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BYU grad, former Utah resident running for President of Mali, West Africa

Salt Lake City – In 2016, KSL traveled to Mali where we were first met Yeah Samake. He’s a BYU graduate, the first member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his country, and now a presidential candidate in Mali, West Africa.

Samake sat down with KSL’s Ashley Kewish during a recent visit to Utah.

“Sometimes it sounds funny that I am Yeah Samake and I am running for President for the Republic of Mali,” said Samake with a smile.

It may sound funny, but Yeah Samake better get used to it.

“I care for the people of Mali,” he said. “I love my people and I want to help bring the people out of poverty.”

He never imagined his journey would lead him to where he is today, and he’s not forgetting the people of Utah who have helped him.

“This has come through investment by many in the community, by many in the LDS community,” he said. “They believed in me and sponsored me to come from my country and go to BYU.”

Samake credits that education as the foundation of his success. He knows he’s lucky, most people in his country never get the opportunity he had, so instead of staying in Utah and living a life of comfort, he headed home.

“I can stay in Utah but America does not need me truly, Mali needs me.”

Samake previously served as Ambassador to India and is now focused on taking a more active role in changing Mali from within.

“No country can prosper in uncertainty and insecurity,” he said.

Security concerns have long plagued the West African nation along with lack of clean drinking water, medical care, and education. These challenges make Mali one of the poorest countries in the world. Samake want to see and he plans to be the man to bring about change.

“My faith, integrity and values I have acquired will be very instrumental in being uplifting and being true to the people of Mali,” he said.

As the first member of the LDS church in the entire country, winning the election would be groundbreaking in a country that is 95 percent Muslim.

“In the history of our faith, we don’t have anyone that has been elected of any country yet,” Samake explained. “This will be historic.”

He wants to take the values of his faith and put them into action.

I know the people of Utah are value-centered,” he said. “They want to see leaders with principals. With a little bit of support, I can transform my country. I can make Mali an emerging country.”

Presidential elections are run differently than in the United States. Candidates only actively campaign for 21 days prior to election day, July 29th. To learn more about Samake’s campaign visit,

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