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Tag Archives: 2012

Election Day in MALI

Two years ago Yeah and I left the comforts and possibilities of America for Mali to pursue a different future for our family. A future that included helping improve the lives of 15.1 million people in one of the poorest countries in the world.

The journey has in no way been easy but at every step of the way, we have been blessed. We have blessed with family that supported our decision and guided us as we settled into a new, different life in Mali. We have been blessed with friends that have supported us emotionally and financially as we pursued an ambition to change the corrupt system and initiate change. It is your kind donations that have let us run a clean race untainted by corruption and stick on the stage with the corrupt, older giants of Malian politics. We have been blessed with new supporters each day both here and in America who have believed in our vision of a Mali that can break the chains of illiteracy and under- development and welcome a day when every Malian can have three meals a day, accessible, quality education, accessible low-cost healthcare, clean water and a job when they graduate.

Today, was an emotion filled day. Our day started as we cast our ballot in the city of Yeah’s birth. As we entered Ouélessébougou, we were touched to see the throngs of people clamoring to vote. The booths opened at 8 am and people were lining up long before that time. Many came to us, waving their left index finger proudly, stating the exact time they voted for Yeah.

The booths will close at 6 pm tonight. The manual counting and limited access to far regions will mean that most results will not be known until sometime tomorrow or day after.

We do not what tomorrow will bring. We do not know what the results will be. While we hope for the best, we know that we will continue to serve Mali in whatever capacity we can. Our goal is empowering Malians to better standards and a better life.

Our heart is filled with deep gratitude for all you have done to support us. We have been blessed by your friendship and have been touched by your investment in our campaign for Mali.

It is an investment that will never be forgotten.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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To Lead is to Serve

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On May 22nd, 2013, the Parti Pour L’Action Civique et Patriotique ( PACP) held its 1st congress. For this special occasion, more than 240 PACP delegates from the different regions of Mali came to Bamako to represent their individual sections.  The event was held at the CICB in Bamako, a meeting place for many big conventions and events.

This was a great opportunity for the various delegates who are themselves leaders in their own regions to reaffirm their support of their candidate and the party. This event was an essential one. It gave the party the chance to show and explain all the activities that PACP has been involved in since it became a party in 2011 as well as to confirm the goal of the party in achieving stability and growth in Mali.

As we walked through the doors of the CICB, we were surrounded by the youth. Their chant became the theme of the convention: UNIS NOUS GAGNONS TOUS, DIVISES NOUS PERDONS TOUS ( United we all win, Divided we all Lose). The youth support has been growing for the last 2 years and it reached a climax at the event. To see the youth volunteer their time to come support their candidate was heartwarming and encouraging. The youth make up the majority of the voting population and it is essential that we train tomorrow leaders today. We need to include these bright minds in tomorrow’s future plans for Mali. And they sure did make their voice heard as they chanted their support for Yeah Samake.

The conference started with a speech by Yeah. In it he talked about the changing dynamics in Mali. His focus was on PACP as the party of change, growth and development of Mali. Yeah spoke with great passion about all things that the party has accomplished since it was created. He highlighted the actions of the party leaders on the day the country fell to a coup. While all parties were running away from the coup leaders, Yeah was right there condemning the coup and urging Sanogo to return power back to the people. Yeah spoke about the trips he has made to many countries and the meetings with many individuals to help explain the Malian perspective on the crisis in Mali. So many times, countries get caught up the issues in Mali that they forget to include the Malian in the solution. Yeah has consistently tried and succeeded at getting the Malian perspective represented and expressed. The partnerships he has created over the last two years with different governments was evident by the presence of representatives from different embassies, including Burkina Faso, Senegal, Algeria and the US Embassy. Usually, embassies try not to get involved in the political parties, so it was heartening to see the support and respect signified by their presence.

After Yeah’s speech, the secretary general Aboubacar Sidiki Fomba spoke. He stated the facts of what PACP has done in the humanitarian and social arena. Namely the 15 schools that have been built in rural Mali under Yeah’s leadership, the multiple medical missions that continue to come each year, the scholarships Yeah has been able to get for Malian students going to America,  donation of medical supplies and equipment to hospitals and clinics through Bamako, donation of computers to the Ministry and various schools in the country, a donation of food worth about $50,000 to Malian refugees in Burkina and Mopti and a visit to the Army in Tombouctou a month ago to name a few . More recently PACP has been holding multiple health clinics in rural villages where they have been able to utilize the expertise of doctors within the party. Most Saturdays, these doctors will travel to distant villages to give free healthcare and also train fellow doctors.

This is what this party is all about. Yeah’s success today is linked to his ability to serve his countrymen and women. That is one thing I respect the most about Yeah. He is the kind of man who will go out of his way to help if he can. So for him to create a party that replicates and signifies that sense of service is essential and crucial in the process of developing Mali. The party, despite being in its infancy, is at a crucial time. In Mali today, it is very rare and almost impossible to find politicians that serve their people. Most are in it for personal agendas and gain rather than to improve the lives of the Malian people. From day one, Yeah has wanted to make Mali a model of change and success. From day one, the people’s needs have been the priority.

The congress continued with various members from key areas like Tombouctou making statements about the party’s activities in their separate areas. The guiding principles, statutes and rules were read and acknowledged by all leaders present.

The event ended with all delegations reaffirming Yeah Samaké as their candidate in the 2013 Presidential elections. Yeah was touched by their commitment and stated: “I pledge to you that I will spare no effort to carry the torch of the party, for the term that you just trust me.”

This congress was an essential one. It was a reaffirmation not only of the candidate but also of the delegates who vowed to continue to support Yeah and work on his behalf. Many of these delegates traveled from far away, some as far as a 15 hour drive. This speaks volumes about the commitment of the people that join PACP. When I talk with people, they always tell me that they could go join other better know parties. However the reason they have joined Yeah and PACP is because it has demonstrated that it is a party of action, not just talk. This is something so rare among today politicians in Mali. Let’s look at it. Mali has been independent for 52 years. Where is she today? She is the second poorest nation in the world and in the top 5 worse educated countries in the world. Look at the healthcare system. There is 1 doctor to 20000 people in the rural areas that form 80% of Mali’s population. The education system has been riddled with strikes both on the teachers side and the students as well. Even the electricity has been as undependable as Mali’s current and past government leaders.

The time has come for Mali to celebrate the dawning of a new day. A day filled with hope for all Malians. This was an amazing conference. I feel blessed to have participated in it. I feel blessed to be part of this journey. But most of all, we feel blessed by your support that makes this journey possible.

Come join the Mali Moment. Visit us at http://www.samake2013.com (EN) or http://www.pacp-mali.com (FR). The ability to change a country’s destiny lies in our hands.

 

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Campaigning in Dio, Selingue and Yelekebougou

This past weekend was another great campaign success.

Youth leaders in Bamako gather to support YEAH

Youth leaders in Bamako gather to support YEAH

The youth that had formed their own movement visited with Yeah first thing Saturday morning. I love seeing the commitment of our youth in Mali to support change. Neatly dress and enthusiastic, they are my hope that Mali’s future is indeed bright. The youth association AJLCDM met with Yeah to present a plan of action in reaching some new areas in Mali. They also presented what they had been doing in terms of supporting Yeah and to increase awareness on the campuses about Yeah’s plans for Mali. Yeah also had the unique opportunity to meet with members of the National Youth Bureau in Mali. They presented a small skit showing the impacts of corruption and how Yeah is a good, honest individual who could bring change to Mali. This skit can be taken and presented to many communities and residents. Malians love dramatic performances and I love how the youth are using their talents to spread the word about Yeah Samake and PACP. The energy is simply amazing!

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The PACP delegation visited new villages of Dio, Selingue and Yelekebougou. One of the successes of this campaign is that unlike other candidates, we campaign mainly in the villages of Mali. 80% of Mali’s growing population is based in the villages. In order for Mali to progress as an entire nation, change and development need to happen in all parts of Mali.

It was in this spirit that the Samake team headed to these two villages. The first village called Dio-Gare is situated in the Koulikoro region and hosts about 8000 residents. The village had formed its first PACP committee and the delegation officially recognized the association. Many residents attended this event. Our PACP delegation was led by our youth leader Sibiri Mariko and Yaya Coulibaly. They talked with great enthusiasm about what Yeah Samake has accomplished already for Mali and what the vision is for the future. The meeting ended on a high note with many residents speaking their praise and showing their enthusiasm for the delegation that had traveled far to come talk with them.

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The next area visited was Yelekebougou, an area that also is in the Koulikoro region. More than 15 PACP members visited this area where they spoke to more than 60 people of all ages.  This morning a supporter who had witnessed this meeting, Abel Traore, shared this message about the meeting on Facebook: ” Le bureau national du parti PACP etait a Yelekebougou le samedi passe. Ils ont eu le soutient indefectible de toute la commune de Yelekebougou pour les prochaines election car c’est le seul parti qui peut amener le changement dans ce pays. QUE DIEU BENISSE LE MALI.” which translated is: ” The national office of PACP party was in Yélékébougou this past Saturday. We had the unwavering support of the entire town for Yélékébougou believes that in the next election we are the only party that can bring about change in this country. MAY GOD BLESS MALI.”

The PACP delegation in Yelekebougou

The PACP delegation in Yelekebougou

Yesterday, our campaigning continued full swing as our PACP team visited beautiful Selingue, a 118KM drive from Bamako. Selingue is one of the touristic areas in the South of Mali famous for the Festival of Selingue and also the Selingue Dam that is the 3rd most important energy production center of Mali. Here too, the delegation was met with great enthusiasm. In fact in this area, the residents had been eager for PACP to visit the area, having made many requests with our bureau. We were excited to visit and solidify the relationship with our association there.

Everywhere we go, we see residents turn out to welcome us and create their own PACP associations in their areas. The support has been exciting to watch and witness. People in Mali are begging for change. Too many years have gone by and most Malians still remain destitute. The rich get richer. The poor get thrown to the sidewalk to beg. This is not the vision of a progressive, developed Mali. This has to change. Many Malians have put their faith in Yeah. We will not let them down. We will continue this fight for Malians everywhere. The goal is not the Presidency. The goal is a Mali that is developed with a population that is able to have better opportunities.

We need your help. Villages like these are far off and not as easily accessible. It is expensive to visit these areas. If you can donate, then we can continue our battle for a developed, democratic Mali. Your money allows us to show and tell people that there is hope for Mali. And that hope is Yeah Samake and his plans for a new Mali. Donate today at http://www.samake2013.com and help us welcome a new day in Mali.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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French Ambassador Rouyer makes historic visit to Ouelessebougou

Ouelessebougou and the surrounding communities welcomed a very special guest to their commune on March 26th, 2013. The visit was the first of its kind by a dignitary of this magnitude in this region of Mali. Given the recent circumstances in which France has extended solidarity to Mali, Yeah, in his mayoral capacity, invited the Ambassador of France to Mali, Ambassador Christian Rouyer, to see Ouelessebougou and experience the many developments ongoing in the region. Ouelessebougou already shares a sister city relationship with Pontivy in France. Through it many great projects in the areas of water and education has become a reality for Ouelessebougou.

Ambassador Rouyer and the French delegation were received with great pomp as he and his delegation entered the city of Ouelessebougou. The air was thick with excitement as such an event has not seen for as long as many could remember. The people of Ouelessebougou and the surrounding villages turned out in droves to meet the French delegation.

Ambassador Rouyer in his speech was very appreciative to the people that came out to welcome him so warmly. In his speech he expressed gratitude to the people of Ouelessebougou and also their leader Yeah. He has been very appreciative of the leadership role that Yeah has played since last year’s coup. Regarding the situation in Mali, he said it was France’s obligation to help Mali. For during the Second World War, it was many Malians who paid the price of freedom with their life as they fought for France. Now it was France’s turn to help Mali combat terrorists. About governance in Mali, Ambassador Rouyer bluntly stressed that “Mali is not condemned to poverty, corruption and rebellion. It’s just a question of governance. It has all the capacity and potential to remain strong among the great nations of the world. In any case”, he added, “the majority of Malians aspire to a profound change. To do this, the Malian people must take their destiny in hand through a high turnout in elections to elect men and women to meet their aspirations.” This was amazing to hear as it was a reaffirmation of what Yeah has been saying all along. Mali’s many problems come not from the lack or inability of Malians, but rather from the leadership that has failed them.

Mayor Yeah Samaké then presented the Ambassador with a flag of Mali as a token of appreciation. This is the same flag that Yeah was presented with by Colonel Keba Sangare in Tombouctou last week. Colonel Sangare is a Red Beret and paratrooper commando and is the current commander over the 5th military region in the North. He had presented Yeah with the Malian flag as an appreciation for what Yeah has done for Mali. By giving the same flag to Ambassador Rouyer, Yeah was extending the military’s appreciation for the French forces now fighting on Mali’s behalf.

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After the speeches and an afternoon filled with cultural richness, Ambassador Rouyer and his delegation joined the dancing. Malians love music and love to dance. For Malians to see “white” people dancing is indeed unique, but also it warms their hearts, for to them it is an acceptance and embracing of the Malian culture. The visitors were not shy. They seemed to truly enjoy the Malian culture that is often hidden in the city life of Bamako. Many of these diplomats will not venture past the main cities because their duties usually keep them in these areas.

The evening ended on a high note as Yeah led the delegation to look at all the development projects and achievements Ouelessebougou enjoys today. Ouelessebougou enjoys the spot as one of the top 5 cities in terms of development and management. Many people in Ouelessebougou have not been as affected by the economic crisis in Mali as other villages and cities. This is apparent in the level of development projects present and the life style of the people of Ouelessebougou. As they toured the solar panel field, high school, the hospital and water tank, there was great, genuine, appreciation for how far Ouelessebougou has progressed in comparison to other areas.

The date that this took place is also a memorable date for Malians. March 26th marks the anniversary of the martyrs that lost their lives for democracy in Mali. On March 26th, 1991, after days of fighting, displeasure over the military dictator Moussa Traore’s government reached its peak. Many university students especially lost their lives as riots seized the streets of Bamako. I remember Yeah telling me, that back in those days, he was a student at ENSUP. He remembers going to join the movement against the dictator. However with the death toll mounting, his father came all the way to Bamako and pleaded with him not to join. Soon, the army lead by Lieutenant-colonel Amadou Toumani Touré (the same President who was overthrown last year), refused to fight the civilians and instead with a team of 18 other soldiers they arrested and overthrew President Moussa Traore. Malians have long celebrated those that gave their lives for the democracy movement. This year, this day holds more significance for it is a caution that those deaths should not continue to be in vain. That the democracy that they fought for should not be forgotten and that Mali must return to a government where the people are represented.

Ambassador Rouyer expressed his genuine gratitude for this memorable event. It comes at a time, when his tour of duty in Mali comes to an end. A Sarkozy appointee, he will return to France soon and he will be replaced by Gilles Huberson. He has been an outspoken advocate for the French military intervention and had been posted in Mali since 2011 and had cautioned about rebels in the North long before they took over.

This is a memorable event for Ouelessebougou as well. It comes at a time when Ouelessebougou is enjoying its own successes and growth. It is hoped this event will only bring more development opportunities to Ouelessebougou and the surrounding communities.

It is at times like this, that I pray that people will see the great work that Yeah does. Yeah doesn’t do it because he will personally gain. The successes of his people and his community are paramount to any political ambitions. However we realize that it is only through our political ambitions that we can spread the successes of Ouelessebougou to all of Mali.

I have read comments that try to downplay Yeah’s popularity. I would urge all these naysayers to actually venture past the walls of Bamako and gain a true perspective of the 80% population and what they say about Yeah Samaké. What Mali needs is a leader that is trustworthy and dependable. A leader that will guide Mali to greatness and Malians to a better standard of living. A leader that has actually done something for his community and given rather than taken away from Mali.

This all is possible. Two words: YEAH SAMAKE.

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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Helping affect Mali’s future

Since his appointment as Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of Mali, Cheick Modibo Diarra, Yeah has indeed been one busy man. Yeah’s main goal as he has met with representatives from Bahrain, the US and Mali has been one and that is to create a common understanding of Mali’s current situation and how the present government is planning on creating political stability.

Yeah met with the Ambassador of Mali to the United States in DC, Al Maamoun Baba Lamine Keita, sharing his insight into the Malian situation and the reasoning for the removal of the previous President ATT. They also discussed the need for increased collaboration and understanding between the U.S. and the new government in Mali in the hope of removing sanctions against Mali, so that aid could once again start flowing to the people that desperately need it.

Yeah also met with two members of the U.S. Senate. First, he met with Senator Michael Lee, a member of the subcommittee on African Affairs. Then, by recommendation of the U.S. Ambassador to Mali, Yeah also met with Gregory Simpkins, a staff member for the U.S. Congress and a prominent journalist in African Affairs.

In August, Yeah visited Bahrain which is home to the US 5th Naval base, where he was received by members of the royal family. His visit allowed him to inform Bahrain of Mali’s situation and the need of investment leading to the creation of a bilateral agreement between Mali and Bahrain. Upon return to Mali, Yeah extended an invitation to former U.S. Ambassador John Price, who has been very engaged in African politics.  Ambassador Price visited Mali from September 6th-12th.

Ambassador Price with Yeah

Ambassador Price’s visit was indeed an important one as it is important for people in the West to actually experience the situation in Mali rather than just read about it. Ambassador Price and Yeah got to meet with many key government officials in the defense, foreign and judicial sectors. Yeah was also able to secure a meeting with the man responsible for the mutiny back in March 2012, Captain Sanogo. You can read more about Ambassador Price’s opinion on this and other meetings on his blog: http://www.ambassadorjohnprice.com/captain-amadou-sanogo-a-hero-or-mutineer/2362/

Yeah and Ambassador Price also had the opportunity to visit the Malian refugee camp in Mentao, Burkina Faso. The visit will allow for a better foreign understanding of Mali’s actual situation and not as perceived by the media.

In Mentao, Burkina where we hope to distribute some aid soon

This past week has seen Mali put in a formal request for foreign troops from ECOWAS to come assist in the North. There seems to be a split opinion among Malians about whether ECOWAS troops are welcome on Malian soil. There has been a report stating that Sanogo and people close to him are against the decision by the President to invite foreign troops. The truth however is far from it, as Sanogo himself, appeared on national TV in an attempt to dispel these rumors. I guess time will show how the situation plays out. For now, there is no way for the Malian refugees to come back unless the North has been ridden of rebels. Each day there are fresh reports coming out that show atrocities in the North. Everyone is too afraid to go to that region and would rather desert everything for safety.

These past two and a half months have been busy as Yeah continues to reinforce the diplomacy and presence of Mali throughout the U.S. and other countries. The work is not over. It has barely begun and will continue until Mali once again is a democratic country.

We need your help. We cannot continue doing the things essential to restoring democracy without expending financial resources. If you can help support our work, then please help at http://www.samake2012.com. Mali deserves its chance at democracy and freedom.  

( Thank you to Liz Jessop for helping me write this post :))

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Progress for Mali: A unity government is formed

These past few months has seen Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra’s government struggle to gain the support of other parties and political leaders who felt that they could do a better job. There has been a general feeling among the political class in Mali that Diarra is incompetent. The crisis that Diarra gained is one that cannot easily be solved. He may, however, be the one reason that this country has not collapsed further and seen more internal damage after the President was attacked by pro-coup supporters. Interim President Dioncounda reaffirmed his faith in the Prime Minister by calling on him to present his suggestions for the unity government.

Two days ago, in a step towards returning Mali to democracy, the new unity government was announced. The new government still includes PM Cheick Modibo Diarra but has been expanded to include 31 ministers, four of whom are women and five that are Captain Amadou Sanogo loyalists. The goal of this new unity government remains the same as before. First to regain the lost Northern territory and second to organize elections. The government formed is a mixture of different political parties and members of civil society. While there was an interim government in place led by PM Diarra, the political parties’ infighting caused much harm to possible progress. It is hoped that the unity government which will be accepted by the African Union will work towards regaining Mali’s North. Already talks are underway with ECOWAS to deploy a 3000-strong army to the Northern regions.

What does this mean for Mali? The one thing that stands clear through this whole occurrence starting with the coup, has been the Malian people’s desire for democracy to be restored. Just last week, there was a 50000 strong rally as people called for the unity government to be formed. The unity government is a positive step in the right direction. Let’s hope that they will be the force needed to regain the North.

Meanwhile, Yeah remains committed to continuing the fight to return Mali to democracy. Each week, his party PACP holds meetings. Attendance has grown since the coup. The meetings are a reinforcement that Malians want to be part of the political process and they want a leader that will not abuse power. PACP was called upon to offer its suggestions for ministers to serve in the unity government. Mali is on the right track. Now more than ever, we ask for your support

If you can support us as we continue this fight, please do so at http://www.samake2012.com. Every little bit helps us continue the meetings and rallies to keep the Malian people informed of their rights.

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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Aw Sambe Sambe!

As we drove back to Ouelessebougou this past weekend, we were looking forward to celebrating the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting for Muslims. The traffic and the high number of cattle being sold were a tell tale sign of the upcoming celebration as Malians busied themselves preparing for this important event.

On our way to Ouelessebougou. All smiles.

he first thing that greeted us at our house in Ouelessebougou was a collapsed ceiling. The high amount of rain in the past month, while a welcome break for drought stricken Mali, had caused one room’s ceiling to fall in. That was not even the worst part. As the carpenter took the roof apart, the room filled with a swarm of bees. There had been a hive in that part of the roof. Within minutes, the buzzing of bees could be heard through an open window in the house. Being the eve of the celebration and the 100s of bees, the carpenter was unsure of whether he could fix the roof in time before nightfall. It looked like we would be returning to Bamako. However, a little insecticide took care of the bee problem and the carpenter Sunkalo was kind enough to come back and fix the roof even though it took him till 10 pm to do it. My driver Zhu and the boys that help me Dra and Nouman made a feast of the hives and honey. I guess one man’s cast offs is another man’s treasure. 🙂

Enjoying the honey

The next morning proved to be a beautiful one as millions of Malians woke up to celebrate the ending of Ramadan. The greeting of “I Sambe Sambe” and blessings accompanied by jovial teasing between family members could be heard ringing through the streets of Ouelessebougou. We celebrated the day with my brother-in-law Bei and his family. I had not seen them for a few months so it was nice to catch up with Momuso (Yeah’s second mom) and Tenemuso (Yeah’s aunt). I can always tell how much the kids and I are missed and loved by the look in Momuso’s face when she sees us at the compound gate. Regardless of the fact that she does not understand the kids, they have taken to her and her to them. The day was spent with greetings and visits to other family member’s compounds. The idea of family and its importance in Malian culture is so evident during feast times. Any money you give to one family member goes to the whole family. Also family member’s children are usually given money while all other children usually get just candy. Families celebrate by eating together and the day is one for visiting and paying your respects to different members, young and old. It is beautiful to be drenched in family and blessings and I have realized how much I have come to love and accept this new tradition.

Talking with Momuso( which means Grandma in Bambara) and Tenemuso( which means Aunt in Bambara)

Visiting Yeah’s uncle

Visiting Yeah’s third mother

Popsicles for the hot day

When we got home, there was a steady procession of young kids that came to pay their greetings and spurt out blessings in return for money and candy (almost like Halloween). Keanen and Carmen had a blast handing out the candy. The experience highlighted for me how much they have grown in just one year. Last year, they would not have heard about handing out candy. This year they were volunteering! Even fiery little Carmen! At Bei’s compound, they ran around like the other kids chasing chickens, eating brochette (meat on a stick) and exploring for treasures. The experience in Mali has taught them much. However, I think, because of how much they are blessed with, in their own childlike way they acknowledge the stark difference in the fortunes and are happy to share. May their kind hearts rub off on me so that I may learn to be as generous. Mali is teaching my children to remember how blessed they are and how they should try and share those blessings.

Handing candy out to the kids.

To my Malian brothers and sisters, I wish you: “Aw Sambe Sambe. ‘Ala ka san wɛrɛ yira na’ May next year be better than last; ‘Ala ka hɛrɛ caya’ May God increase your peace; ‘Ala ka batow mine’ May God answer your prayers’; ‘Ala ka kɛnɛya soro’ May you be healthy. Ala ka san caman yira an kene la (May God give us many years of health); Ala ka yaf’u ma (May they forgive us); Ala ka yafa an bema (May we be forgiven)

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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Interim President of Mali returns to Mali with new plan

As the world was finally starting to sit up and pay attention to Mali’s strife in the North, its interim President, Dioncounda Traore, who had been wounded by pro-coup attackers on May 21st returned to the South after a two month stay in Paris during which he received treatment for head injuries. During his absence the Prime Minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra, has attempted to resolve the crisis in the North.

The Northern situation has become worse with Islamic rebels asserting outright Sharia law and almost imprisoning Malians in the North into their way of life. Their crackdown has caused even more Malians to flee the North increasing the refugee count. Just earlier this weekend, a man and woman accused of committing adultery were stoned to death in the northern town of Aguelhok. I wonder, what is the price to pay for murder?

Yeah has been working tirelessly to raise the world’s attention on Mali’s strife and the humanitarian crisis. He has been meeting with leaders at the UN and also those in US that are over Africa’s foreign policy. To shed fresh media coverage on Mali, Yeah assisted CNN’s Erin Burnett and her team with visas, contacts, and travel plans so that they could bring a larger attention on the refugee situation and the human tragedy happening in Mali. You can view Erin’s coverage at: http://outfront.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/24/why-mali-matters-al-qaeda-on-the-rise/. Yeah has remained a supporter of PM Diarra’s government and is adamant that now is not the time to put in a new government and delay any solution for Mali’s unity. As President of PACP, he has cautioned fellow politicians that no further delays should happen to hamper Mali’s return to democracy. It is time for the politicians in Mali to get over self interests and support the government.

The world is finally starting to sit up and notice the struggles in Mali. Most recently the US had staunchly opposed interfering. However on July 26th, Michael Sheehan, the Defense Department’s assistant secretary for special operations, said that they cannot allow Al-Qaeda to exist unchecked.  Even France that had maintained its distance has showed concern over the unchecked Al-Qaeda movements in Northern Mali. It’s amazing it had to come to this for the world to notice Mali. And even then, it’s not even about the lives being destroyed. I understand that each government concerns itself with what will be beneficial to its national interests. However, we might not even be in this position however if the first foreign interference mistakes were not made with Libya.  There is talk about a 3000-strong army made up of mainly Malians and military forces from Niger, with logistical support from the US and France. But if we continue talk, the North as we knew it may not exist. Already monuments have been destroyed, people have fled. What next before something actually gets done?

The attack on Dioncounda worked more in his favor than anything. He was not looked upon favorably as he was believed to be part of the old guard that had allowed ATT to rule unchecked. However the attack on him became to Malians an attack on Malian culture and traditions.  Attacking a 70-year old man, no matter what he has done, is simply not acceptable culturally. In an address to the nation, Dioncounda spoke vehemently of his forgiveness to his attackers. He focused his speech on how Mali must move forward to regain its territory and people.  He urged the Malian people to focus on how Mali can regain its territorial integrity. Dioncounda, spoke with urgency, that partners like the US and France cannot become enemies. This is interesting as many Malians regard former colonizer France with a degree of suspicion and even believe that they may have been responsible for supporting the rebel Tuaregs in the first place. Dioncounda called on all Malians to pay back their debt to Mali and become part of the solution.  And that Mali must move on stronger and unified. He then moved on to propose a transition plan.

The proposed plan outlines the following amendments to the agreement made between the coup leaders and ECOWAS.  In his speech Dioncounda outlined them as follows:

“In order to complete the institutional architecture to better suit the socio-political realities, the tasks of the transition, in the spirit of Article 6 of the Accord-cadre agreement, I propose:

1. High State Council (HCE) composed of the President of the Republic and two Vice-Presidents assist the President in carrying out the tasks of the transition.

— One of the Vice-Presidents represent the forces of defense and security and as such he will chair the Military Committee followed the Reform of the Defense Forces and the Security and take care of all military matters relating to Northern Mali;
–The other Vice-President shall represent the other components of the kinetic energies of the nation.

2. Government of National Unity: where are represented all parts of the Forces Vives.

Consultations leading to its formation will be led by the President of the Republic.

3. National Transition Council (CNT) with an advisory and comprising representatives of political parties present or not in the National Assembly and representatives of civil society.

It will be led by Vice-President representing the military services.

4. National Commission for Negotiations (CNN): meets the wishes of Heads of State of ECOWAS formulated in paragraph 18 of the final communication of the second meeting of the contact group on Mali.

This commission will engage with the armed movements in northern Mali peace talks in connection with the ECOWAS mediator to search through dialogue, negotiated political solutions to the crisis.

5. Motion in the direction of ECOWAS (the African Union and United Nations) based on the findings of the mission which visited recently in Bamako.

The Vice Presidents shall be appointed and the National Council of Transition (CNT) will be established as soon as possible and in any case within two weeks following the implementation of the Government of National Unity.

Furthermore it is understood that neither the President nor the Prime Minister nor the Ministers will participate in the next presidential election.” Will these restrictions also apply to the Vice Presidents, given they will play an important role in the transitional process?

The interesting thing about his address to the nation is the current Prime Minister was not mentioned in it. Why is this interesting? During the entire time from when Dioncounda was attacked to the time he was flown to Paris for treatment, PM Diarra has stood by Dioncounda, calling on people to let the political process play out. In fact, it could probably be attributed to him that Mali did not erupt into a civil war when the attack on Dioncounda happened. So it is interesting that he is not mentioned or acknowledged for the work that he has been doing. There is dissent among some of older political class in Mali that Diarra has been slow in getting the country back on track. Much of the dissent is coming from Dioncounda’s own party, ADEMA, which feels that they should be involved as much as possible in the running of the country. Many believe Diarra to be the coup’s puppet given that he has been appointed by the coup and also 3 major positions are held by the coup leaders.

However, now is not the time to play political games. Every day that these dissenters choose to make it harder for Diarra to operate, what they are doing is not just harming him, but more importantly, they are delaying a resolution to bring Malians much needed relief.  At this time national unity needs to become evident rather than just a song being sung. Even with Dioncounda, it is hard to say what will happen next. Given this address, it is hard to see where the PM will fit in and how all the political forces will indeed coordinate to create a stable, unified front. Without a strong base in the South, it will be hard for the army to follow a steadfast course. What Mali needs now more than ever is a government that sticks together and shows that Mali’s needs surpasses their own partisan interests. Additionally, Mali’s neighbors have given Mali a deadline of July 31st to create a unity government or risk facing sanctions again.  This seems unlikely at this point, but Dioncounda’s plan is a step in the right direction to make that happen. If what Dioncounda says is true, now that he is back, he could be the binding force that is needed as he shows that he is willing to coordinate with the coup leaders choices of leadership.  ECOWAS has been prompt at adding ten more days to the deadline to allow Dioncounda Traoré enough room for negotiations.

Elections have been set for May. Items to be resolved remain: checking out the rebels, restoring order in the North, bring home the refugees and holding elections. At the end of the day, a speech is all well and good, but actions speak louder than words and the question remains, can Dioncounda and Diarra pull it off for the greater good of Mali.  It remains clear, given Dioncounda’s return, that Malians will expect remarkable progress in the near future from these leaders.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Guiding Mali forward

If you had told me a few months ago what would happen in Mali, I would not have believed it. The events that have unfolded since the March 21st coup were an awakening. An awakening that Mali was not as stable a democracy that everyone in Africa seemed to think it was and that Mali had fallen the hardest when it seemed the most stable. Since then Mali’s way of life and the uncertainty in government has moved Mali back 20 years. It is unbelievable that one man could change so much. There seems to be little political drama these days and calm seems to be on the surface. The African Union has since disregarded the agreement that was signed with Sanogo giving him ex-Presidential privileges. However it remains to be seen how much power they have to even enforce it.  It is easier to give something than to take it away once given. The ripples of dissent are there. People are unhappy with the way things are playing in the North. The latest attack on Mali’s national treasures has caused such anger that it makes me question humanity a little. Mali has gotten more attention from the West with the destruction of Tombouctou’s mausoleums to its Sufi Saints, a UN World Heritage site. If sites/things can get this much attention, how come 250000 displaced refugees cannot get a similar reaction. Have we come to a time in our history where human life is cheap and dispensable but historical artifacts are not?

The refugee situation is becoming worse and the situation will continue to degrade unless the security is restored in the North. People flee when conditions are not safe. The Malian government has been unable to re-secure Northern territory. In addition the destruction on World Heritage sites and the increased punishment under Sharia law has made people desperate. People are so frightened that they are willing to leave homes, land and family behind. Just last week, a woman carrying her baby on her back who was getting water was flogged by Islamists. Her crime? Her head scarf had fallen as she tried to fill water. Today, she and her child lie in a hospital. In other incidents, young men have been flogged for stealing or associating with women. The young men of Tombouctou and Gao are so angered by the situation that they have taken to the streets with clubs and machetes. However while they are bigger in number, they are no match for Ansar Dine’s men that are equipped with guns.  Something has to happen soon from the Government of Mali. We cannot lose the future of Mali. Ansar Dine has proven its original mission of its own state to ensure the Tuareg’s well-being is polluted with an agenda of terrorism.

In yet another move to progress Mali back to democracy, Prime Minister Diarra advised ECOWAS of a roadmap to ending Mali’s two big issues: terrorism in the North and ability to hold credible elections after the one year transition. There is talk of creating more opportunities for political actors from other parties so that government can indeed be more diverse. Diarra has said that he would welcome the 3000 ECOWAS troops only if they were to rid the North of terrorists.  If all is kept on schedule and the new plan accepted then Mali would be on course to hold elections in May 2013. One of the biggest issues in Mali today is most political parties feel excluded from the government; hence instead of supporting Diarra they are constantly opposing his policies. If a government were created that held no majority, while it would bring in differing agendas, it will also give political parties the chance they seem to be asking for to make a difference. Hopefully, it will not become yet another political circus. Yeah has constantly called for a national unity government to be formed but has also cautioned against furthering personal agendas. He said in a recent debate:” When a nation is faced with its survival it must act in unison. The quarrels of interest will always exist but the existence of our territorial integrity must come before our partisan interests”.

Many people have asked us whether we plan on dropping out of the campaign. Giving up on Mali is not an option for us. Our efforts will be focused on making sure the right things happen for the Malian people in terms of getting refugee aid and contacting governments to advise them of how they can help.

It is essential that national unity be achieved first so that international support will return. Then a better equipped army can be deployed that has confidence in their leaders. After that the North can be regained and the terrorists kicked out. If we don’t do that soon, it may be too late. The time has run out and enough is enough. Once security and safety returns to the region, the refugees will return home.  Mali cannot afford another blunder. We are on the right path, but it is moving slowly

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Join Yeah Samake at an event in UTAH!

Billy Hesterman, from the Daily Herald in Utah, did a story on the situation in Mali and what Yeah Samake is doing to make a difference. Click on the Link below or read the story posted in the Daily Herald in Utah.

BYU grad’s bid to be president of Mali on hold

The situation in Mali is bleak.

Just this year Mali’s military staged a coup on the national government because they claimed they were not receiving enough support to fight the al-Qaeda supported rebellion in the northern part of the west African country. More than 300,000 Malians have fled from their homes to avoid being ruled by the rebels and the country is losing foreign aid as it goes deeper into conflict.

The country was supposed to hold elections this year in which Brigham Young University graduate Yeah Samake was hoping to take over as the country’s president. But with a major conflict taking place and the government being overthrown by the military, that election has been put off until May 2013 so that the country can get its affairs in order.

Currently an interim government has been established and work is being done to strengthen the army that overthrew the government. But the slow-moving process is leaving people without food and sufficient hygiene supplies while they wait for the military to reclaim areas in the northern part of the country.

Samake though isn’t just waiting for the military to act or for his election to come around, he is trying to do something to bring help to his country. He is in the United States right now giving leaders an insider’s view of the situation. He has met with U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to brief him on the status of the country and also met with state department representatives and United Nations officials to inform them about his country’s struggles.

“There is significant human suffering going on right now in Mali. People are hungry. They can’t provide meat for their families. They sit and watch their kids and worry about providing daily meat to them. As a father and as a mother that hurts,” he said.

In addition to his briefings to leaders about the status of his country, he also has traveled to Utah to raise money to support the refugees that are suffering in Mali. On Monday he will be in Lehi to host an event that is aimed at raising money and awareness about his people’s situation.

“One of the reasons I am here is to help women and children in those situations,” Samake said. “I’ve been in the refugee camps. I’ve met with the people. I’ve talked with the Red Cross and UNHR and have tried to find the needs of the people. Truly food shortage is significant. But tents are lacking, as well as hygiene kits. And the children that are out of school, they also need a playground and toys to play with.”

So far local businesses have stepped forward to support Samake in his efforts. Nu Skin and Overstock.com have offered their support to him and Lehi resident Erin Merkley is organizing the Monday night event that is open to the public to help support those suffering in Mali. Those wishing to attend the event should contact Merkley at erinking875@yahoo.com.

“Utah can make unique contribution to this because of the connections and ties that so many Utahns have with Mali,” Samake said.

Samake remains hopeful for his country’s future. He also remains optimistic about his chance of becoming the country’s next president. He hopes his current efforts will show the Malians that he genuinely cares for his country and that he has the ability to get things done to get his country on the right track.

“People are looking at me. And this struggle is an opportunity for me to rise up as a leader for my people to see what I can do for the country,” he said.

Just more than 14 million people live in Mali. The annual salary of a skilled worker there is about $1,500. The nation is equal in land size to Texas and California combined.

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WANT TO MAKE DIFFERENCE? NOT DOING ANYTHING MONDAY, JULY 16TH? THEN COME JOIN YEAH IN UTAH AS HE SPEAKS ON HIS FIRST EXPERIENCE MEETING THE DISPLACED MALIAN REFUGEES THAT HAVE NOW FLED TO BURKINA FASO.

CAN’T COME? PLEASE TELL 10 FRIENDS IN UTAH ABOUT THIS EVENT. ALSO, IF YOU CAN, PLEASE DONATE ONLINE AT WWW.SAMAKE2012.COM TO SUPPORT THE REFUGEES.

 

Together I believe we can make a difference in the lives of the refugees that have been displaced. I pray that soon our Malian brothers and sisters will come home. I cannot imagine the conditions they are being subjected to. The shelter they have is no match for the hot, humid weather mixed with rain showers. The food cannot meet the constant pains of hunger. Imagine sitting 15-20 hours without doing anything, day in and day out. The supplies are running out soon and we need to help continue the aid till we can bring them home. This is not a life and I would never wish it even on my worse enemy.

Please help if you can today. Donate at http://www.samake2012.com

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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