As Team Samake arrived in the village, they were greeted by a horde of children and villagers who enthusiastically followed Yeah to the stage for the rally.
A large group of drummers welcomed Yeah while a man, wearing an intricately designed mask with beautiful red beadwork, danced.
There were about 150 people in attendance, including all of the excited children. As the event began, there were various dances performed by the women and the men in their own individual circles. Culturally, Malian men and women do everything separately in public. Our friend James and intern Kyle joined the African men by dancing with them in the circle. Check out their interesting contribution:
Numerous other performances were given by the drummers. The village chief then proceeded to introduce Yeah and other party members. Yeah eloquently spoke once again of a new day for Mali. After Yeah finished speaking, a special performance was given by local talent Petit Ballo who wrote a song about Yeah Samake. His support has brought an even greater enthusiasm to our campaign!
After the rally, Team Samake walked over to the MRF built middle school, Sue Taylor Middle School of Diorila, to visit with the children and see the condition of the school. The children were excited and crowded around the windows and every opening of the school. The people were excited to see the return of Yeah and anxious to see what else he could do for their village.
After lunch, which was generously provided by the villagers, there was a soccer game sponsored by PACP in a neighboring commune. The mayor welcomed Yeah. There were about 80 people in attendance. The imam and Chief of the village welcomed Yeah with a speech of support. Yeah’s councilor Broulaye Doumbia spoke to the people about Yeah and his accomplishments. He spoke fondly of Yeah’s character and courage to help his country.
The events were short but served its purpose of reminding the villages in this area of what Yeah has already done for them and can continue to do if he is elected President.
Mamadou Coulibaly wanted to help the Samaké2012 campaign in Mali. The one hitch was that he was in New York. So what did he do? He left a job for a month and came to Mali to campaign in the remote villages. The product of his success was experienced in Mandé.
Mandé is a commune in Kati, which is in the Koulikoro Region of south-western Mali. Here the villages are still built in the traditional way, the scenery is beautiful and the Malinké, very welcoming.
As PACP reached Mandé, a large group met them outside the outskirts of the commune and welcomed them in. A group of community leaders, dressed as gunmen, marched ahead and sounded their guns periodically as they entered Mandé. A kora (an ancient Malian musical instrument) was played as the party leaders settled down. Under the shade of baobab trees, a huge crowd of 300 people had gathered from the surrounding 19 villages. As is traditional, dancing celebrated PACP and Yeah’s arrival to the commune. As the community leaders sat down on fur mats, the show began.
Procession of gunmen welcome PACP
Kora players--Such beautiful music
To begin, two men in feather headdresses performed impressive jumps for their appreciative audience. These two men then proceeded, one at a time, to travel around the circle, bent over leaning on two thin sticks, and dance to the beat of the drum, directly in front of the audience, particularly the community and party leaders. In addition, four young girls impressed Team Samaké as they performed army-like squats and jump routines in addition to moving rhythmically with the drums as an older woman chanted. Music forms an essential part of key ceremonies in Mali and is used as a form of welcome for important visitors. With PACP this was no exception. The people of Mandé were excited to meet the man who for weeks they had heard, from Mamadou Coulibaly, nothing but good about.
One of the men in feather headdresses dances in a circle balanced on sticks
PACP is a representation of what Mali deserves and a promise of what Malian people will get if they elect Yeah Samaké. The community leaders were very receptive of the party’s message of hope. Secretary General Fomba spoke of the importance of voting and how the people of Mandé are indeed an essential component of a successful Mali. He proudly spoke of Yeah’s achievements and reiterated that Yeah could indeed fulfill their needs. One of the things Mandé really needs right now is a water source. Currently, villagers will walk to surrounding villages to get clean water. Yeah then spoke. He spoke with passion of the need of the villagers to empower themselves. Through decentralization, it will become possible for villagers to become responsible for the policies that govern them. Yeah then distributed 15 boxes filled with notebooks, pencils, office tools, and other school supplies to the commune, which were received with gratitude. At the end of this grand ceremony, the man behind putting it together, Mamadou Coulibaly spoke. He spoke of the vision that PACP is and the good that Yeah could do if given a chance. PACP awarded him a Samaké2012 button to symbolize the service he has done. He has truly been a great asset to Team Samaké.
The rally ended with a bang! The villagers performed, to the beat of the drum, some more freestyle African dances for Team Samaké.
This commune of Mandé represents a small part of Mali that is hoping for change. There are many villages and communes like Mandé that hope their next President can bring a social and economic change to Mali. Things that we take for granted like running water and electricity are things unknown and wanted in Mali. It is the hope that Yeah can bring the structure and growth that Mali needs. Please support us so that Malians everywhere can get the basic things to survive. Malians are not asking for a hand out, they just need a hand up. Please extend your hand any way you can in terms of financial or verbal support at http://www.samake2012.com and together let us give our fellow Malians a hand up.
Look at those huge speakers!! Photo courtesy of tomathon.com
The relationship of neighbors is a tricky one. In America, you either hate them or like them or love them. In Mali, neighbor relationships work differently.The neighbor relationship is a sacred one in which neighbors try not to offend each other. In Faladjie, where we live, two events showed the growing support of the neighborhood for Yeah.
The first was a balani that was organized by Nana, our next door neighbor, to raise awareness about the presence of a presidential candidate in the street. A balani is a musical event in which a DJ is hired that plays music so loud that your heart pounds with every beat and your window shakes with every speaker tremor. Balani is a strain of Malian Coupé Décalé with little guitar, fast percussion and melodies played on the Balafon (Malian xylophone). Coupé-Décalé is a music style featuring mostly African instruments, deep bass, and repetitive arrangements. Music affects the very heart of Malian culture and is every bit important here as the busy social life. I remember my first balani two years ago. It was a very special event that was put on by Yeah’s family in Ouelessebougou to celebrate my arrival in the village.
The Samake2012 balani was set to start at 5pm but like all good Malian parties started at 9pm. The music blaring invited the youth from ours and surrounding streets to see what all the noise was about. The youth put on several dances throughout the night rapping about PACP and Yeah. The DJ described Yeah’s efforts and the dream that Mali would be free of poverty and corruption if they elected a young leader who had the capacity to bring change. It was an awesome night!! Good heart thumping music, great message and a wonderful support from neighbors.
The balani gave rise to an informal meeting by the youth of the street who asked Yeah to come speak to them so they could see how to best help the campaign. It also provided an opportunity to Yeah to learn what further affects the next generation of Malians. The meeting was a success and provided additional much needed support to Yeah’s already growing campaign.
Yeah speaking in Faladjie
The political atmosphere is amazing right now. Things move so fast that each day differs in political achievements. PACP is becoming the theme of change and many Malian youth and middle aged individuals are seeing it as their chance for a changed Mali. We were blessed to receive the support of our neighborhood. May their excitement be replicated thousand fold through Mali as the election fast approaches on April 29th.