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50 Years Ago
By With I Morikeh Fofana
Oct 10, 2008, 17:34
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"We prefer poverty in freedom to riches in slavery," so said Ahmed Sekou Toure.

General de Gaulle was not pleased with this "grown up child" of his and on his visit to Conakry at the end of August 1958, he stated: I say here even louder than else where that independence is available to Guinea, she can have it 28th September by saying No to the proposition that is put to her and in saying this I guarantee that Paris will raise no obstacle to it.

(See unpublished M.A thesis. Ahmed Sekou Toure and the Democratic party of Guinea pg 66 University of Waterloo by Ibrahim Morikeh Fofanah 1975).

So French Guinea got her independence by saying No on 2nd October 1958 and Ahmed Sekou Toure as President of the new nation of the first Republic of Guinea but de Gaulle did not keep to his promise.

France did raise serious objection.

At the time of independence out of a total of 6, 000 French administrators, technicians etc. All but 20 were withdrawn.

Guinea had about 40 university graduates, structures were destroyed, files were burnt, those that were not burnt were thrown into the sea, electric bulbs and lamppost were removed and destroyed.

Kwame Nkrumah had to come up with a loan of 10 million pounds (28 Million Dollars) to Guinea. The history of the Republic of Guinea is incomplete without Ahmed Sheku Toure.

Toure was born in 1922 at a town in the northern part of Guinea called Faranah. He is the grandson of Alimamy Samoury Toure the legendary leader on the West Coast of Africa who fought and withstood the French colonial forces long after the rest of Guinea had been overcomed. He belongs to the Malinke ethnic group, the second largest in Guinea after the Fulas (Peulhs) in terms of population. The Susus, another ethnic group comes third.

In the tradition of his grandfather, Toure at an early age began a lifetime of resistance against colonial domination and injustice.

He was expelled from a trade school at the age of fifteen for leading a food boycott.

Instead of becoming a ‘Dyula’ like his kinsmen, he secured a job in 1940 with a commercial farm, cie du Niger Francaise. He became very active in Guinea trade union movement and was made leader of the Guinean branch of the confederation General du Travail (C.G.T). The French trade union federation with communist sympathies. In 1945 he became Secretary General of the Postes Telegraphs et telecommunications (P.T.T) workers union and helped form the union cegetiste des syndicates de Guinea of which he became Secretary General in 1946.

Toure has by then become a threat to the colonial political system challenging the injustices of Guinean workers-he lost his hob and in 1946 he spent some time in prison for leading a strike.

He had by then attracted the interest of the French union federation and so in March 1946, he attended the C.G.T in Paris.

Here was an African leader who started fighting the colonial power from an early age of 15, so becoming president of his country was not a big surprise.

Toure’s trade union background was demonstrated by the influx and acceptance of freedom fighters against colonial domination not only in Africa but everywhere in the world.

Angolans, Mozambicans, South Africans, Guinea-Bissau, Vietnames, Vietnames etc took Conakry as their second home. Some have made Guinea their permanent residence. Guinean Soldiers fought side by side with Guinea-Bissau freedom fighters until they defeated the portages colonialists. Thabo Mbeki the former President of South Africa’s father was in Guinea during the struggle against the apartheid regime. THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO FODAY SANKOH OR CHARLES TAYLOR IF TOURE WAS ALIVE. Ahmed Sheku Toure died in 1983 but his trade unionism solidified Guineans as patriots and nationalists. This nationalism and patriotism will not permit the evolvement of a rebel movement like what happened in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Guinean army was the first to intervene into Sierra Leone to drive Foday Sankoh and his rebels, they also fought to liberate Liberians under Charles Taylor.

Guinea without oil not discovered yet is endowed with tremendous natural resources. She sits on three quarters of the World Bauxite Deposit, millions of tonnes of iron ore, diamond, gold and uranium, vast area of forest reserve, and hectares of land for agriculture. All these resources are not devastated and exploited as in Sierra Leone.

Ahmed Sekou Toure belongs to a past group of African progressive leaders that will never be side lined however African history is written by negative anti-African authors. And thinking about African leaders the likes of Osagyfo Dr. Kwame-Nkrumah of Ghana, Dr. Julius Lyerere of Tanzania, Modibo Keita of Mali, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, Le-roi Mohamed V of Morocco, Amical Cabral of Guinea Bissau, Modlane of Angola, Samora Michel of Mozambique, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.Those who have left us in the struggle may their souls rest in perfect peace.

Vive la Republique de Guinee
Vive la revolution
Vive la’ Afrique
La Lutta continua.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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