Guinea

Guinea, in long form the Republic of Guinea, also unofficially called Guinea-Conakry by the name of its capital to differentiate it from Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea, is a country in West Africa. Rich in natural resources, it is nicknamed the “water tower of Africa” ​​and has a third of the world’s bauxite reserves, it is nicknamed the “geological scandal”. It became independent from France on October 2, 1958, making it the first country in sub-Saharan French Africa to do so. Guinea is a republic. Its president, directly elected by the people, is head of state and appoints a Prime Minister who is head of government. The unicameral National Assembly is the country’s legislative body and its members are also directly elected by the people. The judiciary is dominated by the Supreme Court of Guinea, the highest court of appeal in the country.

The term Guinea traditionally designates the region of Africa which lies along the Gulf of Guinea, which extends north through tropical and subtropical humid deciduous forests and ends in the Sahel. Guinea is a predominantly Muslim country, with 85% of the population. The Guinean population is divided into twenty-four ethnic groups. French, the official language of Guinea, is the main language of communication in schools, public administration and the media. But more than 24 national languages ​​including Maninka, Poular, Sosso, Guerzè, Toma and Kissi are widely spoken as dialects of more common exchanges between populations at the expense of French. The Guinean economy is largely dependent on agriculture and mining production. It is the world’s second largest producer of bauxite and has reserves of diamonds and gold. In 2011, the United States government claimed that acts of torture by the security forces and the ill-treatment of women and children (for example, female genital mutilation) constituted human rights abuses in Guinea. In 2014, the country was hit by the Ebola epidemic.

Guinea’s history

Ancient history

For 3,000 years Guinea has been inhabited by a community of fishermen and farmers, in the green valleys of Fouta Djallon, the fertile basins of Haut Niger favorable for gathering, hunting and fishing have attracted men. The arrival of the populations is due to the drying up of the Sahara, followed by the drying up of rivers and streams. Populations move to the wetter southern areas. The territories located between the Senegal and Niger rivers such as Guinea are becoming privileged areas for the gathering of pastoralist and agricultural communities. While some groups are heading to the Bafing and Falémé valleys, others have settled in the inner Niger Delta. The first kingdoms were born in this region in the first millennium BC. Most of the Guinean territory was an integral part of the empires of Ghana and Mali which succeeded each other between the ninth century and the sixteenth century. The decline of the Mali Empire coincided with the appearance in 1445, in Senegambia, of the first Portuguese caravels. The Mandingos lost control of the Saharan tracks to the benefit of the Songhay and flowed back to the western regions of Guinea, Gambia and Casamance. After a few skirmishes, the Portuguese navigators and the coastal populations made peace. The Portuguese, interested in gold, hides and other exotic products from Sudan, spices, slaves, sold fabrics, iron utensils, even horses. The mansas of Mali established diplomatic relations with their counterparts in Portugal.

Thanks to this nascent trade, population movements are draining maraboutic and merchant families from the Middle Niger to Gabou and the Atlantic coast to give the known socio-political configuration to the colonial conquest. Between 1456 and 1460, Pedro de Sintra landed at Cape Verga and further south, he reached the tip of the island of Tombo where Conakry is located. The Portuguese gave the names of Rio Nunez, Rio Pongo (deformation of Araponka), Rio Kapatchez, etc. to rivers in the coastal zone. Off Conakry, the islands called “Ilhas dos Idolos” (islands of idols) were discovered because the inhabitants of these islands, when they come to sow the rice, bring their idols which they adore. These navigators noted that the Portuguese came into contact with the Landouma and the Nalou in the Rio Compagny and the Rio Nunez. They also reported the presence of Djallonké inland. Relations with the Bagas were difficult between the Rio Nunez and the Kaloum peninsula. They attest to the existence of three Suzerains in the coastal region: Farin Souzos (king of sosso), Farin Cocoli (king of Lanlouma) and Farin Futa (king djallonka). Thus were born the Sosso kingdoms of Bramaya, Thia de Lakhata and Dubréka. In the sixteenth century, the Dubréka kingdom asserted itself with the dynasty created by the warlord Soumba Toumani. In the Upper Niger region, groups of Sarakollé marabouts from Djafouna settled towards the end of the 17th century, settling in Mandé between Niger and the Milo. They found the kingdom of Batè (between two rivers) of which Kankan is the metropolis.

The villages they found are Diankana, Foussén, Karifamoriah, Bankonko, Forécariah, Tassilima, Nafadji. They are engaged in trading and teaching Koranic. Islam was, by their action, reintroduced to Manding after a long parenthesis following the fall of the Mali Empire. In the eighteenth century, Kankan, the metropolis of Batè became the capital of a powerful kingdom thanks to the commercial activities and the reputation of its marabouts, of which the patriarch Alpha Kabiné was one of the most illustrious. In the middle of the 18th century, a Maninka group left Batè and came to settle at the mouth of the Mellacore, where they founded the province of Moréah. This group was made up of the Touré, Youla, Sylla, etc. clans. He was under the leadership of patriarch Fodé Katibi Touré, founder of Forécariah, as in Fouta-Djalon, the leaders of Moréah take this title from Almamy. The forest region seems less disturbed by these population movements. However, we note that the Kissi, coming from the north, would have transited through Faranah (Kobikoro) before settling in their usual habitat where they would have rocked the Loma, who seem to be the first occupants. The Kpelle, Manon and Konon are said to have left Moussadou (Beyla prefecture) under the pressure of the Maninka, to settle in the heart of the forest in the south of the country.

Pre-colonial era

The Nalou and the Baga populate the region in the eighth century. From the ninth century to the eleventh century, the Mandingo kingdom, vassal of the Empire of Ghana, was established from upper Senegal to upper Niger. They will be joined by Jalonkés of mandated origin. In the 13th century, the legendary Soundiata Keïta formed an immense empire with the capital Niani (today a small Guinean village). The Mali Empire declined in the fifteenth century. Meanwhile and until the eighteenth century, the Fulani brought Islam to the region, pushing the Soussous towards the coast. It is on the coasts that the Soussous and other ethnic groups forge links with European traders wanting to get slaves, ivory and maniguette (or malaguette, plant close to ginger and reputed to be an aphrodisiac). It is triangular trade.

Samory Touré

The village of Kiniéran is surrounded by fortification ramparts, vestiges from before colonization, partially destroyed by Samory Touré, a great Mandingo warrior from West Africa. Born into a family of Malinke traders, Samory Touré first relied on populations that were still largely animist to combat the influence of Muslim leaders. Then, changing strategy, wanting to force Islamize the animist populations in the 1880s, he provoked their revolt and fought them hard. He established his authority over the Tôron, settled in Bissandougou and took the title of Faama faama (en) (roi). After having imposed his law and his religion, Samory seized Kankan, captured the chiefs Séré (en) Béréma and Saghadjigi, enlisted the vanquished in his army and presented himself as a defender of Islam. He took the title of Almany in 1884 and for seven long years opposed the penetration of French troops before being arrested and exiled to Gabon.

Colonization

The coastal area was previously occupied by the Portuguese, who were ousted by the French army because they were weakened by the occupation of Guinea-Bissau. Today, many Guineans from the country’s Atlantic coast bear names of Portuguese origin. Guinea was proclaimed a French colony in 1891, independently of Senegal, to which it was previously attached. This new appellation replaces the one it used to carry: the Rivers of the South. Samory Touré, then relayed by the peoples of the forest, led an organized war against the French occupation on the coast and in the mountain ranges of the southeast before being defeated in 1898. The war between the French and the Fouta- Djallon, in Porédaka, ends with the victory of the first. The Almamy Bocar Biro Barry is assassinated near the banks of the Bafing, in Kollen. He chose this option not to be subdued or reduced to a vassal of the colonizing power. His warriors scatter or prefer to kill themselves by his side. The regions of Haut-Niger are annexed the following year. In 1901, Guinea became an integral part of French West Africa (AOF), administered by a general governorate. In 1904, as part of the Entente Cordiale between France and England, the Los Islands became French in exchange for the surrender of rights to the drying of cod in Newfoundland.

During the September 1958 referendum, Guinea was the only French-speaking African country to reject General de Gaulle’s proposal concerning the integration of the colonies of the AOF into a French Community, which led to an immediate breakdown of political and economic relations with France. Independence was proclaimed on October 2, 1958. France withdrew within a month of its army, civil servants and credits. The French settlers take with them all their valuable material, and repatriate the French sovereign archives. The Washington Post observes the intransigence with which the French colonists demolished everything they thought was their contribution in Guinea: “In reaction, and as a warning to the other French-speaking territories, the French withdrew from Guinea in two months, taking everything they could with them. They unscrewed the light bulbs, took the plans of the sewage pipes in Conakry, and even burned the medicines rather than leaving them to the Guineans. “

President of Sékou Touré (1958-1984)

The country achieved independence on October 2, 1958 and Ahmed Sékou Touré became president at 36 years of age. France then waged an economic war against its former colony (the French secret services will in particular spread false CFA francs to destabilize Guinea monetarily). Opposition maquis were formed with the help of the French secret services. Maurice Robert, head of the Africa sector in the external documentation and counterintelligence service (SDECE) from 1958 to 1968, underlines that “we armed and trained these Guinean opponents so that they develop a climate of insecurity in Guinea and, if possible, that they overthrow Sékou Touré. ” Guinea inscribes in article 34 of its Constitution that it “may conclude with any African State association or community agreements, including the partial or total surrender of sovereignty with a view to achieving African unity”. After discussions with Kwame Nkrumah, apostle of Pan-Africanism, Guinea and Ghana form a union on May 1, 1959, then are joined on December 24, 1960 by Mali. Officially non-aligned, the regime relies on the Soviet Union without rejecting aid from the United States.

Presidency of Lansana Conté (1984-2008)

After Touré’s death in 1984, the interim government was quickly overthrown by Lansana Conté. Under pressure from donors, he introduced multiparty politics in 1993 and organized elections, which were confirmed twice for the presidency, in 1993 and in 1998. Although largely spared from the conflicts of neighboring countries, Guinea is facing the influx of several hundred thousand refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone. After having revised the Constitution in order to be able to run for a third time in December 2003, the head of state, however seriously ill, was reelected with 95.63% of the vote against a candidate from an allied party, the other opponents having preferred not to participate in a ballot played in advance. At the end of April 2004, Prime Minister François Louceny Fall took advantage of a trip abroad to resign, arguing that “the president is blocking everything”. The position remains vacant for several months before being entrusted to Cellou Dalein Diallo, who will be removed from office in April 2006. The power of the president, under the influence of businessmen like Mamadou Sylla, is increasingly contested. In early 2007, a general strike broke out in blood. On December 22, 2008, Lansana Conté died of a long illness (leukemia and acute diabetes) at the age of 74. During the following night, those close to the regime worked to organize the interim in accordance with the procedures provided for by the Constitution, but on the morning of December 23, 2008, following the announcement of the death of Lansana Conté, dignitaries from the army unilaterally announced the dissolution of the government as well as the suspension of the Constitution, in a speech with a resolutely social content. These events cast doubt on the effectiveness of a new coup. On the same day, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara was brought to the head of the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) and the next day became the third president of the Republic of Guinea.

Presidency of Moussa Dadis Camara (2008-2009)

When he came to power, the captain said that the new regime was provisional and that no member of the junta would stand for presidential elections scheduled for 2010. In the course of his media interventions, Moussa Dadis Camara plans more and more explicitly to present himself, disappointing the hopes of true democratic transition and triggering protest movements. On September 28, 2009, civil movements organized a peaceful demonstration to ask Dadis Camara to respect his word and not to run for president. A crowd of several thousand people went to the stadium at the request of the opposition to protest against President Dadis’ desire to run for president. On September 28, 2009, at the Conakry stadium, to everyone’s surprise, the soldiers opened fire on the demonstrators thus blocked in the stadium with no possibility of escape. This deliberate and obviously planned massacre left several hundred people dead. In addition, the soldiers raped and abducted dozens of young women, some of whom were released a few days later after having suffered repeated rapes, while others disappear without a trace. Following the international outcry raised by this event, dissensions appeared within the CNDD and on December 3, 2009, while Sékouba Konaté was traveling to Lebanon, the president was seriously injured by his aide-de-camp Aboubacar Sidiki Diakité – the latter had been explicitly implicated by foreign diplomats for his role in the September 28 massacre, and feared being “dropped” by its president and handed over to justice. Dadis Camara was hospitalized in Morocco on the 4th, and Sékouba Konaté returned to the country to take over the interim.

Transition by Sékouba Konaté (2010)

On January 12, 2010, Moussa Dadis Camara was sent back to Burkina Faso by Morocco to continue his recovery. Thus on January 15, an agreement will be reached between Dadis and Sékouba so that the latter is recognized as President of the transition. This agreement stipulates that a prime minister from the living forces (opposition parties, unions, civil society) be appointed with the aim of forming a government of national unity and leading the country to free and transparent elections in the six month. Also, no member of the government of national unity, of the junta, of the National Council of the transition and of the Defense and Security Forces will have the right to stand as a candidate for the next elections. On January 16, Dadis, in an address from the Burkinabe presidential palace, said that the question of his candidacy was definitively settled, as well as that of the other members of the junta. Jean-Marie Doré, dean of the opposition, is appointed Prime Minister, head of the government of national unity responsible for organizing the future presidential elections. On February 8, 2010, the Guinean justice system opened a judicial investigation for the crimes committed on September 28, 2009 in Conakry, three investigating magistrates were appointed and on June 3, 2010, FIDH, the Guinean Organization for the Defense of Human Rights and of the citizen (OGDH), three other Guinean victims’ organizations (AVIPA, AFADIS, AGORA) and 67 victims are civil parties. On March 7, 2010, Sékouba Konaté fixed by decree the date of the first round of the presidential election to June 27, 2010. He kept his word and for the first time a presidential election in Guinea took place without any military being a candidate. The second round of presidential elections was scheduled to take place on September 19, 2010 but has been postponed to a later date. On September 28, 2010, a year after the massacre, the victims and human rights NGOs requested the trial of the alleged perpetrators.

Presidency of Alpha Condé (since 2010)

On November 7, 2010, Alpha Condé (candidate of the RPG and the Arc-En-Ciel Alliance) obtains 52.5% of the votes against his opponent Cellou Dalein Diallo (candidate of the UFDG and the Alliance of builders) , who ended up accepting the results of the Supreme Court which he had initially challenged on suspicion of irregularities. President Alpha Condé is elected for a 5-year term. In 2014 and 2015, the country was affected by the Ebola epidemic but mobilized to contain the impacts. On October 11, 2015, President Alpha Condé won 58% of the vote and was re-elected in the first round of the presidential election for a new 5-year term. In July 2016, Guinea was the first Muslim-majority country in Africa to renew diplomatic ties with Israel. According to the World Bank, in 2018 unemployment affects 80% of young people and almost 80% of the active population works in the informal sector. Above all, 55% of Guineans live below the poverty line.

Guinea’s politics

Guinea is a republic, with a president elected by the people for a five-year term as head of state. This period initially fixed at 5 years was modified to 7 years by the Constitution of 2003, then re-modified by the National Council of Transition (CNT) in 2010 for a duration of 5 years renewable once. The office of president was occupied by Lansana Conté from April 5, 1984 to December 22, 2008. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Head of State. Since November 15, 2010, after the first free presidential election since independence in 1958, Alpha Condé is elected head of the country in the dispute. Since the establishment of multiparty politics in April 1992, some 40 new parties have been recognized. The legislative power is ensured by a parliament made up of only one room, the National assembly, where sit 114 deputies elected by the people for a mandate of 5 years. The Constitution and the National Assembly were suspended in December 2008 after the CNDD coup led by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. The new constitution was adopted by the CNT on April 19, 2010 and promulgated by General Sékouba Konaté by decree on May 7, 2010. The NGO Transparency International regularly ranks Guinea among the countries where the perception of corruption is the strongest. The theme of corruption is recurrent in the demands of opponents and union organizations in Guinea.

Guinea’s economy

Currency

In the territory of the Republic of Guinea, the currency in use since 1960 is the Guinean franc, except between 1972 and 1986, the period during which the currency was the syli (en). The Guinean franc is not used in any other country, but is exchangeable with money changers exercising near the borders with the currencies prevailing in the riparian countries (the CFA franc, the Liberian dollar, the Sierra Leone leone and also the euro and the dollar). The central bank of Guinea also allows exchange, but at unattractive rates and only in Conakry.

Agriculture

The majority of Guineans work in the agricultural sector which employs more than 75% of the country’s employable population (24% of GDP). Millet and fonio are the main crops in Upper Guinea, while groundnuts are produced in the Koundara region. Rice is grown in flooded areas along rivers and rivers, but local production is insufficient and the country imports rice from Asia. Traditional food crops like cassava are still widely practiced around homes. Coffee, pineapple, peaches, nectarines, mangoes, citrus fruits, tapiocas, oranges, bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables are grown. Guinea is one of the emerging regional producers of apples and pears. There are many plantations of grapes, pomegranates and persimmon. The last few years have been marked by the development of strawberry plantations based on the vertical hydroponic system. There are cattle, sheep and goat farms.

Industrial and mining sector

Guinea has significant mineral resources, the main ones being bauxite (1/3 of the world’s reserves), gold, diamonds (mined since 1936), iron, petroleum and uranium, phosphates and manganese. . At the end of the 1990s, Canadian “junior companies”, invested in more than 8000 mining properties, in more than 100 countries, most of them still in the planning stage, multiplied contracts with African countries. Canada’s investments in Guinea represent approximately $ 250 million invested in the mining sector and on June 8, 2012, Perry Calderwood, former Canadian Ambassador to Guinea, accompanied a strong delegation of Canadian investors to the Sékhoutouréya Palace to see how these canadian businessmen intend to intervene in the development of the mining sector. The Simandou (Mont Nimba) mining project, on the Beyla-Nzérékoré axis, in Forest Guinea (south-east, border with Liberia), which is one of the largest mine-infrastructure projects in Africa launched in 2012, carried out by Rio Tinto, Chinalco and IFC, and assumed capable of initiating regional and national development, seems to freeze in the first half of 2016. The revival of the giant mining project to exploit the iron of Mount Simandou was formalized in Beijing on October 28, 2016 Rio Tinto and the Chinese Chinalco have signed an agreement in principle on the conditions for the transfer of all the shares from the first to the second in the development of the southern part of Simandou which will require around 20 billion dollars of investment. A protocol setting the cooperation framework was concluded on October 31, 2016.

Guinea’s demography

The Guinean populations were affected on the one hand by the Arab-Muslim trade in the direction of the Maghreb and Egypt, and by that which began in the sixteenth century and carried out beyond 1850, via the French colonial conquests and forced labor that they brought. The Second World War (1939-1945) weakened colonizing France and pushed it to finally abolish the indigenous, and forced labor in 1945. With this date begins the demographic boom, the population doubling every 20 years. Following the independence of October 2, 1958 and the departure of French credits and cadres who operated the Guinean administration and economy, Guinea was destabilized. The dictatorship of Sékou Touré then prompted many Guineans, especially elites, to emigrate to developed countries.

In July 2016, Guinea would have 12,093,349 inhabitants. According to the World Refugee Survey 2008 published by the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Guinea was hosting nearly 29,300 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 2007, mainly from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ivory Coast. As of December 2007, 11,900 refugees were living in one of three camps, Lainé, Kankan I and Kankan II, and at least 9,300 refugees were living in urban areas. In 2011, the estimates of refugee populations in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire were 5,400 and 6,552 respectively, or almost 12,000 people. The Guinean population is relatively young since 61.6% of Guineans are under 25 years of age, while the 25-54 age group constitutes 30.4% of the population. The remaining 8% are made up of Guineans over the age of 54, of which only 3.6% are over the age of 65.

Guinea’s languages

The official language of the Republic of Guinea is French. It is the language of the state and official institutions. After the regime of Ahmed Sékou Touré, French has once again become the single language of instruction in schools. The French language is a rapidly expanding language in Guinea according to the latest reports. In 2002, the number of speakers of French mother tongue was estimated at 2% of the total population. According to the Guinean authorities, a new estimate from 2007 revises this figure sharply up compared to that of 2002: the number of Francophones would reach 21.1% and the number of partial Francophones 42.1%. The combined total represents 6 million people, or 63.2% of the total population with a partial or complete command of this language. English is present in the border regions with Liberia and Sierra Leone, it is a university and commercial language. The three main languages ​​of African origin are: the pular spoken mainly in Middle Guinea, that is by more than 32% of the Guinean population, which has many speakers in other regions Malinké, spoken mainly in Upper Guinea and Kpelle or Guzé spoken in Forest Guinea, which also has many speakers in other regions Soussou, spoken mainly in Lower Guinea, spoken in all four natural regions of Guinea, which is the dominant language of the capital Conakry.

But we also find speakers in other languages ​​which are: bassari in middle guinea the diakhanke in lower guinea the jalonké in Middle Guinea (Fouta-Djalon) kpèllé (or guerzé) in forest Guinea the kissi in forest guinea coniagui in forest guinea the kono in forest Guinea. the lélé in Guinea forestière the landoma the toma (or loma) in forest Guinea the manon in forest guinea nalu in Maritime Guinea) the sarakolé (or soninké) Guinea is a member of the International Organization of La Francophonie. In addition, the cities of Gueckédou, Kindia, Mamou, Conakry, Kankan, Labé and Télimélé are members of the International Association of Francophone Mayors.