William Derman
Serfs, Peasants, and Socialists:
A former Serf Village in the Republic of Guinea

University of California Press. 1968. 280 p.

The Political Organization

The traditional serf village was not an independent or politically autonomous community. The former serfs of Hollaande now have greater control over several key institutions, but they remain nonautonomous, although in a new way. In precolonial times political power resided primarily in the chiefly lineages. During colonial times it resided in the French and their appointed officials, who may or may not have been legitimate chiefs during the precolonial era. One of the most important and fascinating events in Guinean history was the abolishment of chieftainship, treated well in an article by Jean Suret-Canale (1960).
Today political power resides in an independent national government. The organizational base of the national political party, Parti Démocratique de Guinée, are the comités de base (base committees), the key political units in the countryside, The committee has replaced all former local political institutions. In the countryside a cluster of villages forms a committee. In the cities and towns a committee is a neighborhood.
The organization of the committee does not follow the lines of the older misiide. Thus, although the village of Hollaande was formerly a part of the misiide of Popodara, it is not a part of the committee of Popodara. There are four other villages within the committee of Hollaande that were not part of the misiide of Popodara. Population, rather than the number of villages, is the determining factor in the composition of a committee. The committee of Hollaande consists of eleven villages with a total population of 1,700, whereas one village of 2,000 would form a committee. The populations of the committees range from 500 to 2,000.
The most important feature of the committee system for the former serfs is that their villages are politically equal to Fulbhe villages. The political subordination of former serfs to their Fulbhe masters has thus been eliminated. Fulbhe and former serf villages are found within the same committees, where they have to deal with each other as equals.
Of the villages that make up the committee of Hollaande, there are four Fulbhe villages, two of which are Khalduyanke, and two Ranhaabhe. The other seven are former-serf villages. Therefore, the former serfs are in the majority. Although the earlier distinctions are not supposed to reflect the election of officials of the committee, quite clearly one of the most significant aspects of the committee is that those who were politically subordinate now have the opportunity to redress the situation. The former serfs of the committee of Hollaande had done just that. When the committee was first formed, they elected a former serf to be president, and the Fulbhe have not succeeded in replacing him with a Pullo. It is important to note, however, that within the context of the work of the committee, earlier social distinctions are not observed. Thus, at cooperative labor projects both former serf and Fulbhe work side by side, and it is the officers of the committee who direct the work.
When a committee is comprised of one village, it will be either entirely former serfs or entirely Fulbhe. However, because of the nature of settlement in the Fouta, most committees are a mixture of both social categories. Moreover, the domination of one group by the other is limited by the ideology and practices of the P.D.G, which ignores the earlier social distinctions, and the local practice of having one committee officer from almost every village in the committee area.
Every adult who pays dues to the P.D.G. (which are separate from taxes) becomes a member of a committee. Youths become members of the local branch of the J.R.D.A. (la Jeunesse de la Révolution Démocratique africaine). Age is the sole criterion of membership in either group. Each group has its own membership and its own leaders, although each is part of the national party. Originally a third group, women's committees, were organized, but they lacked sufficient independent functions to continue in existence. Women now belong either to the comité de base or the J.R.D.A. In the Republic of Guinea there are now 10,250 comités de base and 10,250 comités de jeunes (Touré, Volume XVI n.d.) 1.
All members of the P.D.G. vote for the ten officers of their committee; adults for officers of the comité de base, youth, for officers of the comité de jeunes. According to national law, which is rigorously followed, at least two of the offices in both groups must be held by women. Committee elections are held whenever a national election is called. Whereas national elections are held only every few years, renouvellement of the committee officers takes place yearly.
Renouvellement is a process by which all political officials are subject to review and recall depending on the wishes of the population. It is also a mechanism by which disagreement with the current leadership can be voiced annually. The entire political leadership of the P.D.G., from the committee to the secretary general of the national party, is renewed in this fashion. Moreover, if an office becomes vacant, or if an individual decides he no longer wants to be an officer, there are frequent opportunities to make the necessary change. The renouvellement is also viewed as an important source of contact, information, and advice between the base and the higher echelons of the party.

In order to understand renouvellement of the committees, we need to mention the other regional political bodies. The committees of a given area are grouped in « sections. » Each section in turn has ten officers for the adult group and ten for the youth group. These officers (comités directeurs) are elected by the members of the comités de base and renewed by the committee officers. The head of a section is known as the secrétaire général de section. The sections are in turn grouped into the four provinces of Guinea under the political direction of the Bureau Fédéral, which in turn is under the Bureau Politique National.
The Republic of Guinea has both an administrative and a political structure 2. The lowest level of the administrative hierarchy is the commandant d'arrondissement, the administrative equivalent of the political section. Administrative officials are appointed rather than popularly elected as are those in the democratic populaire. Above the commandants d'arrondissement are the governors of the regions, who in turn belong to the Bureau Fédéral.
Political officers at each level are renewed by all those who elected them. This is done at a meeting run by the officials of the next highest political level. Thus, to renew the officers of the comité de base and the J.R.D.A., all committee members meet with the comité directeur and the commandant d'arrondissement 3.
The most important offices are president of the comité de base and secretary general of the J.R.D.A. They both act as committee representatives of their respective age groups to the regional authorities, bringing complaints, problems, and requests to them. In turn, these two officers relay information, requests, and decisions from the regional (and national) officials to the villages within their committee.
Typically, neither a former chief nor a former manga serves as an officer of a committee. They have been discredited in the eyes of the population because of their cooperation with the chiefs de canton and the colonial authorities. Descendants of former political figures have no inherent advantages in obtaining committee offices. Rather, the people most likely to be elected are those who can read and write French, who have knowledge of the policy, programs, and operation of the P.D.G., and who are judged to have the skills necessary for dealing with village problems.
Although an officer of the J.R.D.A. or comité de base represents his committee as a whole, committee members often desire to have an officer from each of the villages within the committee. This stems in part from the organization that existed following the abolishment of the chef de canton at the beginning of independence, when each village selected a maire (mayor). In addition, communication and organization are greatly facilitated when each village has an acting « head. » In most cases this individual is also an officer of his committee. When there are more villages than positions, as was the case in the committee of Hollaande, some villages had a de facto head who was not an officer.
In a recent statement, Ahmed Sékou Touré described the functions of the committees:

Committee members meet regularly twice a month, during these meetings the committee takes decisions of local interest conforming to the words of the Party, diffuses the information emanating from the sections and discusses all the affairs relevant to the competence of the village or of the neighborhood (Touré, Vol. XVI, n.d.: 370).

The committee, particularly its officers, serves as the communication and information link between the villagers and the political leaders of the section and the administrative officials of the arrondissement. Its activities are manifold, including many of those formerly carried out by other institutions. Included in the committee's work are:

The committee is financially independent. The funds necessary for carrying out its functions come from a percentage of the tax receipts of the population comprising the committee. The percentage is decided by each region. The committee either maintains a general fund for the use of its officers, or divides the money among the officers who are then responsible for meeting any needs that might arise.
As an example of some of the specific functions of the committees, the committee of Hollaande served as a focus for the distribution of items that otherwise might have appeared at overly high prices. When the Guinean textile factory began operation at Conakry and only a limited supply of cloth was available, the committee saw to it that villagers had an equal opportunity to buy the cloth at state set prices. The committee of Hollaande was given a quota of cloth by the regional administrative officials. The cloth was divided by the president among the different villages. Each officer then received requests from household heads and distributed the cloth so that everyone's request was fairly met.
National projects, such as the attempt to increase the production of cotton, reach the committees in the form of specific projects that need to be undertaken. At Hollaande, the committee had been asked to cultivate cotton. A plot of land was chosen in one of the villages, and seed was provided by the regional officials. During the growing season, the land was prepared, a fence was built, and cotton was sowed and weeded by various members of the member villages under the direction of the committee's officers. I left before the harvest, which was to go to the regional officials and then to Conakry. Another example of the committee meeting a national need had to do with the sale of tomatoes which were required by the Guinean canning factory at Mamou. The committee of Hollaande organized the sale of tomatoes so that they did not appear on the open market but were purchased only by the regional officials acting for the canning factory.
Receptions were organized at Labe during the period of my study for, among others, the king of Saudi Arabia, Under Secretary of State Katzenbach, and members of the consortium of FRIA (an international aluminum corporation). Large attendance at such receptions is considered important to developing an awareness of, and identification with the national concerns of Guinea.
Our discussion up to now has focused on the adult committees. We turn now to the J.R.D.A., a new and significant institution for youths 4. It provides a means to express their needs and to organize their own activities. It should be clear that this organization and its independence from elders marks a decisive departure from the traditional socio-political organization, which was dominated by elders.
The J.R.D.A. is composed of young men and women under twenty-five years of age, according to Guinean Law. However, the Fulbhe have reinterpreted this to mean anyone who has not given up the ways of the young, that is, has not yet assumed his full religious obligations. Individuals in their thirties are occasionally in this category. The J.R.D.A. has its own leadership and is independent from the adult committees. At elections and at the renouvellement, the two groups each select their own leadership.
The committees are responsible for such tasks as collecting taxes and fairly distributing goods, whereas the J.R.D.A. serves as the mechanism for relations among youth in a political, social, and ideological sense. Disputes or thefts among the young are dealt with by the J.R.D.A. Balls, soccer games, and marching in reception parades are also organized by the J.R.D.A. In addition, the J.R.D.A. provides ideological education for its members.
The following five cases are examples of how intra- and inter-village conflicts are dealt with. Three cases illustrate actions of the comité de base and the J.R.D.A., and two illustrate action of alternative institutions. There were no crimes of violence, with one possible exception, in the committee of Hollaande or in any neighboring committee during my stay or shortly before. Petty theft was the most common crime.

  1. The first example indicates the relations between youths, the J.R.D.A., and elders. A radio and a pair of shoes were stolen from the unlocked house of a young man in Binde Pellun. While the theft was taking place, most of the youths of the village were together, spending the evening talking and visiting the way they normally did. Upon discovery of the theft, the young man immediately told his brothers, who immediately set about learning the whereabouts of all the young men in the village at the time of the theft. (They had assumed from the beginning the thief was neither an adult nor a woman). By dawn they had accounted for all but one of the young men in the village. He, of course, became the prime suspect. The victim and his brothers then went to tell the secretary general of the J.R.D.A., who was a resident of Hollaande. The secretary general decided to hold an enquiry (tefugol) as it seemed likely the suspect could be persuaded to confess.
    During the day the suspect was found and informally questioned. When asked about his movements the night before, he first said he had been in another village, but he couldn't specify whom he had seen there. Upon further questioning he gave two different stories of where he had been and whom he had met. At this point the head of the J.R.D.A. decided to convene the members of the J.R.D.A. to confront the suspect with those individuals he said he had been with the night before. All the members of the J.R.D.A. of Hollaande attended; no one from the other villages of the committee of Hollaande were present. The two officers of the J.R.D.A. for the committee as a whole directed the meeting.
    The confrontation indicated that the suspect had been lying. At this point the secretary general asked to speak to the suspect privately. He begged (toragol) the suspect to return the radio and the shoes. He pointed out that the affair so far was only a matter for kinsmen (musibbhe) to settle, but that if the items were not returned, it would become an affair for the police (the nearest police station was at the regional capital, Labe). The suspect at this point confessed privately to the secretary general. The two of them then left to get the stolen items, which had been hidden in a cave in a nearby village.
    It was not until after the stolen objects had been returned that the elders of the village were officially told of the theft, although they had known about it earlier through the children. The father of the thief, the member of the committee for Hollaande and his older brother, and the father of the youth from whom the radio had been stolen then gathered, and the secretary general retold, in great detail, all the events of the past evening and day. The elders thanked the young people. They referred to the thief as a guddyo (which implies habituation) and a bondho (someone who is rotten or no good). His own father was just as strong in denouncing him as everyone else. The secretary general then recommended, following the decision of the members of the J.R.D.A and the youth who owned the radio, that the affair be closed, because the objects were returned. The only one who could further pursue the case, the victim of the theft, did not wish to do so. The elders agreed, but asked to speak to the elders of the major patrilineage of the thief (only his father had been directly told so far) before closing the affair completely.
    The elders of the thief's major patrilineage were called in order by age and status, and the events of the past day were re-explained. However, in the meantime, the thief disappeared, for on learning of his thievery, a woman who had given him some bed sheets to be embroidered demanded that they be returned. It was learned that he had not had them embroidered, but had resold them to someone in a neighboring village. The thief went to the neighboring village in an attempt to get back the sheets, but he failed, and so did not return. The youths of J.R.D.A. ultimately found him, and when he refused to return, they told him that if he did not go voluntarily, they would use force. With this threat, the thief returned. The individual who had bought the sheets from the thief said he would bring them to Hollaande the next day.
    The second day of the affair, another meeting was held to settle the question of the sheets. Again the entire J.R.D.A. of the village was there, plus the woman whose sheets had been sold and the youth who had bought the sheets. The thief asked the secretary general and the buyer of the sheets to accompany him to his mother's house, where she would give them the price of the sheets (approximately 2500 francs, or $10.00). The secretary general refused to go, for if all three went, the mother would be able to ask that she not have to pay because she had no money The secretary general noted thee in such a case he would not be able to refuse her, because he was married to her older brother's daughter. The buyer of the sheets also refused to go, because he said he had come for his money, not to walk around. The woman insisted that she receive the sheets immediately. However, the buyer refused, saying that he could not let them go without the money. Moreover, he could wait only three days before he would keep them permanently, for he had bought the sheets on good faith, and it was only his good will letting him part with what he had bought. After much discussion, the condition of the buyer was accepted, and that of the woman rejected. The decision was that the thief had to find the money.
    At this juncture the officer of the committee for Hollaande arrived and took direction of the meeting. He mocked the young people who steal to have money to give to their lovers and everyone laughed. However, he praised the youths of the village for their diligence in apprehending the thief and for the manner which they had conducted themselves (one of the rare times I heard praise for the young). He then addressed himself to the question of who is responsible for a thief. He stated that it is neither the mother nor the father - only the thief himself. In this case the parents were neither responsible for the actions of their child, nor responsible for making retribution to the aggrieved parties. (However, in the next example it will be seen that parents can be held financially responsible, if their child is not circumcised.) The officer then asked the thief to give him the money for the sheets. The thief attempted to have the secretary general of the J.R.D.A speak for him, but he refused. The thief was thus forced to state in front of everyone that he had no money, and that his father had told him his mother would give him the money before dawn of the next day. The officer then observed that if it were up to him, he would have the thief put in prison. He then asked what the punishment of the thief was to be. The youth who owned the radio and shoes declined to speak and asked that the secretary general speak for him. The secretary general said there was to be no punishment. For the J.R.D.A. and the individual concerned, the affair was ended. Punishment, if there was to be any, would come from Allah.
    The head of the thief's major patrilineage then spoke 5. He noted that two years ago some of his cows had been stolen. Many had asked that an inquiry be held, but he had refused. Allah knew the thief, and that sufficed. He then asked only that a particular prayer (salaatu) be read which would reveal the identity of the thief. He stated that he was not responsible for thieves, not even if that thief were his own son. This was certainly proved by this case, as the father of the thief had never stolen anything in his entire life, not even an orange.
    The meeting was concluded by the officer of the adult committee. He said the thief maintained he had returned to the village because he had fallen sick in Freetown. This wasn't true; he had stolen in Freetown, and had been put in prison. He had returned to Conakry, where he had again stolen. The thief had a bad character, for he watched his father work without helping him, feigning illness. Everyone now ought to pay attention to him since his character had been revealed. However, the real judgement, the real punishment, was that of Allah.
    This story exemplifies several points about the present social and political organization of a former serf village. The inquiry was carried out by the thief's peers - the J.R.D.A. Had he been an adult, it would have been carried out by the adult committee. The inquiry was performed by the new political organization, not by the youth's major patrilineage. In short, the proper mechanism, as viewed by the villagers, is no longer the kin group, but the J.R.D.A. This, however, does not mean the kin groups are of no importance in such cases. The limits of the J.R.D.A. were clear. They felt they could not punish a thief. Their task was to discover the identity of the thief, but once he was discovered, their responsibility ended. They make a recommendation about punishment to an adult committee, which may or may not be heeded. In this case, their recommendation that no further action be taken was agreed to by the elders. The J.R.D.A. acted independently in the first stages, but once the identity of the thief was known, they called on the adult committee and the thief's close kinsmen to pursue the matter.They in turn called on the elders of the thief's major patrilineage, for it was the latter who could punish him.
    The last point to note is that the major patrilineage declined to act against the thief. The statement by the head of the patrilineage that no one was responsible for the thief, that only Allah may punish or judge, is particularly interesting. The head of the patrilineage of Hoore Tane is also a religious leader. During the precolonial period religious leaders, who were also political leaders, did make judgments of this kind, and did punish individuals. A theft for example, might have been punished by cutting off one of the thief's hands, or by another less drastic measure. Under the French, individuals who inflicted punishment on an accused became liable themselves to punishment by the French. Now, punishment is either a matter for a restricted kin group, or for the judicial and police authorities, who are located in the regional capitals.
    In this case the villagers rejected the alternative of bringing the thief to the regional capital, where, if punishment were decided on, it would be out of the hands of the villagers. Punishment was also rejected by the head of the patrilineage. In short, the latter maintained that he was too preoccupied with religion to be bothered with such concerns as judgement. This is an expression of the apoliticization of Islam in the countryside; Islamic leaders rely on the sanctions of Allah, not on those of men, to punish wrongdoers. During the period of colonization and independence the political sphere of Islam in the Fouta has been greatly restricted.
  2. The second example is concerned with a theft involving an uncircumcised boy from Hollaande and a Fulbhe boy from a neighboring village. The latter's father had been the master of a few people of Hollaande, but not of the individuals concerned. Further, the Fulbhe was also a member of the former chiefly lineage. During the week of a reception at Labe for some visiting dignitaries, 10,000 francs ($40.00) and a dress and a blouse were stolen from the house of a young mother. At first she was puzzled as to who could have stolen the items. Only after several days did she recollect that a boy had been present while she went to get some money, and that he therefore knew where her hiding place was. She accused him, and asked the J.R.D.A. to have a meeting. At the same time other boys returning from the reception remarked of how much money the accused had spent while in the regional capital. It was also noted that a friend of the accused also spent a great deal of money.
    The two boys were thereupon called before the J.R.D.A. and interrogated. When confronted by those who had seen them spend money in Labe, they admitted their guilt and enumerated the ways they had spent the stolen money - which included 2500 francs for beer. Once the two boys had admitted their guilt, the secretary general stated that the job of the J.R.D.A. was ended. Having discovered the culprits, all they could do was bring them to the person against whom the crime has been committed. The secretary general noted that whereas other committees might use whipping and other kinds of punishments, this was not permitted by the government, and he would not do so. He argued that the job of the J.R.D.A. was to determine who had committed a crime and, where possible, to recover the stolen items. In this case it was not possible to recover the money, so they brought the guilty parties to the husband of the aggrieved. The accomplice, a Fulbhe boy, was permitted to return to his father.
    For three evenings in succession the elders of the village of Hollaande met in an attempt to resolve the question. One problem was that the Fulbhe boy's father would not come to the village, although many messengers had been sent requesting that he attend. It was pointed out that the Fulbhe boy had never admitted taking the money, but only that he had been present during the theft and had later spent some of the money. Whether or not he had actually stolen the money rested on the accusation of the other boy. The father of the latter kept asking that he be told how much he should pay. The husband of the woman refused to state a sum, insisting that it was for the fathers of the two circumcised boys to agree on. The third night, the husband declared that he was going to the Fulbhe village in the morning to take the two boys to the police in Labe and have them put in prison. This threat produced results. Both fathers, through an intermediary, agreed on the equal guilt of their respective sons, and each consented to pay 5000 francs immediately. However, because both boys refused to, admit they had stolen the clothes, even under the threat of going to Labe, this matter was dropped.
    The case was made more interesting due to the relationship between the father and son from Hollaande. The father asserted that he had not spoken to his son in three years, even though the boy was still quite young (about fourteen). In his view his son was no good (bondho), and he, therefore, would have nothing to do with him. Further, he had no control over his son. Only a month before the son had taken 2000 francs from him. However, although the father had practically disowned his son, he still had to redress the wrongs. The father, in retaliation, has refused to have his son circumcised.
    In this second case the limits of the J.R.D.A. are again clear. They could not force a settlement, because the money had already been spent. It was left to the fathers of the boys to reach an agreement with the victim, on threat of intervention by the authorities at Labe. The father of the boy from Hollaande did not need such a threat to convince him to pay. He was willing to make a settlement in order to maintain his standing and his kin relations within the village. On the other hand, it was necessary to threaten the Fulbhe father with the police - outside intervention - to induce him to pay.
  3. The third example illustrates that the way disputes are handled depends partially on the relationships between the involved parties; that is, whether they involve intra-village relationships, inter-village relationships or, as in this case, unknown individuals. In the following incident, the committee called on the regional authorities to resolve the problem. Two strangers arrived in the village of Popodara, carrying articles that made them suspect As is their right, certain members of the J.R.D.A. asked the men to enter a store to be searched. The two strangers fled, but were soon captured. Each had a sack that contained salt and rope, the standard equipment of cattle thieves. The salt is used to attract the animal; the rope to lead it away. As soon as these items were discovered, a messenger was sent to Labe to summon the head of the police, who arrived shortly thereafter to arrest the two men. He congratulated the population on their vigilance, and informed them that the two men were wanted for cattle thievery.
    The social functions of the elders have been discussed. At Hollaande six men were considered to be elders. However, only two of these men played decisive political roles within the village. Both of these men were the eldest of the two major patrilineages. Their accession to these positions was based essentially on age, but both were also remarkably strong and active. Neither was descended directly from the previous head of his lineage. In Binde Pellun there was no conflict over who should serve as head of the patrilineage. Perhaps this was due to the fact that one of the sons of the former head was serving as president of the committee and therefore already had an important political position. Thus the el dest was quite readily accepted as head of his major patrilineage.
    In Hoore Tane there was disagreement between the son of the deceased manga (the head of the serf village during the colonial period, who was designated by the chef dc canton) and the eldest member of the major patrilineage. The former maintained he was the real head of the lineage, as he was the eldest son of the former head of the major patrilineage, whereas the acting head of the lineage, although its oldest member, was descended from a captive. His grandfather and grandmother had been brought as captives to the village.
    The explanation given by the son of the manga as to why he himself was not the head was that a younger man should not speak disrespectfully to, or argue with, an elder. Furthermore, it would be embarrassing if there existed a great inequality in age between the heads of the two lineages within Hollaande. The son of the manga was in his late forties, whereas the head of the other major patrilineage was in his seventies. The acting head of Hoore Tane was sixty-five and the villagers accepted him as the real head because of his age and ability. The conflict emerged as the result of the different origins of the minimal lineages of Hoore Tane. As we observed when analyzing the genealogy, there are three different ancestors for Hoore Tane, two of whom came as captives after the village had been founded by the third.
  4. We shall now consider the way the elders of the village handled a dispute between two members of the same major patrilineage. Four dogs had killed a sheep belonging to K.G. He asked that the elders of the village meet to decide on a course of action. He clearly wanted compensation for his loss, as it was the only sheep he owned. Of the four dogs involved, one belonged to an older brother of K.G. (same father, but different mother), and another belonged to an elderly woman of the same major lineage as KG. The other two dogs apparently did not have owners. N.D., the elder brother of K.G., argued that the dog belonging to him did not attack sheep, but must have done so only in the company of the other dogs. The head of the major patrilineage of Binde Pellun promptly replied that if there are a group of thieves, and only one is caught, he has to pay nonetheless. N.D. then pointed out that the woman concerned did not have any money. The same elder again interrupted and asked K.G. if he wanted money. K.G. replied that the judgement, the form of compensation, was the concern of the elders. He was voicing no opinion, and would accept gladly any decision of the elders, even if it meant nothing for him. The son of the old manga then spoke and argued that the owners of the two dogs had to buy another sheep for K.G. The eldest quickly disagreed, pointing out that between members of the same major patrilineage, concessions had to be made. He then proposed that 4,000 francs be given to K.G. A few of the younger men present interjected to observe that 4000 francs was not enough to buy a sheep. The supervisor of the market, who was also the president of the committee and a resident of Hollaande, said that 4000 francs could buy a sheep. The others disagreed, but the eldest villager again interjected to say that 4000 francs was just. He added that the sum of money to be paid was to be made up equally by the two dog owners. K.G. expressed his thanks to the elders for their consideration of the matter and for reaching a settlement. He gave them each a kola.
  5. Although an incident of dogs killing a sheep is rather uninteresting, dramatic examples of conflict are difficult to obtain, for violence is at a minimum and crimes are rare, usually taking the form of petty thievery. Nevertheless, there are several important features to discuss in this case.
    First, the dispute concerned two brothers who had different mothers. Had this same incident taken place between brothers of the same mother, nothing would have been said. Further' had the dogs belonged to a member of another village, the committee would have had to decide the form of compensation.
    Second, because all of the parties involved were members of the same major lineage, the decision was left to those of Binde Pellun. To have had the elders of Hoore Tane make the decision could have caused bad feelings among members of the same major lineage. In this instance, the village acted almost as one major lineage. The assistance of Binde Pellun was always called on because the eldest member of the village, and the president of the committee, resided at Binde Pellun.
    Third, because all of the parties involved were of the same major patrilineage, and the same village, the appropriate way to handle the problem was by referring it to a council of elders, not the formal non-kin body the committee On the other hand, when a problem involves youths of the same village, the J.R.D.A. is activated—a clear sign of the difference in generations. However, adults (as opposed to elders, who are more conservative) bring inter-village disputes to the committee. We have already discussed a divorce case between a man of Hollaande and a woman of a different village which was taken before the committee of Hollaande. In preindependence days a divorce case similar to this would have been handled by the major lineages of the man and woman and their respective Fulbhe master.
    A third alternative to settling conflict through the patrilineage or the committee is to refer it to the religious leaders of the mosque. Although the political role of religious leaders has declined considerably since they can no longer apply legal sanction, they can and do use their relationship to the supernatural in hand ling certain types of problems. To illustrate this, let us examine an instance in which a house in the village burned down. The villagers believed it to be arson. One might have expected either the committee or the religious political authorities to be informed and an inquiry held. Instead, the individual whose house had burned, while clearly concerned over who had destroyed his house, maintained that the punishment for such an act should be left in the hands of Allah. He asked that the prayer salaatu be read at the time of the reroofing of his house. The salaatu was led by the almamy and religious leaders of the mosque of Popodara, as well as by the former chef de canton. Reading the salaatu is said to cause the revelation of the identity of the individual who performed the act, or else cause him to become mad.
    The burning of the house was an extraordinary event, and it deeply upset the villagers. Quite clearly arson is a serious crime. If the fire actually was set deliberately, this was the only attempt at murder during my stay. Despite the importance of learning who was responsible, no inquiry was held, and no political officials were informed. Rather, it became a matter for Allah and the religious leaders. It is interesting to note that in this case, because of the gravity of the incident, the almamy and the other religious leaders of the mosque came to the site of the fire. The reading of the salaatu in the compound of the burned house was also not typical; the normal procedure is to read salaatu at the mosque.

1. There has been an increase in the number of committees in Guinea. At the time of the formation of committees there were 4500. This number increased to 7164 by 1962, and to 10,250 by 1964. The reason for the increase was to deconcentrate and decentralize political power. For further details see Henry De Decker (1967) and Jean Suret-Canale (1970).
2. These two structures inter-relate, thus maintaining cooperation, communication, and common direction. The point of the dual system is « if the political authority goes from the base to the summit, the administrative authority goes from the summit to the base This confers upon our state its popular character and assures the political preeminence of our party which is, in fact, the rigorous translation of the wishes of the people in the activities of the state » (Touré Vol. II: 374)
3. Upon my arrival in the Fouta-Djallon I accompanied a group of political officials who were in the process of the renouvellement of the committees. They also used this opportunity to discuss with the population such questions as the position of women.
4. Ahmed Sekou Touré states that the J.R.D.A. was organized because « the Democratic Party of Guinea, conscious of the anarchic state in which the youth organization found itself and of the quasi-total isolation of rural youths, decided during the congress of March 23, 1959, to gather all Guinean youths in the same organization and to give them the maximum means to permit their full activity and development » (Vol. 12: 64). His account states that the J.R.D.A. was structured so that the inherent problems of the young and the action of Guinean youth would be politically directed toward the development of Guinea and her revolution. The P.D.G. was formed in 1947.
5. He was also the thief's mother's brother (kaawu). This role, however, was subordinate to the other he held.
6. There are many houses destroyed by fire in the Fouta. Almost all fires are accidents started from cooking fires, or fires kept burning all night to provide warmth. In this case it was believed the fire had been set deliberately, because it started on the straw roof at around 5 a.m.

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