Mr. Samake’s story is a very intriguing one. Mali is one of the world’s poorest countries. Born to a father that had three wives and twenty-six children, only of which eighteen survived, Samake was accustomed to going to bed hungry. In fact, his mother would tie the children’s stomach with cloth to curtail the hunger.
(Side note: Mr. Samake relayed a very amusing story of the time when he lived in Utah and met with a high-ranking Malian official. Samake asked if the official knew about Mormons, to which he replied they are polygamists. Samake said no, that was in the past, prompting the official to say, “Oh, that’s too bad”.)
Samake’s father told his children that the only way to overcome poverty was through education. Something that would be the driving force in the future mayor’s life. Trained as a teacher, he would find that after college he was unable to find a paying job. Wanting to help educate those who could not manage to travel fifty or so miles to a classroom, he took a volunteer position at a local school.
It should be noted that Mr. Samake has said that he does not just want to hand people what they need, he instead wants to empower them to help themselves. He refers to himself as a “social entrepreneur”.
During this time, Samake became acquainted with an American couple that were members of the Mormon church. They soon invited him to The United States, where he would earn a Masters degree in Public Policy from Brigham Young University in Utah; and after several attempts would be baptized into the Mormon church. Eager to share his new faith with his family, he found that it was initially met with disappointment. Siblings even telling him he was a humiliation to the family. Yeah Samake’s father is a Muslim leader and 95% of Mali is Muslim. It was Samake’s hope that everyone would rejoice and would all be Mali Mormons, but that was not the case. Since that first revelation to his family, Samake has earned respect from his family and community for his dedication and integrity.
Yeah Samake was a featured speaker at a Mormon church, and gave me this exclusive interview afterwards:
SP: You ran on a platform of decentralization, anti-corruption and respect of private property, saying: “Corruption, extreme poverty and lack of education are linked together”. You call yourself a social entrepreneur, what is that?
YS: I am working with the people of Mali-We cannot hand out to people and transform their lives, we have to work with them to facilitate that transformation.
SP: Mali is 95% Muslim and during the military coup that overthrew the Mali government, 2/3 of the country was taken over by radical Islamists. During the height of the coup, you passed through five rebel check points and spoke to the (Junta) leader of the coup.
YS: 2/3 of the country was under violent Islamists and Jihadists that vowed to employ Sharia Law. I spoke to the Junta leader and told him to give the power back to the people immediately and return to democracy. (Samake is still trying to return that democracy)
SP: Some have speculated that the Benghazi attack that killed U.S. Ambassador, Chris Stevens was in retaliation for French troops entering Mali during the time of the coup.
YS: If we leave terrorists un-checked in any country they prepare such violent attacks on Western interest and freedom of religion. A lot of people that cross the border of Mali from Libya with arms are responsible for attacks throughout Nigeria and some say Benghazi.
SP: Mali is very near Nigeria, the terrorists that attacked the British soldiers were Muslims from Nigeria. How can the world protect itself from future attacks, and has political correctness gone too far? Some do not want to call this an act of terrorism, but shouldn’t it be called what it is?
YS: Politically correct or not, we have to preserve values of freedom of religion and democracy. We need to come together to stop people from eroding these freedoms and values. No country can do this by itself. There needs to be a collaboration between west and south.
When people have no hope, they become very vulnerable to Islamist ideals.
The Mali Presidential Election is July 7, 2013 www.Samake2013.com
(For full interview, click here.)