webGuinea/Histoire-Politique/Unionists and Chiefs
Ruth S. Morgenthau
Political parties in French-speaking West Africa
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964.
Trade Unionists and Chiefs in Guinea
Their differences with their neighbours caused them on the whole to welcome the arrival of the Europeans. Hence French rule came fairly peacefully to the area, and disturbed the traditional political structure relatively little. There was not much modern economic development’ and therefore the goals of the French administration were confined to keeping the peace and keeping up French prestige. A proud history, an aristocracy whose authority was reinforced by Islam and resistance to European education also served to set the Fulani somewhat apart from other Guineans.
Among the educated Fulani, there existed in 1943 the only really flourishing ethnic association. It was called the Amicale Gilbert Vieillard (AGV) after a French administrator of socialist leanings who studied and worked among the Fulani from the time of the Popular Front, and who spoke of it as ‘the land of “sterile stones, of famine, hunger and the badly dressed”. The AGV was the successor in Guinea to the Fulani club Voix du Montagnard which existed among students at the Ecole Normale William-Ponty. Founded as a mutual aid and cultural group, the AGV took on political functions as well. Its members discussed, for example, difficulties under Vichy, in their home villages and towns. The chiefs required total obeissance and would not recognize the special qualifications of Africans educated in French schools or in the French army. The AGV members complained that in 1945, ‘arbitrarily expelled from their region by the chiefs in connivance with the former administrators, almost all the Fulani intellectuals were living in the coastal region of Guinea and particularly in Conakry.’ There were less than a hundred educated Fulani in the AGV when they first heard of the prospect of elections from the Free French General Chevance-Bertin. A founder of Combat, he flew to Guinea to solicit, successfully, the first college votes. The AGV decided they represented the biggest bloc of voters in the second college’ and wanted their favourite Barry Diawadou to be deputy.
1. Most of his essays were printed in the Bulletin du Comité d’Etudes Historiques et Scientifiques de l’AOF.
2. Gouilly, op. cit., p. 67, citing Gilbert Vieillard in 1940.
3. See AGV statutes, mimeographed, 1953, Article 4.
4. Tounkara Cellou, in Le Populaire de Guinée, 15 June 1956.
5. See Climats, 27 December 1955.
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