Andrée Touré : impénitente et non-repentante, suite

Henriette Conté (ex-Première dame de Lansana Conté), Andrée Touré (ex-Première dame de Sékou Touré) et le Premier ministre Lansana Kouyaté. Conakry, 2008
Henriette Conté (ex-Première dame de Lansana Conté), Andrée Touré (ex-Première dame de Sékou Touré) et le Premier ministre Lansana Kouyaté. Conakry, 2008

Dans un article précédent j’ai dénoncé l’impénitence et la non-repentance de Hadja Andrée Touré dans son interview télévisée avec le journaliste Yamoussa Sidibé. J’ai attiré l’attention des lecteurs sur la tentative maladroite et le souci vain de réécriture de l’Histoire de la Guinée. Je continue ici l’épluchage et la réfutation des positions fragiles et des opinions mystificatrices de la veuve de Sékou Touré.

Hadja Andrée Touré déclare :

« Mais ce qui était très difficile pour moi, c’était le fait d’être avec certaines personnes comme la femme de Diarra, qui était avec moi dans la même cellule. C’était insupportable pour moi. La cohabitation-là était pire que la prison pour moi. Mais on devait l’accepter. »

Dans une biographie de Sékou Touré en huit volumes Ahmed Sékou Touré (1922-1984). Président de la Guinée de 1958 à 1984, André Lewin donne une version plus crédible des circonstances de l’emprisonnement de la famille Touré au Camp militaire Keme Bourema de Kindia. Au chapitre 89, 26 mars 1984, la mort américaine (Volume 7) il fournit des détails intéressants sur le sort de l’épouse et des enfants de Sékou Touré, arrêtés en même temps que les officiels du régime. Lewin précise :

« Un an après le coup, un avocat français, Maître Jean-Marie Degueldre, mandaté par la famille de l’ancien président … peut leur rendre visite au camp de Kindia 202. Il s’entretient avec Ismaël Touré, Abdoulaye Touré, Siaka Touré, Moussa Diakité, ainsi qu’avec Madame Andrée, qui lui confie un numéro de compte en banque, sur lequel auraient été versés les droits d’auteur des oeuvres de Sékou 203. »

L’ex-ambassadeur de France à Conakry ajoute :

« Il (l’avocat) constate aussi que, par suite d’un raffinement psychologique qui ne doit sans doute rien au hasard, la veuve (Andrée) et la maîtresse (Fally Kesso Bah) de l’ancien président sont enfermées dans la même cellule ! 204 »

Lire aussi Alpha Condé. Mésalliances, vulgarité, absurdité

Comme on le voit, il n’y a aucune mention de la femme du Colonel Diarra Traoré, dont, en tant que professeur à l’époque, je garde l’image d’une fille  Pullo de Pita, belle et membre de l’équipe universitaire de basketball.

Moralité : au lieu d’une interview improvisée et vague, Hadja Andrée devrait porter un témoignage sur sa vie par écrit et sous la forme d’un livre. L’avantage d’un tel format est qu’il pousserait Hadja à plus de discipline dans la remémoration et la présentation de ses souvenirs. Sinon ses affirmations péremptoires et tranchantes prêteront un flanc faible à la critique. Telles quelles, elles restent erronées et ne font pas le poids sur la balance de l’Histoire.
En attendant, la version d’André Lewin, et non  celle d’Andrée Touré, me paraît plus logique et plus crédible.Le premier fournit au moins des noms de témoins, alors que la seconde se contente de déclarations catégoriques dénuées de preuves.

Cela dit, 32 ans après son emprisonnement Hadja Andrée semble toujours en vouloir au Colonel Diarra Traoré et à la veuve de celui-ci. Cela est étrange ! Car si Diarra avait réussi son coup d’Etat, Hadja Andrée et ses compagnons en auraient été les premiers bénéficiaires. On les aurait libéré  Et ils auraient récupéré leurs biens et — peut-être — leurs fonctions et privilèges.

Rivalités claniques et succession ratée

Pour renforcer son pouvoir personnel Sékou Touré monta autour de lui des clans familiaux. Il  les manipula et les opposa continuellement, ne conférant à aucun d’eux la dominance. Tous les coups et méthodes (rumeurs, dénonciations, zèle, maraboutage, etc.) furent mis à contribution pour courtiser et plaire au chef, et ainsi accéder aux postes juteux et accumuler des avantages matériels. Quatre factions se livrèrent une lutte féroce et sournoise sous la férule du Responsable suprême de la révolution.

  • Le clan d’Ismael Touré (famille Touré de Faranah, non-liée à Samori et allies : Diané, Camara, Condé, Keira, Fadiga, etc.)
  • Le clan d’Andrée Touré (familles Keita, KouroumaDiakité, etc.)
  • Le clan de Siaka Touré, membre de la famille agnatique de Samori Touré, c’est-à-dire des descendants par les pères (Dr. Abdoulaye Touré, membre du BPN, ministre des Affaires étrangères ; Mohamed Lamine Touré, ministre ; Mohamed  Lamine Touré, gouverneur de la Banque centrale ; Mouloukou Souleymane Touré, directeur du Renseignement, etc.), leurs alliés de Kankan et d’ailleurs.
    A l’opposé, Sékou Touré appartient à la famille cognatique, en tant que descendant — putatif — de Samori par sa grand-mère.
  • Le clan de Lansana Béavogui, vieux compagnon et Premier ministre figurant

Sékou tel que je l’ai connu est une longue interview d’André Lewin par Hamid Barrada dans Jeune Afrique. Bien placé pour confirmer ce que tout le monde savait à l’époque, Lewin y souligne que “les membres de sa (Sékou) famille et de celle de sa femme occupaient en permanence des positions éminentes.”

Lire également :
Family feuds (1984)
Ahmed Sékou Touré: An African Tragedy (1985)
Sékou Touré. Ce qu’il fut. Ce qu’il a fait. Ce qu’il faut défaire (1985)
Un seul gouvernement : la famille

Au lendemain des funérailles de Sékou Touré, entre le 1er le 2 avril 1984, les quatre groupes ne purent s’accorder sur la désignation d’un successeur à la présidence temporaire de la république. En définitive, leurs dissensions poussèrent l’armée à prendre le pouvoir le 3 avril. Un an plus tard, un tribunal extra-judiciaire et secret condamna à mort les caciques du PDG. La plupart furent fusillés le 19 juillet 1985. Comble d’ironie du sort, Colonel Lansana Conté — un exécuteur zélé des basses et infâmes besognes de Sékou Touré — fut le liquidateur-en-chef des membres mâles de la famille de ce dernier.

Hadja Andrée garde en mémoire et dans son coeur les détails de l’exécution des membres des clans ci-haut. A l’exception de quelques individus (Lansana Béavogui, Nfamara Keita, Damantan Camara, etc.), ils furent extraits de cellules voisines de celle de Hadja sienne pour être conduits au champ d’exécution du Mont Gangan. C’est à ce même endroit que des milliers de suppliciés du Camp Boiro périrent entre 1960 et 1984. Elle raconte dans l’interview comment elle reprocha au président Conté l’exécution des principaux officiels du régime de son mari :

« C’est à la mort de ma mère que j’ai pu rentrer ici. Le Président Lansana Conté s’est occupé des funérailles de ma mère. La famille s’est réunie pour aller le remercier. Quand on a quitté, il m’a envoyé frère Kozo pour me dire qu’il veut me rencontrer seule. Je suis allée. Dans son bureau, il m’a salué, m’a demandé si tout allait bien. J’ai dit oui tout va bien. Il a mis sa main dans sa poche, pour sortir une enveloppe, il me l’a tendu. Ma réaction était violente. Ah non, ça je ne l’ai pas supporté. J’ai dit :
— Monsieur le Président vous savez que je ne peux pas accepter votre enveloppe. Parce que pour moi, prendre son enveloppe, c’était comme si je buvais le sang de nos compagnons qui ont été tués. »

Conté étant mort, il ne peut donc pas confirmer ou contester la teneur de ces propos de Hadja Andrée. Mais les affirmations de Hadja sont réfutables sur la base du bilan négatif de ces “compagnons”.

Complices déloyaux, malhonnêtes et perfides

Hadja Andrée s’exprime de façon imagée et parle du “sang de nos compagnons qui ont été tués”.

Mais qui étaient ces compagnons ? Etaient-ils droits, honnêtes, vertueux ? Ou alors s’agissait-il des démagogues incompétents, de loups voraces et de complices récidivistes dans l’assassinat de centaines de cadres plus valables qu’eux ? L’Histoire répond par l’affirmative à la deuxième question. Pis, ces “collaborateurs” étaient experts dans l’art de la flatterie et de la flagornerie. Et, comme dans une danse de fourbes, ils furent absolument déloyaux vis-à-vis de Sékou Touré. Qui leur rendait la monnaie de leur pièce par une méfiance pathologique, une surveillance constante et des restrictions réelles. Je prend ici le cas d’Ismael Touré.

Ismael Touré : jalousie, malhonnêteté et traîtrise

Agissant constamment en sourdine contre son aîné, Ismael fut l’incarnation même du faadenya maninka (baaba-gootaaku, en Pular), c’est-à-dire la rivalité sybiline, mais  qui prend ici la dimension d’une jalousie maladive et mortelle.

C’est ainsi qu’en avril 1979, les rapports entre les deux demi-frères se détériorèrent au point qu’une réunion du Bureau politique national, présidée naturellement par Sékou, décida de déchoir Ismael de toutes ses fonctions —politiques et gouvernementales — et de l’exiler à Faranah. Ce fut le salaire de la complicité entre deux dirigeants cruels et criminels, qui avaient ruiné la Guinée et vidé les rangs de l’élite du pays au Camp Boiro.

Ismael Touré détourne 56 millions de dollars

André Lewin raconte le scénario rocambolesque monté par Ismael Touré pour détourner la somme  de 56 millions de dollars US en 1981. Si son plan avait réussit, il aurait vraisemblablement utilisé la somme pour éliminer Sékou Touré. Voici le récit de cet épisode digne de roman policier fomenté par Ismael envers la Guinée, le chef de l’Etat guinéen et son demi-frère :

« A une certaine période, Ismaël a fait venir à Conakry Paul Berthaud, un homme d’affaires français avec lequel il a longuement négocié la construction d’un nouvel hôtel; la rumeur disait que le montant exigé de la Guinée était extrêmement élevé et qu’il y avait forcément de la corruption, mais personne n’avait de preuves en mains, car l’intéressé affirmait que les billets à ordre signés par Ismaël au nom de la Guinée et avalisés par la Banque guinéenne, se trouvaient dans son coffre à Paris (dont personne d’autre que lui n’avait les clés et la combinaison) et que les premières échéances se trouvaient déjà en possession des banques.
Cet homme d’affaires a finalement été arrêté sous un prétexte, mis en résidence surveillée dans une villa, et très vite condamné à une très forte amende et à une longue peine de prison. Je suis allé voir Sékou et lui ai dit que Berthaud était le premier Français arrêté depuis des années, qu’il n’y avait aucune preuve irréfutable contre lui, et que les hommes d’affaires français qui s’intéressaient à la Guinée et dont la très grande majorité étaient d’honnêtes gens, allaient désormais hésiter à venir à Conakry.
Sékou ne voulait pas le laisser partir car il n’avait pas confiance; il m’a finalement mis en position délicate :
— Je veux bien lui restituer son passeport et le laisser aller, à la condition qu’il vous remette tous les billets signés et que vous veniez me les donner en mains propres. Vous serez ainsi personnellement responsable de l’aboutissement de cette affaire. Que faire ? Je suis allé voir Paul Berthaud dans sa villa. Il me fallut un certain temps pour le convaincre qu’il fallait qu’il s’exécute, sinon, il risquait de rester plusieurs années dans une prison guinéenne. Il m’a donc donné sa parole que dès son arrivée à Paris, il remettrait les billets à l’un de mes collaborateurs qui l’accompagnerait et me les ramènerait. Je ne sais pourquoi, mais j’avais décidé de lui faire confiance. Je suis donc retourné voir Sékou pour lui faire part de l’arrangement.
Il m’a donné le passeport et j’accompagnai l’homme d’affaires à l’avion en lui faisant ressortir la responsabilité que j’avais prise (je n’avais même pas eu le temps d’informer Paris de mes intentions, très risquées pour un ambassadeur). Je fus extrêmement soulagé, bien entendu, quand le surlendemain, mon collaborateur revint avec en sa possession la vingtaine de billets à ordre signés par Ismaël et contresignés par le ministre-gouverneur des banques et l’ambassade de Guinée à Paris. J’ai pris une photocopie (une seule, car je crois que j’étais un peu dégoûté de tous ces développements) avant de les remettre à Sékou, qui se montra vivement intéressé. J’ai là sous les yeux le billet (en anglais Promisory note) numéro 13, signé le 26 janvier 1979, et engageant la Guinée à payer au porteur (non désigné) à une succursale parisienne de la Société Générale, irrévocablement et inconditionnellement, 56 millions de dollars au 1er mars 1981.
Il n’était par ailleurs aucunement question d’un hôtel. Les autres billets portaient d’autres échéances et d’autres montants, et le total était astronomique, je crois plusieurs centaines de millions de dollars, en tous cas sans aucune mesure avec le coût raisonnable de la construction d’un hôtel, ce qui autorisait toutes les suspicions. Par la suite, Sékou ne m’en parla jamais plus. Ni Ismaël non plus, d’ailleurs ! Quant à Paul Berthaud, il a pu revenir en Guinée quelques mois plus tard ! »

Lire Ismael Touré, Paul Berthaud, André Lewin et Sékou Touré

Ismael envisage de renverser Sékou Touré

André Lewin dévoile aussi qu’à un moment donné les divergences entre Ismael et Sékou Touré étaient devenues antagoniques. Si l’un restait, l’autre était à éliminer. Lewin raconte :

«   Je puis même révéler aujourd’hui que pendant la disgrâce d’Ismaël Touré, alors qu’il était exilé dans la concession familiale à Faranah, l’un de ses proches est venu me voir discrètement à ma résidence de Gbessia pour me dire que si la France lui fournissait armes, argent et soutien,  Ismaël se faisait fort de renverser Sékou Touré et s’engageait à ce que la France ne regrette pas son appui.
Je pense que cette approche était sérieuse, bien que je ne puisse totalement exclure une provocation. En tout cas, j’ai dit à cet émissaire, qui me demandait ce que j’étais prêt à faire en faveur d’Ismaël, que le mieux que je pouvais faire pour Ismaël était d’oublier cette démarche et de ne pas en parler à Sékou.
J’ai tenu parole, je n’en ai jamais parlé jusqu’ici, mais je n’ai pas oubliée, comme vous voyez. Bien des Guinéens, y compris de hauts responsables, parfois des gens qui étaient en première ligne pour se proclamer les plus fidèles de Sékou, évoquaient librement devant moi l’hypothèse d’Ismaël dirigeant le pays sur le plan politique et surtout économique, et de Sékou cantonné à la politique extérieure et à la représentation.
Vous voyez, beaucoup de gens me faisaient confiance, et ils avaient raison, car je n’ai jamais “donné” aucun d’entre eux, mais la conception que je me faisais de mon rôle de représentant de la France et ma loyauté personnelle ne me permettaient pas de jouer à ces jeux là. »

Tierno S. Bah

A suivre

Andrée Touré : impénitente et non-repentante

Mme Andrée et M. Sékou Touré, en 1959
Mme Andrée et M. Sékou Touré, en 1959

L‘interview de Hadja Andrée, veuve de Sékou Touré par la Radio Télevision Guinéenne, expose une impénitence totale et une non-repentance absolue. De bout en bout, le discours prône l’adulation du défunt président. Mettant en oeuvre une mémoire sélective et réductrice, les réponses font l’apologie des crimes —humains, politiques, économiques— du “Responsable suprême de la révolution”.
Hadja Andrée émerge de l’entrevue comme l’incarnation même des idôlatres et comme le porte-étendard des nostalgiques d’un quart de siècle de tyrannie (1958-1984). A 82 ans, la première Première dame de la République de Guinée cherche à obtenir l’impossible, à savoir l’absolution et la disculpation du président Sékou Touré pour la débâcle de la Guinée et pour la déchéance des populations. Qu’on ne lui parle surtout pas de justice. Le mot et le concept lui sont inconnus  !

Aussi, jette-elle, d’une part, un regard morne et indifférent, subjectif et injuste sur le passé. Et, d’autre part, se fait-elle défensive et accusatrice. En paroles, elle professe l’humilité. Mais ses mots cachent mal une rancune tenace, des distorsions grossières et des déclarations mensongères sur la Guinée, brisée et ruinée par Sékou Touré.

Cela dit, le journaliste, Yamoussa Sidibé, appelle l’interview pompeusement Archive numéro 1. C’est trop dire. Délibérement ou pas, il confond son rôle de chroniqueur du présent avec celui de documentaliste du passé. Car son interview relève de l’actualité. Et c’est aux générations et aux décennies futures qu’il appartient la décision de traiter la vidéo comme archive. Ici, l’écart de langage n’est pas étonnant. Au contraire, il résulte de l’histoire du journalisme sous les dictatures successives du pays. Et des contraintes, difficultés et dilemmes pour des fonctionnaires — les journalistes — d’être à la fois laudateurs zélés, enquêteurs objectifs et critiques impartiaux de leur employeur, l’Etat. D’où le penchant des journalistes publics guinéens  —y compris les plus chevronnés— pour l’exagération, l’hyperbole, la redondance, et souvent l’obséquiosité envers les détenteurs (passés et présents) du pouvoir dans la Guinée post-coloniale. Exemple, le pénible dialogue “littéraire et historique” entre Mohamed Salifou Keita (l’animateur de l’émission TV Papier-Plume-Parole) et l’auteur Lamine ‘Kapi’ Kamara. J’y reviendrai.

En attendant je relève et réfute ici quelques unes des affirmations erronées de Hadja Andrée.

Réponses vagues, contenu plat

Si le but de l’interview était d’obtenir une autobiographie de Hadja Andrée, alors l’échec est presque total. Car Hadja ne livre que des bribes générales et  ambiguës sur les principales phases de sa vie : naissance, enfance, adolescence, mariage, rôle domestique, et son ascension à la tête d’un des plus puissants clans du régime de Sékou Touré.

C’est ainsi qu’elle passe à côté la première question, que Yamoussa Sidibé formule comme suit :
— Si je vous demande de parler de la Guinée, vous commencerez par quoi ?
Sans le savoir, Hadja s’enfonce par une réponse politique et politicienne, et — je le montre plus bas— pseudo-historique :
— Je commencerai par parler de l’indépendance de la Guinée. Comment l’indépendance a été acquise et ce que ça a apporté à la Guinée.
Le journaliste la rappelle courtoisement à l’ordre, en lui disant que le sujet Sékou Touré sera abordé après l’exposé de la biographie. Il lui dit :
— Nous allons parler de vous-même. Qui êtes-vous, Hadja ? D’où venez-vous ?…
Suit un petit laïus qui débouche mécaniquement sur Sékou Touré…
Et Yamoussa de la sermonner encore gentiment :
— Vous allez me ramenez encore vers le président Sékou Touré…
En réponse, Hadja émet un léger gloussement.
Elle accepte enfin de parler de ses parents et de sa famille d’origine. Mais on reste sur sa faim car les trous de mémoire sont nombreux et déplorables.
Exemples :

  • Cette métis Française-Maninka décline le nom du médecin militaire Paul-Marie Duplantier (son père). Mais elle passe sous silence celui de Kaissa Kourouma (sa mère) !!! Elle présente cette dernière vaguement comme une (simple) “fille de Macenta” !!! Elle ne mentionne non plus le nom d’aucun de ses frères et soeurs de lait !!! Et malheureusement le journaliste s’emballe et néglige  d’établir des données biographiques aussi élémentaires.
  • Elle déclare qu’au moment de retourner en France son père la confia à sa marraine Française. Cette affirmation est partiellement contestable. En vérité, Duplantier arrangea une union conjugale entre Kaissa et son assistant Thierno Madiou Bah, de Pita (Fuuta-Jalon). De ce mariage une fille, Aissatou Bah, qui épousa Nfally Sangaré, ancien gouverneur de la Banque centrale, ex-ambassadeur à Bruxelles.
  • Un fonctionnaire de Kouroussa, feu Ibrahima Sori Keita, épousa  Kaissa Kourouma en troisièmes noces. Il est l’oncle de Mamadi Keita (membre du Bureau politique) et le père de Seydou Keita, ambassadeur, gouverneur de région, tous deux fusillés en 1985. Kaissa mit au monde six enfants à Kouroussa, dont Fatoumata, Mori (économiste), Lanciné et Lounceny (des jumeaux qui devinrent des officiers du service des renseignements attachés du Commandant Siaka Touré, le maître-assistant de Sékou Touré au Camp Boiro), et feue Sayon (récemment décédée).

Ce troisième mari de Kaissa épousa une femme originaire de Labé. Leur fils, Boubacar Keita, grandit — maninkaphone et halpular — chez sa grand-mère maternelle, dans mon quartier natal de Ley-Saare, Labé-ville.

Le chapitre 15 “18 juin 1953. Sékou Touré se marie” (Volume 1) de son oeuvre biographique, André Lewin fournit les détails suivants sur Kaissa Kourouma et sa fille, Andrée :

« Agée de 16 ans à peine, Kaissa Kourouma a été mariée en premières noces à ce médecin du Service de santé colonial français, affecté à Macenta au début des années 1930. Lors d’une fête nationale du 14 Juillet, Duplantier avait été séduit par cette jeune Guinéenne, qu’il avait ensuite demandée en mariage à sa famille. Très opposée à une telle union avec un blanc, celle-ci tenta de présenter une autre jeune fille au docteur, mais celui-ci étant fermement décidé, Fatouma Kourouma, la mère de Kaissa, s’enfuit avec celle-ci dans un village voisin. Menacé d’emprisonnement, l’oncle paternel de Kaissa, qui avait sa garde depuis le décès de son père, les obligea à revenir à Macenta, où le mariage eut finalement lieu. Le couple vivait dans le camp militaire de Macenta. Andrée est née en 1934, et a très probablement été reconnue par son père, encore que certains le contestent ; ainsi que c’était la coutume à l’époque pour la plupart des métis issus de “mariages coloniaux”, elle porta le nom de famille de sa mère, Kourouma. Au terme de son affectation en Guinée, en 1936, le Dr Duplantier confia l’éducation de sa toute petite fille à sa marraine Louise Rouvin, ainsi qu’à l’un de ses associés du nom de Thierno Madjou Bah, qui épousera alors Kaissa. De ce mariage naît Aissatou, dite Astouba, qui épousera le futur ministre Nfaly Sangaré. Après le décès de son second mari, Kaissa se marie en troisièmes noces avec Ibrahima Sory Keita, dont elle aura six enfants, dont Fatoumata, qui épousera le futur ministre Moussa Diakité. Le fils d’une précédente union d’Ibrahima Sory Keita est Seydou Keita, futur ambassadeur à Paris (frère cadet de Mamadi Keita, membre du Bureau politique national, ministre de l’éducation — T.S Bah). Le Dr Duplantier aurait perdu la vie pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale. Louise Rouvin est restée très proche de sa filleule Andrée. Elles se sont revues pour la dernière fois en 1982, lors de la visite officielle de Sékou Touré en France. Louise Rouvin est décédée en France en 1985 sans avoir eu le soulagement de voir sa filleule libérée de le prison de Kindia. La mère de Madame Andrée résidait régulièrement à Conakry, où elle logeait dans la partie familiale du Palais présidentiel, mais elle ne participait pas à la vie officielle du couple présidentiel et préférait se retirer fréquemment à Macenta. Agée de plus de 80 ans, Kaïssa Kourouma est décédée en septembre 1997 à Dakar, où elle avait été transportée depuis la Guinée pour y subir des soins. Son corps sera rapatrié peu après à Macenta, où eurent lieu des obsèques familiales. Le président guinéen Lansana Conté, qui avait publié un communiqué officiel annonçant le décès, recevra Madame Andrée en audience. En 2002, Madame Andrée viendra s’installer dans l’ancienne villa Syli de Coléah (celle-là même qu’avait occupée Nkrumah pendant son exil), les biens familiaux lui seront restitués, cependant que les autorités procèdent à une véritable réhabilitation de Sékou Touré, à qui une retraite d’ancien chef d’État est même allouée, dont la réversion bénéficie à sa veuve. »



Sékou Touré en 1951-53 : popularité prématurée et surfaite

Hadja Andrée déclare qu’en 1951-53 déjà Sékou Touré avait acquis la popularité. Là encore, elle prend un raccourci ave l’Histoire. Au début des années 1950, l’étoile et le destin de son futur mari sont loin de briller et de s’affirmer. Commis auxiliaire de l’Etat colonial ou employé subalterne dans le privé, l’ambition de Sékou ne fait pas le poids face aux ténors de la politique locale qu’étaient Fodé Mamoudou Touré, Yacine Diallo, Mamba Sano, Diawadou Barry, Karim Bangoura, Diafodé Kaba, etc. La biographie de Sékou Touré par André Lewin décrit ces temps difficiles, marquées par l’indifférence partielle des populations et l’hostilité des chefs traditionnels.

Il y eut pire. Car, à mon avis, la décennie 1950 marqua le début de la criminalisation de la politique en Guinée française. Elle introduisit l’assassinat individuel comme méthode d’accès au pouvoir par Sékou Touré. En effet, coup sur coup, trois concurrents majeurs de Sékou Touré moururent subitement :

  • Niankoye Samoe (Samuel), commis aux PTT et ancien camarade syndicaliste de Sékou, en 1952
  • Camara Kaman, conseiller PDG-RDA de Beyla, en 1953
  • Yacine Diallo, député de la Guinée française à l’Assemblée nationale à Paris, 1954

Face à ces disparitions inopinées mon scepticisme reste entier. Car cette triple perte “facilita” la montée politique de Sékou Touré, qui s’engagea  sur le chemin  tortueux et sanglant de la conquête et de l’exercice du pouvoir. Par tous les moyens nécessaires : promesses, démagogie, duplicité, ruse, trahison, violence, destruction, férocité, etc. Trois ans après la mort suspecte de Yacine Diallo, le 14 avril 1954, Sékou devenait le vice-président du conseil de gouvernement de la Loi-cadre. La Guinée ne s’est pas encore relevée de l’ascension  fulgurante et fatidique d’un prétendu libérateur qui se révéla un tourmenteur dévastateur.

Tierno S. Bah

A suivre

Almanach Guinée 1970

Publié dans la revue Année Africaine, l’almanach 1970 sur la  Guinée se concentre presque exclusivement sur le gouvernement, le président Sékou Touré et son régime. La normalité des 10 premiers mois cède brusquement à l’attaque du 22 novembre, qui servira de prétexte et de justification pour la période de purge la plus longue et la plus sanglante de la dictature du PDG. Mais les dés étaient jetés depuis 1968 avec le rappel et l’incarcération sans motif d’Achkar Marof, représentant permanent à l’O.N.U. Et le pays enregistra en 1969, le “complot Kaman-Fodéba”, qui décapita l’état-major des forces armées.
L’année 1970 s’ouvrit ainsi par la visite du secrétaire général de l’O.N.U., qui était venu en fait plaider la cause et obtenir la libération d’Achkar, un des bras droits et ténors de la diplomatie onusienne pour l’Afrique. M. U Thant n’obtint pas gain de cause. Pis, Sékou Touré le fit cyniquement espérer en déclarant qu’Achkar serait libéré avant le départ d’U Thant.… Mais en définitive celui-ci rentra bredouille à  New York, sans revoir son collègue et ami…
Lire André Lewin. “Une visite officielle d’U Thant en Guinéein Ahmed Sékou Touré (1922-1984). Président de la Guinée de 1958 à 1984. Volume III. Chapitre 39. Annexe 3.
Tierno S. Bah
Ambassadeur Achkar Marof (1930-1971) , représentant permanent de la Guinée confère avec U Thant, secrétaire général de l'O.N.U. à New York, circa 1967. Précédemment détenu sans procès ni jugement, Achkar fut fusillé en 1971. — (Source : Allah Tantou, film réalisé par feu David, fils aîné d'Achkar) Tierno S. Bah
Ambassadeur Achkar Marof (1930-1971) , représentant permanent de la Guinée confère avec U Thant, secrétaire général de l’O.N.U. à New York, circa 1967. Précédemment détenu sans procès ni jugement, Achkar fut fusillé en 1971. — (Source : Allah Tantou, film réalisé par feu David, fils aîné d’Achkar) Tierno S. Bah

4-5 janvier. — Déclaration du président Sékou Touré au cours du séjour de U Thant à Conakry : « Bien que l’O.N.U. soit une organisation pratiquement paralysée, incapable de résoudre les problèmes qui lui sont posés, la Guinée offre son appui à M. Thant, digne messager de la paix ».

15 janvier. — Arrivée d’une délégation du Comité central du parti du Travail de République populaire de Chine.

19 janvier. — Dénonciation par le président Sékou Touré des Etats africains qui ont reconnu le Biafra.

19-24 janvier. — Discours du président Sékou Touré au cours d’une session du Conseil national de la Révolution :
—La défaite de la sécession biafraise est une grande victoire africaine.
—Une délégation du bureau politique du parti du Travail de la République Populaire de Corée et celle du secrétariat de l’O.E.R.S. assistent à la session.

20 janvier. — Signature de plusieurs protocoles d’accord avec la République démocratique allemande et la Tchécoslovaquie.

21 janvier. — Message du Parti congolais du Travail au Conseil national de la Révolution guinéen : l’exemple guinéen a inspiré les masses congolaises dans leur lutte pour l’indépendance totale et contre « la clique bourgeoise » au pouvoir.

23-26 février. — Réunion à Conakry d’une conférence de l’armée populaire.
Déclaration de M. Mamady Sagno, secrétaire d’Etat à l’armée :
— L’oeuvre d’assainissement de l’armée, commencée après le complot de 1969, continue.
— Les nouvelles zones militaires correspondront aux zones administratives ; il n’y aura plus de concentrations de forces armées dans les centres urbains.
— Conakry sera une zone spéciale, où seront concentrés les bataillons d’action industrielle et les services spéciaux.
— Chaque corps d’arme aura son état-major particulier – Le bataillon blindé sera attaché directement à la présidence de la République.

23-30 janvier. — Séjour d’une délégation de la République populaire de Chine conduite par M. Lin An Yun, ministre adjoint du Commerce extérieur, pour la signature d’un protocole d’accord économique.

26 février. — Discours de M. Sékou Touré à Kindia (Guinée) critiquant la Côte d’Ivoire.

28 février-4 mars. — Séjour de M. David Newson, sous-secrétaire d’Etat pour les Affaires africains au Département d’Etat américain.

2 mars. — Dixième anniversaire de la création du franc guinéen. Dans un message, le gouverneur de la Banque centrale guinéenne déclare :
— Le contre-coup de la dévaluation du franc français sur les « monnaies satellites » prouve la justesse de l’option guinéenne et la « différence de nature » entre les intérêts africains et ceux de la France.
— La Guinée assure et assurera la couverture intégrale de sa monnaie.
— La Guinée est favorable à la création d’une monnaie africaine et en premier lieu d’une monnaie commune aux pays de l’O.E.R.S. « indépendante de toute influence extérieure ».
Signature d’une convention commerciale entre le Sénégal et la Guinée à Conakry.

8-15 mars. — Visite officielle de M. Mohamed Benyahia, ministre algérien de l’Information.

9-25 mars. — Festival culturel guinéen à Conakry.

11 mars. — Séjour de M. Badreddine Senoussi, ministre marocain des Postes et Télécommunications.

12 mars. — Séjour de M. Simon Kapwepwe, vice-président zambien.

31 mars- 3 avril. — Visite officielle de M. Charles Diggs, président de la sous-commission « Afrique » au Congrès américain.

Avril. — Séjour de M. Yassez Nema, envoyé spécial du Front de Libération de la Palestine.

6 avril. — Permutations ministérielles décidées par le président Sékou Touré :

  • M. Léon Maka, secrétaire permanente du bureau politique du P.D.G., devient ministre de l’Intérieur.
  • Le général Diané Lansana, ancien ministre de l’Intérieur, devient ministre des Affaires sociales.
  • M. Nfamara Keita, ancien ministre des Affaires sociales, devient ministre des Echanges.
  • M. Sékou Camara, ancien secrétaire d’Etat au Commerce intérieur, devient secrétaire d’Etat au Commerce extérieur.
  • M. Moricandian Savané ancien secrétaire au Contrôle financier, devient secrétaire d’Etat au Commerce intérieur.
  • M. Barry Ibrahim devient secrétaire d’Etat au Contrôle financier.

7 avril. — Interview du président Ahmed Sékou Touré au quotidien sénégalais Dakar-Matin :
— Si la France veut coopérer avec la Guinée, la Guinée est également prête.
—Ce qui s’est passé est imputable à l’esprit néo-colonialiste qui a prévalu dans les milieux français, et le général de Gaulle était prisonnier de ces milieux.

11 avril. — Séjour d’une délégation de la Fédération française des Travailleurs des chemins de fer. Cette visite se situe dans le cadre des échanges de délégations entre la C.G.T. française et la C.N.T.G. (Confédération Nationale des Travailleurs de Guinée).

17 avril. — Télégramme de M. Maurice Schumann, ministre français des Affaires étrangères, à M. Kassory Bangoura, secrétaire d’Etat aux Affaires extérieures, déclarant que « Tout ce qui serait de nature à favoriser une meilleure compréhension entre la France et la Guinée trouvera auprès du gouvernement français l’accueil le plus réceptif ».

21 avril. — Séjour d’une mission de bonne volonté de Guinée équatoriale, conduite par M. Angel Masie Natutumdu.

22 avril. — Signature d’un accord douanier bilatéral entre le Mali et la Guinée.

23 avril. — Signature avec l’Italie d’un accord pour la mise en place de l’adduction d’eau dans les principales villes de l’intérieur de la Guinée.

Mai. — Séjour d’une délégation du Parti du Congrès des Populations de Sierra Leone.
14 mai. — Discours du président Sékou Touré, à l’occasion du vingt-troisième anniversaire de la création du Parti démocratique de Guinée :
— Une coopération loyale entre la France et la Guinée — sur un strict pied d’égalité — ne peut être que bénéfique pour les deux pays.
— Il faut dénoncer « l’impérialisme néo-colonialiste » qui, « avec la complicité des traîtres guinéens », divise depuis des années les peuples frères de la Guinée et de la Côte d’Ivoire.
—Tout doit être mis en oeuvre pour détruire les facteurs de division et aboutir à une réconciliation totale entre les deux pays.

18 mai. — Séjour de M. Moktar Ould Daddah, chef de l’Etat mauritanien.

20 mai. — Signature d’un accord économique entre la Guinée et l’U.R.S.S., pour l’adduction et l’exploitation d’eau potable à Nzérékoré.

10 juillet. — La Compagnie des bauxites de Guinée passe un marché d’équipement de 40 millions de francs avec la C.G.E.E. (Compagnie générale des Entreprises électriques) et les Chantiers de l’Atlantique.
— Arrivée d’une délégation officielle guinéenne au ministère belge du Commerce extérieur.

20 juillet. — Radio-Conakry, captée à Dakar, dénonce « des préparatifs actuellement en cours dans le but de perpétrer des crimes contre la Guinée ».
— Une délégation économique guinéenne est reçue par M. M. Pedini, sous-secrétaire d’Etat italien aux Affaires étrangères.

26 juillet. — Selon Radio-Conakry, captée à Monrovia, des « mercenaires blancs veulent renverser le régime ».

29 juillet. — Arrivée à Conakry d’une mission médicale de Chine populaire.

5 août. — M. Sékou Touré adresse deux messages de réconciliation au président Houphouët-Boigny.

7 août. — Message de félicitations du président Sékou Touré au général Sangoulé Lamizana, à l’occasion du 10e anniversaire de l’indépendance de la Haute-Volta.

19 août. — Radio-Conakry annonce que cinq jeeps soviétiques ont été remises au Parti démocratique de Guinée par le Parti communiste d’U.R.S.S.

27 août. — Radio-Conakry annonce l’ouverture de la réunion de l’Union syndicale panafricaine avec la participation de délégations du Mali et de la Haute-Volta.

28 août. — Epidémie de choléra : 34 morts pour 350 cas signalés dans la capitale guinéenne.
« La Voix de la Révolution » captée à Monrovia, annonce que les négociations guinée-soviétiques ont été sanctionnées par la signature d’un protocole d’accord, portant sur l’exploitation de riches gisements de bauxite de Debele (Kindia).

30 août. — Le Programme alimentaire mondial de l’O.N.U.-F.A.O. décide de contribuer à l’exploitation d’un vaste gisement de bauxite en Guinée. (?! — T.S. Bah)

5 septembre. — L’Assemblée nationale adopte à l’unanimité la loi de finances de l’exercice 1970-1971.

6 septembre. — Radio-Conakry annonce le départ de M. El Hadj Saifoulaye Diallo, ministre guinéen des Affaires extérieures, pour Sofia.

9 septembre. — Berlin-Est annonce l’établissement de relations diplomatiques avec la Guinée.

10 septembre. — Le gouvernement de la République fédérale allemande regrette la reconnaissance de la République démocratique allemande par la Guinée.

11 septembre. — Le gouvernement guinéen dément l’apparition du choléra en Guinée.

14 septembre. — Publication d’un communiqué conjoint bulgaro-guinéen à la suite de la visite officielle en Bulgarie du ministre d’Etat des Affaires étrangères de la République de Guinée.
— Message de félicitations du chef du gouvernement de la République de Chine populaire, M. Chou-En-Laï, au président Sékou Touré à l’occasion du 10e anniversaire de la conclusion d’un « traité d’amitié » entre les deux pays.

15 septembre. — Le ministre des Finances guinéen est reçu par le chef du gouvernement yougoslave.

28 septembre. — Signature d’un accord de coopération entre le gouvernement guinéen et la société Alu Suisse.

1er octobre. — Célébration du 12e anniversaire de l’indépendance guinéenne.

9 octobre. — Démenti catégorique du chargé d’affaires du Portugal à l’O.N.U., de l’information selon laquelle le Portugal ferait des préparatifs militaires contre la Guinée.
— Un nouveau complot est découvert visant l’assassinat du président Sékou Touré.
— La Guinée souhaite rétablir la coopération avec la France.

4 octobre. — D’importantes manifestations populaires sont organisées à Conakry pour célébrer la mémoire du président Nasser.

6 octobre. — Réunion à Conakry de la commission culturelle de l’Organisation des Etats riverains du Sénégal (O.E.R.S.).

7 octobre. — Arrestation en Gambie de 38 mercenaires guinéens.

(Livrés par le président Dawda Jawara, ils étaient tous des Fulɓe, que Sékou Touré fit égorger au Camp Boiro — T.S. Bah)

17 octobre. — Un chalutier français est arraisonné dans les eaux territoriales guinéennes.

26 octobre. — La Chine populaire s’engage à apporter une contribution plus importante au développement économique de la Guinée.
— Participation de la société japonaise Mitsui à l’exploitation du minerai de fer en Guinée.

3 novembre. — Arrivée à Conakry d’une délégation française pour exammer les problèmes financiers dans le cadre du contentieux franco-guinéen.
9 novembre. — Le président Sékou Touré gracie l’équipage et le commandant du chalutier français arraisonné dans les eaux territoriales.

10 novembre. — Signature d’un protocole d’accord entre la Chine et la Guinée.

22 novembre.Le président Sékou Touré annonce par radio que Conakry est victime d’une agression impérialiste.
— Démenti officiel du gouvernement portugais de la présence de militaires portugais en Guinée.

23 novembre. — Le Conseil de sécurité décide l’envoi immédiat d’une commission d’enquête.
— Le président Sékou Touré reçoit de nombreux messages de soutien des chefs d’Etat de Mauritanie, Congo-Brazzaville, Tanzanie, Côte d’Ivoire, Sénégal, Mali, Tchad, Niger, République arabe unie, Haute-Volta, Libéria, Zambie … Union soviétique.

24 novembre. — Radio-Conakry annonce une nouvelle tentative de débarquement en Guinée.

25 novembre. — M. Sékou Touré lance un appel à tous les pays amis non-africains.
— Un mouvement d’opposition, « Regroupement des Guinéens en Europe » (R.G.E.) dénonce les méthodes et objectifs dictatoriaux du président Sékou Touré.

26 novembre. — Réaffirmation du Portugal de sa non-participation aux événements guinéens.
— Le gouvernement algérien met à la disposition de la Guinée du matériel et notamment des vedettes.

27 novembre. — Le président Sékou Touré critique la commission d’enquête de l’O.N.U. en Guinée.

28 novembre. — Radio-Conakry annonce l’infiltration de troupes portugaises à la frontière.
— Distribution d’armes à la population guinéenne.

2 décembre. — La « Voix de la Révolution » guinéenne lance des appels à la désertion aux soldats portugais de la Guinée Bissao.

3 décembre. — La radio guinéenne diffuse les dépositions des soldats portugais arrêtés, devant la commission d’enquête de l’O.N.U.
— La Libye fournit à la Guinée les armes et les munitions demandées pour repousser l’agression.
— Le ratissage continue à Conakry. Le Haut-commandement des forces révolutionnaires demande la collaboration des missions diplomatiques pour déceler tous les « mercenaires et éléments douteux ».

4 décembre. — Les autorités déclarent contrôler la situation dans la région de Koundara, aux confins de la Guinée Bissao où des infiltrations portugaises se seraient produites.
— La radio guinéenne demande au peuple portugais de se soulever contre la dictature « crypto fasciste » et fait état des mouvements de solidarité qui se seraient produits dans les pays voisins, notamment au Sénégal.
— Le rapport de la mission d’enquête du Conseil de Sécurité sur les événements des 22 et 23 novembre conclut à la responsabilité directe du Portugal.
Le chargé d’Affaires du Portugal à l’O.N.U. rejette les conclusions de ce rapport.
— La chasse aux mercenaires se poursuit à Conakry.
— L’agence Chine nouvelle consacre de longs commentaires aux événements de Conakry et dénonce la collusion du Portugal et des Etats-Unis.

6 décembre. — Le président Sékou Touré annonce l’arrestation en Sierra Leone et au Liberia de mercenaires et agents subversifs. D’après la radio guinéenne les ratissages s’achèvent et la situation
est calme.
— Arrivée à Lagos de M. Diallo Telli, secrétaire général de l’O.U.A., pour organiser la prochaine réunion ministérielle qui doit examiner la situation en Guinée.
M. Telli accuse l’O.T.A.N. d’avoir inspiré l’invasion de la Guinée.
— M. Sékou Touré exhorte l’O.U.A. à adopter une attitude offensive contre le Portugal.

7 décembre. — M. Siaka Stevens, Premier ministre de la Sierra Leone, dément les informations selon lesquelles l’agression perpétrée contre la Guinée aurait été lancée depuis la Sierra Leone.
— L’agence de presse portugaise « Ani » publie le témoignage de Guinéens qui auraient participé aux opérations du 22 novembre et selon lesquels « le problème de la République de Guinée est d’ordre exclusivement intérieur ».
— La radio guinéenne annonce la mise à la disposition de la Guinée de commandos armés par le Conseil révolutionnaire de Libération de la Palestine. La B.B.C., l’hebdomadaire Jeune Afrique et le quotidien Le Figaro sont vivement critiqués pour leurs commentaires sur les événements.

8 décembre. — Les représentants du groupe afro-asiatique renoncent à présenter un projet de résolution demandant des sanctions contre le Portugal sur la base du chapitre VII de la Charte de l’O.N.U. mais réclament des réparations pour la Guinée.

9 décembre. — Adoption par le Conseil de Sécurité de l’O.N.U. de la résolution afro-asiatique condamnant le Portugal et exigeant l’indemnisation de la Guinée.
— Le Regroupement des Guinéens en Europe affirme, dans une lettre adressée au secrétaire général de l’O.N.U., sa volonté de continuer la lutte contre « la tyrannie de Sékou Touré » .
— Le gouvernement portugais rejette la résolution du Conseil de Sécurité et s’indigne de la procédure suivie.

10 décembre. — Le représentant de la France au Conseil de Sécurité proteste contre la non-publication du rapport de la commission d’enquête en français et regrette les imprécisions de ce rapport. Le gouvernement français, bien que s’étant abstenu lors du vote de la résolution du Conseil de Sécurité, condamne l’attitude du Portugal.
— Les Guinéens résidant en France sont invités à s’abstenir de toute activité p olitique.
— Accord minier soviéto-guinéen concernant l’exploitation des bauxites de la région de Kindia.

12 décembre. — Deux fonctionnaires de l’O.N.U. se rendront en Guinée pour évaluer les dommages subis lors des événements du 22 novembre. Le gouvernement des Etats-Unis accorde une aide exceptionnelle de 4 millions 761.000 dollars.

14 décembre. — Le président Sékou Touré adjure les Etats africains de prendre l’offensive pour la libération de l’Afrique.

16 décembre. — Le président Sékou Touré refuse toute évaluation des dommages subis en Guinée.

18 décembre. — Réintégration des militaires guinéens démobllisés.
— Limitation de la circulation nocturne des non-Africains à Conakry.
— Radio-Conakry fait état de concentration de troupes au Sénégal le long de la frontière guinéenne.
— Le président Sékou Touré fait parvenir un message au président Senghor.

19 décembre. — Le président Sékou Touré adresse un message à U Thant, secrétaire général de l’O.N.U. pour faire état des menaces pesant sur l’intégrité du territoire guinéen.

21 décembre. — Radio-Conakry développe la thèse du complot impérialiste permanent contre la Guinée.

25 décembre. — Radio-Conakry invite tous les chrétiens à détruire le « monstre impérialiste ».

27 décembre. — Arrestation de Mgr Tchidimbo, archevêque de Conakry.

29 décembre. — Expulsion d’une centaine de ressortissants ouest-allemands dont cinq militaires de la Bundeswehr.

30 décembre. — Le Vatican manifeste sa surprise et son inquiétude à la suite de l’arrestation de Mgr Tchidimbo.
— Détention de deux ressortissants allemands.
Le président Sékou Touré demande le rappel à Bonn de l’ambassadeur de R.F.A., M. Lankes, qu’il accuse de collusion avec le Portugal.

Guinea’s Prelude To Independence, 1945-58

Victor D. Du Bois
Guinea’s Prelude To Independence. Political Activity, 1945-58
American Universities Field Staff Reports.
West Africa Series Vol. V No. 6, 1962 (Guinea), pp. 1-16

Conakry, October 1962

Victor David Du Bois (1932-1983)
Victor David Du Bois (1932-1983)

During the prewar colonial period, political activity in Guinea, as in the other parts of French West Africa, was largely in the hands of a small group of French settlers and even fewer African évolués whose background, position, or education qualified them as members of the indigenous elite. Political activity for those people—although they were residents of Guinea—was largely bound up with politics in France. Metropolitan influence projected itself throughout the Overseas Territories and was felt among all who called themselves Frenchmen, whether white or black.

African delegations of federalists calling for unity meet in Bamako (former Sudan), on December 29, 1958 to establish a constitution of West African federation (ex-AOF), Senegal, Upper-Volta (Burkina Faso), Sudan (Mali) and Dahomey (Benin) with their own government.
African delegations of federalists calling for unity meet in Bamako (former Sudan), on December 29, 1958 to establish a constitution of West African federation (ex-AOF), Senegal, Upper-Volta (Burkina Faso), Sudan (Mali) and Dahomey (Benin) with their own government.

The political situation in Guinea, as in the rest of French West Africa, was profoundly affected by the Second World War. The war period was a time of retrogression in Guinean politics. During Vichy, political activity on the part of Africans was checked to a great extent by the infamous Indigénat, a law authorizing local administrators (e.g., district officers) to mete out “administrative justice” for minor crimes and misdemeanors. To hold a public meeting, to edit or produce a newspaper or public journal of any kind, or even to leave the territory temporarily, Africans were obliged to seek permission from the local district officers. At its worst, the Indigénat was used by vindictive officials to condemn Africans to forced labor.

France’s announcement in 1945 that a Constituent Assembly would be held, to which the Overseas Territories were to send several representatives, coupled with a sudden loosening of controls that year in the colonies, caused a mushrooming of political parties throughout the federation.
During the early postwar period, political parties in Guinea retained their characteristics as overseas affiliates of the great parties in France or were strictly local parties of an ethnic or regional nature, forming alliances with one another or with the metropolitan parties when it suited them. Europeans and the local African elite constituted the former group 1. The overwhelming majority of the African population eligible to vote made up the latter. The native parties were concerned primarily with short-range objectives and rarely put forth programs that transcended these immediate interests.

The native parties in Guinea fell into four principal groups, corresponding more or less to the four great geographical regions of the territory and to the tribes dominant in each.

  • The Comité de la Basse Guinée (Lower Guinea) was primarily Soussou
  • The Amicale Gilbert Vieillard (Middle Guinea), an incipient Socialist group, was predominantly Foulah
  • The Union du Manding (Upper Guinea) was the political vehicle of the Malinké and other Mandé-speaking peoples in the country
  • The Union Forestière (Forest Region) grouped under its banner members from the diverse tribes of that region, among them the Kissi, Toma, and Guerzé.

Other groups of lesser importance were the Foyer Sénégalais, the Foyer des Métis, the Union des Toucouleurs, and the Union des Insulaires 2.

From 1945 to 1947, the bulk of Guinean voters belonged to one of these parties. Each party was strictly regional, ethnic, or linguistic in character and represented the interests of its adherents only. Each considered its own political program to be the only one capable of improving social conditions. Few parties made any effort at all to organize support beyond their immediate sphere of influence or traditional geographical limits.

The territorial elections of 1946 to the Constituent Assembly in Paris were the first of such contests in which a sizable number of the Guinean people voted. The elections were decidedly parochial, however, and were directed by men more interested in gaining concessions for their particular ethnic groups or in advancing their own personal positions than in winning long-range benefits for the territory as a whole.

Despite this ethnic rivalry and the pitting of one region against another, the elections of 1946 had one important result: a working relationship was built up among Africans from different zones within the federation. The circumstances which brought African deputies together in a common assembly, although they met under the banners of different political parties, encouraged the unity of elected officials across territorial frontiers and gave them a sense of collective responsibility and identity. This was to contribute greatly to their unity in parliamentary battles in the National Assembly when African deputies and some sympathetic French liberais strove to make the Constitution of the Fourth Republic a more liberal, democratic charter.

As in Senegal, the Socialists in Guinea got off to an early start, scoring impressive electoral victories in 1946 and 1947 . They usually managed to win as many votes as did the various ethnic parties combined. The frequent recurrence of this near equilibrium in early postwar Guinea permitted the French colonial administration to play a decisive role in determining the outcome of electoral contests. This advantage it rarely failed to use to the fullest.

Governmental intervention assumed many forms. Some of the more common were last minute switches of polling booths, stuffing of ballot boxes, compilation of fraudulent electoral rolls, and misleading African voters with “official” explanations of candidates. When an electoral contest resulted in a close tally of votes between two candidates, the colonial administration itself could and did assume the duty of investigating the results. Invariably, the victorious candidate proved to be the candidate thought more amenable to French direction.

Articulate and highly centralized, the Socialist Party in Guinea had been laboriously built up by Yacine Diallo and others immediately after World War II. In Guinea, as in other parts of French West Africa, the party was at the height of its power in 1946-47. Its rapid decline thereafter was due to a lack of rapport with the rural masses—the bulk of Guinea’s population—to whom the fulcrum of power had shifted with the expansion of the franchise by the Law of May 23, 1951 3.
A further handicap was its inability to compete with the policies of more extremist parties, or with the appealing platforms offered to various segments of the population by regional and ethnic parties.

The death of Yacine Diallo in 1954 created a vacuum in the party leadership not effectively filled until two years later, when Barry Ibrahima (better known in Guinea as Barry III—this name will be used in this and subsequent Reports) became its Secretary-General.

The party, known locally as the Démocratie Socialiste de Guinée (D.S.G.), was at this time an affiliate of the French Socialist Party (S.F.I.O.) 4 and directed its appeal primarily to the Guinean elite: the emerging middle class of government functionaries, commercial employees, artisans, and small businessmen. It was felt that these people, because of the prestige they commanded in their respective communities, could most effectively advance the party’s cause among the people. Party propaganda sought to stress Franco-African friendship rather than to exploit anti-colonialism. The party did, however, admonish the Métropole to take note that Black Africa was at present the only solid bulwark of the French Empire:

« … Frenchmen of the Métropole, Frenchmen who are determined to hold on to what remains of the French Union, know before it is too late that Black Africa is now the only firm bastion of the French Empire. Do not repeat the grievous errors of Indochina, Morocco, and Tunisia. Put an end to the injustices which beget racism, to the racism which begets nationalism. Do not wait until the madness spreads before fighting it. Jaded with pompous speech-making, hollow phrases, and promises solemnly given but never kept, our hearts now need nothing but tangible realities. Africans by blood and flesh but Frenchmen at heart, we intend to remain French in our actions, our thoughts, and in the achievement of our ideal: the rapid attainment by Africa of cultural, economic, social, and political emancipation within the bosom of the great French Republic, one and indivisible 5. »

The party condemned violence, pointing to the positive reforms achieved in orderly fashion under Yacine Diallo’s quiet guidance, and sought to stress the factors which made socialism the natural channel of political expression for Africans. At the same time, it undertook the delicate task of attempting to mitigate latent anti-colonialism among Guineans by persuading them that the French of Guinea and the French of France were virtually different peoples:

« … Men of position, merchants, skilled workers, government employees, clerks—join the Socialist Democratic Party of Guinea … Oh, my Guinean brother, hesitate no longer, this is where you belong; come along quickly and pick up your membership card—the time for indifference is past. You must understand that this party—by a sound educational program—will lead you to the fullest development of your personality, to real progress, and to liberty. It will teach you how to make the sound judgments so necessary among the multiplicity of parties. When the “little whites” [petits blancs] address you all day long in the familiar form [“te tutoient”] without any reason for it, when they try to humiliate you in the stores, the cafés, at the motion-picture theaters, smile and walk on; never think that you are seeing France in these poor wretches. Hold out your hand to your traditional chief; his participation in Africa’s evolution is indispensable, for if this evolution takes place without him it will be against him. Be on your guard against everything loud and raucous. Socialism carries forward its fight calmly and with the greatest respect for our traditions and customs. It condemns violence. It knows full well that dances and parades have no tomorrow. It has a horror of honeyed promises that are only deceitful. Make it known everywhere that the example of the late and much lamented Socialist Yacine Diallo, was itself sufficient during his eight years at the Palais Bourbon. Certainly he never made more than eight important speeches, but his achievements are known and appreciated by all Guineans.… Hasten, therefore, my brother, to take out your membership card. It is the membership card of the Guinean people. The Fouta has set the pace; the movement grows strongly on all sides, and Upper Guinea—a profoundly Islamic region—will follow our example. The black man is a born Socialist, the good Muslim is undeniably a true Socialist 6. »

The R.D.A. founded at Bamako in 1946, introduced an important new variable into the West African scene: the first all-African political movement organized on an inter-territorial basis. At Bamako, the Guinean delegates agreed tentatively that as soon as the legislative elections of 1946 were over, their parties would close ranks to form a single mass party. This party would be the Guinean branch of the R.D.A. Meanwhile, they campaigned on their time-honored ethnic and regional platforms.
Only seven months later, in May 1947, when the R.D.A . was organized throughout the two federations (West and Equatorial Africa) was it possible to launch the Guinean branch of the movement 7. Even then it did not imply the extinction of all other parties.

The emergence of the R.D.A. in Guinea forced a political realignment. Both the Socialists and the ethnic parties now found that they had to compete with a powerful new proselytizing force, one which solicited African loyalties for a cause far transcending anything they themselves could propose—African unity. The R.D.A. gave an impression of great strength but its weaknesses soon became apparent. The fragile frame of so all-inclusive a party as the R.D.A. could not for long withstand the centrifugal forces exerted by its own leaders and their supporters. Within the new party, individuals began to form factions reflecting old regional loyalties and reasserting particularistic interests. The elections in 1947 for the first territorial assembly and for Guinean representatives to metropolitan assemblies put an end, for the moment at least, to the myth of political unity—that concept which the newly formed chapter of the R.D.A. was suppose to represent.

Steadily succumbing to these pressures, the R.D.A. began to disintegrate in Guinea. Expression of its original aims fell more and more to a small group of young men within the party who alone continued to strive for the goal of unity espoused at Bamako. Their efforts were strongly opposed by the colonial administration, convinced as it was that any real unity among the various African groups would be a threat to the status quo. Equally opposed were the cantonal chiefs, members of the territorial assembly, and Guinea’s representatives to the metropolitan parliament. All of these felt that the movement, with its growing extremist tendencies, might threaten their own influence if the colonial government decided on reprisals against its critics. Many openly disavowed the R.D.A. at this time, and some tacitly supported repressive measures against it.

Although it claimed to have the support of Guineans from all walks of life, at this time the R.D.A. was in fact top-heavy with intellectuals, most of them government functionaries; consequently, it lacked a base at the mass level on which it could depend for support. When R.D.A. programs were presented to the masses by local politicians, these programs often revealed how far removed their authors were from the immediate problems of the people. Little persistent effort was made to exploit latent anti-colonialist sentiments. Ambitious to be elected to office, yet fearful of antagonizing the colonial regime on which their jobs depended, candidates were often reluctant to pursue with vigor those principles which they had endorsed with such enthusiasm at Bamako. Defeat in an election was often pessimistically interpreted by a candidate as indicating he should desist from further support of R.D.A. policies. Indeed, numerous leaders and militants, eager to demonstrate their loyalty to the colonial regime, even resigned from the party.

Between 1951 and 1954, important political changes took place in Guinea. While the Socialist Party’s influence declined, the growth of the Action Démocratique et Sociale (the local branch of De Gaulle’s R.P.F.) reflected the increase of the petit blanc population in Guinea’s principal urban centers: Conakry, Kindia, Labé, Mamou, Kankan, Boké, N’Zérékoré, and Macenta. The growth of labor unions in the territory, and particularly of the Communist-dominated C.G .T. (Confédération Générale du Travail), in which [P.D.G.]-R.D.A. chief Sékou Touré was prominent, introduced another irritant into the political situation in Guinea.

Checked by the hostility of the colonial administration, the traditional chiefs and the opposition of non-R.D.A. politicians, the leaders of the Guinean R.D.A. turned their attention to organizing the growing proletariat of the Conakry region. They conducted an aggressive recruitment campaign and succeeded in enlisting large numbers of workers in unions affiliated with the C.G.T. It was at this time that Sékou Touré revealed his extraordinary talents as a union organizer. With rare fixity of purpose, he threw himself into the union’s membership drive, sensing that here was one avenue through which Africans might organize, voice their opinions, and press for what they conceived to be their rights as workmen. Swollen by the workers who flocked to join its ranks, the R.D.A.-P.D.G. by 1953 had become a powerful force to reckon with in territorial politics. That same year the party lent its support to a territory-wide strike called by the C.G.T. which lasted 76 days. That strike resulted in a 20% increase in the minimum wage throughout the Federation of French West Africa, and its success enhanced enormously the prestige of Sékou Touré and of the R.D.A.-P.D.G.

Elsewhere in French West Africa, the R.D.A. had steadily assumed a less radical air. After Houphouët’s break with the Communists in 1950, it even co-operated with the colonial administration. In Guinea, however, the party preserved its extremist character. Sékou Touré’s association with the C.G .T. (in 1948 as Secretary-General of its Guinean chapter, and from 1950 on as Secretary-General of the coordinating committee of C.G.T. unions for all French West Africa and Togo) rendered him suspect in the eyes of the colonial regime, to which any ties with the Communists were abhorrent. Touré’s continued flirtation with the Communists even after Houphouët and other R.D.A. chieftains had broken with them, and his susceptibility to Marxist dogma, resulted in his alienation from the other leaders of his own party as well.

The elections in Guinea in June 1954 pitted Sékou Touré against Barry Diawadou, head of the Bloc Africain de Guinée (B.A.G .), a former R.P.F. affiliate, for the late Yacine Diallo’s seat in the French National Assembly. Tensions which had been building up in Guinea over the past four years now exploded in fierce street brawls. The election was no ordinary one: it was the first contest between Guinean conservatives, backed by the colonial administration and the resident whites, and a resuscitated R.D.A. now strengthened by labor-union growth in the territory. After a tense delay, Barry Diawadou was declared the winner . It was obvious that the administration regarded Touré as a dangerous opponent.

The great influence which the R.D.A. now exercised in Guinea—at last apparent to everyone—alarmed conservative elements in the territory, who saw its growing power as a menace to established authority.
Reactions to the new threat were varied. Local chiefs, fearful at the extent of R.D.A. influence among the women and youth, and hoping to appease their restive people, organized themselves into an association which called for social reforms and for the redistribution of land. European elements, foreseeing that their privileged position might very well be endangered by the R.D.A.’s growing power or by the grant of further liberties to the indigenous peoples, organized a local chapter of the Présence Française and came out strongly against more reforms in the colonies 8. But Black Africa’s impatience at last moved France, fearful that nationalist sentiments would get out of hand, to undertake a vast new program of political reform.

The Loi-Cadre and Its Effect on Party Development in Guinea

The loi-cadre of June 1956 laid the groundwork in Guinea, as in the rest of French West Africa, for fundamental changes in the political scene.

By its proclamation of universal suffrage and extension of the single electoral college, the loi-cadre forced African parties to reappraise their capacity to contend for what now became a high stake in African politics—control of the territorial assemblies, which were clearly seen to be the precursors of sovereign governments. Realists both in Africa and in France now regarded it as inevitable that Africans would shortly be called upon to assume complete control of their own countries . Anticipating the power contest which this would precipitate, African political parties began in earnest to streamline their internal structures and to expand their membership.

In Guinea development of the R.D.A. had long been hampered by three obstacles:

  1. The hostility of prominent political leaders of the territory, especially the Socialist Yacine Diallo 9
  2. An unsympathetic colonial administration
  3. Basic internal weaknesses of the party

The first of these obstacles was removed in 1954 with the death of Diallo and the inability of the Socialists to find anyone of equal stature to replace him.
The second was greatly reduced by the friendly relations which Sékou Touré succeeded in cultivating with Cornut-Gentille, then Minister of Overseas-France and a man of liberal disposition. But it was, above all, by overcoming the third obstacle—internal weaknesses—that the [P.D.G.]-R.D.A. moved well ahead of its rivals in Guinea. The party already controlled most of the political and quasi-political organizations in Guinea which clamored for an end to colonialism. It now became the most vocal advocate of a federal association, freely entered into by Frenchmen and Africans for the advancement of their common interests. At the time, this was a revolutionary concept.

Aware of the dangers of rooting a political party in local and ethnic interests, R.D.A. leaders revised their party’s platform and expanded its membership base. They proclaimed it the “authentic” African movement, dedicated to the union of all Africans against colonialist reaction, and launched a campaign for social justice. The party’s new program of political action rested on four principles:

  1. Its social base was to be the peasant class, for whom the party had secured freedom of labor and freedom of circulation and sale of its goods and services
  2. Women were to be recruited as actively participating members of the political proces s, in keeping with the position which the ir dignity and political maturity merited
  3. Youth would participate as equals in deliberations
    on national policy
  4. Labor would fight unceasingly for African unity and working class gains in close collaboration with other elements of Guinean society 10.

Labor unions, youth clubs, women’s organizations, and veterans’ groups were all as siduously courted to bring them into line behind the party militants, who were determined to make the movement representative not merely of one region or ethnie group, but of the territory as a whole.

The R.D.A. which resulted from these revisionist efforts was a very different party from that which had been organized after Bamako. Profiting from its experience of previous years, it rapidly expanded its membership. Decreasing the proportion of intellectuals and government functionaries to the rank and file, it soon became far more representative of the people in whose name it spoke and assumed a more genuinely African character. In this respect it enjoyed a marked advantage over its two principal rivals, the Socialists (D.S.G.) under Barry III, and the Bloc Africain de Guinée (B.A.G.) headed by Barry Diawadou. In the minds of many of the new voters, the leadership and programs of both the D.S.G. and the B.A.G. were closely identified with those of the metropolitan parties of which they seemed me rely to be African appendages 11.

It was not that the loi-cadre meant less to these parties than it did to the P.D.G.-R.D.A., but merely that their response to it was different. The P.D.G. seized upon it as an opportunity to attract more members to its fold by waging under its aegis a vigorous campaign for African
unity and for an ultimate dismantling of the colonial structure. The other parties, less certain of the course of future developments, were far less outspoken. Barry III, it is true, feared that the loi- cadre would bring about a “territorialization” of the two federations, and therefore advocated strengthening the powers of the Grand Conseil 12 to preserve inter-territorial ties. At the same time, however, he resisted as “premature” Léopold Senghor’s overtures to merge the D.S.G. with other autonomous African parties to form a solid African front. Barry III similarly refused to consider merging with other parties in Guinea itself until such time as certain basic requirements were met . Among them:

  • An agreement on certain legal and political guarantees which would prevent any such merger from resulting exclusively to the advantage of any one party
  • The establishment of a provisional executive
  • The formulation of a political platform
  • A promise that conservative parties would be excluded from such a union 13

Meanwhile, Barry Diawadou, perceiving that his newly established relations with the Radical Socialists would enhance his party’s position in the French National Assembly, set about transforming the B.A.G. into a party advocating a “confederation of autonomous republics tightly linked to France and oriented to the Western bloc.” 14

Although the results of the legislative elections of January 1956 showed an increase of Socialist strength in the Metropole, in French West Africa the party’s fortunes continued to decline. In Guinea P.D.G. candidates Sékou Touré and Diallo Saifoulaye were elected deputies to the French National Assembly over their Socialist rivals 15.

Much of the success of the P.D.G. over its opponents was due to its assertiveness on the subject of colonial reforms. The African Socialists now realized that they could capture the initiative from the all-powerful R.D.A. only by adopting a similarly aggressive stand on colonial issues. Accordingly, they called on Premier Guy Mollet (a fellow Socialist) to institute far-reaching reforms overseas without further delay. Uneasy over the situation in Algeria, Mollet would not grant any further concessions beyond the loi-cadre to the territories, fearing that such action would be construed in France as “giving away the Empire” to implacable nationalist agitators .

Disgruntled at what they took to be Mollet’s timidity, the African Socialists became convinced that only by taking the initiative, breaking with the S.F.I.O., and forming an all-African Socialist party could they once again capture support in West Africa. To this end, a conference was held in Conakry in January 1957, attended by delegates of the territories and by Pierre Comin, Secretary-General of the metropolitan S.F.I.O. Comin supported the Africans’ desire to form their own inter-territorial all-African Socialist movement. But at the same time he urged his colleagues to maintain close ties with the S.F.I.O. in the National Assembly, an appeal which they accepted. From this conference there emerged the Mouvement Socialiste Africain (M.S.A .), with which the Guinean Socialist Party immediately affiliated 16.

In a resolution at Conakry, the M.S.A. proposed for French Black Africa “… a political, cultural, economic, and social democracy assuring each individual of the full development of his personality and leading to a true independence of peoples.” 17

Although the merger of most of the Socialist parties in French Black Africa lifted the sagging spirits of many African members, it failed to check the growing influence of the R.D.A. or the general decline of the Socialist parties.

In Guinea the elections of March 1957 to the territorial assembly were a resounding victory for the P.D.G. which won 56 of 60 seats. Of the 650,000 votes cast in that contest, the P.D.G. received 500,000, the D.S.G. 100,000, 18 and the B.A.G. (Barry Diawadou’s party) less than 50,000 . Barry III bravely continued to speak of “resurgent strength,” but the reduction of Socialist representation in the territorial assembly to merely three members signaled the end of the D.S.G. as a serious contender in Guinean politics. The P.D.G. was now fully in control of the territorial government.

Despite the break with their confrères in France, African Socialists continued to vote with them in the National Assembly. But the metropolitan party leadership, absorbed in domestic and other problems, did not put its full weight behind programs of colonial reform. This was a tremendous disappointment for the Africans, whose feelings were appreciated by at least a minority of the French party. Elements from both sides were at last able (October-November 1957) to convoke a series of round-table meetings in Paris, where every effort was made to close the breach and avoid any serious loss of party strength. When these conferences produced no tangible results, African Socialists became convinced that they could successfully press claims for their people only in union with other African parties. They saw—even if French Socialists were blind to it—the restiveness in the territories, and they were concerned over the worsening situation in Algeria and the immobilisme that was paralyzing France; they even sensed the danger of a rightist coup. On the initiative of the African Socialists, a conference of all African parties took place in Dakar on March 28, 1958, to consider how best to cape with the problems confronting Africa.

The Issue of Federalism

While the Socialists were pressing the issue of African unity, the R.D.A. itself was similarly engaged. Already the most powerful party in French Black Africa, the R.D.A. in 1958 called on all African parties to join it in a consolidated effort to bring about a new federal relationship with France in which the territories might deal with the Metropole as partners rather than as weak dis united colonies.
The Socialists balked at the idea of submerging their identity in a larger party in which they could hope to play only a subordinate role, and turned down the R.D.A.’s appeal. With other dissident parties, they formed instead the Parti du Regroupement Africain (P.R.A.) the same year. The Guinean branch of the P.R.A. was known as the Union Progressiste de Guinée (U.P.G.) and embraced both Barry III’s Mouvement Socialiste Africain (the former D.S.G.) and Barry Diawadou’s Bloc Africain de Guinée.

Despite the enthusiasm the parties displayed in formulating anti-colonial programs and the vigor with which they pursued them, these activities did not at first—even in Guinea—imply anti-French sentiments.
The early efforts of Sékou Touré’s P.D.G., of the other R.D.A. sections, of the P.R.A., and of political parties throughout French Black Africa were aimed not at destroying the relationship between France and its African territories, but merely at reforming it. Federalism was not an attempt to break the links which bound Africa to France, but an effort to recast them in such a way that the African personality could assert itself as a legitimate character, something separate and distinct from the European but not hostile to it. Indeed, Sékou Touré, the “enfant terrible” of French-African relations under the De Gaulle-Debré government, was for a while one of the most articulate champions of a federally organized Franco-African Community. In January 1958, Touré made the following statement regarding French-African relations:

« … We are for the Franco-African Community, in whose favor the African States stand ready to cede some part of their sovereignty for we are well aware that the present moment calls for larger groupings and that Africa has nothing to gain by isolation. We are aware also that France will be our most valuable partner … Our insistence on the establishment of a Federal Executive must be understood as signifying our wish to join with France in a Community sharing the same effective existence, the same hopes, the same problems. It is in this sense that we understand constitutional revision. Our idea is by no means to separate from France but rather to indicate the confidence, the love that we have for France—the confidence and love that we have for all of Africa and which we, quite as muchas France, desire should become the beneficiary of this as sociation 19. »

To the Africans of French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa, the preservation of their respective federal structures was imperative in any reorganization plan envisaged for the French Union. The leaders of the African parties saw in any other scheme the “Balkanization of Africa,” and they repeatedly appealed to the French government to preserve the federal structures in any reorganization of territories under French rule.

The issue of federalism was raised at a number of important meetings. At its congress held in Conakry in June 1955, the R.D.A. had called for the establishment of a federal constitution and had transmitted this recommendation to the French government 20. Early in 1956 representatives of all major African labor organizations, including the Confédération Générale du Travail (C.G.T.), the Confédération Française des Travailleurs Chrétiens (C.F.T.C.), the Force-Ouvrière (F.O.), the Indépendants, and the Autonomes, meeting at Cotonou (Dahomey), passed a resolution calling for a new federal organization of France and the territories then comprising the federations of French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa, in which the principle s of self -determination and independence would be recognized.

In January 1957, at its congress at Conakry, the M.S.A. demanded that France acknowledge the right of independence for those who wished to opt for it. That same month in Dakar, the Convention Africaine issued a resolution calling for the constitution of two African states corresponding to the two federations.

The problem of the form of union with France was again raised at the Third Inter-territorial Conference of the R.D.A. at Bamako in September 1957. It was here that the R.D.A. started to split into a pro-Community and anti-Community factions. The idea of a Franco-African union as such was not opposed by either faction; the differences arose over the specific formula to be followed. The pro-Community faction, led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny, espoused the French government’ s concept of a conglomeration of autonomous republics, each of which would deal with France on an individual basis. The anti-Community faction, led by Touré, favored a federal type of union, the member states of which would deal with France in concert. Until the issue should be settled by amendment of the Constitution, the R.D.A., at successive conferences in Paris, called on the French government to replace the High Commissioner 21 with an Executive Commission charged with managing the affairs of the two federations, West and Equatorial Africa.

On February 15, 1958, the R.D.A. held a joint conference with the P.R.A. at which representatives of almost all major political parties and labor unions were present. The delegates passed a resolution calling for the formation of a Franco-African Community based on the principles of independence and self-determination and consisting of an association of independent states 22. The resolution was ignored by the French government.

Meeting for a second conference on July 18, 1958, delegates of the R.D.A. and of the P.R.A. again asked for a constitution preserving the federations of French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa. The French government refused on the ground that it could not agree to a supranational assembly 23.

On July 27, 1958, the Constitutive Congress of the P.R.A. opted for independence and called for a new association with France.

These repeated appeals for the preservation of the federal structures of the African federations were either ignored by the metropolitan government or decried as “secessionist” by elements of the French Parliament and press. Little attention seemed to be paid by either to the fact that in none of their resolutions had the Africans demanded secession from the French Union. They had merely asked the metropolitan government to acknowledge their right to self-determination and independence, should they decide to opt for them at some future date. Indeed, virtually without exception, what was advocated was the contrary of secession.
In each resolution, the close ties of territories and Métropole were explicitly acknowledged and an appeal issued for their preservation, although in a new form.

In an address opening the Extraordinary Session of the territorial assembly on July 28, 1958, Sékou Touré stated that any new French African association, to get Guinea’s approval, should be based upon:

  1. The recognition of the right to independence of every state
  2. The creation of a multinati onal federal community endowed with one assembly and one federal government whose powers would be restricted to control of finances, defense, foreign relations, and higher education
  3. The internal autonomy of the federated states

In Touré’s scheme, each autonomous state, having its own assembly and government, would adopt a constitution in harmony with the higher principles of the federal constitution 24.

As late as August 25, 1958, scarcely one month before the fateful referendum, Touré reiterated his support of a Franco-African Community provided that its constitution proclaim the right to independence and the juridical equality of the associated peoples; the right of “divorce” from “the Franco-African marriage”; and the active solidarity of the peoples and of the associated states in order to accelerate and harmonize their evolution 25. Touré had thrown down the gauntlet.

Notes
1. The chief European party in Guinea during this period was General de Gaulle’s R.P.F. (Rassemblement du Peuple Français), known locally as the Action Démocratique et Sociale.
2. Sékou Touré, L’action politique du Parti Démocratique de Guinée pour l’émancipation africaine (Territoire de la Guinée Française, Imprimerie du Gouvernement, Conakry, 1958), Vol. I, pp. 7-8.
3. The Law of May 2 3, 1951, added 83,000 new voters to the electoral list of those eligible to vote for Guinea’s deputies to the French National Assembly.
4. Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière (S.F.I.O.).
5. Statement made by Condé Bakary, Secretary-General of the Kissidougou section of the D .S .G . Quoted from “La voix de la D.S .G. à Kissidougou,” Le Populaire de Guinée, Organe bi-mensuel publié par la Démocratie Socialiste de Guinée, S.F.I.O., Conakry, 15 septembre 1956. (Translation mine.)
6. Quoted from Baldé Mamadou Dian, Secretary-General of the Kankan section of the D.S.G. in “Join the D.S.G.,” ibid., p. 4. (Translation mine.)
7. In Guinea the local R.D.A. branch was given the name Parti Démocratique de Guinée (P.D.G.). During its early years, the party referred to itself chiefly as “the R.D.A.” In later years, however, especially after 1953, it increasingly used “P.D.G.-R.D.A.” or simply “P.D.G.”
8. The Présence Française in Conakry distributed hundreds of leaflets bearing the following message:

“We [French] are witnessing the destruction of the magnificent empire which our fathers conquered at the cost of their lives … Every day the pro-Negro policy of our rulers strikes another blow at the system. Soon, if we take no action, our country will have lost its colonies and be reduced to the status of Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Frenchmen, are you prepared to accept that?” Quoted in West Africa, November 5, 1955, cited in Thompson, Virginia, and Adloff, Richard, French West Africa, Stanford University Press [ 1957], pp. 137-138.

9. During this period (1951-54) there was considerable opposition from other quarters to further R.D.A. expansion. The other Socialist deputy, Mamba Sano, also opposed the R.D.A. as did a majority of the Foulah chiefs and the Cherif of Kankan, Fanta Mahdi, chief spokesman for West Africa’s orthodox Muslims .
10. Sékou Touré, op.cit. footnote two, pp. 18-19.
11. The Bloc Africain de Guinée (B.A.G.) was associated first with the Rassemblement du Peuple Français (R.P.F.), General de Gaulle’s party, and subsequently with the Radical Socialiste. The Démocratie Socialiste de Guinée (D.S.G.) was still tied to the French Socialist Party (S.F.I.O.) .
12. The Grand Conseil, consisting of five elected members from each territorial assembly, functioned as the deliberative and budgetary authority of the federation.
13. See “Quelques déclarations officielles de notre Camarade Barry III,” Le Populaire de Guinée, Conakry, 15 septembre 1956, pp. 1, 4.
14. Marchés Tropicaux, 5 novembre 1956, cited in Thompson and Adloff, op. cit., footnote eight, p. 138.
15. Barry Diawadou was re-elected as the third Guinean deputy.
16. The M.S.A. also included local branches of the Socialist Party from other parts of Africa:

  • French Soudan, Le Parti Progressite Soudanais (P.P.S.)
  • Niger, La Section Nigérienne du M.S.A. (result of a fusion between the Bloc Nigérien d’Action and the Union Démocratique Nigérienne)
  • Ivory Coast, La Section Ivoirienne du M.S.A.
  • Mauritania, La Section Mauritanienne du M.S.A.
  • Cameroun, L’Union Sociale Camerounaise, Section M.S.A. du Cameroun
  • Chad, Le Parti Socialiste Indépendant du Tchad
  • Middle Congo, La Section M.S.A. du Moyen Congo
  • Senegal, Le Parti Sénégalais d’Action Socialiste

17. Barry III, “Qu’est le M.S.A.?” Le Populaire de Guinée, Organe bi-mensuel publié par la D.S.G., Section Guinéenne du M.S.A., Conakry, 15 avril 1957, p. 3.
18. Despite their respectable showing of 100,000 votes, the Socialiste lost out heavily in this election because a number of their men from certain areas of the territory (Kissidougou, Mali, Dinguiraye, Younkounkoun, and Faranah) ran as independent Socialist candidates rather than under the aegis of the D.S.G. See Barry III, “Remerciements,” ibid., p. 1.
19. Quoted from “La Loi-Cadre et l’Afrique Noire,” Touré, op. cit., footnote two, pp. 24-25.
20. “Allocution de Monsieur Auguste Poech …,” Touré, ibid., p. 124.
21. In December 1956 one of the implementing decrees of the loi-cadre changed the names of the federations of French West and Equatorial Africa to “Groups of Territories” of French West and Equatorial Africa, respectively. The former governors-general of the federations were redesignated as High Commissioners.
22. Touré, op. cit., footnote two, p. 132.
23. Ibid., p. 134.
24. Ibid., pp. 70-71.
25. Réformes de la constitution. Différents discours prononcés par le Général de Gaulle, Président du Gouvernement de la République Française, Monsieur Diallo Saifoulaye, Président de l’Assemblée Territoriale et Monsieur Sékou Touré, Président du conseil du gouvernement. Territoire de la Guinée, Imprimerie du Gouvernement, Conakry, 1958, p. 31.

Guinea. Problems of Independence and Decolonization

Victor D. Du Bois
The Problems of Independence. The Decolonization of Guinea
American Universities Field Staff Reports. West Africa Series
Vol. V No. 8 (Guinea), pp. 1-18

Conakry, November 1962

Victor David Du Bois (1932-1983)
Victor David Du Bois (1932-1983)

Guinea’s formal accession to independence on October 2, 1958, gave the party elite the long- awaited opportunity to dismantle the colonial structure which had dominated the territory for more than 60 years. Decolonization meant something much more fundamental than merely the achievement of national independence and the transfer of authority from the European colonial power to the Africans. As Sékou Touré explained, it signified a basic reorientation in the thinking and habits of men:

« When we say “Decolonization,” we mean we want to
destroy the habits, conceptions and ways of conduct of colonialism. We are determined to replace them with forms that are Guinean forms, conceived by the people of Guinea. Decolonization consists in detecting all that remains of the colonial system and finding a Guinean solution for it. Decolonization consists in liberating the civil servant from his enslavement to the colonial conception, to the colonial mentality. Decolonization is the reconversion of colonial mentalities into Guinean mentalities. Decolonization must put an end to injustice and ensure the reconversion of these various evils, of these diverse practices of division and opposition, into practices of unity and cooperation. 1 »

Sékou Touré’s goal was to make of Guinea as African a country as Kwame Nkrumah had made of Ghana, and this he and his party (Parti Démocratique de Guinée) set about to do. Decolonization necessarily implied nationalism and nationalism therefore became the hallmark of all changes that followed. The object was twofold: to do away with what remained of colonial power in Guinea, and to imbue the citizens of the new state with an awareness and enthusiasm for the independence and sovereignty which now were theirs. Once the French had relinquished authority, Guineans lost no time in initiating decolonization procedures widely.

Women in great numbers have been recruited into the political process. Shown here are members of various village committees of the P.D.G. (Photo courtesy Ministry of Information, Republic of Guinea)
Women in great numbers have been recruited into the political process. Shown here are members of various village committees of the P.D.G. (Photo courtesy Ministry of Information, Republic of Guinea)
Mobilization of the youth: a J.R.D.A. group parading before President Sékou Touré of Guinea and President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. (Photo courtesy Ministry of Information, Republic of Guinea)
Mobilization of the youth: a J.R.D.A. group parading before President Sékou Touré of Guinea and President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. (Photo courtesy Ministry of Information, Republic of Guinea)

With the departure of the French Governor, his palace became the Présidence, official residence of the Guinean head of state.  The Chamber of Commerce Building was preempted to house the newly established Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the old Institut Français d’Afrique Noire (I.F.A.N.) was re-baptized the National Museum. Statues of former French colonial officials were removed from their pedestals in the center of Conakry and exiled to a lonely peninsula on the edge of town where to this day they look out to sea. Names of streets were changed as were those of public squares. The former monument aux morts became the monument aux martyrs du colonialisme, and the buildings along Conakry’s beautiful corniche, one by one for the first time were occupied by Guineans. Anxious to impress both on Guinean citizens and on the outside world the seriousness with which independence was regarded, Touré and the Political Bureau of the P .D.G. allowed only a minimum of festivities and immediately set about putting everyone to work .

Nothing less than a complete revamping of the state was envisaged. From top to bottom, all political, economic, social, and cultural institutions of Guinea were to be Africanized. No exceptions were to be made. What could not be Africanized today for want of an adequate Guinean substitute would be Africanized tomorrow, next month, next year, or at such time as a Guinean substitute became available. But it would be done. Decolonization was not only the result of a desire to remove the last vestiges of colonial influence, it was also a protest, a Guinean rejection of the European’s efforts to mold the African after his own image:

« The colonial regime had attempted to assimilate us to a civilization which, even if it was positive and humanistic, had not been thought out by us, was not at all the fruit of our own experience; a civilization which did not express our own proper values, and consequently, was not conformable to our national ethos.
To this colonialist determination to assimilate us we opposed a fierce affirmation of the African personality.
To the colonialist assertion of a lack of any moral, positive, cultural value in the history of the African peoples we oppose our personality, we maintain we had our own civilization, our own culture, our own values…
… Examining objectively the situation of our country at the time of its withdrawal from the colonial regime, we recognized that all the economie, administrative, political, judicial, and military structures were not conformable to the best conditions for the development of our national society, and we decided to transform them by adapting them to the necessities of our evolution… 2 »

Individuals no less than institutions were urged to “decolonize,” to purge themselves of what Sékou Touré called “the colonialist mentality.” To emphasize the acknowledgment, the reassertion of their négritude, national leaders forsook Western dress for their native clothing.

The people’s response to President Sékou Touré’s exhortations to “decolonize” was spontaneous. For the overwhelming majority it posed no great problem: they had never really be en Gallicized to begin with. Aside from the amenities of modern civilization which France had brought them, the laws which it had imposed on them, and the taxes it had exacted from them, most Guineans had remained by and large untouched by the influence of the présence française, even after 60 years’ rule. But for the few thousand in the country who formed the nation’s elite —those who had received the benefit of a French education, had had extensive contact with Westerners, or at least had learned the French language— the process was somewhat more difficult. French influence had left its imprint on this group. For many of these people, French really had become the lingua franca. Their standards of judgment, even their moral values were conceived within a French context and these were things not susceptible to change overnight. The question which inevitably if only tacitly had to be faced was, “How Guinean should one be?” Or, to put it another way: was the new nationalism to be so militant that it would endeavor to obliterate all traces of the colonial heritage, whatever the se might be?

Sékou Touré’s statement of the problem of decolonization, as it presented itself in Guinea, in no way precluded the retention of things French which experience had shown to be wise, beneficial, or necessary to the country. Some social institutions (e.g., the judicial system, military rules and regulations) learned or developed under the French, were retained virtually in toto with relatively few adaptations to Guinean circumstances. Other institutions (e .g., the labor unions and youth groups) were radically altered to complement national organs which the party was developing—organs aimed at consolidating the party’s nationwide control and at mobilizing the population for the attainment of national objectives.

In both cases Sékou Touré has shown himself to be eminently eclectic. His discourses on the subject of decolonization and reconversion show his clear awareness of the fact that Guinea can never obliterate completely all traces of colonial influence in its social and political institutions. What is important is that those things which cannot be changed in structure of function at least develop a new sense of morality, a Guinean morality:

« Our new state, in its outward form, has replaced the colonial state, but, in order not to continue the practice of the former system we must analyze the old ways of doing things so that we can improve on them. We must analyze them in relation to our major objectives… 3 »

In all cases a cardinal principle has been that the reconversion of an agency or an organ of government lead to its complete integration into the national system. The concept of independent regulatory agencies, left free to function as watchdogs over the actions of government, are viewed as irrelevant in a society where these functions are assumed by the party. Sékou Touré has made it clear that non-integrated institutions and agencies, or social actions of any kind which might escape control by the state, not only are not to be tolerated, but are to be actively resisted :

« We, as totally dedicated militants, solemnly affirm that
everything, every phenomenon, will have no value in our eyes save to the extent that it tends toward our final goal. Thus, all opposition, all attempts to divert our attention, necessarily end by strengthening our struggle for emancipation. Those who willingly shut themselves up within the framework of the colonial system will never be able to make us slacken our pace … We must not consider economic, social, and cultural phenomena in isolated fashion. We must consider them in relation to our policy, our national existence, and the highest interests of the people of our country. The country being an indivisible entity, we shall not favor any one sector or any one project. 4 »

One of the chief problems which immediately confronted Guinea was to determine the extent to which reconversion could or should be carried out and where this might most profitably be done. Might not reconversion in one area (e .g ., in education), if carried out too peremptorily, impede or retard progress in ether areas?

Africanization also presented difficulties of quite another sort. What form should the desired Africanization of a particular institution or convention take? Should it be Soussou, Foulah, or Malinké? The problem posed to those advocating reconversion could not be underestimated. A wrong choice—one which unduly favored the cultural form of one ethnie group over those of other groups— might run the risk of reviving ancient enmities. Such a mistake could damage the delicate strands of unity so painstakingly woven by the party since independence. However deplorable “the colonial way,” one undeniable advantage it had was that through the common adherence to colonial laws and conventions which it imposed on its subjects, it did tend to de-emphasize ethnic, linguistic, and regional differences among the indigenous peoples. For administrative purposes, the colonial regime treated the peoples of the territory as a unit rather than as distinct ethnic groups. It created among them, however inadvertently, a certain sense of union—even if it was only what Sékou Touré later referred to as a “union de misère.” The P.D.G. profited from the experience.

Looking at it in the perspective of four years of independence, the Guinean experience has shawn that what actually was meant by decolonization and reconversion was not the wholesale abandonment of those institutions and conventions which 60 years of French colonial rule had bequeathed to Guinea. Above all, decolonization has not meant an indiscriminate return to archaic, precolonial African institutions, however much these may once have been revered, or performed a useful and necessary function in society. Decolonization has meant adopting those institutions and conventions of the former colonial society which the government and the party have deemed useful or essential to the efficient functioning of a modern national state and the integration of its peoples. It has meant reforming and adapting the se institutions to be used by Guineans for Guinean purposes. Guineans have been among the most willing to recognize the utility of such European inherited institutions as the mass political party, labor organization, and a modern, reform-oriented government. They have also been among the !east desirous of seeing a resuscitation of one of the oldest of African institutions —the chieftaincy—which they (along with a good many other Africans) now regard with abhorrence.

Similarly, Africanization means not merely the understandable desire of Africans to see Africans themselves rather than whites or other aliens hold the reins of power and authority in the government, the public services, and the private enterprise of the country. It means also a firm resolve to devise among themselves and in concert with other Africans, a common approach to problems with which they must all cope. It signifies a re-evaluation of what it me ans to be African.
The ideal no longer is to be a black Frenchman but to be an African, and an African primarily. It was the realization of this belief, first in Guinea and later in other parts of French West Africa, that marked one of the milestones in the social evolution of the French Negro territories.

Building a Guinean Nationality

Welding a nation out of the many different ethnie and cultural elements of Guinea was a problem of staggering proportions. The creation of a national consciousness and a spirit of unity depended largely on the P.D.G.’s success in minimizing points of conflict among Guinea’s three major tribal groups—the Foulah, Soussou, and Malinké—so that they might work together in constructing the new nation. Their imbalance in number and distribution, their ethnic and cultural dissimilarities, and the animosities that for centuries had divided them—all these were formidable obstacles to rapid consolidation.

The situation was further complicated by the existence of a host of smaller ethnic and tribal groups many of whom were as irreconcilable as the Foulah-Soussou-Malinké triad. There were the Baga, the Nalou, and the Landouman peoples in Lower Guinea; the Tenda, Bassari and Coniagui in Middle Guinea; and a plethora of tribes in the Forest Region, among them the Manons, the Guerzés, the Kono, and the Kissi, ethnically linked with peoples of the neighboring Ivory Coast. Each of these groups possessed its own language, traditions, and forms of social and political organization. Their response to the demands of changing times was conditioned by the varying degrees of contact they had had with the French. Those concentrated along the coast such as the Soussou, had dealt with the French since earliest times and, hence, had become the natural recipients and agents of change. Others, such as the Coniagui, living in the remote area of Younkounkoun, remained until recent times practically untouched by modern civilization (sic! —T.S. Bah).

The task which confronted the P.D.G. in creating a modern, unified nation was essentially one of reconciliation. A formula had to be found by which the barriers dividing Guinea1s peoples could be replaced by bonds of union and a feeling of kinship. Nationalism thus had to compete with ancient loyalties to tribe and region. The adversary with which it had now to come to grips was not an outside force against which all popular sympathies could easily be mobilized. It was the dead weight of indigenous habits and institutions, deeply and universally revered, but heavy with an innate conservatism, which seriously impeded genuine national union.

The party pursued its goal with characteristic zeal. It adopted a flag 5 and a national anthem 6 for the new nation; national youth and women’s organizations were founded; a national orchestra was assembled; and everywhere patriotic songs were learned and sung 7. Curricula in the schools were revised so that now, for the first time, Guinean children began to study Guinean history, Guinean geography, and Guinean languages. Native folklore was revived, and the party encouraged inter-regional and national competitions in native songs and dances, sports, and voluntary public -works projects (investissement humain). Those who excelled were hailed not only as local champions from Mamou or N’Zérékoré or whatever their native region, but as Guinean champions. Guineans thrilled to the sight of a Guinean army marching down the main thoroughfares of Conakry under the command of Guinean officers. The air was charged with excitement and everyone imbued with a deep sense of pur pose. Within a remarkably short time, the people of the former French territory began to think of themselves less as Soussou, Foulah, or Malinké than as Guineans. Ethnocentric attitudes tenaciously clung to over the centuries began to give way to the new sense of nationhood.

The party’s task was facilitated by one curious and noteworthy factor: the lack of irredentism among the Guinean tribes. Although the Foulah and Malinké peoples and those of half a dozen other smaller tribes are ethnically and linguistically related to peoples straddling Guinea’s frontiers (most notably the frontiers with the Ivory Coast, Mali, and Senegal), there is little sentiment among the Guineans for union with their cousins across the borders. Long distances and the rigors of travel, added to the artificial frontiers which the white man had imposed in Africa for several generations, have discouraged such tribal nationalism. Neither Sékou Touré nor any other leader of the P.D.G. is anxious to see this situation altered, save within the context of a greater Pan-African union.

A tremendous help to the party is the extraordinary adulation in which the people hold Sékou Touré. No other leader in Guinean history—not even the venerable Samory—ever evoked from the people such a lavish outpouring of affection and esteem. His portrait is seen everywhere in the country, in every office, in every school, in the remotest village. It appears in murals in public buildings 8, on currency notes, and even as a print on the cotton dresses worn by Guinean women. Much of this adulation is contrived and encouraged by the party, but much also is due to Touré’s charismatic hold on the people. He elicits an enthusiastic response not only from his own Malinké people, but from the Foulah, the Soussou, and other Guinean ethnic groups. The courtesy and attentiveness with which visiting deputations from the interior are received at the Présidence in Conakry, the frequent trips Sékou Touré takes throughout the country to give an account of his mandate to the people, and the impartiality he has shawn in distributing government funds and allocating welfare projects among Guinea’s four regions all have contributed greatly to the unparalleled prestige he enjoys.

Simultaneously with its promotion of Guinean nationalism, the party has sought to encourage nationalism on a Pan-African basis. Dissident independence movements from different parts of Africa—many disowned by the legitimate African governments in power—have sought and received haven in Conakry. Radio Conakry’s “Voix de la Révolution” in the early days of independence became an important source not only of anti-colonialist but also of anti-Western propaganda. Touré hailed the Guinean independence movement as the first great step taken to emancipate all of French Black Africa. Because they had gained national independence by the unspectacular means of the ballot box rather than by re sort to arms 9, Touré and ether party leaders sought to imbue their party with an intense revolutionary zeal. National enthusiasm had to be kept at high pitch to carry out party programs on the domestic scene, and to push Guinea to the forefront of nationalist movements in Africa.

The unification of Guinea-despite its impressive progress during the first four years —has not been achieved without difficulties. Some of the se stemmed from the fact that in Guinea, as in other African countries, certain elements actively resisted or passively obstructed the work of national consolidation-or so party leaders felt. Certain groups, because of their composition, background, or activities, were suspect. This was the case, for example, with certain intellectuals and “unenlightened” labor leaders. In ether cases, the obstructive elements were not specific individuals or groups but social institutions which the party regarded as archaic or bent on blocking plans for unification and modernization. One such example was the institution of the chieftaincy and another was the Roman Catholic Church. Whatever the obstruction, it was firmly and severely dealt with by the party. Nothing was allowed to stand in the way of unification.

The party saw that its position would be insecure unless it could accomplish three tasks:

  1. prevent the possible rise of an opposition, particularly among the Foulah
  2. contend with the divisive tendencies almost inevitable in a nation composed of several major ethnie groups, each pulling in a separate direction
  3. mobilize the youth and women in the country to aid the party 1 s cause.

Prevention of a Foulah Opposition

Locked in their mountain fastness of Fouta-Djallon, the Foulah peoples of Middle Guinea for centuries before the colonial conquest successfully repelled the incursions of neighboring tribes. This aggressive and warlike people succeeded in enlarging their domain at the expense of other tribes, most notably the Soussou, whom they frequently enslaved. Aristocratic and intensely Islamized, they prided themselves on their great herds of cattle and their exploits as soldiers of Muhammad. The political organization of the Foulah was retained virtually intact by the French for the purpose of indirect rule. The most important prerogative the French exercised was naming the almamy (the Foulah equivalent of emir) who exercised supreme jurisdiction over the far-reaching Foulah “empire.”

Although for centuries the Foulah, the Soussou, and the Malinké had been rivals, the Foulah, for the most part, were spared the ravages of the armies of Samory 10 which swept over northern Guinea and into the arid plains of the French Soudan. Under French rule, the Foulah expanded into the coastal areas as far south and west as Conakry, where they began to compete with the Soussou for what few employment opportunities existed. The decision of the French after the death of the last almamy in 1906 not to appoint a successor, their suppression of slavery, and their gradual disavowal of the chiefs greatly weakened the political stability of the Foulah and in time rendered them vulnerable to the blandishments of native local politicians. Foulah cities such as Labé, Mamou, and Pita became important centers of socialism in Guinea, and it was in these centers that the P.D.G. later encountered its most determined opposition.

When Guinea became independent, the Foulah, numbering almost one million, constituted the largest single ethnie bloc. No Guinean government could hope to succeed unless it enjoyed their support. And in the early days of independence it was common to hear it said wistfully by some of the French that “Touré will not dare do anything here in Conakry without the accord of the Foulah. If he tries, the Fouta 11 will move.”

Reasons were not wanting for questioning the loyalty of the Foulah to the new government. It was the Foulah city of Labé which had registered the strongest vote against Guinean independence. And it was commonly believed that die-hard French colonialists were conspiring with the Foulah to overthrow the government of the young republic. Visitors to Guinea, particularly the more knowledgeable foreign journalists, frequently alluded to a supposed Foulah opposition which resented being dominated by a Malinké politician (Touré) and stood ready to seize control of the government at the first opportunity.

Once Guinea achieved its independence and the French departed, the way was open for the creation of a genuine national union. With valuable assistance from Diallo Saifoulaye, Vice-President of the new republic and himself a prominent Foulah, Touré moved quickly to bring the redoubtable Foulah into line. As Vice -President of Guinea and Political Secretary of the P .D .G., Diallo symbolized the inter-tribal unity which was to characterize the new nation.

(Erratum. — Saifoulaye had no executive role. Instead, he presided over the National Assembly. Also, he carried on his political secretary function that dated back to 1948, when Sekou Touré occupied a less prominent position in the comité directeur hierarchy. See Composition du Comité directeur du PDG au 30 juin 1948, quoted from André Lewin’s Ahmed Sékou Touré (1922-1984). Président de la Guinée de 1958 à 1984. Volume 1, chapitre 9, annexe deux— Tierno S. Bah)

Foulahs, along with Soussous and Malinkés and members of Guinea’s numerous ether ethnie groups, were brought in large numbers into the government or given prestigious jobs in the party 12. Foulah youth were brought into the J.R.D.A., the newly created national youth organization, and Foulah women were given an active and important role to play in political affairs. Foulah accomplishments in art, music, and literature were acclaimed as glories of the nation, and Foulah warriors venerated as Guinean heroes. In allocating government funds for welfare projects, Touré scrupulously awarded the Foulah their full share, and his solicitous attitude toward the Foulah won him much support among this initially skeptical people.

The party practice of sending children of one ethnic group away to school in parts of the country inhabited by members of another ethnie group to acquaint them with their compatriots has also helped to break down the barriers that once separated Guinea’s peoples. Very important has been the action of prominent Foulahs, such as Barry III, who were formerly associated with the opposition but now have joined forces with the P.D.G. The adherence of such leaders resulted in large numbers of the Foulah rallying to the national cause. The P.D.G.’s system of administrative controls under which each region is assigned an “alien” (i.e., someone from an ethnic group ether than that predominant in the area) as regional executive (commandant de région) is designed to inhibit the formation of any sort of opposition under the old ethnic banners.

These factors, as well as the absence of any feeling of irredentism among the Foulah toward their brothers in Mali, Senegal, and Portuguese Guinea, have reduced the supposed danger of Foulah opposition to the present government. Many believed that the government never could or would undertake militant action against the Foulah because it feared their massive strength.
This belief was shown to be false when at the time of a so-called anti-government plot in May 1960, the Foulah leader, Diallo Ibrahima, allegedly implicated, was arrested, tried, condemned, and tortured. The often-voiced claim that the Foulah would “move into Conakry” had been proved groundless. Touré’s hold on the Guinean people, including the Foulah, was far greater than anyone had imagined.

Recruitment of Women into the Political Process

Women’s organizations had existed in Guinea for sorne years before independence. The Malinké, Foulah, Baga, Toucouleur, and the Sarakole tribes all had active women’s groups, founded largely on the basis of region, ethnic group, or even religion. Protestant and Catholic women in the territory also had their own organizations. Most of these groups shared the detriments of haphazard organization and a fluctuating membership. For the most part, they limited themselves to organizing village and tribal celebrations in which they indulged in rival displays of finery. Their political influence was virtually nil. The various conditions attached to the women’s vote in French West Africa at the time permitted few to exercise the franchise; consequently, the overwhelming majority were remote from political affairs.

The appearance of the R.D.A. in 1946 and the formation of its Guinean branch, the P .D.G., one year later opened the way for change. Women were encouraged to be active in politics. A small number joined the party, but their membership was on an individual basis and their influence remained minor. Gradually, however, those women who had a strong interest in civic matters began to organize, first in N’Zérékoré and later in Macenta. When their groups prospered, the P.D.G. lent them active support and encouraged women in other areas to follow their example.

The achievement of national independence has in no way lessened the party’s interest in women as a group. President Sékou Touré has made it abundantly clear that the party is pledged to correct social abuses against women and to as sure them their rightful share in the direction of national affairs:

« Our determination to free the Guinean woman from unjust constraints and from certain often humiliating practices, rises out of a deep concern for social justice and also from our determination to ensure the full participation of our sisters in the building of the new African society of the Guinean nation. 13 »

The party has not been remiss in keeping its pledge. It has introduced women into the highest councils of government (two are members of the National Political Bureau) and constantly strive s to improve their social position. With the party firmly behind them, women have succeeded in raising the legal marriage age for females from thirteen to seventeen, an achievement which ranks as a major reform. The number of employment opportunities available to women has widened, and in many instances they are challenging men for positions of leadership in the party itself. Today women occupy positions of authority and importance throughout Guinea. Many are mayors or presidents of village councils, teachers, midwives, or exercise other functions directly beneficial to the community.

President Touré seizes every possible occasion, especially in speeches to the nation or addresses to the party and the National Assembly, to praise the selfless devotion of Guinean women to the cause of independence. He has given them, as it were, an official mandate to work hard, and on a par with men, in the great popular movement to develop a vigorous national consciousness. He has made of one woman—Camara M’Balia—a Guinean heroine 14.

In Guinea women no less than other members of the social group have been imbued with a revolutionary spirit. The more educated and articulate among them stand in the vanguard of party militants, ready and willing to help educate their less fortunate sisters. They demonstrate an eager interest in politics and participate actively in civic and national affairs. Along with the youth of the country they invariably are the first induced to answer the party ‘s frequent calls for volunteer workers.

As more and more of them acquire an education and assume positions of responsibility throughout their country, they are coming to feel a deep sense of obligation toward women still living under repressive and archaic conditions in other parts of Africa. They have indicated great readiness to join forces with them to pursue their goals on a continent-wide scale. At a conference in Conakry held in the summer of 1961, a Council of West African Women was organized and it set up a permanent secretariat at Ibadan, Nigeria.

Independence has brought advantages both to the party and to Guinean women. The former has found an important new source of voting strength; the latter, a powerful political force to supportits demands for basic reforms. In return for the support it has received from the women, the party resolutely champions the ir cause. With their country undergoing a profound social revolution, and aware for the first time of the important part they can play in this revolution, women constitute one of the most dynamic social forces in present-day Guinea.

Mobilization of the Youth

Under the French, youth activities for the most part had been loosely organized and confined principally to Conakry and ether urban centers in the country. Youth in rural areas were almost totally neglected.
Activities for the young people had been confined mainly to sports and to inter-regional competitive events of various kinds. Thus, although the colonial administration concerned itself somewhat with the youth, its offhand treatment of them resulted for the most part in the formation of little more than a multitude of tiny groups, none of which had any distinctive character or provided any real outlet for expressing youth’s aspirations. Given no opportunity for constructive expression, youthful energies were expended on unproductive or pointless activities.
When Guinea became independent, this situation was drastically
changed. The P.D.G. considered the reorganization of the youth as one of the great needs of the new nation. Accordingly, it set about devising plans for bringing youth into the political system as an active participant.
After studying youth activities during the colonial period, the Political Bureau of the party called a national conference which met in Conakry, March 26-29, 1959, to discuss the future of Guinean youth and the role they should play in the social revolution engendered by Guinea’s independence. It was decided at this conference that a national organization to be called the Jeunesse Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (J.R.D.A.) should be set up which would include all of Guinea’s youth. This organization was not to have an independent existence but was to function as an arm of the party, under its supervision and enjoying its full support. On this point, Touré was very specific:

« The interest we take in the youth arises out of our fundamental principle of harmonization and unification of the efforts of all the classes of the people to ensure the triumph of the people’ s cause…
… We are led by an essential principle to which the Party has never ceased to grant a tremendous importance. It is the absolute necessity to frame the action of the young, their national action, within the limits of the general action of the Party. Youth must become an active part of the nation; they must realize their responsibilities and be ready to play the dynamic role we want to allot them. » 15

The J.R.D.A. and National Unification

Of Sékou Touré’s many efforts to weld the Guinean peoples into a single nation, the most rewarding have been his efforts among the youth. With them he has known an unqualified success. Understandably and predictably, in Guinea it is the youth who have been the most responsive to the party ‘s desire to see national fraternity replace the ancient rivalries and enmities. Unlike their elders, many of whom (despite the party’s efforts) still retain their old doubts and distrusts about other ethnic groups, Guinean youth believe implicitly what President Sékou Touré tells them: that the old hatreds can and must be buried. Recognizing youth as an important ally in his work of constructing the nation, Touré has assured them of every assistance.

In order to obtain absolute fidelity to its cause, the P.D.G. long ago decided that separatism among the youth, whenever and however it may manifest itself, must be forcefully resisted. The party considers that the youth of Guinea should make an active contribution to the nation. It encourages their efforts by imbuing the youth with a sense of purpose:

« The Democratic Party of Guinea has never concealed its absolute opposition to every movement that might result in dividing the population or confiscating the interests of the whole for the profit of a minority.
Our relentless struggle against ethnie groups has thus done away with all the organizations of youth founded on race or region.
For the Democratic Party of Guinea, the deep meaning of African unity implies, at the heart of the Movement, the most rigorous fight against all tendencie s of division, all factions of self- interest.
The leaders of the Party never stopped proclaiming that for the R.D.A. [i.e., the P.D.G.], youth for the sake of youth did not exist. The Party places youth at the core of the concerns of the nation, within the frame work of the building up of the nation by means of the combined efforts of all. 16 »

To engender an esprit de corps among the young people, the party has accorded them a place of very real significance in the direction of national affairs. Members of the National Council of the J.R.D.A. are treated with the dignity a c corded cabinet ministers; young men and women, officiais of the J.R.D.A., frequently represent Guinea at important international conferences of a cultural nature ; they are called upon to give their views, and those of the young people they represent, on matters of national policy. Such important questions as the dowry practice and the conditions of marriage are regulated by the young themselves at the level of the administrative section.

A natural by-product of the confidence which the party has placed in its youth has been youth’s trust in the party. They are today its most enthusiastic supporters.

The extraordinary success which the party enjoys among the young of the country (and, increasingly, among the young of many other parts of Africa) is largely due to its having won a reputation as the most extreme and revolutionary political movement in Africa today. This label has conferred upon it an immense prestige with African youth, prone as they are to political extremism . The more extreme the P.D.G. becomes, and the more its actions are reviled in “colonialist” quarters, the more Sékou Touré’s stature and that of the party grow in the eyes of African youth. As Touré’s charisma extends itself over ever greater numbers of people, many far distant from his own shores, the fame he enjoys abroad becomes both a source of national pride and a unifying influence among his own people.

The J.R.D.A. as an International Youth Movement

Using the J .R.D.A. as an instrument of national policy, Sékou Touré has kept it in the forefront of international attention. He has made it the avant-garde of youth movements in French-speaking Africa, and so successful has it been as an instrument of national unification that other African leaders have taken it as a model for similar organizations in their own countries 17. As a member of the Conseil de la Jeunesse d’Afrique, one of the principal international youth organizations in French-speaking Africa, the J.R.D.A. has openly declared its intention to carry on everywhere the struggle against continued colonialist activities . As an outspoken foe of “Western imperialism,” the J .R.D.A. has been warmly received by members of the Communist camp. Its leaders have been both delegates and hosts to important international youth conferences in which the Communists have played a dominant role.

That the J.R.D.A. has tended to lean strongly toward the East rather than the West is not surprising in view of the militantly anti-colonial position constantly maintained and affirmed by the P.D.G. This inclination toward the East is due partially to Guinea’s unfortunate experiences under French rule. But it is due even more to the fact that the often radical and revolutionary schemes of social and economic reorganization which the P.D.G. continually espouses and in which the youth of the country are called upon to play a significant role find a more sympathetic ear among the revolutionaries of the East than among the moderates of the West, advocates of change through an orderly and evolutionary process. Moreover, the lack in most Western countries of anything even remotely resembling the national youth organizations of the East or of Guinea, either in breadth of national membership or in scope of activity, renders most unlikely any genuine rapport between the youth of the two camps. Because of the political temper of the times and a natural feeling of sympathy with other underprivileged peoples, the natural inclination of Guinean youth is toward the extreme left. It is in this direction that it is inexorably moving.

National Unification, a Balance Sheet

Some of the things which have been done in Guinea over the last four years to create a sense of nationhood among its people may appear harsh to Western eyes, accustomed to seeing nationality emerge as the end product of years of orderly historical evolution. The relentless zeal with which the P.D.G. has gone about its task may even appear to some a little frightening, subordinating, as it does, the individual to the point where his value is measured only in terms of the contributions he is able to bring to the larger social group personified by the state. But in Guinea, as in many other African states, it is felt that the problem of internal dissensions is such that national unification will be achieved only if firm and drastic action is taken at the initial stages of independence while the people are still fired with the idealism of their newly won independence. Too moderate or lenient an approach to this basic problem, it is argued, ends up only in debilitating the state and perpetuating ethnic antagonisms. The example of the former Belgian Congo has lent added weight to this view both in Guinea and elsewhere on the continent. Today, virtually every country in Africa is confronted with the same problem which Guinea has had to face: how to create a national consciousness, a sense of nationhood, from a multiplicity of peoples. The problem remains perhaps the most crucial for Africa. Guinea has provided one approach to its solution.

Notes
1. Sékou Touré, Toward Full Re-Africanisation (Policy and Principles of the Guinea Democratic Party) [English text, Paris, Presence Africaine, 1959, p. 40
2. République de Guinée, Conférence Nationale (de planification économique), Kankan, les 2, 3, 4 et 5 avril 1960. Rappport d’orientation du Bureau Politique National du Parti Démocratique de Guinée {Sékou Touré}, Conakry, Imprimerie Nationale, 1960, pp. 38-40.
3. Sékou Touré, La Guinée et l’émancipation africaine, Paris, Présence Africaine, 1959, p. 213.
4. From a speech delivered by President Sékou Touré before government functionaries of the circumscription of Kankan, February 23, 1959, ibid. , p. 118.
5. A tricolor of three vertical bars, red, yellow, and green. The red symbolizes the blood shed by anticolonialist martyrs in their struggle for freedom; the yellow, the color of Guinea ‘s gold and of the African sun; the green, the color of Africa’s vegetation. The colors were deliberately chosen to correspond to those of Ghana’s flag. They have since been adopted by a number of other African nations.
6. “Liberté,” composedby Keita Fodéba, former Minister of the Interior, and Jean Cellier, a Frenchman living in Guinea who is instructor to the national orchestra.
7. One of the interesting things about many of these songs is how gently the French are treated in the lyrics, a fact all the more curious considering the vehemence with which they are stigmatized in Sékou Touré’s speeches. In one youth song called “Faransi Siga” (“The Departure of the French”), the lyrics go:

“Sékou Touré, so this is the way the French leave us,
Without saying farewell
What shame
So this is the way the French leave us
Without even saying good-by
What shame, by Allah
The French have gone without saying farewell.”

In another youth song entitled “Wongè segè” (“Good-bye Europeans”), the words go:

“Good-bye Europeans
And without a grudge
I, myself, am not offended
Good-bye, everyone to his own home
Without any fuss
Good-bye provided you disturb us no more
Let him follow you
He who believes you indispensable.”

For other examples, see Djibril Tamsir Niane, “Some Revolutionary
Songs of Guinea” [special edition on Independent Guinea], Paris, Présence Africaine, n.d., pp. 10 1- 115.
8.  One of the most interesting sets of murals is that in the centre culturel of the city of Mamou, painted on cloth by members of Guinea’s youth movement, the Jeunesse du Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (J.R.D.A.). One mural depicts Guinea “as it used to be”: a white woman being borne on a sedan chair by four Africans while her husband struts alongside. A second mural shows Touré, mounted on a white stallion and garbed as St. George, slaying the dragon of colonialism.
9.  Sékou Touré once estimated that if Guinea had had to fight for its independence, some 200,000 Guineans probably would have died fighting the French. See Sékou Touré, “Voter ‘Non’ c’est faire l’économie d’une guerre,” L’action politique du Parti Démocratique de Guinée pour l’émancipation africaine, Tome 3, Année 1959, Conakry, p. 452.
10.  See Guinea: The Years Before World War II (VDB-5-’62), an AUFS publication.
11.  Abbreviated form for Fouta-Djallon, the region in central Guinea occupied by the Foulah peoples.
12.  It is interesting to note, however, that at its inception, only two Foulahs were made members of the all-important National Political Bureau, the highest policymaking body in the P.D.G. In 1962 the National Political Bureau has:

  • Eleven Malinké
  • Three Soussou
  • One Toma
  • Two Foulah

13.  Sékou Touré, op. cit., note one, p. 71.
14.  On February 9, 1955, a district chief (presumably an African) in an altercation with a pregnant village woman, Camara M’Balia, stabbed her. Madame Camara’s baby was stillborn and she herself died shortly afterward from her wounds. She has since been hailed as a Guinean martyr of anticolonialism.
15.  Sékou Touré, op. cit., note one, pp. 80, 83.
16.  Ibid., p. 81.
17.  Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Modibo Keita of Mali, and even Félix Houphouët-Boigny of the Ivory Coast.