Fulɓe: Africa’s Pollinators Under Assault?

Map A. Pular (Pulaar) : western area of the language of the Fulbe.
Map A. Pular (Pulaar) : western area of the language of the Fulbe. (Source : voir Carte B)
Map B. Fulfulde : eastern area of the language of the Fulbe
Map B. Fulfulde : eastern area of the language of the Fulbe. (Source : Marquis Michel de la Vergne de Tressan. Inventaire linguistique de l’Afrique occidentale française et du Togo. Mémoires de l’Institut français d’Afrique noire. N° 30. Dakar, IFAN. 1953, 240 p. cartes)
Fulbe (Fulani) pastoralists and their cattle in Northern Nigeria. They are wearing the traditional conical hat (libitiwal, in Fuuta-Jalon dialect). They are also holding the blessed and sacred herder's stick. The Republic of the Gambia's Tourism and Culture minister, <a href="http://www.webguinee.net/blogguinee/2017/12/les-hubbu-du-fuuta-jalon-lecture-critique/">Hamat Bah</a>, was pictured sporting a similar item in his swearing-in ceremony in 2017. (T.S. Bah)
Fulbe (Fulani) pastoralists and their cattle in Northern Nigeria. They are wearing the traditional conical hat (libitiwal, in Fuuta-Jalon dialect). They are also holding the blessed and sacred herder’s stick. The Republic of the Gambia’s Tourism and Culture minister, Hamat Bah, was pictured sporting a similar item in his swearing-in ceremony in 2017. (T.S. Bah)

Titled “Genocide, hegemony and power in Nigeria” Obadiah Mailafia’s paper is a case study of pseudo-historical rambling and misguided political activism. From the title to the last line it is filled with false assumptions, malicious accusations, and malignant statements. The article illustrates the confusion sowed by “educated” and “elite” individuals and groups among the peoples of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The propagators of the growing discord are a heteroclite bunch. For instance, they include Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka as well as heretofore unknown individuals, such as Mr. Obadiah Mailafia.
I re-post his paper here in the Documents section. The tract is replete with vile insults, ignorant statements, absurd allegations, vitriolic partisanship, fallacious claims and laughable distortions of history. The author refers to the Hausa-Fulani peoples as “a new mongrel race.” How low can someone who considers himself an African be so rude and stoop so low against fellow Nigerians and other Africans? How can hurl on the Web such a derogatory and vulgar term? How can he so gratuitously and readily commit such a despicable and outrageous offense!
In this blog, I denounce, rebut, recuse and refute some of the most egregious passages of Obadiah’s inflammatory article.

Africa’s pollinators

The domestication of the bovine constituted “one of humanity’s first leap forward” (Anselin 1981). It was a watershed achievement that spurred humans’ march into civilization. In parallel with other groups in Asia, America, Africa, ancient Fulɓe partook in such an accomplishment.

See Fulbe and AfricaThe Semantic Web and Africa

In “Cattle Before Crops: The Beginnings of Food Production in Africa,” a remarkable  research paper, Fiona Marshall and Elisabeth Hildebrand argue that, contrary to the other continents, domestication of plants came after that of animals. In other words, pastoralists preceded agriculturalists in “the development of food production” aimed at meeting “the need for scheduled consumption.”
 Thus, while their prehistoric neighbors figured out plant cultivation, ancient Fulbe were a step ahead in taming the wild ancestor of the bovine. In so doing, those pastoralists and agriculturalists forebears  became, metaphorically, the pollinators of Africa. Which, in turn, as we all know, is the cradle of humankind. It is appalling that Mr. Obadiah Mailafia chose to waste his time assaulting one of Africa’s indigenous peoples.

War mongers instead peace makers

Big problems and serious contradictions —legitimate or fabricated — strife and tensions have plagued the Federal Republic of Nigeria since its founding in 1963. And in recent decades its middle section, bad blood has opposed Muslim Fulɓe (Fulani) cattle herders to Christian agriculturalists. Such hostilities are neither new, nor specific to Nigeria. Thus, Ireland is still recovering from a lengthy and bloody civil war between Protestants and Catholics. Likewise, in the tinderbox region of the Balkans, in southern Europe, peace remains fragile as new countries continue to cope with the collapse and splinter of Yougoslavia.

Read (a) The Butcher’s Trail : how the search for Balkan war criminals became the world’s most successful manhunt (b) The Trial of Radovan Karadzic

Back in the Middle Age, France and England fought the Hundred Year’s War. It pitted Catholics against Protestants and, among other atrocities. Joan of Arc life was engulfed by fire at the stake, reducing her body in ashes. In this 21st century the world watches the Rohingya’s plight and flight from persecution by Myanmar’s Buddhist extremists…
Nigeria’s Muslim/Christian divide is deep-seated in history. But they can —should and must — be negotiated amicably and resolved in peace. Unfortunately, instead of seeking positive solutions to the feuds, militants and agitators — like Obadiah Mailafia — who are recklessly bent on fanning the flames of hostility and hatred. Instead of being peace makers, they demonize their neighbors and sound like war mongers. Such a dangerous behavior must be stopped.

Obadiah Mailafia writes:

Gramsci invented the notion of “hegemonia” (hegemony) to explain the structure and anatomy of domination in political society

Error! The editors of Wikipedia would beg to differ with Obadiah Mailafia. They, who pinpoint that Gramsci studied the cultural aspect of hegemonic power, i.e., not hegemony, by and large, but one aspect of its aspects. Other manifestation of supremacy rule include the economy, warfare religions, science…

I find this concept of hegemony so relevant with what is going on in relation to the genocide being perpetrated by the Fulani militias in the Middle Belt of our country today.

Obadiah is entitled to his opinion, but not to the facts. First, he fails to cite any external references or sources. Then, he does not care to provide evidence of ongoing genocide in Nigeria. We know that such tragedy  befell the country during the Biafran War. Then, genocide stroke in Rwanda. But here, my view is nothing demagoguery brings Obadiah to claim that the recurrent attacks and retaliations in Nigeria amount to genocide.

Historians the world over agree that the original home of the Fulani people is Futa Jallon (also known in the French as Fouta Djallon) in the Upper Guinea highlands of the West African Republic of Guinea.

Wrong! Fuuta-Jalon (not Futa Jallon, or Fouta Djallon!) is one of the many regions the Fulɓe call home in 21 Africa countries. But it is certainly not their birthplace. In reality, pushing their cattle herds out of Takrur (southern Mauritania-northern Senegal), they began migrating to the region back in the 12th century C.E.. Takrur existed since the 4th century. Although it has fallen into oblivion, it was a lasting and glorious experiment that forged a new people (the Takruri) out of a melting pot of Soninke, Serer, Wolof, Mande, Fulɓe communities. And, significantly, around the 9th century Takrur became the first sub-Saharan state to adopt Islam as its official religion. However, it conquest by Emperor Sunjata Keita sealed its demised. Fulbe had been leaving the areas for quite some time. But the destruction of Takrur accelerated their exodus. They moved south toward what is today’s Fuuta-Jalon. They also headed east into Maasina, Jelgoogi, Sokoto, Adamawa, etc. In The Fulani Empire of Sokoto, historian H.A.S. Johnston indicates that Fulbe herdsmen begun settling in the Sokoto region as early as the 12th century.

Also known as Fula, Fulbe or Pullo, the Fulani are thought to have emigrated from North Africa and the Middle East in ancient times, settling in the Futa Jallon Mountains and intermarrying with the local population and creating a unique ethnic identity based on cultural and biological miscegenation.

It’s other way around, the indigenous pair (Pullo, singular / Fulɓe, plural) provides the basis for the various names given to the Fulɓe . For instance, they are called Takruri (Moors), Fellasha (Arabs), Peul (Wolof), Fula (Mande), Fulè (Sose, Jalunka) Fulani (Hausa), etc.

The Malian writer and ethnologist Amadou Hampaté Ba famously described Futa Jallon as “the Tibet of West Africa”, on account of its surfeit of Muslim clerics, Sufi mystics, itinerant students and preachers.

Correction: Amadou Hampâté Bâ was no ordinary writer and ethnologist. He was a leader of Pulaaku, the Fulbe way of life. He coined the phrase: “In Africa, when an elder dies, its a library burning down.” Thanks to serendipity, he had received in 1953 an initiation in the sacred rite of Geno and by-gone fulɓe spirituality built around the bovine. In 1961, he teamed with Germaine Dieterlen, a noted ethnologist of religions and the author of Essai sur la religion bambara. The pair co-edited the French version of Kumen, the bible of Fulbe pastoralists. In his review of the book, ethnologist fell in aw with “La poésie saisissante de ce récit [qui] évoque les plus belles pages de la Bible”.
Amadou Hampâté Bâ once declared: “I love Fulfulde, my language. I am proud to be a Pullo poet.” For his tireless advocacy for the continent’s verbal heritage, Ivoirian writer Isaac Biton Coulibaly bestowed upon A. H. Bâ the title of “pope of African oral tradition.” Bâ lived his life as a disciple of Tierno Bokar Salif Taal, a tijaniyya sufi master who taught Islam and tolerance …
Never mind, displaying his bellicose mindset, Obadiah seeks to tarnish “the Tibet of West Africa” homage with the epithet “surfeit.” Again, Gilbert Vieillard must be turning in his grave. For he asserted that Fuuta-Jalon was the Dar-al-Islam (Door of Islam) of western Africa. And in his book The Holy War of Umar Tal: the Western Sudan in the mid-nineteenth century Prof. Robinson concurred in these terms:

« Fuuta-Jalon was much more than an Almamate dominated by a Fulɓe aristocracy. It was a magnet of learning, attracting students from Kankan to the Gambia, and featuring Jakhanke clerics at Tuba as well as Fulɓe teachers. It acted as the nerve centre for trading caravans heading in every direction. The more enterprising commercial lineages, of whatever ethnic origin, established colonies in the Futanke hills and along the principal routes. It served their interests to send their sons to Futanke schools, to support the graduates who came out to teach, and in general to extend the vast pattern of influence that radiated from Fuuta-Jalon. »

Such were, among other things, the facts that prompted A.H. Bâ to label Fuuta-Jalon, a spiritual stronghold akin to Thibet.

The second traditional home of the Fulani is Futa Toro, by the banks of the Senegal River in the current nation of Senegal.

Wrong! Fuuta-Tooro was located in the direct sphere of influence of Takrur. Therefore Fulbe lived there, first, and centuries before the headed down south toward Fuuta-Jalon.

Over the centuries the Fulani converted to Islam and some of them became zealous Muslim clerics and itinerant proselytisers. Through war and conquest they formed several kingdoms, among them Tukolor, Massina, the Caliphate of Usman Dan Fodio and Fombina in the early nineteenth century.

Wrong! In “The Social and Historical Significance of the Peul Hegemonies in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries,” Marxist historian Jean Suret-Canale join other scholars to point out that the Fulbe clerics became victorious through a combination of preaching the Word and wielding of the Sword. It behooved them to win the mind more than the body of new converts. They largely succeeded in their mission. And in Sokoto, Usman ɓii Fooduyee (Usman dan Fodio, in Hausa), his brother Abdullah, his children Mohammed and Asma’u offer a stellar example of such accomplishments.
Read The Caliph’s Sister: Nana Asma’u 1793-1865: teacher, poet and Islamic leader and One woman’s Jihad : Nana Asma’u, scholar and scribe.

To be continued.

Tierno S. Bah

Mali : Fulɓe et Mande. Complémentarité et Concurrence

Ci-dessus, le symbole de l’homme noir, qui orna le drapeau de la Fédération du Mali, peint ici à la devanture de la Mairie de Dakar, août, 1959. Le symbole s’inspire de la statuaire du peuple Dogon.
Le 20 août 1960 à 10 heures, le drapeau du Mali fut hissé sur l’ancien palais du Gouverneur général de l’Afrique Occidentale Française, à la place du drapeau français. Mais on constata peu après qu’il  avait été monté à l’envers. Ecartant toute superstition, les invités n’y attachèrent aucune importance. Par contre, quelques journalistes présents à la cérémonie y virent un “mauvais présage”.
Auteur de l’article “Les heures sombres de la rupture entre le Sénégal et le Soudan” (Afrique Histoire no. 2, avril-juin 1981) Amadou Hampâté Bâ précise que “le symbole dogon choisi comme idéogramme pour le drapeau … était la figure d’un lézard à la queue écourtée. Il représentait donc “une entreprise inachevée, ratée”. Et “le couplet de l’hymne à l’Empereur Soundiata Keita choisi pour en faire le chant national de la Fédération du Mali était […] le plus néfaste des 14 qui composaient le poème : il pronostiquait la mésentente qui casse tout”. Finalement, selon Hampâté Bâ, la Fédération était née sous des signes de mauvais augure. (Source : K. Voltolina. L’éclatement de la Fédération du Mali (1960) : d’une Fédération rêvée au choc des réalités, mai 1960).
Consulter également (a) Joseph-Roger de Benoist. L’Afrique occidentale française, de la Conférence de Brazzaville (1944) à l’indépendance (1960) et (b) Sékéné Mody Cissoko. Un combat pour l’unité de l’Afrique de l’Ouest. La Fédération du Mali (1959-1960)
Paru en 1953, et insuffisamment documenté, l’Inventaire linguistique de l’Afrique Occidentale Française et du Togo range le dogon parmi les langues non-classées. Cette nomenclature est paradoxale dans la mesure où Marcel Griaule — le maître du professeur Germaine Dieterlen — avait publié Masques dogons en 1938. (Lire également “A Conversation with Michel Leiris”).
On est mieux situé depuis, grâce à des ressources telles l’ouvrage de G. Murdock, Wikipedia, le Sociolinguistic Survey of the Dogon Language Area, etc.
Mais que valent ces efforts de recherche, ces vastes bases de données et ces sommes de connaissances, si la stabilité, l’entente, la paix du terroir sont ébranlées, précisément dans les Falaises de Bandiagara, en plein pays dogon, et où reposent  Alhajji Shayku Umar Taal (à Jegembere), son neveu Tierno Bokar Salif Taal et tant d’autres disparus.
Pour sa part, hélas, contraint par le régime de Modibo Keita, Amadou Hampâté Bâ (disciple de Tierno Bokar — Elégie pour la mort de Tierno Bôkar Sâlif) s’exila, mourut et est enterré à Abidjan, loin de son Maasina natal.…
En 2014, des terroristes soi-disant musulmans avaient attaqué et détruit le Mausolée de Shayku Amadu, le saint fondateur de la Diina du Maasina (Jimol Seeku Amadu).

Drapeau de la Fédération du Mali (1959-60)
Drapeau de la Fédération du Mali (1959-60). L’inversion de l’ordre des couleurs saute aux yeux, car au lieu de Rouge-Jaune-Vert, on a Vert-Jaune-Rouge. L’erreur fut rectifiée, mais cela ne sauva pas l’union de ses malformations congénitales. Elle éclata deux mois après sa création.

Après lecture du billet de Maliki Diallo paru dans L’Indicateur du Renouveau, @Mamadou Aliou Balde s’interroge sur Facebook : “Qu’est ce qui se passe au Mali? Les peulhs (??) de ce pays font il l’objet d’un nettoyage ethnique ?”.
La réponse à la question est complexe et longue. J’esquisse ici seulement quelques élements, fondés sur la recherche et l’expérience.

Primo, des Fulbe font partie du gouvernement et de l’administration du président Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Secundo, le chef de file de l’opposition parlementaire, M. Soumaila Cissé, est un Pullo du Maasina, alias 5è Région Administrative.

Les meurtres perpétrés sur une base ethnique concrétisent l’énormité et l’horreur de la faillite de l’Etat malien. Cet Etat partit mal en 1960, avec la double faillite de la Fédération du Mali. Ce fut d’abord une tentative à quatre (Dahomey (Bénin), Haute-Volta (Burkina Faso), Sénégal et Soudan (actuel Mali), qui échoua. Ensuite le mariage à deux (Sénégal et Soudan) fut consommé certes, mais il fut rapidement dissolu.
De retour à Bamako, le président Modibo Keita se replia, de 1964 à 1966 — date de son renversement par la junte militaire conduite par le lieutenant Moussa Traoré — sur la démagogie, le pouvoir personnel, et l’intolérance. Sans oublier le culte de sa propre personnalité.

Nostalgie et utopie

Le choix même du nom de l’Etat exprimait une nostalgie surfaite, d’une part, et l’utopie de l’impossible resuscitation de l’Empire du Mali, d’autre part. Fondé au 12e siècle par Soundiata, la dynastie de Keita prit fin au 16è siècle.

Illusion passéiste

Si Sékou Touré se réclamait de Samori Touré, Modibo, lui, pensait pouvoir endosser le manteau impérial de son distant parent homonymique. L’un et l’autre semblaient minimiser l’intrusion arable et la colonisation européenne, leur impact coûteux et leur emprise négative sur les sociétés africaines.

Assassinats politiques

Sékou et Modibo s’appuyèrent tous deux sur le diktat personnel et dirigèrent en autocrates. Pire, ils recoururent à l’assassinat de leurs anciens rivaux politiques. Pour Sékou Touré, la liste est longue ; il faut donc visiter le Camp Boiro Memorial.

Dans le cas de Modibo, ce fut l’exécution cynique de Fily Dabo Sissoko et Hammadoun Dicko en 1964. Radio Mali annonça en effet, avec culot et sans honte devant l’Histoire, que les deux leaders politiques avaient été abattus dans une embuscade tendue par des combattants Touaregs…
Aujourd’hui, le Mali officiel a renoué avec Modibo, sa première idole politique.
On affiche une mémoire sélective en passant sous silence la violence et le terrorisme de l’Etat du premier président malien, ainsi que le martyre de F.D. Sissoko et H. Dicko.
Mais le pays profond va de mal en pis. De fait, il se désintègre.
Ne pense-t-on pas que le sang et l’âme des innocent crient JUSTICE. Pas surprenant alors que la débâcle se propage … Notamment depuis le coup d’Etat du Capitaine — puis Général — Amadou Haya Sanogo, en 2012.

Boucs émissaires

L’affaiblissement ou le dépérissement de l’Etat donne libre cours à la chasse aux boucs émissaires. En l’occurrence, les Fulɓe du Mali sont mis à l’index. On les soupçonne, on les suspecte, on les pourchasse, on vole leurs troupeaux de boeufs. On en tue.

Que faire ?

La communauté fulbe n’a d’autre option que l’auto-défense face à l’incapacité et à la démission du régime d’IBK, qui convoite un second mandat. Les lamentations et le jérémiades n’y changeront. Sous sa forme de langage et de comportement, la violence se soigne généralement par des remèdes homéopatiques, similaires ou identiques.

Ce n’est pas la première fois cependant que les Fulbe sont confrontés à l’hostilité, ambiante et/ou dominante. Ils surent les confronter et en triompher. De même, aujourd’hui, ils doivent faire face aux défis et appliquer les méthodes adéquates afin de contribuer à la solution de crises incessantes. Au bout du combat, l’objectif est de rétablir la co-habitation, la co-exsistence et la coopération dans la paix !

Lire Maryse Condé dans Ségou. Les murailles de terre (tome 1) ; Ségou: La terre en miette (tome 2). Maryse a composé là une belle oeuvre, romanesque et épique, qui explore les hauts et les bas, les dédales et les méandres, ainsi que la dialectique des rapports Fulbe/Mande, le brassage des peuples et la résistance des identités africaines face aux pressions nouvelles, locales ou étrangères. A noter que Ségou, ancien épicentre du monde mande, fut, selon l’éminente ethnologue Gemaine Dieterlen, co-fondée par des Fulbe et des Mande.

Avec Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Germaine co-publia Kumen, la bible des pasteurs Fulbe en 1961.

Fulɓe et Mande

Ces deux peuples sont les héritiers et les vecteurs de leur civilisation respective. Ils ont cohabité depuis la nuit des temps. En apparence conflictuelles, leurs activités économiques principales sont en réalité complémentaires. Les Fulbe excellent dans l’élevage, les Mande ont une réputation solide et méritée d’agriculteurs . Au niveau des hommes et femmes du commun, une solidarité de fait existe ; les uns et les autres échangeant et acquérant ce que l’autre communauté produit de mieux.

Les choses se compliquèrent ave l’irruption d’hégémonies étrangères. La conquête arabe et le prosélytisme musulman vint le premier, à partir du 9è siècle environ.

Il y eut ensuite la Ruée de l’Europe sur l’Afrique, à partir de 1880.

Ces deux forces continuent de peser lourd dans l’évolution alarmante de l’Afrique, à l’ère d’une mondialisation plus ou moins régulée ou sauvage.

Qui est coupable ?

C’est le sommet de l’Etat, c’est-à-dire le leadership des pays africains qui l’est. Et cela, depuis la fin de la Deuxième guerre mondiale en 1945. Cette couche occidentalisée —avec ses appendices et tentacules, ses maîtres et ses suppôts — est l’incarnation matérielle et aberrante de l’incompétence, de l’égocentrisme, de la démagogie et de l’ignorance. Et c’est pour tenter —en vain— de détourner l’attention sur sa faillite, que la soi-disant “élite” politique et ses alliés — internes et externes — diabolise le concitoyen et pervertit la riche diversité humaine africaine, qu’elle transforme en source d’hostilité. Elle ordonne les attaques, et organise des violences communautaires sanglantes. Elle arme et entretient les conflits meurtriers entre les peuples et les communautés du continent.

Focus sur le Mali

Les fauteurs des persécutions des Fulɓe — au Mali, en Guinée, au Nigeria — oublient que “chasseurs et gibiers humains” naviguent dans le même bateau : celui du sous-développement, de la pauvreté, de l’analphabétisme, de la désertification, des pressions négatives et des menaces lourdes qui pèsent sur l’héritage culturel millénaire et le devenir de leurs peuples.

Tierno S. Bah

Judge orders release of the Touré couple

Seal of the Northern District Court of TexasFive days after their arrest, Ms. Denise and Mr. Mohamed Touré were released today from jail on order of Judge Jeffrey Cureton of the Northern District Court of Texas. While the case is still pending, no trial date has been set.
Below is an account of the hearing by the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Meanwhile, reaction to the scandal was low-key in Guinea. Based on my quick surfing, most local websites failed to report the news of the Tourés’s court appearance and detention in Texas.
However, a picture appeared on Twitter claiming to identify and name the accuser.  According to that source, she Ms. Djena Jalo.
That spelling raises an automatic flag. Because it should be Jallo, at least. Better yet, assuming that the young woman is from Haute-Guineé, i.e., the Mande region, she is most likely a member of the Fula Wasolon  community, who is ethnically Fulɓe but linguistically Maninka/Bamana. They adopted a base-four naming system that is equivalent to the four Fulbe family names. In the process though, three original Fulɓe patronyms change, while Diallo does not, as indicated in the following table.

FulbeBahBarryDialloSow
Wasolon-FulaDiakitéSangaréDialloSidibé

In short, the name Djena Jalo is somewhat intriguing. It calls for clarification. Let’s hope that better information will be forthcoming.

Tierno S. Bah

Réponse à Lamine Diallo
La sale guerre de Sékou Touré contre les Peuls


Judge orders release of Southlake couple accused of treating girl like a slave

April 30, 2018 03:38 PM

A Southlake couple charged with forcing a West African girl to work in slavelike conditions in their home for more than 16 years were ordered released from federal custody Monday, though they did have to surrender their passports.

Family members and friends of Mohamed Toure and Denise Cros-Toure — who were arrested last week — erupted in celebration after U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cureton ordered them set free. The Toures’ five children sat in the courtroom in support of their parents, and the oldest daughter testified on their behalf.

Tarrant County authorities have dealt with the girl, who is believed to be about five years older than she thinks she is, and the family since at least April 2002, when Southlake police found her in a city park “wearing dirty unkept clothing” and “very visibly scared and nervous,” according to a police report. She has told federal agents that she was forced to do all manner of household chores, that she was for years made to sleep on the floor and that she was at times physically and emotionally abused — all while receiving no pay or formal education.

After Cureton’s ruling, Scott Palmer, Denise Cros-Toure’s attorney, called the government’s case “weak” and suggested that it’s the girl’s word against that of the family’s five children.

“It’s one source,” said Palmer, whose law practice is based in Addison. “We had five witnesses — the Toures’ children — and they say it didn’t happen.”

Cureton reached his decision after almost three hours of testimony.

The couple, dressed in orange and tan jail jumpsuits, smiled and acknowledged their children and friends as they arrived flanked by U.S. marshals.

Palmer, along with Mohamed Toure’s attorney, Brady T. Watt III of Dallas, emphasized that the girl went on domestic vacations with the Toure family, left the home on her own, engaged in social media and even jogged in the neighborhood.

“She was not confined to the home,” Palmer said.

‘They love us’

The Toures’ oldest daughter testified that the girl was a “cousin” — though not by blood or marriage — who was never abused, mistreated or forced to work. The daughter said she spoke not just for herself but for her four siblings as well.

The judge asked that witnesses not be identified by name.

“They love us,” the daughter testified, appearing to fight back tears. “I believe my father to be a good man, my mother a good woman.”

Arrest warrants accusing the couple of engaging in forced labor were issued last Tuesday. The Toures are also accused of taking away the girl’s documents and keeping her in the United States unlawfully after her visa expired.

If convicted, Mohamed and Denise Cros-Toure face up to 20 years in federal prison. Monday’s hearing came after federal prosecutors filed motions Thursday for the couple to be kept in custody, saying the defendants posed a flight risk and could try to obstruct the case.

Their supporters can scarcely believe what’s happening.

“It’s all ridiculous,” family friend Abdul Bility of Fort Worth said Monday after the hearing. “I don’t know how these people could be charged.”

The criminal complaint

The girl, identified in the federal complaint as female victim 1 or “FV-1,” was born in Guinea and lived with her family in a one-room mud hut with a thatched roof and no electricity. Her father was a farmer and her mother sold produce to support the family.

In testimony Monday, the girl was identified as Jane Doe.

On occasion, the girl attended school and learned Malinke, a Guinean dialect, and some French. She did not know English, according to the federal complaint.

Toure and Cros-Toure are also from Guinea but have been permanent U.S. residents since 2005. Mohamed Toure is the son of Guinea’s first president, Ahmed Sekou Toure, according to the complaint.

The Toures are educated and have significant assets in the United States, but a federal investigation indicated they do not have jobs. They bought their Southlake home in 1991 for $370,000 and it’s now valued at $590,000, records show.

According to Texas Workforce Commission records, Toure has never worked in this country but has worked for a government party in Guinea. The records show his wife worked for Delta Air Lines from July 2005 to June 2006 and as a substitute teacher in the Carroll school district starting in 2016.

Bank records showed that significant overseas deposits were the family’s primary source of income, averaging $200,000 a year from 2010 to 2016, according to the federal complaint.

The couple’s five children attend high school or college or have jobs.

Leaving home

The girl told federal agents that her father asked her if she wanted to go to a city in Guinea, and took her to Cros-Toure’s parents. She was about 4 or 5 years old at the time. She stayed there for just over a year caring for the Cros family’s blind daughter. She remembered being upset one day, and the Cros family told her to stop crying because they were her family now.

When she was 5, the family placed the girl on a plane to Houston where she then flew to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, arriving on Jan. 19, 2000. Cros-Toure and three of her children met her and took her to their Southlake home, according to the federal complaint. She never left the United States after that.

In testimony Monday, the age of the girl was believed to be over 10 years old when she arrived in 2000. A discrepancy exists because her date of birth has not been verified.

As soon as she arrived in Southlake, the girl told federal agents, Cros-Toure ordered her to care for the Toure family’s 2-year-old son.

Cros-Toure routinely kicked the girl out of the Toure home as punishment for her poor labor and domestic work. The girl slept in a nearby park. She did not try to escape because she was undocumented, spoke very little English, and didn’t have money, any form of identification or a car, according to the federal complaint.

On April 30, 2002, a Southlake police officer dispatched to Bicentennial Park for a possible runaway found the girl. The officer took her back to the Toure home where Cros-Toure said the girl was her cousin and she was being home-schooled. The couple told police that they had been trying to find her, according to the federal complaint.

In 2003, Toure, Cros-Toure and their children took a trip to Paris and left the girl with another family in North Richland Hills.

Added responsibilities

As the years went by, according to the federal complaint, the girl’s job responsibilities increased to cooking, cleaning, making beds, vacuuming, doing the laundry, mowing the yard and painting. She also walked the children to school. Some neighbors believed the girl was a nanny because they would see her with the children or walking the dogs. One neighbor believed the girl did not have a social life.

The Toure’s daughter testified Monday that she and her siblings also did chores, that she went shopping with the girl several times and that the girl was treated like family.

Cros-Toure and Toure started physically abusing her when she did not perform her duties to Cros-Toure’s liking. Cros-Toure increased her punishment when the girl’s pain tolerance increased, like slapping led to the use of a belt and then to the use of an electrical cord, according to the federal complaint.

Cros-Toure is accused of ripping the girl’s left earring out, tearing her ear lobe; hitting the girl when she caught her drawing instead of cleaning the house; and twisting her arm. Toure is accused of sitting on the girl’s back as Cros-Toure spanked her with a belt.

Cros-Toure called the girl a “slave,” a “whore,” and told her she was “just a little nothing,” according to the complaint.

When the girl told Cros-Toure she had proof of the abuse, Toure stated, “Who do you think you are?”

As she grew older, she made fewer mistakes and was punished less often, according to the complaint.

Toure’s daughter told the judge Monday all the children were disciplined by spankings or timeouts.

“No one was ever hit with an electrical cord,” she testified. “I never saw Jane Doe hit with an electrical cord.”

Her day started at 6:30 to 7 a.m., and she worked until the children went to bed at night, according to the federal complaint.

Initially, the girl never left the Southlake home and was never left alone.

Later, she was allowed to walk to a grocery store, but because she could not read or write English, she would shop by sight for the vegetables that she recognized and by the pictures on canned and boxed items, according to the federal complaint. On every occasion, Cros-Toure checked the receipt and change when the girl returned.

The Toures did not allow the girl to eat with the family. One neighbor who was over for dinner at the Toures saw the girl serving the meal and cleaning afterward, but said the girl did not eat with the family.

For years, the girl slept on the floor in one of the children’s bedrooms. When one of the children graduated from high school, the girl was permitted to sleep on an old twin bed in one of the rooms, according to the complaint.

‘My parents took care of her’

Carroll school records showed the Toure children enrolled in the district. There were no records for the girl. One neighbor asked Cros-Toure whether the girl attended school and Cros-Toure replied it was too hard. Cros-Toure told another neighbor that the girl had finished high school.

“My parents took care of her,” the daughter testified Monday when asked how she believed the girl ended up in their Southlake home from Guinea. “She did have the proper paperwork to enroll in school.”

The girl also missed out when Mohamed and Denise Cros-Toure taught their children how to use computers, to swim and drive.

Nor did she get new clothes like the Toures’ daughters, but instead got old, ill-fitting clothes, according to the complaint.

Cros-Toure and Toure never took the girl to a doctor’s office. In 2014, the girl woke up with a toothache and the Toures drove her to a friend’s home where she was given a shot for a tooth infection. She was later driven to Texas A&M College of Dentistry where her tooth was pulled, the complaint states.

At times, the Toures told people the girl was their niece. The girl would repeat it to others because she was embarrassed that it was not true.

In 2016, the couple threatened to send the girl back to Guinea, even taking her to a CVS to have a passport photo taken, but then they stopped.

The girl escaped in July 2016 after Cros-Toure became angry with her on Father’s Day for not preparing anything for dinner. The Toures yelled at her and she attempted to flee the residence, but Cros-Toure blocked her way, according to the complaint. The girl jumped out a window and spent the night at a Southlake park.

The girl contacted a neighbor who let her stay there for a few days. The girl stayed for a week with another neighbor, who contacted the Toures and asked them about the alleged mistreatment. Cros-Toure told the neighbor that the girl was lying, that she had finished high school and that they were sending her back to Guinea.

She was returned to the Toure family.

A month later, the girl contacted a neighbor and told her that things had gotten worse. The neighbor told the girl to get proof of her abuse such as photos, according to the complaint. The girl got photos and her travel documents, then fled the house when Cros-Toure and her children were away. Friends picked her up and took her to a shelter, all her possessions stuffed in a duffle bag and backpack.

Neither Toure nor Cros-Toure filed a missing-person report with Southlake police.

The Toures’ daughter told the judge Monday she was angry with her “cousin.”

“I don’t understand why she is doing this,” she said. “My parents have nothing to hide.”

Domingo Ramirez Jr.
Fort Worth

Mohamed Touré. Like father, like son?

Denise Cros-Touré and Mohamed Touré. April 24, 2018. Photo: Tarrant County Sheriff's Department
Denise Cros-Touré and Mohamed Touré. April 24, 2018. Photo: Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department

In a press release today  here in Washington, DC the Department of Justice announced that:

“Mohamed Toure, 57, and Denise Cros-Toure, 57, of Ft. Worth, Texas, appeared today in federal court in the Northern District of Texas on a criminal complaint charging them with forced labor.”

Historical and political overview

Mohamed is the only legitimate son of Ahmed Sékou Touré, Guinea’s first president.  Ms. Denise Cros-Touré is the daughter of the late Marcel Cros, who held high-level appointments in the administration and the government of Guinea’s first republic (1958-1984). Upon Sékou Touré’s death in Cleveland, Ohio, his all-powerful ruling Parti démocratique de Guinée (PDG) collapsed and split into  the family and companions factions. The first camp reflected family ties and kinship. The other branch adopted companionship to the late president as its cornerstone. Abandoned and reduced to hollow shells, both groups claimed the mantle of heirs to the defunct dictator. Marcel Cros —Denise’s father — headed the family-oriented bloc. Mr. Momo Bangoura still leads the cohort of “companions” of the PDG.

Artificial and divisive distinction

The above splinter of the PDG is reminiscent of the dissensions within Guinea-Bissau’s PAIGC in the early 1970. They resulted in the assassination of Amilcar Cabral. In both cases, light-skinned individuals or mulattoes were —  artificially — pit against dark skinned black leaders and members. …
In Guinea-Conakry, Marcel Cros belonged in the mulatto minority. When he died, Mohamed Touré became secretary general of the Parti démocratique de Guinea. That formation is, today, nothing but a pale, shadowy and shrunken version of the erstwhile formidable ruling machine. Mohamed won only 0.2% of the vote in the 2010 presidential election. And he did not qualify for running in the 2015 vote because he failed to meet the eligibility criteria.

Unintended consequences

Fast forward to today with the serious grievances leveled by the unnamed baby-sitter against Mohamed Touré and his wife Denise Cros. Although at a much personal level, and on a domestic scale, the scandal reads as a cruel repetition of history. It hearkens back to a sixty-year old political incident. Then, on August 25, 1958, in his capacity as president of the territorial government of French Guinea as well as secretary-general of the majority party (PDG), Sékou Touré told the visiting General Charles de Gaulle that:

« Nous préférons la liberté dans la pauvreté à l’oppulence dans l’esclavage. » (We prefer liberty in poverty to wealth in slavery”

It was a rhetorical and eloquent cliché ; it became a consequential bluster. And its  unintended and unforeseen consequences emerged soon after. Precisely, it triggered the — still unfolding and worsening — Guinean tragedy. That calamity is the mainstay of a strong and brilliant tradition of  intellectual denunciation and literary representation. An online sample of those articulate, meaningful and expressive works is accessible on webGuinée under the title Dictature et littérature. The great writer Maryse Condé is among the authors who endeavored to expose Sékou Touré’s tyranny.

Condé’s autobiography is titled La vie sans fards.

Sékou Touré’s catchy statement made him famous around the world. Especially following French Guinea’s overwhelmingly No vote whereby the territory rejected de Gaulle’s Constitution of the Fifth republic and its complementary Communauté Franco-Africaine. As a result, Guinea became a sovereign country on October 2, 1958.

L’éclatement de la Fédération du Mali (1960) : d’une Fédération rêvée au choc des réalités, mai 1960

Un combat pour l’unité de l’Afrique de l’Ouest. La Fédération du Mali (1959-1960)

However, the law of unintended consequences soon began to bear on the people of Guinea. And, faced with mounting popular dissatisfaction and growing illegitimacy, President Sékou Touré engaged in a conspiracy strategy to justify the repressive methods of his police-state.

Guinea: Estrangement Between the Leaders and the People

Sékou Touré’s rule of terror built on the so Permanent Plot… against his regime. He invented the conspiracies in order to instill fear and to mount cyclical purges.

As a result, freedom and prosperity vanished from Guinea. Poverty and oppression settled in.

The livelihood and well-being of the population plummeted. The economy tanked. And millions of peasants emigrated to near and distant countries
Human rights wise, the country’s best minds (teachers, lawyers, economists, engineers, doctors), talented entrepreneurs, trained military officers, etc. disappeared in successive plots denounced out of nowhere by the regime. Families were destroyed. Tens of thousands of political prisoners —Guineans and foreign nationals —were arrested, tortured, tried and sentenced in their absence. And executions at Camp Boiro continued unabated.

Documentary movie Allah Tantou

Total impunity

Sékou Touré’s successors, including the corrupt regime of the sitting president, Alpha Condé, have worsened the distress and the plight of the people of Guinea. The country’s leaders have behave worse than the French colonial rulers. Their patriotic discourse is vocal, loud. However, their policies and actions belie their speeches. For they behave not as humble servants, but as the masters of the populations. For example, since Mr. Condé’s second inauguration in 2015, the security forces have killed more than 94 peaceful marchers in Conakry alone.
In total impunity!
In 2012, corruption-buster and then national director of the Treasury, Ms. Aissatou Boiro, was shot at point blank. Criminality is rampant and the level of gang violence has increased.  In 2015, journalist Cherif Diallo was kidnapped. He disappeared and has not to be seen again. The same year car thieves robbed and killed Thierno Alioune Diaouné, National Coordinator for the UN Peacebuilding Fund and former Minister of Youth and Sports. Another journalist, Mohamed Koula Diallo, was murdered in 2016. In almost all these and many other cases, investigations lead to dead-ends and remain cold…
Meanwhile, using delaying tactics, the authorities keep dragging their feet for the trial of the indicted perpetrators of the September 28, 2009 massacre, carried out by the military and para-military forces of the junta led by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.

Report of the United Nations International Commission of Inquiry mandated to establish the facts and circumstances of the events of 28 September 2009 in Guinea

Criminal mindset and behavior

Apparently, Mohamed Touré and his wife espouse the deviant, merciless, nasty and — allegedly criminal —mindset and behavior that sixty years of dictatorship has instilled in Guineans. Did the couple adopt and apply Sékou Touré’s oppressive, repressive and exploitative system to a member of their family? If so, then it’s like father (Sékou), like son (Mohamed).

Had they had shown a little compassion toward their illiterate, helpless, poor and young servant from rural Guinea, they would have spared themselves and their grown-up children the scandal and shame created by this federal judicial case.

Justice will prevail

If convicted, the couple faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. Meanwhile, they remain innocent until proven guilty by a jury of their peers.

Having caught up with Ms. and Mr. Touré, Justice will proceed in a impartial and professional way, and at a fair and steady pace. The same Justice continues to elude Guineans at home. But it will most likely prevail in court in the Northern District of Texas. Just as it did in the Southern District of New York, in the Mahmoud Thiam corruption and bribery case.

Tierno S. Bah

Sales temps pour les amis d’Alpha Condé

Après l’ex-président d’Afrique du Sud, Jacob Zuma — sur qui pèse 783 chefs d’accusation de corruption, fraude, blanchiment d’argent et racket—, c’est Vincent Bolloré, un autre ami du président Alpha Condé, qui doit répondre à la Justice. Depuis quelques heures il est placé en garde à vue à Nanterre, dans la banlieue de Paris.

Consulter France – Guinée : Bolloré et Condé

Lire plus bas l’article de Libération

Vincent Bolloré
Vincent Bolloré
Ex-president Jacob Zuma : 783 chefs d'accusation de corruption, fraude, blanchiment d'argent et racket
Ex-président Jacob Zuma : 783 chefs d’accusation de corruption, fraude, blanchiment d’argent et racket

Justice
Vincent Bolloré, enleveur de ports

L’homme d’affaires a été placé en garde à vue mardi à Nanterre, dans le cadre d’une enquête sur les conditions d’octroi de concessions portuaires en Guinée et au Togo en 2010, sur fond de liaisons dangereuses entre sa filiale Havas et des dirigeants africains.

Stupeur et tremblements dans le microcosme financier : songez donc, Vincent Bolloré en garde à vue ! Mais sourire entendu des françafricanistes : ça devait bien arriver un jour… Sur directive du coriace juge d’instruction Serge Tournaire, le trublion patron du groupe de transport, de logistique et de communication (mais aussi son numéro 2, Gilles Alix) est donc passé à la question depuis mardi à propos de ses concessions portuaires en Afrique.

Deux d’entre elles semblent retenir l’attention des enquêteurs : celles de Conakry (Guinée) et Lomé (Togo), toutes deux obtenues en 2010. Dans les deux cas, des concurrents éconduits avaient déposé des plaintes pour corruption, vite classées sans suite. Avant que la justice pénale française ne s’ébroue à retardement, avec une perquisition de la tour Bolloré, siège du groupe à Puteaux (Hauts-de-Seine) au printemps 2016.
Entre-temps, Bolloré n’aura été entendu qu’en tant que simple témoin en 2013, juste histoire de dire qu’il délègue volontiers à son staff toutes ses activités africaines et qu’il n’a «jamais suivi ou signé» personnellement le moindre contrat de concession portuaire.

Guinée

L’année 2010 fut celle d’une double campagne présidentielle, permettant l’élection d’Alpha Condé en Guinée et la réélection de Faure Gnassingbé au Togo. Les deux étant épaulés par l’agence Havas, filiale du groupe Bolloré, ou du moins par l’un de ses dirigeants, Jean-Philippe Dorent, également placé en garde à vue. Si l’obtention quelques mois plus tard de concessions portuaires à Conakry et Lomé devait relever du renvoi d’ascenseur, cela ferait bien cher pour une simple prestation de campagne… Les enquêteurs cherchent donc sûrement autre chose de plus consistant. Un communiqué du groupe Bolloré publié mardi paraît le confirmer entre les lignes : « Le lien qui tente d’être établi par certains entre l’obtention de ces concessions et les opérations de communication est dénué de tout fondement économique. »

En Guinée, la gestion du port avait été concédée en 2008 au français Necotrans, filiale du groupe Getma. Il était mieux-disant financier face à la concurrence de Bolloré, promettant de verser 15 millions d’euros au Port autonome de Conakry (PAC) sur la durée du contrat, contre seulement 7,5 millions promis par son challenger. Mais comme de coutume en Afrique, le lauréat de la concession doit «réserver» une part du gâteau à des «intérêts locaux» : en l’espèce, l’homme d’affaires et «administrateur de sociétés» Gamal Challoub, héritant de 35 % des parts, à charge pour lui de les sous-attribuer à qui de droit… Un an plus tard, une augmentation de capital pour rénover les infrastructures portuaires le diluera à 2 %. Crime de lèse-majesté ? Le président de Getma sera condamné pour faux à deux ans de prison avec sursis – en son absence, à l’africaine. C’est sur ces entrefaites qu’Alpha Condé, trois mois après son élection, délogera manu militari Noctrans du PAC, et confiera la gestion à Bolloré sans plus de formalités.

Interrogé en 2016 par le Monde dans sa suite de l’hôtel Raphaël à Paris, le président guinéen n’y allait pas par quatre chemins à propos de Vincent Bolloré :

« C’est un ami. Je privilégie les amis. Et alors ? »

Dans un récent livre, Vincent tout-puissant (JC Lattès), le journaliste Nicolas Vescovacci a recueilli le précieux témoignage de Dominique Lafont, ancien directeur général de Bolloré Africa Logistics (le pôle chargé de toutes ses activités portuaires sur le continent). Lui aussi parle cash :

« Sur Conakry, j’ai fait comprendre à Vincent que je n’approuvais pas la méthode et que j’en appréhendais les conséquences en termes d’image. On s’est un peu comportés comme des cow-boys. »

Epilogue provisoire. Après avoir obtenu deux petits millions d’euros de dommages et intérêts en 2013, via le tribunal de commerce de Nanterre, Necotrans a été placée l’an dernier en redressement judiciaire. En course pour reprendre ses actifs : l’incontournable groupe Bolloré.

Togo

Au Togo, la concession était initialement détenue, depuis 2001, par le groupe Progosa, piloté par l’homme d’affaires franco-espagnol Jacques Dupuydauby. En réalité, il était financé en sous-main – via des sociétés offshore – par Bolloré, discret coup de main destiné à éviter un abus de position dominante dans les ports d’Afrique de l’Ouest. Dans ce genre de «portage» financier, encore faut-il que le porteur (Dupuydauby) et le porté (Bolloré) se fassent confiance. Entre eux deux, elle se brisera rapidement, le premier vidant de leurs substances les coquilles luxembourgeoises créées à cet effet pour mieux accaparer les actifs portuaires.

Sur plainte de Bolloré, Dupuydauby sera condamné par la justice espagnole à trois ans de prison – la cour d’appel de Paris devant statuer mi-mai sur son extradition réclamée par Madrid. Mais la contre-plainte du second, déposée en France en 2012, poursuit son petit bonhomme de chemin… Dans sa foulée, Vincent Bolloré avait été entendu une première fois comme témoin, par la brigade financière en février 2013. Le livre Vincent tout-puissant dévoile quelques extraits du procès-verbal. Question simple : « Etes-vous le représentant légal de la Financière du Loch ? » Cette société est l’un de ces nombreux véhicules financiers qu’il aime à confectionner et utiliser. Réponse surréaliste : « Je ne sais pas. » Soit « Bollo » perd la mémoire, soit il se moque du monde.

« Méconnaissance lourde »

Retour au seul volet portuaire. Dupuydauby était proche de l’ancien président togolais, le général Eyadema, beaucoup moins de son successeur de fils depuis 2005, Faure Gnassingbé. Lequel accordera plutôt sa confiance et la gestion du port de Lomé à Bolloré – en direct, cette fois. Concession renouvelée pour trente-cinq ans avant même sa réélection en 2010. A ceux qui y verraient malice, le communiqué du groupe Bolloré répond ceci : « Méconnaissance lourde de ce secteur industriel », les indéniables compétences logistiques du groupe Bolloré faisant seules la différence. Reste ce témoignage de Jacques Dupuydauby, attestant avoir dû arroser les dirigeants togolais. La justice française devra dire si cette époque est bel et bien révolue.

Renaud Lecadre
Libération