Can you believe that the election is only two months away? Who knew our time here would pass so quickly. During these final months it is essential to reach the corners of Mali that are far removed from Bamako. That was the plan as Yeah and his team headed to Koutiala for a 2-day trip.
Koutiala is the heartland of cotton production in Mali and is sometimes called “the white gold capital” for its cotton.However, the industry has been affected by stagnation since the 1980s. This region will be important as Mali’s economy is centered on agriculture with 80% of Malians employed in farming.
In a previous meeting to Sikasso, Yeah had met a lot of mayors from the region. The Mayor of Koutiala wanted to learn more of Yeah achievements and his vision, so he decided to set up a bigger meeting with the mayors and their councilors in the surrounding regions. Initially, the mayors were very skeptical. A mayor running for President is unheard of. When the mayor who had organized the meeting introduced Yeah, he made sure he also said that he did not necessarily agree with Yeah, but wanted to hear what he had to say. There were about 60 people in attendance, 30 of which were mayors. The event started with a quick introduction followed by Yeah’s movie bio in French. The people loved the video and were anxious to ask questions. Yeah spoke for about 10 minutes on his plans for Mali and what he has already done for Ouelessebougou. He appealed to the mayors by asking how historic it would be to have a fellow mayor run for President and who better than mayors to understand how local government really works. Then the questions began. One person asked how many wives and children he had. Polygamy is a widely accepted practice in the Muslim culture of Mali. Yeah, with pride, announced he had two children and one wife and would only continue to have one wife. They asked to know more about PACP, what it represented, and how it was started. Yeah explained the change that PACP stood for and was proud to speak about its focus on employment, education, and technology development in agriculture. He continually stressed the point that Mali must invest in teachers to improve education. By the end of the discussion, the leading Mayor of the event was a proud supporter of Yeah and in addition Yeah had collected a band of mayors to support him.
Another essential meeting happened as Yeah met with some teachers in Koutiala to find out what their needs were and how he could best resolve the educational issues plaguing the country and trickling into Koutiala as well.
At night the group settled down at the house of the local imam in Koutiala. The imam is the Muslim leader in the community. He invited the group to join them in the evening prayer. The brother of the imam gave the group a special blessing for safe travels and a successful journey. This speaks to Yeah’s statement that despite being a Christian in a 90% Muslim country, religion does not divide or judge; rather the invitation shows how faiths can come together for a common goal.
At 10pm, the group continued to another campaign event with supporters in Koutiala. The group was large and the questions never-ending. At one point the power shut off and immediately phones lit up the night as the meeting continued. The excitement is growing!
Next morning the team headed to a youth meeting at the headquarters of Radio Equité. About 75 youth gathered to hear Yeah speak. The youth asked how he would help them to get jobs and to increase opportunity for education. He spoke of his plan to place universities in every region and to create more jobs for youth as they graduate. The youth were excited about the hope Yeah brought. As Yeah was leaving, many people surrounded him for pictures and additional questions. They would have stayed with him all day if time permitted.
Next the team headed to the small village of Humallaye. This meeting was setup by local youth volunteers of PACP. Koné of PACP spoke to about 40 people introducing Yeah and his vision. Yeah then spoke. He spoke of the understanding he had for the conditions that the villagers lived in and how he believed he could make their lives better as President. He then gave a Samake2012 button to the chief of the village, symbolizing that if ever he were elected and the chief felt like he was not keeping his promise, then the chief and his councilors could come to Koulouba and question Yeah’s actions.
As Team Samake headed back to Bamako, they stopped over in Kouri for a meeting with mayors in that area. Kouri in Region of Sikasso is located roughly 218 mi (or 351 km) east of Bamako. As the meeting ended, they went on to a rally in the heart of Kouri. Beautiful women welcomed the group with their singing while Liz, our intern, encouraged the people to join in the dancing. Yeah welcomed the 90 people in attendance. The message was the same, filled with the same conviction and the same hope.
At midnight, Team Samake made another stop to meet with 10 supporters. Yes I did say midnight. These people had been waiting for Yeah to come since 6pm. Yeah tried to cancel but all they had said was even if Yeah came at 5am they would still be there. Such was the commitment. Even at such a late hour, Yeah was on top of his game and excited to share his message. And the people there stated that their waiting had not been in vain.
All these meetings in Koutiala were amazing and essential to Yeah’s campaign. The support Samake2012 got from this region was amazing and it was a testimony of the conviction people have in Yeah and what he could achieve for Mali. People want their country to be a successful country with a way to care for its people. Yeah is the man for the job and more and more people are starting to buy into the Samake2012 dream for an educated, stable Mali. What about you? Support us today at www.samake2012.com. Together we will celebrate the dawning of a new day in Mali.