Tomorrow marks the annual celebration of Guinea’s Independence. Guinea gained Independence from France on October 2nd, 1958. Sadly, the country’s independence has not stopped the trials and struggles of the people. Since its independence, Guinea has had autocratic rulers who have made Guinea one of the poorest countries in the world.
The immediate consequence of independence was the withdrawal by the French of all technical assistance and financial aid, and the diplomatic isolation of the new nation. The first president, Ahmed Sekou Toure, pursued a revolutionary socialist agenda and crushed political opposition. Tens of thousands of people disappeared, or were tortured and executed, during his 26-year regime.
Economic mismanagement and repression culminated in riots in 1977. The rioting led to some relaxation of state control of the economy.
It was only after the death in 1984 of Ahmed Sekou Toure, and the seizure of power by Lansana Conte and other officers, that the socialist experiment was abandoned – without reversing poverty.
In 2000 Guinea became home to up to half a million refugees fleeing fighting in Sierra Leone and Liberia. This increased the strain on its economy and generated suspicion and ethnic tension, amid mutual accusations of attempts at destabilisation and border attacks.
Acute economic problems, instability among its neighbours and uncertainty over a successor to its authoritarian president have prompted a European think-tank, the Crisis Group, to warn that Guinea risks becoming a “failed state”.
Please keep the people of Guinea in your thoughts and prayers today. There are a lot of remarkable people here, and we hope that this day brings some promise for the people of this country.
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Support craftspeople from Guinea by owning your own hand-made Guinea mask.