webGuiné / Library / 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

Buron's visit did not mean the immediate assumption of political office by the PDG leaders. The French Parliament validated Diawadou's credentials in January 1955, and new incidents broke out in Guinea. Repeatedly during 1955 Sékou Touré publicly thanked Governor Parisot for being against the PDG, claiming 'This allowed the PDG to become the organized champion of the people.' 1The party turned to its own advantage many of the official measures designed to oppose it. Thus when French offlcials, in order to reduce tension in Conakry, decided to send the unemployed 'vagrants' back to the villages, the PDG urged people to take the free rides and use them for party propaganda. Trucks carried people chanting:

They say the elephant does not exist
But here is the elephant
The elephant no one can beat

The PDG used the wave of popular protest during 1955 in order to prepare for the next parliamentary elections.
The leaders were well aware the party was weak among the Fulani. There were few Fulani or even Fulani-speaking people among the PDG. The party leaders tried to link with Sékou Touré on the PDG ticket for 1956 a man who could attract Fulani support though publicly they disclaimed that ethnic considerations entered into the choice.
They first invited DSG candidate Barry III to share the PDG ticket; when he declined, the PDG conférence des cadres of 1955 selected Diallo Sayfoulaye for the party ticket.

A Ponty major who had been a GEC member and an early stalwart of the RDA, he became a 'martyr' when French officials transferred him out of Guinea to Mali and Niger. He had important traditional credentials as well. He is the son of Alpha Bacar Diallo, dean of the chefs de canton in the Fouta Djallon. The PDG newspaper la Liberté was able to announce that 'like La Fayette on the night of 4 August 1789, Sayfoulaye renounced his privileges to join the democratic camp'. 2 His name signifies 'the sword of God;' one PDG electoral theme was to exploit the Koranic story in which his name figures. This is how Sékou Touré introduced him:

I shall tell you a story, a story you will recognize. I had a dream in which I saw the people of Guinea, in which I saw the people of the Fouta. I saw the chiefs of the Fouta as tyrants. I saw them use and abuse and beat and oppress the people. I saw them decorating and gilding their many wives. Among them there was one chief (the chef de canton of the area where the speech was delivered). This chief had twenty chickens. One day he captured a hawk and put it among the twenty chickens. He chained the hawk, fed the hawk, and treated it as if it were a chicken. Then a stranger came to the village, a man the RDA educated. This stranger knew the hawk was not a chicken. He told the chief. This is a hawk, not a chicken. It is like treating a man like a pack horse; put him among pack horses yet he is still a man.' The chief disagreed with the stranger, Sayfoulaye. A fierce debate took place. To show what he meant Sayfoulaye lifted his sword in one hand, the chained hawk in the other. He looked up, the hawk looked at the sun and the sky.

'Prove you are still a hawk, or have you, as the chief says, alas, become a chicken? Choose between servitude and a free sky, your chain and the horizon.'
He cut the chain. The hawk chose liberty.

1. Citation from interviews.
2. 27 December 1955.

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