webGuinea
History-Politics


Ruth S. Morgenthau
Political parties in French-speaking West Africa

Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964.


Part Six
Trade Unionists and Chiefs in Guinea
The 1954 Election continued


nationalist trade unionism … joined to two fundamental principles: nationalism and the unity and solidarity of the various social groups in the countries under foreign domination. The original element in this new trade unionism, which clearly differentiates it from Western trade unionism, is a strong determination to back political action in order to hasten the coming of national independence. This preoccupation with the political independence of the nation takes precedence over all social preoccupations.1

After the Conakry meeting Sékou Touré was well on the way to becoming, in French eyes, an interlocuteur valable. There had been political shifts in Paris. In June 1954 officials in Guinea were carrying out the 'tough' policy of the outgoing French government; but already the Mendes-France government was taking office. The new Overseas Minister Robert Buron, like the Governor-General of West Africa, Bernard Cornut-Gentille, favoured conciliating African nationalists. When the interterritorial RDA stepped between the PDG and French officials with the hope of avoiding more violence, the French government was receptive. In Octoher 1954 Buron visited Conakry. By previous agreement the PDG organized a giant reception and demonstrated efficiency when the party without the police kept order and directed traffic. PDG women wore white dresses embroidered with Sily, the RDA elephant. Demonstrators carried giant placards which read Vive RDA on one side; Vive le Ministre on the other. The RDA took Buron's visit as a disavowal from Paris of Parisot's policy in Guinea. People taunted the BAG in song:

The RDA is everywhere
The saboteurs always said
That they are the chiefs
But a man is a chief
If he is heard by the people.
Sekou says he is not a chief
But today they wisely gave him power.

Another song recalled that at a reception for Buron in the palace of the governor, there were not enough seats when Sékou Touré and his wife arrived. The Minister and the Governor-General offered their chairs. People sang:

Sekou, your enemies are not yet tired
But they forget
That in Conakry
Capital of Guinea
You are the Governor
Is it not true, comrades? It is as sure
As certain as the world
So true
That in Conakry
Sekou is Governor.


1. La Liberté, 11 December 1956.


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