My encounter with Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, the President of Mali at UN General Assembly in New York | Simon Ateba

Although we are headquartered in Washington D.C. USA, our reporters and editors are working around the globe to cover what you care about. We invite you to donate to our fundraiser to help us keep our quality news free and available to all.  

I was seated at the cafeteria wondering whether I should have coffee or tea, when some African men came and asked me whether another man could sit near me. I said yes.

I told the man I am a journalist and gave him my card. Then the other men became uncomfortable and wanted me to sit somewhere else. I said no. You met me here and I am not going anywhere.

The man with them told them to leave me alone. It turned out that the man in question was Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, the President of Mali.

[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]

He introduced himself. Minutes after his aides brought food to him. He said he would not eat unless I also had some food. They asked me what I wanted, I said the same thing as the President.

They went to buy food and a drink for me, but didn’t bring exactly the same thing. So the President told them they did not buy the same thing for me, he then shared his food with me.

We began a long conversation talking about when he met Nelson Mandela. Then the man ordered coffee and told them this time they should bring the same thing.

They brought it, I tasted it and he tasted his and asked me to taste his also to know whether it was the same thing. I did and I confirmed it was exactly the same thing. We continued to converse. I asked him what it was like to be President.

You know, anything you want men run to bring it to you. Me I have to work my ass off. It took me two hours to get here. How long did it take you? He said 15 minutes. I said you see. How does it feel having it easy and these men following you around?

Then the President said, it feels great, but your life can end in a second. And when you’re gone, what is left is what you have achieved.

We talked about many things else, exchanged contacts and I told him I had to run to continue my job.

You know, I have lived long enough, and got white hair by the way, to know that whether here at the United Nations General Assembly in New York where I am writing this, or over there wherever you’re reading it, the truth remains that I am just an ordinary guy doing my job and coming across all kinds of people, those with powers and those without. But I learn from all of them.

This article was written by Simon Ateba, a renowned international journalist based in Washington DC


Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Based in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America, Simon leads a brilliant team of reporters, freelance journalists, analysts, researchers and contributors from around the world to run TODAY NEWS AFRICA as editor-in-chief. Simon Ateba's journalistic experience spans over 10 years and covers many beats, including business and investment, information technology, politics, diplomacy, human rights, science reporting and much more. Write him:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Trending Now

Anxiety in Africa as Johnson & Johnson conceals critical details about COVID-19 vaccine illness

Anxiety continued to mount across Sub-Saharan Africa on Monday over COVID-19 vaccine trials by Johnsons & Johnson, as the company continued...

Rights group urges AU to denounce crackdown on Cameroon’s opposition

Human Rights Watch on Monday urged the African Union (AU), the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the Economic...

Mass prison break: Thugs disguised as protesters free over 200 inmates in Nigeria

Thugs disguised as protesters have freed over 200 inmates in Nigeria.The criminals disguised as EndSARS protesters freed...

Mauritania should free activists held on charges of blasphemy and insulting Islam: HRW

Mauritania’s government should drop charges of blasphemy and insulting Islam against eight political activists and release the five held in pretrial detention...

South Africa’s minister of health Zweli Mkhize contracts COVID-19

South Africa's minister of health Dr. Zweli Mkhize has contracted COVID-19, the presidency confirmed in a statement on Monday.


Damning report finds detainees in Iran were sexually abused and given electric shocks in gruesome post-protest crackdown

Iran’s police, intelligence and security forces, and prison officials have committed, with the complicity of judges and prosecutors, a catalogue of...

Africa shocked U.S. under Trump has worst coronavirus response in the world

President Donald Trump has "failed in his basic duty to protect Americans", world's renowned journalist Bob Woodward told Fox News Sunday...

EXCLUSIVE: IMF economist details how COVID-19 economic turmoil in Asia will affect Sub-Saharan Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic is battering economies in Asia with a contraction expected for the first time in many decades. The economic...

IMF’s Georgieva says second round of support coming to Africa but Oxfam argues debt cancelation the only way out of COVID-19 turmoil

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Ms. Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday that the Washington DC-based institution is...

Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial taking place in South Africa halted by participant’s illness

Johnson & Johnson confirmed on Monday that it had paused its COVID-19 vaccine study because one of its participants was taken...

Central Darfur governor meets ICC prosecutor

Governor of Central Darfur State, Dr. Adeeb Abdel Rahman Youssef, on Monday evening met at the Corinthia Hotel in Khartoum, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda.Fatou Bensouda expressed her happiness to meet Dr. Adeeb, the Wali of Central Darfur, the state in which the massacres were committed, noting that the purpose of the...


[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]