Guinea: Masks, Music and Minerals
Bram Posthumus, Hurst, £25.00
Il n’y a aucune fatalité guinéenne – ‘Being Guinean is not a curse’. These words, from Sidya Touré, a reformist ex-prime minister, have sometimes felt like desperate optimism.
In few West African countries is the day-to-day unfolding of events right now still so powerfully shaped by an often shockingly brutal recent past. Ahmed Sékou Touré, who led Guinea to independence from France in 1958, went on to establish one of the most paranoid dictatorships in modern Africa, fostering an ambiance of fear and suspicion summed up in his insistence that ‘Everybody is a gendarme.’
More than three decades after his death, the scars left by his relentlessly repressive rule have yet to entirely fade away. The two military regimes that followed were more chaotic and almost as violent, if more randomly so.