, Assa Mady Diallo, welcomed Yeah to his village and explained the current water issues that his village was having. Yeah promised that he would try to find a solution to the water drinking problem.
These visits were great. They showcased the region very well and also the people whose hearts Yeah will need to capture to win the Presidency. The one thing I noticed here was that people had a genuine aura of happiness. There seemed to be no put on show. The gratitude and joy they expressed to see us was not put on. The peace that existed in these villages was a peace in their way of life. It was a great experience and I am glad that I got to go.
The support is mounting. This region is essential to Yeah’s success. Yeah has the ability to do much good and bring many of the same projects ( like the water pumps, solar panels, high school and hospital). The question is, will the chance be given to someone who wants to affect change.