Tag Archives: yeah

Educating Fala

2014-11-09 23.38.30IMG_0099Every morning, at the crack of dawn, there is a buzz of activity on the outskirts of the village of Fala. Every morning, young boys aged 12 and over, ropes slung over their back where bags should be will walk to the unapproved mines on the outskirts of Fala to begin their 10 hour shift. Mali remains the third biggest producer of gold in Africa producing close to 50 tonnes per year. Much of this gold money will never reach many of the people that work on the ground. So why do it? Because for these inhabitants of Fala, this is the only option.

The residents of Fala, like many villages in Mali, are fighting to make ends meet. They understand and see the power of an education when they see the better life of people in the city, but what are they to do. Where others have schools, they have mines. So they do what they must do to survive.

Meeting with the village leaders and parents of Fala, their plea is uniform when they ask Empower Mali to help bring a middle school to their village. The school will keep their young boys from the mine and give them an opportunity to break the cycle of illiteracy and poverty. The middle school will save their girls from early marriages. When you invest in a school in Fala, you are not investing in a building. You are investing in a life which then has the capacity to impact a generation in the village.

Empower Mali ( is a 501c3 foundation. We want to bless our children in Mali with opportunities but those cannot happen without donations. We build our schools to last many generations and for a lot less than the government. The school is a shared investment that the village continues to take care of because they contribute 20% of the cost and all land and labor.

We are trying to raise the final $8000.00 we need to make a 3-classroom middle school a reality for the village of Fala.

Check out our campaign to raise the final 8K. We have some fun, ethnic Malian gifts for those who donate. They are limited so hurry!

Whatever you can spare this holiday season will help impact the lives of 1587 children and a village for generations. And your donation is tax deductible.

Check it out at. The campaign will end November 23rd, 2014, so please make your donation soon.

Please donate and/or pass the word at:



For $25, a beautiful Malian beaded necklace

For $50, a handcrafted Mother and Child statue –Handcrafted by artisan Pascal Mounkourou, this beautiful statue is a reflection of this Christmas season. It represents Mother Mary and Jesus–the reason for the season.

For $100, an authentic Malian Bambara mask: Ritual and ceremonial masks are an essential feature of the traditional culture and art of the peoples of Mali. Masks usually have a spiritual and religious meaning and they are used in ritual dances and social and religious events, and a special status is attributed to the artists that create masks and to those that wear them in ceremonies. In most cases, mask-making is an art that is passed on from father to son, along with the knowledge of the symbolic meanings conveyed by such masks.

All the masks we have are handcrafted by Malian artisans and are a beautiful reflection of a deeply traditional culture.

For $200, an intricately designed hunter “doso” statue: Equipped with a bag of arrows, this intricately carved hunter statue by artisan Pascal Mounkourou is a representation of Mali’s hunters. During ancient times, hunting was one of the biggest professions ( after farming) among the Malian men. The hunters of Mali are still a celebrated group in their communities and Mali. These traditional hunters are called “dozo” in Bambara. It is believed that the amulets (In Bambara: gris-gris) worn by Dozos possess magical properties protecting them from harm, and amplifying their vision and hearing. Such amulets are said to make them bulletproof.  The design is so intricate on this one that each statue takes 3 days to make.

These make for some great holiday gifts for your friends and family! And every dollar raised goes to the middle school in FALA.

Education is the pathway to opportunity and we want to bring opportunity and hope to our children in Mali.

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Posted by on November 16, 2014 in Past Posts


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The Voices of Change


In Mali, the youth represent a high percentage of the voting population. The youth today in Mali are besieged by the many failures of their country. To start with, many children are born into poverty. Despite the government providing free primary education, the existence of middle schools in their local areas is rare and high schools even rarer. If children even graduate high school, their next challenge comes in terms of finding a college/technical school close by. Most colleges/technical schools are located in the big cities like Bamako and Sikasso. All through these important years, the children also face the problem of overcrowded classrooms and teachers who do not have the adequate skills/training to teach. These issues apply to college level as well. In addition, corruption is rampant and a degree is easily bought. The result is a workforce that is ill-equipped to handle the growing economic need. The need for educated, well trained individuals is barely met, making companies hire graduates from the surrounding West African countries. Mali’s reported unemployment hovers dangerously at 35% with the real number being even higher.

So it isn’t surprising that the youth are big stakeholders in the upcoming Presidential elections. One of the things that the new President will need to resolve is the immediate employment need and also the long term human resource quality. This will involve big investments in education and infrastructure building.

In the Samaké campaign, the youth are an essential bloodline of our success. The youth see Yeah as a bright flame in their bleak future. They see the success that can come from hard work. They are inspired by all the things that Yeah has accomplished for Mali like building schools and bringing clean water and electricity to his community of 53,000 people. In Mali politics, there is not one leader currently who can list more than two things he has done for his people. Yeah, on the other hand, can talk about education, healthcare, clean energy and clean water, as he has made big impacts in all those areas. So the youth are attracted to the man who practices what he preaches.

It is in this energy that our youth bureau has been spreading the Samake message in the different regions of Mali. This past week, 10 members of the “Voices of Change” used notebooks and traveled to the different communes of Bamako to spread the Yeah Samake message. They each share the video about Yeah that they compiled and talk about the politician that is a doer. These guys are pumped up and I have been so impressed with their commitment. In a day and age when our teenagers like to sleep in on the weekends, these youth are gathering for meetings at 7am. They work constantly for more than 8 hours a day without complaint. Their commitment encourages me each day to fight a little harder. They are bigger stakeholders in Yeah’s success. This coming week, in conjunction with the newest school we were inaugurating, the youth visited the Sikasso area. Here they did a similar grassroots movement educating men, women and youth about Yeah Samake as the candidate that could bring much change and opportunities to Mali.

The response to the youth group has been amazing. The people of Mali are so tired of the change that has been promised and never delivered for the last 20 years. It is time that the page be turned on the old generation and old ideas. 20 years has proven that they do not work. If change does not happen, Mali will continue to be condemned to 5 more years of ineffective leaders and corrupt practices. The youth will continue to be brushed aside and the unemployment and illiteracy will only get out of control.

Today, I am asking for your investment. It’s not too late to join the fight for Mali. The youth have been marginalized long enough with lack of opportunities and mediocre leadership. Yeah and I are committed to fight this election to the end. However, we need your investment to help us end with a gusto. The youth of Mali deserve the chance to be given the opportunity to change their destiny. They can only do this if the opportunity exists. Yeah truly understands how to create opportunities. All the projects like the water pumps, clinics, schools, hospitals, and solar field have brought many opportunities and economic development to his area. Working with the previous government, he was even able to reopen one of the 5 cotton plants in Mali. His track record resounds with the youth.

Today invest in the youth of Mali and their future by donating to our campaign for Mali. The old leaders of Mali have profited of Malians and are counting on Yeah to fail. Do not let them win!

This journey would be impossible without your help, prayers and guidance. Donate today at or share this message with friends/family/acquaintances that can help Mali. Together we can build a stronger Mali.

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Posted by on July 9, 2013 in Past Posts


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Quick update! Friday, June 28th was the deadline to declare our candidacy with 5 signatures from each region supporting our candidacy (TOTAL: 55 signatures) and pay a fee of 10 million CFA. You are probably thinking, 55 signatures, no biggie. Well, when you are take into account 3 regions ( Gao, Tombouctou and Kidal) that are involved in insecurity and terrorism, things become a little different. Our party has been blessed with members that are willing to take risks to travel into these regions, meet with the leaders there to get the sponsorships needed.

So far 36 candidates have submitted dossiers of signatures and the fee of 10 million CFA. However the Constitutional court has to validate the final number and make sure that the signatures gathered are valid and belong to deputees and counselors in each region. We hope to hear how many official candidates there are this coming week as campaigning officially begins in Mali on July 7th.

I am excited and humbled that we could make this grand milestone with 65 signatures from all regions in Mali. This would not be possible without each and every one of you contributing to our success and efforts.

Getting ready to submit the sponsorship signatures to the Malian Constitutional Court

Getting ready to submit the sponsorship signatures to the Malian Constitutional Court

We are so appreciative and blessed by your support.

Keep the fire burning at We do not need 20 more years of corruption, inefficiency, bad governance and bad healthcare. Mali needs your support! We need you to help us make this happen!


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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Past Posts


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Growing support!

Today we mark the two month count down to the elections on July 7th. I am humbled at the out pouring of encouragement and support we have received since we began this journey.

I am very excited to share the latest video of Samake2013. I would like to thank the amazing talented Travis Pitcher and Joseph LeBaron at The Goodline who have yet again successfully captured the spirit of Samake2013 and the hope for a new democratic Mali. These guys are amazing. Check this video out!

This past month we have seen a growing recognition for what we are trying to accomplish in Mali. In Mali, this has meant a growing number of supporters turning up to our weekly meetings at our headquarters and many offices being created in distant regions. Many Malians are starting to seriously realize that change is needed and Yeah Samaké is the man for the job. Our growing fan base on social media and at our office on the ground is proof of that.

It does not stop there. We have had a number of news outlets including TIME cover Yeah’s story and his run for the Presidency. Just this morning Yeah was on the BBC to talk about his candidacy and why he is running to be President of Mali.

Here are some excerpts and the links to some of those News articles. We thank all these media members that have shared the Samake2013 message of hope and democracy for Mali.

TIME: As Mali Wars With Islamists, a Mormon Runs for President by Aryn Baker—“The government failed the people, so the people turned to the religious groups that filled the gaps,” Samaké says, referring to the success of Islamist militias that, for a time, occupied some of the country’s most historic cities. “Any nation that fails its people opens itself up to that kind of vulnerability, and we need to change that in Mali.” Read more

UTAH ABC4: Elections back on track: Mormon leads in race for president in African nation by Brent Hunsaker — “I am here to serve, not to take advantage of the people.” For years, Mali politicians did just that. They grew rich while the people starved. An election was seen as a license to rob. Samaké sharpened his image as a corruption fighter as mayor of Ouelessebougou. He turned around the poorest region of the poorest country and now promises to do it for all of Mali. “So that we can depend and rely on ourselves and not sit and wait for a handout. That is the Mali I see,” said Samaké.” Read the entire story

UTAH KSL5: Risking death, BYU grad confronts Malian coup leader by Stephanie Grimes and Richard Piatt — “I hope to see democracy restored. I hope to see leaders with integrity. I hope to see the people of Mali meeting their basic needs, including human rights and access to basic services, and having three meals a day and making sure education is available,” he said. “My hope is that my country would become prosperous and peaceful and that we will be more reliant on ourselves than on any external forces. That is my hope for my country.” Read the entire story

UTAH 89.1 FM THINKING ALOUD: Yeah Samaké and the Future of Mali by Michael Wyatt — Yeah Samake, an alumnus of BYU and leading candidate in the current Mali presidential election, joins Thinking Aloud to share the dramatic story of his reform efforts in his home country. Listen Here

MERIDIAN MAGAZINE: Yeah Samaké: Born for Such a Time as This by Maurine Proctor — “No education could prepare you to be the leader of a nation,” Yeah says, “but you do have to have a true and sincere sense of service. My heart is set on this people.” Read the entire story

We are thankful for the attention our story has gotten and continues to get. While much of the focus remains on our religion, that is the least of our focus. We know that religion is not what will stop us in Mali. Malians are very open and kind people. Even in Ouelessebougou, where there is a majority Muslim population like the rest of Mali, Yeah was elected Mayor with 86% of the vote. We know that the people are waiting for an honest leader who can bring change and raise Mali up to the great nation she deserves to be.

I am thankful that our supporter base only continues to grow in Mali and the world. We get supporter emails on a daily basis. I say this not to boast. I say this because we are so thankful and feel blessed for all the support. It means a lot when we hear someone say to us:”I believe in you” and “How can I help Yeah”. It means a lot when we see the youth in Mali sacrifice their weekends to campaign and attend meetings. It means a lot when we see Malians themselves donating.

We are ready. We are ready to fight for Malians everywhere so that a true democracy may be restored. A democracy that is not in name alone, but one that is demonstrated by a leader who is willing to acknowledge and meet the needs of his people. We are ready to fight for a Mali where three meals a day and at least a high school degree becomes a norm. We are ready to fight for a Mali where basic amenities like clean water and electricity become accessible in all regions. Mali does not deserve to sit in the bottom two of the world. It is time to fight for Mali and break her chains of bondage to poverty, illiteracy and poor governance. July is fast approaching and we here at Samake2013 are giving it all we got for a democratic, prosperous Mali.

Can we count on you? Together for Mali!


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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Past Posts


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Calm returns to the South while the North Struggles

This past week has passed in relative calm. The capital has almost gotten back to normal and one would find it hard to believe that a coup ever happened. The junta seems to have backed down completely and it’s probably the sweet deal that Sanogo got for himself that is keeping him quiet. However, I am quite surprised other members of the 500-strong junta have remained quiet, which lends to believe that either Sanogo was really the undisputable leader or the rest of the junta is getting something as well that has been undisclosed. Dioncounda remains in Paris and is supposed to return sometime this week. Life continues in much the same way as it did before. Prime Minister Diarra is attempting to fill his role as leader of the country. He has a great responsibility and many are relying on him to push Mali back on track. Yeah had met with him last week to discuss ideas and solutions on how to get Mali’s issues of leadership addressed as well as the issue in the North. Yeah’s take is that without strong leadership and a plan in the South of the country where the government is based, the North’s issues cannot be resolved.

Last week Yeah also gave an exclusive interview to the well known newspaper L’Independent in Mali where he talked of the struggles in Mali. He advised that Mali should not accept ECOWAS troops on Mali’s soil killing Mali’s people in the North. The solution has to be bred on Mali’s soil. Also Yeah encouraged ECOWAS to work with the political class in Mali. With the issue in the North, Yeah said that it is important to involve well off neighbors like Algeria and Mauritania because ECOWAS does not have the logistics and money to support troops despite them wanting to send troops to Mali. Also the stakes are higher for these countries because if rebels/terrorists overflow across their borders, it could cause instability for them. You can read the entire interview here in English: or here in French:,69486.html

For the most part, people are just watching and waiting to see what the non-partisan Diarra will do. As I have said before, as long as their leaders don’t make things worse, Malians will put up with it. Diarra seems to be a calming force amidst the chaos. Malians seem to actually heed his words. For the first time yesterday on National TV, he spoke to Segou soldiers on the issue in the North of the country. “I have always said that I do not support war, because it’s war that makes a child an orphan and it’s war that makes a woman a widow. But if we love our country, we must liberate it even if it’s through war, a war that will end the daily wars. A war that will open the door for peace and security because without peace we cannot have security and without security, there will be no prosperity for this nation,” the PM said. He spoke with the most passion and conviction than I have ever seen him have. He talked of how Mali would not concede any part of its land to the rebels. Talk is all well and good. The thing that is most concerning is that Mali currently does not have an equipped army. The 7000-strong army that is reported by statistics websites like CIA may be correct as far as man count. However, the fact remains that the army lacked the arms before the coup and they continue to lack the arms. To send them into the North without the equipment would be like signing their death sentence. Apparently, Western countries, especially America had given ATT a lot of arms and vehicles to fight off the rebels before the coup. Rumor has it that ATT sold or gifted much of this to the rebels themselves when they initially came over to Mali after Libya’s Gaddhafi fell. There are no reports one way or the other to corroborate the story. Fact remains; the army is defenseless and has the manpower but not the equipment to fight.

What Mali needs immediately is strong leadership in the south that has a plan on how to re-unite the country and ultimately gain back the territories in the North. The Tuaregs are a minority and not even they are in control right now. Control seems to be shared between Ansar Dine, MUJAO, AQIM and MNLA, all terrorist factions. So while the South seems to be gaining some control, the North is struggling with a terrorist problem and a refugee issue.

UNICEF despite increasing the aid it is providing has been warning about the sanitary conditions at the camps as well as the demand outweighing the supply. Ultimately, it will be the women and children that will bear the brunt of this refugee crisis. This refugee crisis started with the drought but has been intensified by the crisis in Mali. The problem has been overlooked long enough as the world’s attentions focused in South Bamako. In addition governments of Mauritania, Algeria, Senegal and Burkina Faso also have to deal with the refugees that fled across the border. One country’s crisis is becoming West Africa’s dilemma. This is just one big mess and it needs the international community to bring light to the growing humanitarian crisis. On the other hand there are terrorist groups operating freely in the North. They are restricting aid and making life very hard for residents by imposing Sharia law. There have also been reports that they are damaging World Heritage sites in Tombouctou that have been around for centuries. Imagine the destruction of the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal. As an Indian, I would be angered if anything happened to a symbol of my culture. Even the youth of the North have mobilized themselves, fed up with the lack of leadership from Bamako.

Finally, given ECOWAS’ failed track record to help bring civilian rule to Mali, ECOWAS has designated a new representative from the country of Benin. Let’s hope the new leadership will not bully Mali and cause more issues.

Strong leadership first will allow Mali to resolve this crisis and attempt to resolve the growing issue in the North. The question remains, will Prime Minister Diarra be that stabilizing force that Mali desperately needs and will ECOWAS finally include all political forces in Mali rather than enforcing their will.

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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Past Posts


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On the agenda for Mali’s new Interim President

Today at 9am GMT, Malians around the country tuned in to their TV sets to watch the Malian government become legitimized at least in the world’s eyes. The roller-coaster of events that derailed a 20 year democracy saw a crest as an interim President Diacounda Traoré was sworn in.

So what does this mean for Mali? Diacounda’s task is by no means a small one. Plan of action during the next 40 days: reunite the country and set up elections. With Islamist forces taking over the North and calling for the independence of Azawad, Mali is in essence being divided. There is no clear indication as to which groups are involved in the takeover of the North. Initially, while it was thought that MNLA and AQIM were the only forces, it is becoming more and more apparent that many smaller factions may be involved like MUJWA, MUJAO, GSPC and GIA ( The latest report points at Boko Haram members in Gao. This is the same group that takes credit for its violence in Nigeria. If it is true that all these groups are operating in the North, the Northern regions of Mali are already proving to be a dangerous breeding ground which if not contained and eliminated could spread to the rest of Mali and even West Africa. More and more this takeover is becoming more about just having the land and free range to do as they please versus trying to create a better equal environment for the Tuaregs. This is best shown by the degree of looting and destruction of property as well as the harm of individuals. If one truly wanted to take over land for the end purpose of freeing one’s “oppressed” people, then one would not scare its residents or destroy hospitals, pharmacies, stores etc that are the proof of a civilized community. No! No one is trying to free the Tuaregs. What is happening is a personal agenda of terrorist organizations to take over a territory that can be best used to facilitate their drug and trafficking activities and serve as a breeding ground for training camps. What we have is a pre-9/11 Afghanistan being created.

The Rebels in the North

The Black Flag flies in Tombouctou signifying Ansar-Al Dine presence.

Furthermore, in the region of Tombouctou, there is the imposition of Sharia law, which essentially the leader of Ansar Al-Dine wants for the whole of Mali. What would Sharia mean for Mali? Well for one, the wearing of veils would become mandatory as it is now for our sisters in Tombouctou. Women are a very fashion oriented gender in Mali and would not appreciate being told how to dress or how to look. More serious however, would be the strict observance of Islam, which would seem out of place in this moderately Muslim country. Also, Muslim law follows a very strict punishment policy with thieves/vandals having their hands cut off and adulterers being stoned.

So how are we to restore territorial integrity? Initially, when the three territories had fallen, the junta had asked the African Union to provide help. The African Union stands ready to provide a 3000 strong army, but the junta have said, we don’t need boots just give us arms. The Malian army is a 7000 strong army and has been trained for many years by foreign forces to battle these problems in the North. However, not even the bravest of soldiers will run into battle without arms. Arms are a necessary evil but plans need to be carefully drawn and dialogue needs to happen before war. Waging a war without assessing future impacts could be dangerous. We do not want to harm more innocent lives. Plus the Malian army is capable( if equipped) and are more familiar with the desert regions. For all their mistakes, the junta, only 500 strong does not speak for Mali’s army and did not create the Northern problem; they exacerbated it by causing a moment of weakness for the country.

A forgotten people

In addition with the drought of the region, the refugee crisis worsens with each passing day. My heart aches to think of mothers that watch their children die and cannot do a thing about it. My heart aches as the number of people fleeing their homes grows each day. In this day and age, to watch one part of the world flourish and another continue to suffer seems unimaginable. But it exists. It gives individuals like me an opportunity to share my blessings and make a difference to someone in need. Yeah has been working with various organizations to make this possible. Hopefully soon, we will see these organizations shipping containers bringing much needed food. We have also set up a trust to accept anonymous donations if you can help: Friends of Mali Trust, 472 East 4380, North Provo, Utah 84604 or you may donate online at and put the keyword “refugee” in the comment field. If you today, could make a difference, please do. Even $1 will feed a child for a day in Mali. Imagine what $10 could do? Imagine what $100 could do? And if you cannot help financially, use the blessing of your voice and spread the word to your network. Let this not become another “African” problem or “not my problem”.

Given these issues, can Diacounda truly set up elections within the next 40 days? The answer is one riddled with ifs. If Diacounda truly embodies the things his party ADEMA says about him like “very keen on working toward consensus” and “a man of the people” (, then maybe a united Mali is possible. Diacounda cannot do this alone. He has to work with other political parties whose leaders are not contaminated with embezzlement and bad governance. “We will never negotiate the partition of Mali,” Traoré said in his inauguration speech in which he promised to organize “free and transparent elections over the whole of the national territory”. Time will tell. The only solution now is for Diacounda to surround himself with “true” leaders who view Mali’s unity and integrity and the Malian peoples safety as their personal goal.

Tomorrow, Yeah will fly out with other members of ADPS to Burkina Faso. Why Burkina? The ECOWAS team has assigned President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Campaoré, as their mediator for the Mali crisis. Yeah and his team will present to the President of Burkina, their joint solution to saving Mali from further casualties and loss of territory. This is an important meeting and dialogue is the key to breeding a Mali solution rather than an international plan to restore Mali to its former self.

We will not rest till Mali is whole again. We will not rest till democracy is restored. We will not rest till every refugee returns home. That is the Samake2012 fight! Are you in? Make your voice heard today at

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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Past Posts


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A Double Whammy: The North Falls and the Refugee Count Rises

As the weekend passed, the new work week invited new changes in Mali. Over the weekend, MNLA and AQIM made advances in the North and as Mali watched, the three biggest regions of Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou fell. This could have been possibly the worst thing that could have happened at this critical time. As soldiers found themselves ill-prepared and distracted, these rebels took over the North and the count of captured territories increased.

These takeovers further cement how inadequate this new regime is to handle the various issues of Mali. The very issue of the North that caused them to revolt is now biting again. In addition, we are starting to hear residents in those areas report that the Islamists are ordering Western pictures to be taken down and Sharia law is already being implemented in Timbuktu. As the reports of change came out of the North, last night the countries around Mali followed through on their promise of sanctions locked down their borders. Under the sanctions, the five neighboring ECOWAS members will close their borders with landlocked Mali except for humanitarian purposes. Its member states are to deny Mali access to their ports, freeze Mali’s accounts in regional banks and suspend Mali’s participation in cultural and sporting events. Also in the works, is the possible deployment of 2000 military soldiers from the neighboring countries. It is still confusing as to whether these soldiers will attempt to take down the military leadership or be deployed to fight rebels in the North.

Sanctions could be disastrous for Mai that relies on imports for most of its goods. The biggest one is fuel as Mali imports all its fuel from neighboring Ivory Coast. No fuel could spell trouble for gas stations and residents. Yesterday night, when the embargo was announced, people rushed to gas stations to fill up afraid that fuel would run out. Also with the banks being cut of the money supply, residents that rely on banks could be very affected. Most Malians however do not bank and so this might not be a thing that affects them. Rising food prices and things like cement and fuel being in short supply are more likely to happen as Malians adjust to the sanctions.

Sanogo, continues to say he will hand back power and in the face of sanctions, he continues to make these promises without attaching a deadline. Yeah continues to work with other political parties to make leaps and bounds that hopefully will see results. The hope is for Sanogo to cede power peacefully. Already Yeah and his team are in talks with the different embassies and also different organizations that can help facilitate this process. Now is the time for peace talks, not sanctions and threats. Now is also the time to start backing our army with better prepared and equipped outside forces so that the rebels do not decide to consider taking their offensive further south.  It certainly will back fire to have a radicalized violent extremist movement well rooted in Northern Mali.  This is bound to threaten regional stability.

If the sanctions continue, it could be disastrous. Already the Northern regions are experiencing deteriorating conditions. In addition to a drought and extremely hot weather, almost 200000 refugees are displaced by the fighting in the region. These individuals need help now. There are children that are dying every day because of inability to get food and water. The heat is unbearable and makes conditions even worse. April is the hottest month for Mali and here temperatures in the North easily reach 120F. Now more than ever, our Malian brothers and sisters need your help. We need funds that can not only handle the immediate concern of improving their living conditions. Once we have answered that need, a need to stabilize them in society becomes essential.

A rising count. 2000 in the last 5 days!!

I have said it before, but I am compelled to say it again. People in the world need to realize that the refugee issue is not just a Mali issue; it is a human rights issue. We have refugees that are living in despicable conditions with little to no resources. Our teams have been attempting to raise refugee aid to help our displaced Malian brothers and sisters while the issue in the North plays out. We are calling on the international community to step up aid to these displaced people so that basic necessities like food, water and shelter are given them so that we don’t have a similar issue like that in Sudan and Somalia. Those interested in doing so through the Samake 2012 campaign may make anonymous donations to a trust that has been set up:

Friends of Mali Trust

472 East 4380

North Provo, Utah 84604

As soon as the current violence ends in the north, a new need will arise: Helping those who have been displaced to return and resettle into productive lives.  In East Africa, many displaced populations have suffered for years – prohibited from finding local employment near their shantytowns, they have become dependent upon western aid organizations. In some cases, these camps have witnessed second and even third generations growing up in these conditions.

Mali must be different. The people of Mali are strong and independent.   Beyond the immediate aid needed to sustain life, we also seek just enough aid to help families return to their formerly productive lives.

If you can help today, help make a difference. Every little bit helps.


Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Past Posts


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What this election is all about

When I first heard of Yeah’s decision to run for President eight years ago, in all seriousness, I thought the man was trying to impress me. I thought he was joking. Why would someone living in the land of opportunity (America), want to lead the land of no opportunity (Mali). I dismissed this statement to the back of my mind, never thinking of it again until Yeah became the executive director of Mali Rising Foundation. Now don’t get me wrong, Yeah has always had a deep passion for Mali and his family. He would at times send money to his family even when he had barely enough to cover his rent and tuition. When he started with Mali Rising Foundation, he focused on the issue very close to his heart and the one issue that Mali is combating very heavily today. The Lack of education. The schools he built with American partners had one goal only and that was to alleviate the obstacles young children faced with not having easy access to a God-given right of literacy. Soon enough, the foundation was facilitating medical services to the people of Mali, something that is done till today. There have been multiple containers containing computers, solar panels, desks, school kits and medical supplies that have benefited the Malian people. Since 2004, Yeah and the Mali Rising Foundation have sought to make the lives of Malians better. This is a role that the government should be fulfilling but has failed miserably at it. In 2009, the dream became more of a reality when Yeah told me he was running for Mayor of Ouelessebougou. At that time, I in my selfishness asked him if he was crazy. Today, I see the changes he has brought to his commune of Ouelessebougou. His commune boasts clean running water, a solar field that provides electricity, the only high school in the region and a new hospital in progress. This has been accomplished in a span of less than 3 years.

The first time I came to Mali in 2006, the poverty and lack of opportunity hit me first. But behind this, one only had to look a bit to see beautiful happy people. I have never met a people who are happier than Malians. However, I have also never seen people poorer than Malians. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. Surprising given that they are one of the major exporters of cotton and gold, two commodities that are in high demand in the world. As the current president Amadou Toumani Toure leaves office, he leaves the country in the same state he took it. The only difference is that there are more foreign investments in terms of buildings, airport and roads, that begs the question about what favors were bought. Today, Mali has these facts to bear:

  • Infant Mortality: 111 deaths per 1,000 births
  • Literacy Rate: 46.4%
  • Unemployment: 30%
  • Life expectancy: 52 years
  • 1 doctor per 20,000 people

This country does not need a savior. They need someone who cares. They need someone who has experienced the pain of malaria and hunger first hand. They need someone who knows the pain of losing a loved one to an inadequate healthcare system. They need someone who knows what it means not to earn a paycheck for months on end. That person is Yeah Samake. There is no professional agenda here. The only goal Yeah has is to help the people he loves so much out of the depth and despair that bad governance has condemned them to.

If we are to remain serious competitors against the leaders that have embezzled money for the last 30 years, then we need to raise $50000 immediately. Our party PACP (Parti pour l’Action Civique et Patriotique) will hold its launch on March 25th 2012. The entire event will be televised in an attempt to educate people about what their options are in terms of good leaders. In 42 days, Malians will go to the polls to elect their next President. It is my hope and prayer that Yeah Samake will become the President of Mali, not for personal gain, but because I believe with all my heart that this country deserves the chance and the hope that Yeah can bring.

Please help us today if you can. The time has come to make that donation you have been thinking about and if you weren’t then maybe thinking about making one. What better way to bring change than to elect a leader whose actions will trickle down? We cannot do this without you. Join us in welcoming a new day in Mali and let April 29th 2012 spell change and success for a struggling nation.

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Posted by on March 17, 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 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:,49891.html

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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Past Posts


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Newspaper Article: Yeah Samaké se prononce sur les élections et de la crise du nord P3: « Ceux qui ont servi le pays, le servirons… »

Benjamin Sangala from Newspaper Mali Demain posted this nice article in Mali. English translation below.,47384.html.

Yeah Samaké se prononce sur les élections et de la crise du nord P3: « Ceux qui ont servi le pays, le servirons… »

Par Mali Demain du 13 février 2012 @ 09:58 Rubrique: Nord-Mali,Politique

Candidat à la présidentielle d’avril prochain au compte du Parti d’Action Civique et Patriotique(PACP), actuel maire de la commune de Ouélésséboubou, vice président de l’Association des Municipalités du Mali et Directeur exécutif de « Mali Rising fondation », M. Niankoro Yeah Samaké, avec ses 42 ans, se présente comme le « John Kennedy », parle de son parti, des élections générales et de la crise au nord du Mali.  

Nous nous attelons de faire du PACP, le parti le mieux organisé sur l’échiquier national.

Parlant de son parti le  PACP né il y a quelques mois, le président Niakoro pense que le parti se porte très bien. « Il s’organise de mieux en mieux », a-t-il dit.  Pour lui, le parti a démarré avec des difficultés ». Croyant à la vibrance qui anime le parti, il précise que : « nous nous attelons de faire du PACP, le parti le mieux organisé sur l’échiquier national ».

Se penchant sur la conférence des cadres qui s’est tenue, il y a deux semaines, le président dira que : « c’était de présenter la vision du parti et faire en sorte que les cadres non seulement du parti et mais que les maliens puissent être exposés à une nouvelle façon de gérer ce pays au lieu de mettre un pansement sur une plaie aussi profonde ». Pour Samaké, i s’agit pour le parti de : «  rompre avec la vieille tradition de gouvernance afin d’endiguer les racines du mal ». Pour lui : « Il faut cependant trouver des solutions selon lui à tous les maux de la société et cela se trouve dans la parabole de la décentralisation ». Ainsi il a fustigé « le fait que tous les pouvoirs sont détenus par une certaine minorité qui ne représente pas le Mali dans sa diversité ».

Nous n’avions de rapport particulier avec l’URD

Le PACP né des braises du l’URD, s’est résolument tourné vers son destin, à savoir : travailler à se faire accepter par les maliens par la vision qu’il incarne. Cependant au-delà des anciens rapports, il n ya pas, selon M yeah Samaké « de rapport particulier entre son parti et l’URD à part les liens d’amitié personnel.

La gestion actuelle de la crise du nord n’est pas différente de la gestion actuelle du pays.

Nous pensons qu’au PACP cela doit changer a t-il martelé. Pour le président de l’Action Civique et Patriotique : « les maliens ne se reconnaissent pas dans la gestion actuelle du pays. Il faut prendre en compte le désir de changement exprimé par les populations. Malgré tout il faut y faire face » selon le PACP.

La crise du nord est sans nul doute le sujet le plus commenté ces temps- ci  et pour Niakoro Yeah Samaké : «  c’est un problème qui a été entretenu depuis 1960. Elle se répercute de nos jours. Ceux qui nous dirigé n’ont toujours  comme solution la mauvaise habitude de pansement dans de plaies profondes. Nous devons envisager des solutions durable » soutient t-il. Plus que jamais doit demeurer unis « unis nous gagnons tous, divisés nous perdons tous » a t- il déclaré »

Quant à la réclamation de la république de l’AZAWAD, le président du PACP estime que : « S’il ya une certaine population qui réclame, une certaine portion  du pays, cela veut dire, que ces gens vivent seuls ». Pour endiguer, ce mal, il préconise  que chaque coin du Mali soit à l’image de la diversité ethnique, qu’il y ait une interaction entre les coins du pays ». Enfin pour lui : « que les déplacements des personnes et de leurs biens soient protégés et rendre  nos frontières  moins perméables ».

Nous avions des inquiétudes sur la tenue des élections.

Les joutes électorales, doivent bientôt se dérouler dans, à peine trois mois. Le climat social ne favorise pas la bonne tenue de ces échéances. C’est l’avis de bon nombre maliens. Selon le président : « le mieux est que tous les maliens puissent participer à l’expression démocratique. Si les élections, selon lui  se tenaient aujourd’hui beaucoup de maliens seront exclus.  Il en appelle au gouvernement d’ATT de prendre les mesures idoines pour que  retournent  au Mali la paix, la quiétude et surtout la sécurité ».

Nous devons faire prévaloir les valeurs d’intégrité morales chez les différents candidats.

Si les opportunités naissent des difficultés au PACP, le regard est tourné sur la cherté de la vie, la mauvaise qualité de l’enseignement, le difficile accès aux soins de santé pour en sortir de ces maux qui minent notre société. Pour l’élection du 5ème président du Mali, le président du PACP invite les maliens à faire prévaloir les valeurs d’intégrité morale, chez les différents candidats.

Enfin, il dira que : « ceux qui ont servi le pays, le serviront toujours, ceux qui se sont servi, de notre partie, nous devons le leur rendre»

Benjamin SANGALA


Translation of the article.( Thank you to Liz Jessop for helping with this)

Yeah Samake gives his opinion on the elections and on the crisis in the North: “Those who served the country, will continue to serve…”

Written by Benjamin Sangala

Presidential candidate in next April’s election, under the Party for Civic Action and Patriotism (PACP), current mayor of the municipality of Ouélésséboubou, vice president of the Association of Municipalities of Mali and Executive Director of “Mali Rising Foundation,” Mr. Niankoro Yeah Samake, 42 years old, presents himself as a “John Kennedy,” speaks of his party, general elections, and the crisis in northern Mali.When it comes to getting things done, PACP is the best organized party on the national scene.

In speaking of his party, PACP, was born a few months ago, President Niankoro thinks the party is doing very well. “It gets better and better organized,” he said. For him, the party started with difficulties. Believing in the vibrancy that drives the party, he added “We are striving to make PACP the best organized party on the national scene.”

Addressing a leadership conference held two weeks ago, the President says of the conference: “It was to present the vision of the party and ensure that the leaders, not only within the party, but that all Malians can be exposed to a new way of managing this country instead of putting a bandage on a wound so deep.” For Samake, and hisnparty, it is a matter of “breaking the old tradition of governance in order to stem the roots of evil.” For him: “We must, however, find solutions to all the problems of society and it is in the idea of decentralization.” And he continued, “the fact that all power is held by some minority does not represent the diversity in Mali.”

We have not specifically connected with URD.

PACP, born under the embers of the URD, has resolutely focused around its destiny, namely: working to be accepted by the Malians with the vision it embodies. But beyond the old connections, there is not, according to Monsieur Yeah Samaké, a special relationship between his party and the URD, apart from personal friendship.The current management of the crisis in the north is no different than the current management of the country as a whole.

We think that, according to PACP, this must change, he has said. For the president of the Party for Civic Action and Patriotism: “Malians do not identify with the current leadership of the country. We must take into account the desire for change expressed by the people. Nevertheless, we must face them,” according to the PACP.

The crisis in the north is without doubt, the most discussed topic these days and for Niankoro Yeah Samake: “It is a problem that has been maintained since 1960. It has repercussions today. Those that have lead us have managed the solution as a bad habit of dressing the deep wounds. We need to consider sustainable solutions,” he argues. More than ever, we must remain united “united we all win, divided we lose all,” he said .

As for the claim of the Republic of AZAWAD, the president of PACP believes: “If there is a certain population that requires a certain portion of the country, this means that these people live alone.” To stem this evil, he advocated that each corner of Mali adds to the image of ethnic diversity, there is an interaction between the corners of the country. Finally for him: “the movement of people and their property need to be protected and make our borders less permeable.”

There are concerns about the elections.

The electoral contest, must soon take place in just three months.The social climate is not conducive to the good performance of these deadlines. This is the opinion of many Malians. According to the president, “the best thing is if all Malians can participate in the democratic expression. If the election were held today many Malians will be excluded. He appealed to government and ATT to take appropriate steps to ensure that peace and tranquility be returned to Mali, and above all safety. ”

Regarding the values of moral integrity among different candidates.

If the opportunities create new difficulties for PACP, the focus is turned to the high cost of living, poor education, difficult access to health care, that hang around as troubles afflicting our society. For the election of the fifth president of Mali, the president of PACP invites the Malians to hold the different candidates up to a standard of moral integrity.

Finally, he said of the wars that have claimed lives that “those who served the country, will serve it always, on our part we must return (our country to stability) for them.”

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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Past Posts


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