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Yeah Samake: BYU Alum Runs for President of Mali in West Africa

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Published on Jul 18, 2013

Ouélessébougou Mayor Yeah Samake, a BYU alum, is running for president of the West African country of Mali. One of 17 siblings who grew up in extreme poverty, Samake says his father broke the cycle of poverty by sending his children to school. "My father will say, 'my family will go hungry but my family will not know the darkness of illiteracy." "Education is the light that will allow Malians to solve our problems." Samake graduated from BYU with a master's degree in public policy in 2004 and was elected mayor of Ouelessebougou in 2009, receiving 86% of the vote. Samake has focused on building schools and increasing confidence in government. Under his direction, the Mali Rising foundation has overseen construction of 15 new village schools and he has now started his 16th school under his new foundation Empower Mali (www.empowermali.org). As a Mayor of Ouelessebougou, he has brought many other projects to provide clean electricity (via solar panels) and water for the people of Ouelessebougou.

Mali footage courtesy of The Good Line (thegoodline.com)
Photography by Cole Nielsen, Colton Weston, Brian Wilcox
Producer Julie Walker Editors Sarah Butler, Kirsten Merrill

For more information about Yeah Samake, see samake2012.com or magazine.byu.edu/yeahsamake

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