Victor D. Du Bois
The Rise of an Opposition to Sékou Touré
“Part IV: The Entente’s Reactions to the Guinean Accusations”
American Universities Field Staff Reports. West Africa Series
Vol. IX No. 4, (Guinea), April 1966, pp.1-18
Victor David Du Bois (1932-1983)
Sékou Touré‘s charges that there had been a conspiracy against his government and that this conspiracy had been headed by President Felix Houphouët-Boigny of the Ivory Coast were almost universally greeted by embarrassed silence, open skepticism, or outspoken derision
No African leader, including Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Modibo Keita of Mali, and Gamal Abdel Nasser of the United Arab Republic, Touré’s three staunchest friends, lent him so much as moral support. None made a statement backing up his charges, or offered to go to his aid to help defend Guinea against the conspiracy supposedly launched by the French, Houphouët-Boigny, and the other Entente leaders.
The African heads of state, all of whom had rec eived the Guinean
President’s “open letter” accusing Houphouët, showed by their shattering silence just how seriously they regarded Touré’s charges. The Organization of African Unity (O.A.U.), with which Mr. Touré had lodged a formal complaint and whose Secretary-General, Diallo Telli, was a Guinean, retained a discreet silence on the matter. The O.A.U. made not the slightest effort to initiate the investigation Touré had demanded.
Not even the Soviets or the Chinese, who in the past had always shown themselves only too eager to support anyone’s attack against the moderate African leaders, thought Mr. Touré’s charges worth the bother of a perfunctory resolution of support.
Abidjan. Meeting of the heads of state of Conseil de l’Entente in 1962. From left to right: Presidents Justin Ahomadegbe (Dahomey, now Benin), Maurice Yaméogo (Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso), Felix Houphouët-Boigny (Côte d’Ivoire), Hamani Diori (Niger)
The Reactions of the Council of the Entente
The reactions were very different among the other French-speaking
states of Africa. With the exception of Congo-Brazzaville, whose leaders sympathize strongly with Sékou Touré, virtually all of these states greeted the Guinean charges with undisguised scorn. Of the four states which comprise the Council of the Entente—the Ivory Coast, Niger, Upper Volta, and Dahomey—Sékou Touré had accused only the leaders of the first three of participating in the plot against his government. His singling out of the President of the Ivory Coast immediately caused all of the Entente states, and also Togo, to rally to Houphouet’s defense.
The Upper Volta [Burkina Faso]
The first public reaction of an Entente member came from President Maurice Yaméogo of the Upper Volta, who was on a private visit to Paris at the time. Yameogo, who on several previous occasions had delivered virulent denunciations of Touré , managed to control his temper this time; but he made clear his thoughts that Touré’s accusations were nothing more than a spurious attempt to divert the Guinean people’s attention from the sad plight they had to face daily in their own country:
« The words which Sékou Touré has spoken through the voice of his President of the National Assembly are very serious in that they state that a plot has been hatched here in Paris [against his country]. I will not speak of the French [officials] whom he has accused; that is not my affair. I say that these charges are very serious because I was here in Paris and I have no knowledge whatever of any such plot. It is not our habit, but theirs [the Guineans] to do such things… Nevertheless, inasmuch as I am named [by Touré] along with my colleagues [of the Entente], I will reply to this question on my return…
…These charges are serious, as I see it, because they jeopardize the Organization of African Unity. If it is in such an atmosphere of suspicion and unwarranted accusations that we must always meet around the same table to recount such nonsense to one another, then I for one have no desire to take part in such a comedy with a lot of werewolves gathered together to overthrow one another under different pretexts.
At the moment, I am only passing through Paris. I have not yet seen my colleagues of the Entente to ask them what they think of these charges… However on my return we will no doubt meet to decide what attitude is called for in light of the Guinean accusations. Since Sekou wants to enter into a competition with the Council of the Entente, which he wishes to destroy, it will give us the opportunity of strengthening our ties within the Council and continuing the progress of our countries along the path of economic development, peace, and liberty ….
. . . We believe that the lesson which we are going to give him will serve not only him but all of the Guinean people, who understand the Guinean situation very well but are kept enchained by Touré’s dictatorial and arbitrary policies. Sékou Touré indiscriminately arrests his former friends whose only wish is to serve his interests and those of their country. Why? Because he is worried. And when a man is not sure of himself one can conclude that he has failed …. »
The first reaction from Niger came on November 18, 1965. Boubou Hama, the President of Niger’s National Assembly, delivered the
government’s reply to Sékou Touré: “I personally have a great deal of regard for Sékou Touré,” he began, “but Niger has itself suffered too much from subversion to wish it on anyone else.” 4 He called Touré to task for never denouncing “that other imperialism which is much more dangerous-that emanating from China.”
A more spirited reply to the Guinean charges was made the following day by Djibo Yacouba, the Nigerien Minister of Defense and Information. After recalling that his country had always followed the progress that was being made in Guinea with great interest, Yacouba went on to say that in the past Niger had never replied to the injuries addressed to it by Guinean authorities. However, the Nigeriens, he indicated, had had enough, and he wanted the Guineans to know it:
« It was first with surprise, then sadness, and finally with profound disgust that Niger learned of the nonsensical accusations and scurrilous insults emanating from Sékou Touré and his collaborators toward certain countries, including Niger, and toward the person of President Houphouët-Boigny.
Coming from anyone other than Sekou, this deliberate attempt to sully, to dishonor the chief of state of the Ivory Coast and the venerable father of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain could only be described as ignoble and abject. Coming from Sékou Touré, it is monstrous because he [Touré] owes everything, absolutely everything, to President Houphouët-Boigny.
Everything points to the fact that Sékou Touré’s odious attitude is related to that of certain other African heads of state who conceive of the O.A.U. as an instrument of their imperialist ambitions… Like them, Sékou Touré has never been able to accept the Entente’s existence, its efficacy, its success, just as he cannot accept the creation of the O.C.A.M., the first real step toward African unity.
In bringing before Africa’s international forum a pointless debate, Sékou Touré is following a fatal logic peculiar to himself. It is a path that can only lead to ridicule and dishonor for himself and to new trials and undeserved suffering for the people of Guinea. Niger awaits the verdict of African and world opinion . »
Although the Dahomeans, unlike the Ivoiriens, Nigeriens, and
Voltaics, were not accused by Sékou Touré of having participated in the plot against Guinea’s government, they nevertheless entered the fray on the side of their fellow members of the Entente. For them, however, the crucial aspect of the conflict was not the accusations which Guinea had leveled against the other three states, but rather the threat which such charges posed to African solidarity. Like the Voltaics, the Dahomeans felt that Sékou Touré’s recklessness vitiated whatever progress had recently been made at Accra at the O.A. U. meeting of African heads of state. In a broadcast made on November 19, 1965, Radio Dahomey stressed this point:
« Our listeners have perhaps been surprised at the silence we have observed over the last three days concerning the developments of the plot which was allegedly uncovered in Guinea.
[This silence] has not been because we are not concerned with an affair which once more opposes states which we consider as brothers. It is rather because we regret that on the morrow of the O.A.U. conference, where the African heads of state pledged themselves ( a) to resort to bilateral or multilateral discussions to resolve all differences between them or among several states of the O.A.U., and (b) to refrain from acting against any African state by press or radio and instead to use the procedures provided for in the [O.A.U.’s] Charter, we have the misfortune of seeing flames ignited once again, for what purpose we know not, by an African head of state [Touré] who we thought was one of the champions of African unity.
What good are these resolutions and O.A.U. conferences in search of African unity if we content ourselves with carelessly destroying our work? In view of all that has happened, it appears that those who divide Africa are neither “red imperialists” nor “white imperialists” but Africans themselves who have not understood, or do not wish to understand, that certain methods are tired and used up and that one makes a fool of oneself in resorting to them
Togo is not a formal member of the Council of the Entente, although it has collaborated closely with it since the death of President Sylvanus Olympic in 1963 and his replacement by President Nicolas Grunitzky. For some reason, Touré did not accuse the Togolese President of involvement in the plot against Guinea, even though it was on the occasion of the marriage of Houphouët’s son to Grunitzky’s niece that the Entente leaders and Tshombe had gathered in Paris.
Bound now to the Ivory Coast’s President by ties of family as well as a common attitude on political problems, Grunitzky quickly rallied to Houphouët’s defense. In a telegram sent to the Ivoirien chief of state, and later released to the press, Grunitzky reaffirmed Houphouët’s claim that there was absolutely no connection between their visit to Paris and the plot which Sékou Touré accused them of fomenting against his country:
« On that date [in July at the wedding]. as you know, I was in Paris with you and other heads of brother states. I can testify to the fact that at no time during the conversations we had, either between ourselves or with other friends of the country in which we were, did we speak of Guinea and its government. And even if we had, it would certainly not have been to draw up ridiculous plans such as you have been accused of with such effrontery. I have known you for a long time and I know the friendly feelings you had toward President Sékou Touré.
You have always shown under any circumstances such a firm attachment to the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries that it is unimaginable, except in deliberate bad faith, that one could ever think you capable of doing such a thing.
Moreover, I am convinced that if the imperatives of the [O.A.U.’s] Charter of Addis Ababa were as scrupulously followed by certain African states as they are by the countries of the Entente and Togo, a great many misadventures could be avoided in Africa
Of all the reactions, the most eagerly awaited was that of the Ivory Coast. Its President, after all, was the main target of Touré’s
imputations. Although Houphouët had been excoriated many times by Touré in the past, he had rarely bothered to answer these diatribes directed against him by the Guinean President. Such self-restraint on his part had paid off. Touré, by his behavior, merely confirmed for the outside world his reputation as an impulsive, reckless, and irresponsible demagogue. Houphouët, on the other hand, feigning to ignore completely what Sékou Touré said about him, conveyed the impression of a dignified statesman, aloof from the rough-and-tumble of African politics.
This present conflict between the two men had a deeper bitterness, a more convincing sense of finality about it, for this time Touré did not confine himself to his usual remarks about Houphouët’s being a “colonialist puppet.” His current censure transgressed certain unspoken but theretofore accepted limits of propriety. They had about them a vicious quality which could not easily be ignored or lightly dismissed. Touré made indiscreet innuendoes about Houphouët’s personal life, and accused him outright of betraying old comrades-in-arms.
Yet, even when confronted with such taunts, President Houphouët’s first reaction was to follow his previous policy of turning a deaf ear to the ballyhoo coming over the airwaves from Conakry. As Touré’s charges got worse, however, and started to cover not only the President himself but the entire Ivoirien nation as well-and, beyond it, the Entente-Houphouët’s associates and his ministers pressed him to make a formal and vigorous rebuttal. Houphouët finally consented, and on November 17, 1965, before a meeting of the country’s top civilian and military leaders, he delivered his reply to Sékou Touré:
« The Political Bureau of the Parti Democratique de la Côte d’Ivoire-Rassemblement Démocratique Africain [P.D.C.I.-R.D.A., the ruling party in the Ivory Coast] indignant—that is the least one can say—at the lying accusations and injuries which President Sékou Touré has once again addressed to me, has asked me to break the silence with which I have always greeted such poisonous campaigns in order to reply to the Guinean President.
I do so for two reasons. First, because, as I have said, the Political Bureau has asked me with insistence [to do so], and especially because innocent people are suffering in the jails of the inhuman President of Guinea, whose monstrous cruelty is known to everyone.
I am sure that you will agree with me, my fellow countrymen and ladies and gentlemen, that I cannot follow Mr. Sékou Touré in his ridiculous digressions regarding the domain of my private life.
For twenty-four years I have been responsible for a country of immense material and human possibilities, worthy of respect because it knows how to respect the dignity of others. A country which, conscious of its own backwardness but also of its potentialities, wishes, by the work of its children and in unity and not by hollow and interminable speeches, to catch up with the most advanced countries.
It would be bad not only in the Ivory Coast and in Africa but also in the rest of the world if the leader of this country should lower himself, even when unjustly attacked, and speak of the private life of Mr. Sékou Touré.
Therefore I will confine myself to answering two precise accusations made against me, and therefore against my country: one… which goes back to 1960 … and one, more recent, which concerns our alleged accomplices: a Guinean, Mamadou Touré, so-called “Petit” Touré; François Kamano, Director of the Social Security Department of the Ivory Coast; two chiefs of state of the Council of the Entente, Presidents Diori Hamani and Maurice Yameogo; the former Prime Minister of Congo-Leopoldville, Moise Tshombe; two French Ministers, Messrs. Jacquinot and Triboulet; and the French Ambassador to Guinea.
The First Accusation
In 1960, on the morrow of our country’s accession to independence … Sékou Touré sent me a telegram concerning a military action which was directed from the Ivory Coast against Guinea.
My first thought was to look into the activities of our own army. It [our army] knew nothing of the matter referred to by the Guinean President.
I did not stop there. Mr. Touré assured me that a small Guinean village on the border had been attacked and that a jeep had been burned. I sent investigators to the place [in question] and mobilized all of our available [party] militants to prevent all action against Guinea, a brother country… with which I wished to maintain the good relations that had always existed between Guineans and Ivoiriens.
I learned, in effect, that a handful of irresponsible Europeans of O.A.S. 8 tendencies, in complicity with certain of our opponents in the region of Odienne… had attempted this stupid action with the sole aim of causing difficulties between my country and Guinea.
We did not delay in protesting energetically to [French authorities in] Paris, who were completely unaware of the action of this handful of O.A.S. elements. Their supposed chief, one Achard, had immediately afterward left for Algiers where he joined the O.A.S. and subsequently was condemned to death in absentia.
Thus there was no action either by the Ivoirien army or people, or by French military units in the Ivory Coast.
In any case, our energetic response put an end, within twenty-four hours, to the attack on the Guinean frontier post .…
… I then met with President Sékou Touré at the border and made a formal promise to him that in no case would anyone be allowed to use Ivoirien soil to launch an attack of any sort against his country.
This has been a constant attitude and one which Mr. Touré cannot but acknowledge.
I have always been against violence of any sort and I am not about to modify this comportment.… I have always sworn … that I would never cause anyone’s blood to be shed.
This is perhaps a weakness, but I will not change my conduct. Therefore, let no one veil the truth and make us appear as the sworn enemies of the people of Guinea.
The Second Accusation
The second accusation, more serious than the first, is against us all.
Mr. Touré swears, with a nimbleness that borders on folly, that during my visit to Paris last June  with my friends Maurice Yameogo and Diori Hamani, and in the presence of the former Prime Minister of Congo-Leopoldville, Mr. Tshombe, I drew up [in collusion with] two French Ministers a plan aimed at overthrowing the government in Guinea. [Sékou Touré says] that my accomplices were Mamadou Touré (so-called “Petit” Touré), a person whom he has always presented to me as his own cousin, François Kamano, the only friend of his I actually know in the Ivory Coast, and the French Ambassador to Guinea, someone whom I know not at all.
I must make certain things clear.
If, by chance, I had had the idea (and everyone here can affirm that it is an idea that never would have occurred to me) … of organizing a plot against Guinea, I don’t think that I would have been so naive as to confide the execution [of such a plot] to two persons whom I consider unsuited for such a mission, Petit Touré and François Kamano.
But Who is Petit Touré?
… a young man who lived in the Ivory Coast for a long time, it is true; a good man, whom Mr. Sékou Touré, I repeat, introduced as his own cousin at the time when he sought refuge and support from me. He [Sékou Touré] has perhaps forgotten.
This Touré [i.e. Petit Touré]—and Sékou Touré does not mention this—was expelled from the Ivory Coast along with his relatives because of his inimical comportment toward my country at the time of his country’s accession to independence.
I did not see him again until the official visit I made to Guinea in 1962. Never at any time did I have any contact with Petit Touré other than at our meeting in Conakry in 1962.
What Sékou Touré does not mention is that he made Petit Touré, his relative, the Number One [man in charge] of his commerce, a post which this person (who had not even obtained his primary-school certificate) never would have been entrusted with in the Ivory Coast.
And this is the man whom, if I were the cynic and criminal which Sékou Touré would make me out to be, I was supposed to have backed morally and materially to overthrow his regime !
I never sent this man [Petit Touré]—either by Kamano or by anyone else—one centime to overthrow Mr. Sékou Touré.
Who is François Kamano?
… an Ivoirien who accomplished serious studies, who was a personal friend of Sékou Touré, and to whom he had given a Guinean woman to be his wife…
… This university graduate served as assistant to the Director of the Social Security Department of the Ivory Coast. After giving proof of his ability he was naturally selected to replace the Frenchman who formerly headed that department.…
… Kamano was the only Ivoirien who, at the time that Sékou Touré hurled his first injuries against me, insistently asked me not to reply to the Guinean President. Kamano had ready access to Mr. Touré. Since his arrest I have learned from his poor wife that during each of his trips to Guinea, Kamano stayed at villas normally reserved for visiting heads of state, and that he had the use of official cars of the Guinean state.
And it is through this man that I am supposed to have put C.F.A. francs at the disposal of Petit Touré !
Ladies and gentlemen, do you think the Ivory Coast would have chosen someone so incredibly naive to preside over its destiny?
If Mr . Sékou Touré wishes to deny me the credit of having any intelligence, let him at least concede me common sense …
… Does he [Sékou Touré] think that French ministers have at their disposal, and at their pleasure, funds with which to buy the conscience [of others]; that a minister of General de Gaulle’s government can allow himself to promise tens of millions to someone in order to set into motion a policy which would not have been formulated and decided upon by the chief of government himself, General de Gaulle?
Mr. Sékou Touré’s accusation concerning a plot against his country, fomented by French ministers in accord with the French Ambassador in Guinea, is so naive and absurd that it is not even worth dwelling further on the point …
… Guinea is an independent country and a brother country. There is no reason for me to go to ministers of a foreign country to solicit funds to do it harm.
What is ridiculous and coarse is to think that France would have given me thirty million francs [$120,000] which I then presumably gave to Kamano to give in turn to Petit Touré in order to overthrow Mr. Sékou Touré…
… What is the sum of thirty million francs? … Too much or too little, depending on the use to which it is to be put.
It is too much if one means to squander it uselessly on a cause which is not worth the trouble … It is too little if its purpose is to overthrow a regime as authoritarian as that in Guinea. I do not know the value one attaches to money in Guinea. In any case, such a sum appears ridiculous to us to overthrow a government.
A Collusion Between Kwame Nkrumah and Sékou Touré
… I think in my soul and in my conscience that there is a collusion between Messrs. Sékou Touré and Kwame Nkrumah in an attempt to conceal from the peoples of their respective countries and from the entire world their resounding failures in the political, economic, and human domains.
We have made very precise charges against Kwame Nkrumah. The Lagos Conference of O.A.U. [Organization of African Unity] foreign ministers took note of these accusations. Mr. Nkrumah pledged himself to take steps to carry out the recommendations of the Conference in view of opening the way for us to participate in the O.A. U. heads of state conference at Accra 9. Nkrumah did not abide by those pledges. Yet we did nothing to boycott that meeting. We could have, because we knew that the quorum [at the Conference] was a sham. Yet we said nothing. We even agreed to go to Bamako to meet with Nkrumah, knowing all the time that we could not reach an understanding with him in view of the fact that Mr. Touré had told him just a few days before to disdain us … The men whom we denounced [at the Lagos Conference] and whom Nkrumah kept away during the [O.A. U. summit] Conference, are at this moment returning to Accra.
Ladies and gentlemen, do you not find it curious, do you not find it revealing, that it was at this same moment that Sékou Touré and his accomplice, Nkrumah, wished to create a diversion by accusing’ us of subversive actions ?
Mr. Touré then arrested his own friend, Kamano, who was [in Guinea at the time] visiting his parents-in-law, and his own cousin, Petit Touré, on the pretext that I was giving him [Petit Touré] moral and financial aid.
Meanwhile, Kwame Nkrumah alleged that Mr. Busia, the main opponent of his policies, had the moral and financial support of Ivoirian parliamentarians …
President Houphouët then posed the question which, by this time, was on the minds of his audience:
Was there, in fact, a plot? I do not like to enter into the internal affairs of other states. But in view of the insanity of the attacks made against us, I ask myself if such a plot really existed.
Houphouët then produced a copy of the letter which Petit Touré
had written to President Touré on October 9, 1965, telling of the formation of his new party to oppose the Parti Démocratique de Guinée (P.D.G.):
I have in my possession a document which contains the statutes of a new political party created by, or, rather, which was about to be created by the principal accused [Petit Touré]. With a rare courage, he asks Mr. Sékou Touré, in accordance with provisions in the Guinean Constitution and with promises he himself had made, to allow him [Petit Touré] to … create a different party from his own.
And it is affirmed to me that it is members of this party [the Parti de l’Unité Nationale de Guinée (P.U.N.G.)], which was openly created, who were considered to be conspirators. Conspirators such as these, I would be happy to have by the thousands in the Ivory Coast. Thus Guinean citizens are arrested because they proclaim their confidence in the provisions of the Constitution of their country and in President Sékou Touré himself …
Houphouët then drew a comparison between the internal situation
in the two countries:
Mr. Sékou Touré, let us speak seriously. In the Ivory Coast we have important preoccupations. The construction of a young country such as ours is not easy. Our country cannot be satisfied simply with political independence, an independence which is illusory in the absence of economic independence, which is absolutely indispensable.
We have made a series of wagers throughout our country. In the economic domain we wish rapidly to satisfy all of our clothing and food needs by growing produce ourselves with the use of mechanized equipment. We wish to increase the industrialization of the country and in ten years to reach universal education; to see the disappearance of slums; in brief, to assure the happiness of the Ivoirien people to as great a degree as possible. We will seek to co- operate actively and harmoniously with all African states and also with those non-African states which can aid us without interfering
in our internal affairs.
This is a wager which we can win, but only on condition that we are at peace with ourselves and with others. This is sufficient to dissuade us from all other distractions and from squandering our efforts and funds in the organizing of conspiracies.
No, Mr. Sékou Touré, the people of Guinea have need neither of our moral support nor of our financial support to cry out their discontent …
… You are a brother—a bad brother, but a brother nonetheless. I ask you one question: In your soul and conscience, what really is this entirely verbal revolution about which you babble day in and day out, and which you pretend to bring to your country?
A revolution is valued only by its substance, not by its form. Since 1958, have Guineans been better fed, better housed, better treated for illness, better educated, and more free… I emphasize the word free, than they were before your pretended revolution?
Are they producing more bananas, coffee, and other commodities than they were before your pretended revolution?
It is in the answer to this question that you should seek the cause of the growing discontent throughout your country …
… Do not rely too much on the applause [of others]. History teaches us that he who is applauded today, thanks to a sham organization, can tomorrow be forgotten in a few hours, and even scorned by the same crowd …
… No, Mr. Sékou Touré, do not try to give us lessons in humanity, because you have on your conscience the deaths of scores and scores of Guineans …
… Since independence, how many have you had assassinated? Can you own up to this without lowering your head … ?
… Two hundred thousand Guineans live in the Ivory Coast, most of whom have come here since their country achieved its independence. Knowing that an adult male usually belongs to a family comprising at least five to ten persons, these people on Ivoirian soil thus represent from one to two million Guineans who have been cut off from their families.
Despite your police regime and your gendarmes, each day your citizens continue to cross the borders in order to go to Senegal, the Ivory Coast, or the Upper Volta. All of these men and women, young and old alike, complain of the situation which is their lot in Guinea. Students, syndicalists, functionaries, peasants— all desert their country …
In his closing remarks, the President of the Ivory Coast offered a bit of advice to Sékou Touré:
« … You have been an excellent syndicalist, and even a great spokesman capable of leading the masses. Now be a statesman, faithful to principle, of course, but flexible and realistic enough in searching for the means to achieve the goals to be attained …
… Resume your dialogue with Guinean students for, like it or not, they, along with the syndicalists and the peasants, are tomorrow’s leaders. Listen to them.
Search with them for the best means, within the framework of the party, to build up Guinea in confidence and harmony. Do this in the name of Africa. Each day Guineans leave, fleeing the misery and the dictatorship which is its sad corollary. This massive exodus risks jeopardizing the still fragile economies of neighboring brother countries. Keep these people in their own country with greater justice and more realism, with less hate and facile demagoguery. Mr. Sékou Touré, hate born of jealousy takes you astray …
… This is the advice of a man who suffers from your unjustified attacks because, in spite of everything, he remembers that you were at his side in the great struggle for emancipation. With your intransigent nationalism, tempered by a bit of humanism, you can still serve the cause of African unity.
As for me, irrespective of what may happen, I am not, and never shall be, an enemy of the Guinean people 10 … »
Once Sékou Touré had accused Houphouët, the other Entente leaders, and the French of conspiring against him, and they had answered in turn, relations steadily worsened between Guinea and its French-speaking neighbors. Words full of sound and fury, signifying a great deal, flew across West Africa like a barrage of poisoned arrows. The press and the radio in both Guinea and the Ivory Coast engaged in an exchange of vituperation designed to reach the citizenry of the other side and incite them to rise up against their leaders.
In Guinea, the hapless François Kamano “confessed” over Radio Conakry that he had done what Sékou Touré said he had done—namely, that he had acted as the principal liaison agent between President Houphouët and Petit Touré. Meanwhile, in the Ivory Coast, Philippe Yacé, President of the Ivoirien National Assembly, protested that Kamano’s “confession” was the result of his having been tortured by Touré’s police.
Sékou Touré’s renewed attacks against Houphouët were prompted by various factors. In their broadest sense, they were the beginning of a new counteroffensive by the so-called “revolutionary” bloc in Africa to regain the ground it had lost in recent months to the moderate states, whose strongest leader was unquestionably Houphouët.
But there were also more immediate causes. Touré was still smarting under the humiliating tongue-lashing he had received from President Yaméogo of the Upper Volta in June 1965. Then, conditions within Guinea itself continued to worsen. The reforms of November 8, 1964, were not working as he had hoped. Guineans were continuing to flee by the thousands, and Touré was able to do little to stop them. The growing number of exiles in the countries bordering Guinea—Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, and Liberia—was a source of constant worry to him.
It is possible, and indeed quite likely, that one of the things that prompted Touré to strike out anew against Houphouët was the hope of provoking the Ivoirian people to retaliate by venting their anger on the Guinean exiles living in the Ivory Coast. No doubt Touré recalled that just such a serious outbreak against an alien ethnic group had occurred in the Ivory Coast in 1958, and he was probably banking on the hope that it would occur again.
Houphouët told the Ivoirian people that Touré’s aims in attacking
him were threefold:
- to discredit him personally
- to tarnish the Ivory Coast’s reputation internationallya
- to provoke the Ivoirian people into reacting violently against the Guineans who had fled Touré’s regime, in order that these people would be forced to return to Guinea.
Houphouet made it clear, however, that these aims would not be realized:
« It is not with insults and lying accusations that Sékou Touré will put an end to the frantic flight of thousands of his countrymen to the Ivory Coast, Senegal, and the Upper Volta, or convince the hundreds of intellectuals, scientists, and technicians, which Guinea needs so badly for its development, that they should return home. 11 »
If these were, in fact, Touré’s aims in assailing Houphouët, the
Ivoirians did not rise to the bait. Steps were promptly taken to thwart them, and almost immediately after Touré’s accusations against Houphouët had become known, Philippe Yacé cautioned his countrymen against taking out their indignation on their Guinean brothers who had fled Touré’s police regime. The Ivoirian people responded to this appeal, and instead of turning against the Guinean exiles they accepted them as allies in their struggle against Sékou Touré—the man who was now their common enemy. This favorable response was due in great part to the unequivocal support which spokesmen for the Guinean community in the Ivory Coast were quick to give to Houphouët in his controversy with Touré.
The exiles, for their part, were enraged at Touré for attempting to provoke the Ivoirians to turn against them. Their rage fired them with a new will and determination to fight Touré until he and his
entourage were overthrown and their country was once again free.
They seemed to have become aware — almost as if for the first time of the strength they had in their sheer numbers. Reading the political weather signals that were flashing across West Africa—the wave of army coups against unpopular regimes—they saw that ominous-looking clouds were unmistakably beginning to gather on the horizon. The impending storm could not be far off.
1. See Victor D. DuBois, The Rise of An Opposition to Sékou Touré, Part III: The Plot Against the Government and the Accusations Against the Council of the Entente and France (VDB-3-’66), American Universities
Field Staff Reports, West Africa Series, Volume IX, No. 3, March 1966.
2. The most notable of these occasions was on June 18, 1965, when Yaméogo delivered a scathing rebuttal to Touré in reply to the latter’s criticism of the Organisation Commune Africaine et Malgache (O.C.A.M.). See Victor D. DuBois, The Search for Unity in French-Speaking Black Africa, “Part IV: Relations Betwee the “Moderate” and the “Revolutionary” States: The Case of Guinea” (VDB-6-’65), American Universities Field Staff Reports, West Africa Series, Volume VIII, No. 6, August 1965.
3. Fraternité-Matin (Abidjan), November 17, 1965.
4. Fraternité-Matin (Abidjan), November 19, 1965.
6. Fraternité-Matin (Abidjan), November 21, 1965.
7. Fraternité-Matin, loc. cit.
8. O.A.S. (Organisation de l’Armée Secrète), a group of French settlers in Algeria and rebellious French military who fought the revolution in 1961-62 through terrorist campaigns in Algeria and France.
9. Nkrumah agreed to expel from his country exiles from neighboring countries who were using Ghana as a base from which to launch subversive activities against their home governments.
10. Author’s translation; for the complete text, see Fraternité-Matin (Abidjan), November 18, 1965.
11. Le Monde (Paris), November 27, 1965.
Next, Part V: The Formation of a Common Front Against Guinea by the Ivory Coast and Ghana
- The Activation of the Guinean Exiles. The F.L.N.G.Victor D. Du Bois The Rise of an Opposition to…
- Ivory Coast-Ghana Common Front Against GuineaVictor D. Du Bois The Rise of an Opposition to…
- Ethnicity, democracy and oppositionAfter two years of democracy, how is politically-fractious Guinea faring?…
- Parti Démocratique de Guinée: Reform and RepressionVictor D. Du Bois The Rise of an Opposition to…
- Guinea. Plot, Government Against the Entente and FranceVictor D. Du Bois The Rise of an Opposition to…