Yeah Samake, Ambassador to India, A BYU Graduate, & a Latter-day Saint
- The African Roots of The Book of Mormon
The obvious connection to Africa is the language.
Niankoro Yeah Samake
Yeah Samaké made history in The Republic of Mali in 2012. He ran for president of Mali and is unabashed about his religious heritage. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormons in a 90% Islamic country of Mali!
Yeah (pronounced yay), is the eighth of 18 children born to the Samake family with a father Tiecourafing Samake whose dedication to education left the family wanting for food, but never wanting for knowledge. Yeah contributes his success to the tenacity of his father's drive for education over temporary satisfaction. The presidential hopeful recalls his mother having to tighten cloths on their stomachs on occasion to help with the hunger pangs. Samake is familiar with the blight of poverty and the joy of overcoming it.
Yeah is married to Marissa Samake, who he met while attending Brigham Young University. Marissa is from Brahrain and is of Indian (India) descent. She attended BYU to obtain her bachelors in information systems. Yeah and Marissa Samake have two children: Keanen and Carmen.
Yeah Samake has a list of personal accomplishments that attest to the wisdom of his father and Yeah's belief in his father's words. From his early days, Yeah felt the call of the patriot as he witnessed and lived the circumstances of his countrymen. Yeah mentioned in an interview that his father believed he missed out on opportunities because he never had the option otherwise, and he wanted all 18 of his children to never suffer from such lack of options. Now Yeah wants those options for all of Mali and is in a promising position to help provide them.
Introduction and Acceptance of Mormonism
Yeah was introduced to the LDS church while working with the Peace Corps and the Ouelessebougou Alliance. A Peace Corps officer left him an English copy of The Book of Mormon which he read with interest. Later a family from Colorado, the Winstons Sponsored Yeah to the United States at BYU to achieve a master's degree in public policy.
While at a BYU game, Yeah listened to a person give the invocational prayer. Yeah revealed that was the first experience he had with the spirit and led to his interest in joining the church. Missionaries from the LDS church instructed Yeah in several locations, but the leaders in these areas were hesitant to baptize Yeah because they thought his life would be in danger if he returned to his homeland as a Mormon. After assurances that Mali is a country with freedom of religion, and that his countrymen would not harm him for being of a different faith, Yeah entered the waters of baptism in 2000 in the state of New York.
He expressed the hope that his siblings would join with him in his new faith. His extended family has been very supportive and proud of Yeah's faith and the principles for which Yeah stand as a Latter-day Saint. The Samake family is the only family of LDS in all of Mali as far as the record stands.
Mali's Emissary of Hope
Samake has his work cut out for him currently the Republic of Mali's ambassador to India. Samake did not win his bid for president in 2012 but wants to unite his nation for the welfare of his people. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta of Mali announced that he had appointed Yeah Samaké as the Malian Ambassador to the Republic of India. With the unique challenges that he faces with that appointment, Samake has not given up his hope for the future of his nation.
Even in the face of racism in India where he strives to produce goodwill, he has not lost sight of his purpose whether or not a few denigrate his race. He said, “I have heard so many accounts of my colleagues facing racial discrimination. We can overcome this with support of civil societies on both sides.” Samake represents the goodwill of his nation to India and is a spokesperson for unity!
Yeah has seen the success gaining the cooperation of the people can bring to an area. He won the mayoral race of Ouelessebougou with 86% of the vote. He went around to the heads of each village in the Ouelessebougou precinct and promised that the handling of the taxes of the city would be kept sacred. Yeah swore them a solemn oath that he would not allow or misuse the money of the people. Because of his oath, the city of Ouelessebougou went from the bottom of the list of cities in Mali to the top ten out of seven hundred!
In Ouelessebougou, Yeah included the local leaders in city business. He believes in the decentralization of power of the government. Yeah asserts that Mali needs more local people to have a say in the government for it to be successful. He supports democracy and participation and the end of corruption. He works for the benefit of his countrymen; And yes, he is a Mormon.
Mali, officially The Republic of Mali
- Total Population: 14.1 million
- Religion: 90% Muslim
- Language: French
- Average age: 16
- Literacy rate: 46.4%
- Unemployment: 30%
- Leading exports: Cotton, gold, livestock