BYU alumnus to run for president in Mali

Published: Monday, April 11 2011 9:30 a.m. MDT

A recent survey of eight regions of the country revealed "a lot of enthusiasm and energy." Samake will be holding fundraising activities in Utah and will be visiting Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and other cities that have large groups of Malian emigrants. Information and details on his campaign can be found at www.samake2012.com.

Mali is a French-speaking country that is 90 percent Muslim. Will his religion be a factor? It wasn't in the mayoral race, and Samake doesn't believe it will be in the general election. "What people want are leaders with integrity and leadership."

For Samake to even consider being president of his country is inspiration of its own. He was born into a poor family in a country where one in five children don't live past age 5. "I was not born to power. I did not inherit a legacy of privilege. But I believe in working hard. I believe in service." And because of that, he says, "I was presented with layers of opportunity."

Samake was able to attend school, something that only 15 percent of the people in Ouelessebougou did at that time. Then, he was able to attend college and came to the United States. In New York City, he came into contact with and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and through the generosity of a family in Colorado was able to go to BYU for graduate work.

"I believe that if you work hard, you have a shot at a good life, and that is something that should be available to every child in every country," he says.

And that is his hope for Mali.

Samake believes in a Mali where "a quality education is not a luxury, but something that every child has access to, where parents don't have to choose between eating and sending their children to school. I hope for a Mali where everyone can get quality health care and pregnant women don't have to ride a bicycle to the hospital during labor to get help. I hope for a Mail where clean drinking water can reduce water-borne disease. I hope for a Mali that can become strong enough to help other African nations. And I hope for a Mali where love of one's country is so strong in the heart of every child, he or she will be willing to make sacrifices."

The key, he says, is "using our resources with integrity and finding leaders who believe in service rather than taking advantage of their position."

And that, he says, is something that can change not only Mali, but all of Africa, and even the world.

Email: carma@desnews.com

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