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Mali’s Muddle

This past week has been a huge political muddle. May 22nd was to spell the last day of office for interim President Dioncounda Traoré. A deal brokered by the African nation’s body ECOWAS sought to extend his term for 12 months. Now Dioncounda would have limited powers and the main running of the country would fall in the hands of the Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra.

On Monday, protesters unhappy with the forced decision to keep Dioncounda marched on Mali’s palace. There in the heat of the moment, the 70-year old Dioncounda was injured and admitted to the Mali hospital with head injuries. Now people are saying the junta that was supposed to be protecting the President let these protestors in. On the other side, we have also heard that there was a scheduled meeting between Dioncounda and 10 individuals that represented opposing factions. When these 10 individuals came to meet the President and were waved in by the guards, the protesters pushed past as well. Either story while the second may remove the junta’s involvement are hard to corroborate and point to the finer meaning that not even the highest office in the country is safe from protest.

As Bamako watched the news of this attack spread, we were in disbelief. While I am a big believer in democratic process and making your opinion heard, I am also of the belief that human beings need to act like human beings and not animals. In addition, in a society that reveres its elderly, for a 70-year old individual to be assaulted by youth is something that Malians do not take kindly to. That next morning, in secrecy Dioncounda was flown to Paris to be admitted for further testing. That evening, there was another protest held which claimed that Sanogo would be the new President. This protest was only attended by a few 1000 compared to the tens of thousands the previous day. This could mean one of two things. One, many people were shocked that the events of the previous day got so out of hand and also many people felt that Sanogo betrayed them when he took a deal with ECOWAS that bestowed him with an ex-President’s privileges. Sanogo, for his part, other than condemning the violence of the protests, has remained quiet. He as brokered a pretty sweet deal for himself. He would get paid $10000/month (5 million cfa), a house, two cars and a security detail. So the gift he is getting for bringing so much insecurity is very big. In a country so poor, one can only imagine how anyone can get so much money when the average Malian makes less than a $1 a day. The question that also is high on every ones minds is that Sanogo has benefitted but what about the 500+ odd men under the junta. If they feel that Sanogo has betrayed them, then things could get ugly.

This past week Yeah met with the Prime Minister to discuss the ongoing situation. The Prime Minister has condemned the actions of the mob and called on people to be calm using the Bambara word “Sabali” which means “patience” several times in an address to the nation. Yeah also had an opportunity to talk with CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux on the issues in Mali. Take a listen at CNN below. You can also find this on http://samake2012.com/updates/

http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/24/amid-chaos-malians-hope-to-get-their-nation-back-on-track/

The North continues to remain in the hands of rebels and the ties that these groups are building are very dangerous to Mali’s stability. Mali’s AZAWAD last week even installed their own President over the North. There has been talk of Mali letting these three regions go. If that happened, I think the outcry in Mali would be huge. These territories not only house the Tuaregs that want their independence but also many other ethnic groups, of which the Tuaregs are a minority. By allowing an independent state to emerge, Mali would be allowing a territory in which groups similar to the Taliban will emerge. In essence Al-Qaeda would be able to get a new playground to harvest various training camps and illegal activities. The entire world will pay the price if the North becomes another Al-Qaeda festering pot. In all this, Malians will pay the heaviest price. With Sharia law already established in Tombouctou, Malians are already being suppressed. Malians in the South need to focus their attentions on the Northern regions. Aid is not the only thing the North needs. It needs freedom from groups attempting to take away civil liberties. If the world wants to get involved it needs to be putting pressure on these groups to pull out. Yeah spoke with CNN’s Erin Burnett about the Northern issue in Mali.

In this entire ruckus, the one thing that remains as forgotten today as it was two months ago is the growing refugee situation. The situation is worse today as the numbers continue to climb. People are living in despicable conditions and while the aid is coming in more now than before, it cannot meet the growing demand. It amazes me that when the earthquake happened in Haiti, the American celebrities put on a great fundraiser and raised a lot of money to benefit Haiti. Probably because Haiti was closer to home. However, the refugee situation has not gained the support of celebrities despite Angelina Jolie being called as a special envoy for the UN High Commission for Refugees. The need is great, the supply is small. Next week, Yeah plans to go to Mopti where some of the refugees are and then later to Burkina Faso. The hope is to assess the growing need and then provide the refugees with some much needed food.

The one thing that never fails to amaze me is the tenacious strength of the Malian people. Through all this, they continue to build their lives, taking in stride the changing forces. As noted before, their faith in their politicians is very low and their belief is as long as the politicians don’t make their lives worse, life will go on. Here it is hard for people to look to the future when their present is so filled with turmoil and hardship. But the Malian people will prevail like they have before. They deserve a much needed break. They definitely deserve better leaders who will give their needs a priority. Mali’s mess cannot be solved by self-serving politicians. It needs honest leadership!

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Personal thoughts

March 21st 2012 meant a lot of things for our family. As we celebrated my son Keanen’s 6th birthday, we awaited news about what was happening in the middle of Bamako. What was happening was a coup that would spell the end for a 20-year-old democracy.

As we watched and waited, we were hit with every sensation you would get when you lose something/someone dear. The disbelief, the shock, the dread, the pain that this can’t be true, the anger at the why and finally a gradual acceptance of what cannot be changed.

As soon as dawn broke, Yeah was in different mode. From campaign mode he switched to firefighter and the diplomat. Now was not the time to be threatening action, now was the time to talk and make a plan on how to proceed. However Yeah was not going to just bow down to the coup. He condemned it on National TV and it was never played. He met with Sanogo and told him where he stood but how the country must move forward. As I watched Yeah go through his private struggle, it hit me how much he really did love his country. Inside, he was seething at what had been taken away but the surface was calm and realistic.  During the two weeks that followed, I saw him lead a difficult schedule. Sleep was the last thing on his mind and there were not enough hours in the day. As the rebels gained hold of first Gao, Kidal and then historic Tombouctou, it felt like the nightmare kept getting worse. What could be done? So Yeah did what he knows best? He became the mediator, the connection, the glue between political parties. His country suffering and divided became his own personal hell. You might think I am exaggerating. There is not one person I know that loves his country more than Yeah does. Every dream or task he has ever pursued ultimately lands up in Mali. Some may see it as carefully planning a political future, but what it really is, is the vision that Mali and Malians everywhere deserve better.

As Yeah became more and more tied up with meetings, to me it seemed like what we had been working towards was blown up. It did not seem like we would have elections. Worse still was the constant fear that something bad would happen. With Yeah so heavily involved with politics and the news spreading like wildfire that politicians were being “detained”, we only had to leave our wild imaginations to wonder why and when our turn would come. Secretly, I had packed a small bag and was ready during the first days to hightail with our kids to Ouelessebougou. Yeah kept asking me to go telling me the kids and I needed to be safe but listening never was one of my better qualities. It’s not that I wasn’t scared for the kids, but it terrified me more to see Mali in essence falling apart. Yeah wasn’t going and neither was I. We were in this together. I wasn’t going anywhere! Soon my attentions got fixed on other things. Making sure the world knew what was going on became important. As reports spread and continued to spread of looting, raping and random acts of violence, I continued to write because I felt that my adopted homeland was under fire for things some of which were not true. As people came out of the woodwork claiming atrocities, my heart was angered because I knew that they were doing it to get their two minutes of fame. As sanctions were threatened, I was angered because no person should have to suffer for the actions of someone else. Sanctions were not the answer, but it did get the intended impact and I understand that. I guess I would never be a good politician. As Azawad was claimed by the rebels, my people in the North went hungry. With every day that passed, 500 more refugees were displaced or escaped across the border. More and more the news became about the coup and people lost sight of the mothers, children, fathers and families that died or became another statistic. That continues to be a fight till today. As things in Bamako got better, a light seemed to shine that democracy would indeed we restored.

On Thursday, an interim President was assigned the job. Optimism is returning that politicians will meet around the table to discuss the situation and how best to get out of the crisis that has gripped Mali. This weekend is testament of that as Yeah meets with Burkina Faso President Blaise Campaoré with 70 other politicians from Mali. The aim is one. To unite Malians in an undivided Mali.

Let us not fail Mali now. Mali, now more than ever, needs good leadership. It needs diplomacy. It needs patriotism. It needs, in my humble opinion, Yeah.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Kidal Falls

A landlocked country, sanctions could mean devastating economic trouble

Today we find ourselves in the first 24 hours of the threatened economic sanctions that will be imposed in 48 more hours by ECOWAS if Mali’s junta does not hand over power to the people. To be vigilant, we decided to stock up on things like water, drink cases, rice, potatoes and sugar. If ECOWAS does impose sanctions it will cause great harm to the Malian individual. It strikes me as ridiculous that the UN would actually make a statement saying that they hoped the individual would not be harmed by these sanctions. Sanctions do not harm governments, they harm individuals. The junta has apologized for the protestors that rushed onto the tarmac, causing a security scare to the oncoming ECOWAS plane. They have asked that ECOWAS leaders not to be hasty in their decision but rather to understand the circumstances of the coup and how the junta leaders are attempting to resolve Mali’s economic concerns and the security issues in the North.  The old constitution of Mali stated that if the President resigned, power would be handed over to the head of the National Assembly. In this case the head of the old Assembly is Diacounda, a presidential candidate and one of the very leaders that the junta has accused of stealing from the country and showing ineffective leadership. In addition, Diacounda is not liked by a majority of Malian people. However ECOWAS is asking that they would accept a resolution with Diacounda being placed as the interim President.

If the junta does allow this to happen, Diacounda would be taken out of the running in any elections held for the Presidency. If ECOWAS continues to push its agenda, it will find itself hated by Malians who will see it as bullying tactics pure and simple. A bigger, more complex issue would be to deal with the dissatisfaction of the people. The Malian people are very supportive of the junta currently. Not because they believe in the coup and the end of democracy, but because of their frustration with the old government. Malians do not believe their government has served them. They see corruption and nepotism rampant and when the coup happened, it seemed the answer they were looking for to end the situation of an inept government. This explains the sentiment that runs high in the protests in the streets.

However, this sentiment may soon find itself conflicted. Today, the Northern town of Kidal, which has about 25,000 Malians, came under attack by MNLA and was taken over by the rebels. Kidal is a major town and in all disputes it has never been taken over so this takeover could be disastrous. The reason behind the coup was the military’s dissatisfaction with ATT sending them into battle unprepared and uncared for. Now with Kidal falling to rebel control, it begs the question, what is the military doing so we don’t lose more territories in the North and cause a bigger humanitarian crisis with the refugees. The refugee crisis is worsening with each passing day and as each town falls, more and more escape into neighboring areas and countries.

Wall Street Journal: The displaced and fleeing numbers

The military this afternoon, called on the international community to provide them with assistance with the rebels in the North. This is a large favor to ask, given that in the world’s eyes, this junta isn’t even considered a legitimate leader.

At this point in time the junta looks like it’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. If it does not give in to ECOWAS it will have sanctions imposed which could cause an economic crisis. If it does not stop more towns like Gao and Tombouctou from falling to the rebels, the Malian people might turn against the soldiers that a week ago were saviors. The next week will spell the junta’s fate and that of 15 million people.

Please continue to keep the people of Mali in your prayers. They are the ones that are suffering with each passing day. May a quick resolution be sought so democracy may be restored in a peaceful manner. May the international community support Malians so that no more lives are lost or families displaced in the North. May peace once again be returned to Mali.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Coup d’état in Mali: What comes next?

SAMAKE FOR DEMOCRACY! MALI IS STRONG. MAY OUR VOICE BE HEARD.

This past week has been a testament of how nothing should be taken for granted and how quickly things can change in a blink of an eye. This past week has seen the fall of a stable democracy, the removal of a President, the institution of a military government, pandemonium, a return to calm and restored stability. For me on a personal level, I have witnessed firsthand changes. For one, the goal that we have worked so hard to achieve for the last year has been pushed. April 29th was supposed to be Election Day in Mali, when the voice of the people would be heard. That has now been pushed and there is no date set when the elections will happen. It was comforting to see the outpouring of love we received from the four corners of the globe and we were touched by the kind words of faith and encouragement. So what does these events that crash landed mean for the fate of Mali and that of the Samake2012 campaign?

Mali is at a critical time in its history. While the coup is said and done, now is not the time to go back. For one, to contemplate the scenario, what would be achieved by restoring the power to Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT) that the EU, AU and the US have called for? To give back power to ATT would mean showing support for the irresponsible handling of the Northern war and the way that our troops have been treated. There is no doubt among the Malian people who ATT has handled the security situation in the North poorly. Nothing has been done to stop the atrocities happening in the Northern regions of Tombouctou, Kidal and Gao. In fact these regions have seen an increase in the illegal trafficking – including drugs, weapons, migrants, cigarettes and Western hostages. We could have stopped the remnants of Gaddafi’s army long before lives were lost. However, nothing was done to stop them from crossing our borders and bringing in firepower that has made them extremely hard to defeat. They joined a pre-existing Tuareg protest movement, the National Movement of Azawad (MNA), a group of young activists which denounced the regime’s management of northern Mali allegedly based on its alliances with corrupt local political elites and a racketeering arrangement with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). MNA leaders elaborated the political platform of what would become the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA). To give back power to ATT means to allow this terrible management of a crisis to go on. What do we do about the 175,000+ people who are displaced? What had ATT done to help them or make sure no additional harm came to them? What continues to happen that will help them? “Up to now aid agencies have not had great access to these areas… It’s hard to sell this crisis, it’s quite forgotten,” says Helen Caux, West Africa communications head at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Really? How can we allow an inhumane crisis like this to continue?

We now need to move forward. Do the leaders of the National Committee for the Reestablishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State have a solution? Patriotism and dissolution of a non functioning government only takes you so far. Do they have a way to resolve the issues in the North? How do they propose to restore the government and end corruption? These are questions for the political leaders as military leaders do not have the political know how or training to answer them.  We need to form a unified front of leaders that can appeal to the military leaders and provide them with a proposal on how a government can be instituted temporarily until free and fair elections can be held. In addition, now is not the time for sanctions or aid to be withdrawn. A country whose GDP is so heavily dependent on foreign aid cannot withstand such a hit. And who does it hit most? Not Sanogo sitting comfortably at the top. No, it is the men and women that live below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Let’s not make their life even more miserable than it already is. At this point in time, they are not worried about what policy the government passes next, all they see is the immediate harm in terms of feeding themselves and their families.

Mali at this time needs friends and not foes. They need the international community to work with the military leaders currently in power and encourage them to work with political leaders in Mali on how a peaceful transfer of power can be made. There is not a day that goes by where Sanogo does not reaffirm that power will be handed back. It can be seen one of two ways. Either, he is trying to convince the outside world or he is trying to convince himself. Either way, great strides have been made by the military rule to ensure the safety of our Malian brothers and sisters. The Malian way of life has for the most part been restored with the borders reopening and airports functional. In addition government buildings and banks are open. There are security measures in place at the banks which are controlled by the Central Bank of Africa so that huge withdrawals are not made. All in all, calm is restored in the capital. Now, it will be important for political leaders to work together with the military leaders and provide solutions to get out of the current situation with the least casualties.

Now more than ever, the campaign must go on. I could take my family and return to the safety and security of America. However, my heart is compelling me at this moment that my and Yeah’s efforts are needed here in Mali. I have the firm belief that things happen for a reason and they are a test to man as to how we can make the best of what life throws at us. It is at times like these true leaders will emerge that have only one duty and that is to serve our people. We must now focus on the situation at hand and decide what is best for Mali.

Please continue to support our campaign. I know you probably are saying, well why would we support something when we don’t even know when the elections will be. In a way I can understand that. However, this has never been about the goal of winning the elections. This campaign has been about an awakening of the hearts and minds of Mali to a new way of government which actually cares and furthers the wellbeing of their people. I implore you to think of it as not just an election that has been delayed; now we are in the fight to restore democracy. We are in this to bring relief to the 175K+ refugees stuck without recourse.

You know how we all say, well that is history. Well here is your chance to help make history and restore to Mali the stability and the voice of the people who are struggling to be heard.

Make your voice heard today at http://www.samake2012.com

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Rallying support in the “white gold capital”

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.

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Posted by on March 3, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Mandé welcomes PACP and Yeah Samaké

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

Mandé dancers

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.

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This event was also reported by reporter Yaya Samaké in the Malian newspaper 22Septembre: http://www.maliweb.net/news/politique/2012/02/23/article,49891.html

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Neighborhood bands together to support their candidate

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.

This youtube video truly captures what the balani is all about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaiWl9Yz2uc

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.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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