Yeah Samake may have lost his life in last Friday’s terror attack on a luxury hotel in Bamako, Mali if he hadn’t changed his plans. Yeah, a BYU graduate and former presidential candidate in Mali, is currently serving as ambassador to India. He was flying home to Mali to meet with the nation’s president when he landed in Paris. The next stop was Bamako, Mali and a restful night at the Radisson Hotel, a place he often stayed.
But he changed his mind in Paris.
Suddenly, while he waited for his plane, it didn’t seem like such a good idea to go to the Radisson. He wanted to go home to Ouelessebougou. It was a 50 mile- drive, and meant he wouldn’t get there until midnight—and after all, the Radisson was so close and he was tired—but he wanted to go home.
Meanwhile that same night terrorists drove unchallenged into the inner compound of the luxury hotel where he had been planning to stay, detonated grenades, opened fire on security guards and took about 170 people hostage, including air crews from France and Turkey. 21 people were killed, including two of the assailants in the stand off that finally ended on Friday.
Malian special forces fought their way floor by floor to capture the terrorists and by Friday night the incident was over. President of Mali, Boubacar Keita put the nation under a state of emergency Friday night.
Yeah missed it all. He said, “The young man who picked me up at the airport was expecting to drop me off at the hotel, but I just got in and changed routes. It meant a long drive for him because he was from Bamako, but it seemed like the thing to do.”
He had also not told many of the young people who like to greet him at the airport of his arrival. Meeting with them might have also added enough time that he would have stayed at the Radisson.
“I did not share my arrival time with anyone,” he said. “I do not know why I just felt like going home. There was nobody there to ask me why I was going and why I wouldn’t stay. “I went to bed late and when I woke up the next morning I heard the terrible news of the terrorist attack on the Radisson. I would have been in the midst of this tragic event.
“The embassy people in India were very worried. I know I was prompted to change my destination and not face this tragic situation that so many have been entangled in. I feel so blessed and I know I was being preserved. It was a clear prompting.
“When I heard about the attack in the morning, my brain stopped working. I couldn’t even think. It felt like I was in it. It felt like I was inside there. I feel like I was numb when I heard about it.”
Yeah is particularly grateful for the compassion and support that have flowed to him from all over the world, and particularly from Utah, which is his second home. “I want to thank everyone who was concerned about my family,” he said.
Since Friday’s terror attack, Yeah has been swamped with calls from the media.
“Malians are so resilient,” he said. “Tomorrow they will go about their daily lives and they won’t let this ruin their lives.” He also said, “It’s up to Malians to come together and kick these terror groups out of the country. When we live in unity in Mali they don’t have a place here, but unfortunately, we live in the same space. Some people cooperate with them.”