Guinée : sport, santé, éducation, solidarité

Réagissant au tirage au sort favorable entre le Mali et la Guinée, le site Guinéematin titre “La Guinée, haïe, combattue et stigmatisée … en quarts de finale. Conakry en fête.”

Le style et le contenu exagérés de cette affiche sont évidents.

Bien avant et après son passage — par chance — aux quarts de finale de la coupe d’Afrique des Nations, la Guinée n’est ni haïe, ni combattue. Surtout pas de l’extérieur.

Mais se bat-on et se hait-on au plan intérieur. C’est sûr. Notamment à partir du second tour de l’élection présidentielle de 2010, et dans le climat sociopolitique qui prévaut depuis lors.

Quant à la stigmatisation, l’épidémie du virus Ebola a indéniablement marginalisé davantage le pays.

Ainsi, l’on a enregistré la fermeture des frontières entre la Guinée, d’une part, et le Sénégal, la Guinée-Bissau, la Côte d’Ivoire, de l’autre.

Mais le côté face de cette médaille est plutôt positif, brillant même.

Que l’on pense à la présence de Médecins Sans Frontières, de l’OMS et des dizaines de volontaires : infirmières,  docteurs, gestionnaires, etc. aux côtés de populations sinistrées, traumatisées et désespérées.

Par exemple, Dr. Craig Spencer, appartenant à de prestigieuses institutions médicales américaines, fut infecté d’Ebola à Guéckédou, le point zéro de la calamité. Il y travaillait comme volontaire.

De même, promotrices de services de santé à MSF, Ella Watson-Stryker déclare : « la Guinée me brisa le coeur… Il y eut une semaine où nous assistâmes à neuf funérailles. »

Ce sont là des propos d’empathie et de compassion, et absoument pas de rejet.

Au niveau officiel, Samantha Power, représentante des USA à l’ONU et, à ce titre, membre du cabinet du Président Barack Obama, visita les trois pays frappés en novembre 2014. Elle était porteuse du message de solidarité du peuple américain et d’Obama —fier fils d’un Africain—, qui avait ordonné le déploiement de 3000 soldats et officiers au Libéria pour secourir le gouvernement débordé de Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Président Barack Obama et son ambassadrice à l'ONU, Samantha Power, New York, octobre 2014. Bien avant leurs hautes fonctions actuelles, ils avaient collaboré en tant qu'étudiants à Harvard University.
Président Barack Obama et son ambassadrice à l’ONU, Samantha Power, New York, octobre 2014. Bien avant leurs hautes fonctions actuelles, ils avaient collaboré en tant qu’étudiants à Harvard University.

Venue de la Grande Ile des Caraibes, Cuba, et hautement réputée, une forte équipe de spécialistes de la santé est à pied-d’oeuvre à travers la Guinée, la Sierra Leone et le Liberia.

Médecins Cubains déchargent leur équipement matériel débarquent à Lungi Airport, Freetown dans cadre de la lutte contre Ebola
Médecins Cubains déchargent leur équipement matériel débarquent à Lungi Airport, Freetown dans cadre de la lutte contre Ebola

Après la pluie, le beau temps

A cause d’Ebola l’an 2014 fut dévastateur pour les trois pays membres de Mano River Union.
Mais il ne faudrait pas pour autant indexer les autres pour ce grave malheur.
Car les avis  sont unanimes là-dessus : c’est la dégradation avancée des services de santé dans les trois pays qui a rendu la crise si aigüe. En l’occurrence, l’expression “Etat failli”  cesse d’être une métaphore, une figure de style ou un cliché commun. Elle prend une ampleur catastrophique, une pesanteur matérielle et une dimension cruelle.
Dans un contexte aussi tendu, c’est tant mieux si le football apporte un répit. Il allège, temporairement, l’environnement déprimant créé par Ebola et ses antécédents.

Que les Guinéens sachent donc partager leur joie avec l’extérieur à la hauteur de la solidarité exprimée et des secours reçus durant les temps d’épreuves et d’angoisse.

Combats et haines

En ce qui concerne les combats et les haines, ces fléaux sont intérieurs au pays. En une seule année, le régime actuel s’est rendu coupable de la mort d’une soixantaine de manifestants pacifiques, qui exerçaient leurs droits civiques prescrits par la Constitution.

L’autocratie de M. Alpha Condé est une copie conforme des dictatures — de Sékou Touré et de Lansana Conté — qui l’ont précédé et qu’il cherche à imiter. Un an avant l’élection “démocratique” de M. Condé, Capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara faisait abattre à bout portant des centaines de civils et violer des dizaines de femmes et jeunes filles au stade sportif de Conakry, le 28 septembre 2009.

Les auteurs de ces crimes contre l’humanité circulent librement en Guinée.

Avant cette tragédie, Lansana Conté ordonna, en 2006 et en 2007, le massacre de manifestants non-armés qui réclamaient son départ. Voir le film Cona’cris. La révolution orpheline.

Sport et politique

Sous tous les cieux le sport et la politique sont inséparables. Les jeux olympiques, les tournois mondiaux et nationaux revêtent invariablement un cachet politique. Ici, aux USA, qu’elles soient universitaires ou commerciales, les équipes sportives gagnantes du trophée annuel (NFL, NBA, hockey, etc.) sont reçues à la Maison Blanche, démocratique ou républicaines.

Président Sékou Touré entouré de l'équipe Hafia Football Club, championne d'Afrique, au stade du 28 septembre en 1970
Président Sékou Touré entouré de l’équipe Hafia Football Club, championne d’Afrique, au stade du 28 septembre en 1970

Mais la relation sport-politique prit une acuité exceptionnelle en Guinée sous le régime de Sékou Touré. La défaite ne 1977 du Hafia Football Club (HFC) par le Mouloudia d’Alger pour le championnat des clubs d’Afrique, offrit un exemple tangible de la politisation outrancière du sport en Guinée.
Toumani Sangaré, ministre des sports et de la Jeunesse, fut limogé. Les joueurs et les entraîneurs furent soumis à une enquête du Bureau politique national. Chaque sportif dut rédiger une confession. Individuellement et collectivement, les joueurs et l’équipe se reprochèrent et exprimèrent leur regret d’avoir contribué à ternir l’image de la révolution et de son responsable suprême.

Président Sékou Touré entouré de l'équipe Hafia Football Club, championne d'Afrique, au stade du 28 septembre en 1970. On reconnait, entre autres, Ibahima “Calva” Fofana et Petit Sory. (Photo. BlogGuinée - Tierno S. Bah)
Président Sékou Touré entouré de l’équipe Hafia Football Club, championne d’Afrique, au stade du 28 septembre en 1970. On reconnait, entre autres, Ibahima “Calva” Fofana et Petit Sory. (Photo. BlogGuinée – Tierno S. Bah)

La perspective du sport comme pratique saine, et comme activité de divertissement et de loisir avait disparu. Elle avait cédé la place à la paranoïa du dictateur.…
Les Guinéens devraient tourner le dos à ce passé regrettable. Ils devraient rejetter la vision simpliste et manichéste de l’article de Guinéematin, qui oppose la Guinée au reste de l’Afrique et du monde.

Ne l’oublions pas. Il s’agit ici de sport, de fraternite, de sororité, de solidarité, et d’amitié dans la compétition. Participer à de telles concurrences implique une chose : l’acceptation du résultat, quelqu’il soit : victoire ou défaite.

Membres du Bureau politique, du Comité central et du gouvernement célèbrent la victoire du Hafia Football Club, champion d'Afrique, 1970. De gauche à droite: Sikhé Camara (visage seulement), Nfally Sangaré, Bella Doumbouya, Mamadi Keita, Karim Keira, Mamadi Kaba, Kabassan Keita, Siaka Touré, Damantan Camara. (Photo BlogGuinée. Tierno S. Bah)
Membres du Bureau politique, du Comité central et du gouvernement célèbrent la victoire du Hafia Football Club, champion d’Afrique, 1970. De gauche à droite: Sikhé Camara (visage seulement), Nfally Sangaré, Bella Doumbouya, Mamadi Keita, Karim Keira, Mamadi Kaba, Kabassan Keita, Siaka Touré, Damantan Camara. (Photo BlogGuinée. Tierno S. Bah)

Bâtir les infrastructures

Pour un pays privé d’infrastructures sportives comme la Guinée, il est tentant de renouer avec la politisation excessive des sports. Pour la classe politique comme pour le pouvoir, c’est une occasion de divertir les esprits et de détourner l’attention sur les problèmes quotidiens qui assaillent la jeunesse.
Si je ne me trompe pas, nombre de joueurs de l’équipe nationale —que je n’appelle pas “Syli” : nom désuet et infamant— évoluent dans des clubs étrangers.  En plus de l’eau et de l’électricité, des hôpitaux, dispensaires et écoles, universités, bibliothèques,  musées, centres de recherche, il est temps que l’Etat fournisse des aires sportives et de jeux propices à la jeunesse du pays.

Tierno S. Bah

Mining and corruption. Crying foul in Guinea

Africa’s largest iron-ore mining project has been bedeviled by dust-ups and delays.

“An emblematic tragedy” is how Sir Paul Collier, an adviser to the British government, describes the situation in Guinea—referring not to the Ebola outbreak (awful though he considers that to be) but the saga of Simandou, a mining project mired in allegations of corruption, expropriation and corporate espionage.

Simandou, a mountainous area in southern Guinea (pictured), has been called the El Dorado of iron ore. It is the world’s largest known untapped deposit of the stuff, with enough ore to sustain annual production of 200m tonnes—7% of global iron-ore output—for more than a quarter of a century. Better still, the ore there has unusually high iron content. The potential project cost for the mine, and the railway and port that would be needed to get ore on to ships, is $20 billion, making it Africa’s largest ever proposed mining venture. Guinea could do with the investment: it ranks 179th out of 187 countries in the UN’s human-development index. Wags, alas, have taken to calling Simandou “Simandon’t”. Exploration rights were first granted in the 1990s, yet the earliest anyone expects production to begin is 2019.

The saga oozes intrigue. Among its cast of characters:

  • Two of the world’s biggest mining groups
  • The Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto and Vale of Brazil
  • Beny Steinmetz, an Israeli diamond tycoon
  • George Soros, a billionaire philanthropist
  • Mark Malloch-Brown, a former deputy head of the UN
  • The wife of Guinea’s former leader
  • And, possibly, members of South Africa’s elite and security services.

It is, as one lawyer involved in the case wryly puts it, “a slightly Hollywood story”.

The opening chapter was the awarding of exploration licences for four blocks at Simandou to Rio Tinto in 1997. The northern two blocks were snatched back from the company in 2008, as the then dictator, Lansana Conté, lay on his deathbed. The ostensible reason was that Rio was not developing the site quickly enough. Months later the rights to these blocks were assigned to BSG Resources (BSGR), a firm indirectly owned by a Steinmetz family trust. With no upfront payment required, the deal appeared to be very attractive for BSGR.

Guinea iron ore mines
Mo Ibrahim, an African billionaire, asked whether the Guinean officials who agreed to it were “idiots, or criminals, or both”. After Conté’s death, BSGR sold 51% of its interest to Vale for $2.5 billion, $500m of which was paid immediately.

A new government, led by Alpha Condé, took power in 2010, after Guinea’s first democratic elections, and set up a committee to review past contracts. This concluded that BSGR got its blocks through bribery. As a result, the firm was stripped of its concession earlier this year. The government signed a new deal with Rio and its Chinese partner, Chinalco, to develop the two southern blocks they had held onto.

This involved Rio having to pay $700m, part of which was upfront taxes.

This wrangling has generated lots of work for lawyers.
Rio has filed a racketeering suit in New York against BSGR and Vale, claiming they conspired to steal the northern blocks.
BSGR has an arbitration suit against Guinea; Vale has one against BSGR.
The latter is sealed but understood to argue that BSGR duped Vale into buying an asset that was presented as legitimate but had been corruptly obtained. (Vale never paid the remaining $2 billion to BSGR, but says it spent a further $700m on Simandou.)
In an interview with Piaui, a Brazilian magazine, Vale’s former boss, Roger Agnelli, said of the union with BSGR:

“A guy can marry a former hooker and only discover years later that his wife used to be a prostitute.”

On top of these actions, BSGR sued Global Witness last year. The firm claims that the group violated Mr Steinmetz’s privacy by publishing “personal” data in its investigative reports on the case, arguing that since Global Witness is not a bona fide journalistic outfit, but an advocacy group, it needs to comply with higher data-protection standards. Global Witness denies this. The case, which is before Britain’s information commissioner and the High Court, could break new legal ground on the free-speech rights of lobby groups.

Last year a related case was settled out of court when Mr Steinmetz received a portion of his costs—but no admission of fault—from Lord Malloch-Brown (a former employee of this newspaper) and FTI Consulting, the public-relations firm of which he was a regional chairman. The tycoon had sued for breach of contract and defamation, accusing Lord Malloch-Brown of persuading FTI to cancel a contract to represent BSGR, in response to pressure from Mr Soros (an associate, and a patron of Global Witness).

And then there are government investigations into Simandou, in America, Britain and elsewhere.
Last week a court in Florida allowed prosecutors to seize property owned by Mamadie Touré, the widow of Conté, the late dictator, including restaurant equipment and houses, which the prosecutors believe was bought with the proceeds of corruption.
The firm alleged to have given the bribes in the American government’s complaint is not named, but it is unmistakably BSGR.

The next legal development, expected any day, will be a ruling by a judge in New York on a motion by defendants to have Rio’s racketeering suit moved to London, where the bar for proving its allegations would be higher.

Rio’s legal complaint is spicy stuff. It alleges that BSGR doled out $100m in bribes and that Frédéric Cilins, an associate of Mr Steinmetz, befriended staff at the business centre of the Novotel hotel in Conakry, the Guinean capital, to obtain copies of faxes detailing Rio’s plans at Simandou. The complaint also claims that Vale feigned interest in buying assets from Rio, months after the Brazilian group had begun secret negotiations with BSGR, in order to hoodwink Rio into showing it confidential information about Simandou’s geology. Seeing an opportunity to wrest control of part of the site from its rival “on the cheap”, Vale shared this data with BSGR in violation of a confidentiality agreement, Rio alleges.

Testimony and surveillance transcripts from an FBI investigation, made public by the Guinean investigating committee, are particularly illuminating. Ms Touré (who has turned co-operating witness) says BSGR offered her millions of dollars, jewellery, two Toyota Land Cruisers and a 5% stake in the project to persuade her dying husband to sign over the Simandou rights. Some of her allegations are supported by photocopies of cheques. In one transcript, Mr Cilins, having flown to Florida to meet her, urges her to destroy apparently corrupt contracts: “You have to destroy everything, urgently, urgently, urgently.” He promises more money if she does, saying the message comes “directly from the number 1”. When she asks who that is, he whispers “Beny”. In March Mr Cilins pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and received a two-year prison sentence.

BSGR denies wrongdoing. The company says the seemingly damning documents were “fabricated” and plays down its relationship with Mr Cilins, saying he never signed a formal contract to represent the firm. The Guinean committee was established “to provide a pretext to illegally seize our assets in Guinea”, the company states. BSGR says it “looks forward to testing the evidence” at a forthcoming arbitration tribunal.

As for Rio’s racketeering claims, a lawyer for BSGR describes them as “amazingly fictitious”. Nevertheless, the trust that controls BSGR is said to have hired Joe Lieberman, a former United States senator, and Louis Freeh, former head of the FBI, to conduct an internal probe of the bribery allegations—though the firm will not say whether they have begun their work.

Spooky

The narrative being pushed by BSGR became clearer when it filed its defence in the Rio suit and a request for arbitration. It alleges that the election that brought Mr Condé to power was rigged with help from South African interests. These provided Mr Condé with financial and other support—including altering voter registers—in return for a promised stake in the nation’s mining assets, including the blocks snatched from BSGR, its arbitration filing states.
In another document it names 83 individuals and companies, including South African politicians, businessmen and spies, who could have “discoverable information” that might support its claims.

A spokesman for Guinea’s government says of the alleged election-rigging:
— BSGR has never provided Guinea with any evidence to back its allegations.
A spokesman for the Rainbow Coalition, of which Mr Condé’s party is a member, says:
— The suggestion that an outsider like Alpha Condé rigged the elections against a military insider [Cellou Diallo] beggars belief.
Guinea’s supreme court certified the poll result, and the Carter Centre, which promotes democracy worldwide, said the electoral process was “broadly consistent with the country’s…obligations for genuine democratic elections.”

Mr Condé has insisted he is cleaning up government after many years of corrupt dictatorship.

But some of the regime’s dealings with business raise questions about its judgment.

In May, for instance, the Common Court of Justice and Arbitration, the highest tribunal of a west African body overseeing commercial law, ruled that the government acted illegally in tearing up a container-terminal management contract with Getma International, a French company, in 2011 and handing it shortly afterwards to Bolloré, another French firm. The panel awarded Getma $49m in damages.

Guinea scored just 25 out of 100 in Transparency International’s latest corruption-perceptions index, placing it below Ukraine.

The closest thing the drama has to a central character is Mr Steinmetz. But seen from another angle, the colourful individuals, and even BSGR, are a sideshow. The big-picture story is a titanic battle between the giants of iron-ore mining—a business in which BSGR is a minnow—for control of the world’s richest deposits.

Some analysts think Rio’s intention all along was to go slow with Simandou, holding it as a defensive play to frustrate global competitors.

The company may have grown less inclined to mine the site: the iron-ore price has fallen by 60% from record highs in 2011. But it is probably also loath to let it fall into the hands of a rival that could reap rewards once the price rebounds. Tellingly, Mr Agnelli said of the joint venture with BSGR:
—It was strategically important for Vale not to leave Rio Tinto alone with all that ore.
So important, in fact, that some of the contract terms with BSGR were rushed (or even agreed only verbally), leading to much executive disquiet at Vale.

Rio says it is committed to developing its two remaining blocks. It is less clear how keen it is to regain the other two. The firm has said it no longer wants to increase its exposure to Guinea, but not everyone believes that. If the government were to auction them off—it is preparing a tender—interest could come from, among others, Vale, ArcelorMittal and Glencore.

But prospective investors will have to weigh up the risks. One is the outstanding legal challenge from BSGR. Bigger ones are political uncertainty—a presidential election is due to be held next year—and Ebola.

Tunnel vision

Company accountants worry more about the project’s steep costs. Simandou sits in a thickly forested mountain range—difficult terrain that greatly raises the cost of building the 650km railway (with 35 bridges and 24km of tunnels) to the coast. I
t doesn’t help that Mr Condé has insisted the tracks run through Guinea to a domestic port, rather than taking a shorter, easier route through Liberia (see map).

The government had wanted to take a big stake in the infrastructure but could not afford to. With help from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), Simandou’s managers are now looking to assemble a private consortium to finance, build and operate the railway and port.
Roadshows for potential contractors begin this month. The estimated infrastructure costs are $13 billion. Whether the project is economically viable will depend on the future trajectory of the iron-ore price.

Simandou could do wonders for Guinea’s emaciated economy (GDP per person is a mere $530).

Tom Butler of the IFC, which has a 5% stake in Rio’s project, describes it as “potentially transformational”: even at today’s deflated iron-ore price, it would produce annual revenue for the state of “a multiple of the current annual budget”. It could generate tens of thousands of jobs and, thanks to the railway, make agri-business in the country’s interior competitive for export.
Moreover, success would encourage investment in Guinea’s sizeable deposits of other minerals, such as bauxite, graphite and manganese.

But nothing will come out of the ground for at least five years. It could be closer to ten. A recent presentation by Glencore, seen by Reuters, predicted that Rio will not rush to produce iron ore from Africa because its focus in coming years will be on growth projects in Australia.

Meanwhile, the legal skirmishes will continue. The arbitration cases, for instance, could grind on for up to five years—prolonging this cautionary tale of the ugly recriminations that can follow when the rights to vast mineral riches are handed out in questionable circumstances.

The beleaguered people of Guinea deserve better.

The Economist
Dec 6th 2014

Du slogan éploré au combat justicier

La chute du régime de Sékou Touré et la fermeture du Camp Boiro inspirèrent en avril 1984 le slogan “Plus jamais ça !” La sincérité et la validité de ce cri humain sont évidentes. Elles expriment les sentiments de  parents, époux et épouses, flles et fils, familles élargies, amis et collègues …

Témoignages écrits et documents photographiques à l’appui, je survole dans ce blog, d’abord, la situation des droits de l’homme en Guinée durant les 44 ans écoulés. Ensuite je suggère un élargissement de l’optique et un renforcement de la stratégie.

Témoignages et photos

La date du 25 janvier de chaque an marque d’une pierre noire la pendaison à Conakry et à l’intérieur du pays de dizaines d’innocents citoyens: fonctionnaires, professionnels, hommes d’Etat, politiciens, etc.

Le martyre de ces braves hommes eut lieu au pont Tombo; une construction qui délimite les deux presqu’îles constitutives de la capitale, Conakry:

  1. La presqu’île de Tombo, qui constitue le centre-ville et que l’on appelle erronément appelé Kaloum
  2. La presqu’île de Kaloum, c’est-à-dire la banlieue, qui s’étend de Camayenne et Moussoudougou à la baie de Sangaréa, près de Dubréka, où le grand fleuve Konkouré verse dans l’Océan Atlantique,

Dans Prison d’Afrique, chapitre “La ballade des Pendus”, Jean-Paul Alata témoigne :

« L’accablement se fait plus pesant pour moi. Je n’avais gardé aucune relation avec Barry III depuis mon ralliement au RDA, que le chef de la DSG n’avait pas pardonné.
Mais mon ancienne amitié se révolte à l’évocation du supplice infamant que je sais tellement immérité.
Certes, Barry n’avait jamais été un sincère RDA. Il conservait ses attaches socialistes mais jamais il n’aurait pris les armes contre son pays. On aurait pu l’écarter de la vie politique, mais l’exécuter ainsi ?Il y a trois mois, il s’en est donc bien allé vers la mort. Lui, dont l’ambition était de diriger son peuple vers la liberté, il s’est balancé au bout d’une corde, en plein centre de Conakry. Un cercle de voyous et de catins ont insulté son pauvre cadavre. J’apprendrai plus tard tous les détails de l’exécution. La mort miséricordieuse a épargné à son visage la grimace affreuse des suppliciés de la corde, Ibrahima, vaincu de la politique, est resté vainqueur de son dernier combat. Il est mort en regardant l’horreur en face. Musulman sincère il a accepté l’au-delà comme sa demeure choisie. Il est mort en homme.
Qui sait? Les générations futures chanteront-elles, peut-être, la geste des pendus du Pont Tumbo, des martyrs morts dans l’ ignorance de leur crime. Parmi eux, peut-être, glorifieront-elles le courage de Barry le Sérianké 3, qui, à l’ultime minute, réconforta ses compagnons et mourut la tête haute…, la geste de Barry III qui, cette nuit du 25 janvier 1971 et toute la longue journée du lendemain, se balança sinistrement sur l’autoroute, appelant la malédiction divine sur ses assassins. »

[Une erreur de plume (lapsus calami) se glisse dans le texte d’Alata. Barry III n’avait pas à être un “sincère” du RDA. C’était un rival du PDG. Il avait  sa propre philosophie politique et se battait sur une plateforme progressiste.
Par contre, le texte désigne correctement Barry III comme Seeriyanke ou Seeriyaaɓe. Descendant de cette prestigineuse lignée des pontifes du Fuuta (selon le mot adéquat de Paul Marty), Barry III appartenait au top échelon de la noblesse dans l’Etat théocratique du Fuuta-Jalon (1725-1897). Les branches Seediyaaɓe et Seeriyaaɓe descendent d’Alfa Kikala dit Seydi, qui eut deux enfants à Timbo : Alfa Nouhou (père des Alfaya) et Alfa Maliki (père des Soriya). C’était la province (diiwal) des  Seydiyaaɓe.
Fixé à Fougoumba, Foduye Seeri, frère de Kiikala, fonda la lignée  des Seeriyaaɓe. Entre autres privilèges, le diiwal de Fugumba détenait le droit exclusif de couronner le nouvel Almaami.  — T.S. Bah]

Dans Guinée, les cailloux de la mémoire, Thierno Mouctar Bah révèle à Nadine Bari les circonstances du retour de Barry III en Guinée et de son engagement dans la politique :

« En 1954 meurt Yacine Diallo, premier député de la Guinée à l’Assemblée nationale française. Il faut lui trouver un remplaçant.
Les chefs Peuls proposent mon frère Tierno Ibrahima Dalaba, qui décline l’offre. Ils le mandatent alors pour aller trouver Barry III, encore étudiant à Montpellier, et le convaincre d’accepter l’investiture pour la députation. Barry III y consent et revient au Fouta où il est reçu en grande pompe. Mais suite à la rivalité des deux almamys de Mamou (Alfaya) et de Dabola (Soriya), et à la tentative de réconciliation en 1954, les chefs Peuls décident finalement de l’investiture de Barry Diawadou, fils de l’almamy de Dabola. Que faire alors de Barry III, rappelé de France ?
L’almamy de Mamou le convoque et lui présente les excuses du Fouta qui a décidé de choisir son aîné pour la députation et de le laisser, lui, sur la liste d’attente. Barry III le prend mal mais se résigne. Il ne continue pas ses études mais reste à Conakry où il ouvre un cabinet d’avocat, adhère à la SFIO et se lance dans l’arène politique. »

Les deux pendus de Dalaba : deux des dizaines de victimes de Sékou Touré en ce 25 janvier 1971 à travers la Guinée
Les deux pendus de Dalaba : deux des dizaines de victimes de Sékou Touré en ce 25 janvier 1971 à travers la Guinée

Au total, quelque 90 victimes de la répression aveugle furent mis à mort ce 25 janvier 1971. En majorité composée d’hommes, la liste comprenait au moins une femme, et pas des moindres, puisqu’il s’agit de Loffo Camara, infirmière, membre du bureau politique et du gouvernement. Mme Camara, Habib Tall, et d’autres furent passés par les armes au champ de tir de l’armée à Matoto. Dans l’escadron de la mort qui les assassina, figurait Mamadi Keita, membre du bureau politique du PDG et du gouvernement

Dans le chapitre “Rétrospectives” de son livre La vérité du La vérité du ministre. Dix ans dans les geôles de Sékou Touré, Alpha-Aboulaye “Portos” Diallo, ancien ministre, témoigne :

« Il est à peu près certain que d’autres responsables politiques ont participé aux massacres de 1971 comme membres du peloton d’exécution.
Ancien professeur de philosophie, Mamadi Keita, alors ministre de l’Education nationale et membre du B.P.N., au lendemain de l’exécution de Mme Loffo Camara, disait avec fanfaronade, à qui voulait l’entendre en langue maninka :
« An ka boun han an ka sisi bo a noun n’na »
Traduction : « Nous avons tellement tiré sur eux que nous avons fait sortir la fumée de leur nez. »

Mme. Loffo Camara, membre du Bureau politique et du gouvernement. Mitraillée à bout portant par un peloton d'exécution qui incluait Mamadi Keita, son ancien collègue au BPN et au gouvernement.
Mme. Loffo Camara, membre du Bureau politique et du gouvernement. Mitraillée à bout portant par un peloton d’exécution qui incluait Mamadi Keita, son ancien collègue au BPN et au gouvernement.

 

La cabine technique (salle de torture) du Camp Boiro
La cabine technique (salle de torture) du Camp Boiro
Le bureau de <strong><a href="http://www.campboiro.org/perpetrateurs/toure_siaka/index.html">Siaka Touré, commandant du Camp Boiro</a></strong>. Les documents officiels et archives de ce centre concentrationnaire ont disparu, privant ainsi la justice des preuves matérielles des crimes commis par le régime.
Le bureau de Siaka Touré, commandant du Camp Boiro. Les documents officiels et archives de ce centre concentrationnaire ont disparu, privant ainsi la justice des preuves matérielles des crimes commis par le régime.

Aux quatre suppliciés de Conakry, Sékou Touré ajouta des dizaines d’autres condamnés qui furent pendus ou fusillés à Matoto et à travers le pays.

Les exécutés de Conakry expirèrent au bout de la corde que Capitaine Diarra Traoré, futur colonel et Premier ministre, leur passa lui-même au cou.

Dans son livre-témoignage intitulé Dans la Guinée de Sékou Touré : cela a bien eu lieu, Lt-colonel Kaba 41 Camara tente de masquer le nom de Diapra Traoré en l’appellant capitaine Mamady. Mais cette tentative d’anonymat est annulée par l’indication selon laquelle “le capitaine Mamady [était] président du Comité militaire du camp Almamy Samory.”
Tout Guinéen de ma génération peut aisément établir la correspondance entre le pseudonyme “capitaine Mamady” et l’identité de l’officier-bourreau en cette nuit fatidique de janvier 1971. C’était irréfutablement Diarra Traoré.

Et voici comment Lt-colonel Kaba 41 Camara présente le rôle négatif de Diarra Traoré.

Le capitaine Mamady

« Mieux que les deux premiers officiers [Toya Condé et Kolipé Lama], je connais le capitaine Mamady. Je me souviens encore de lui, à l’école d’Enfants de troupe de Saint-Louis, quand il jouait du banjo devant sa chambre d’internat en compagnie de celui qui allait être président du Mali, Moussa Traoré. J’étais tout jeune et les notes de son instrument me restent encore. Je revois le beau et long cou annelé de Moussa Traoré ; son ami Mamady était de contact facile, comique, bon causeur, bon camarade, excellent officier. Je me demande à l’heure où j’écris, comment Sékou a pu transformer cet homme bon en assassin car Mamady est devenu un assassin. Savez-vous, soldats guinéens, que Mamady est à la base de l’élimination de tous les officiers disparus dans les pseudo « complots » de 1969 et de 1971 ?
Vous vous souvenez sans doute que Sékou Touré a introduit la politique dans l’Armée en 1969.
Le premier président de comité fut le capitaine Sékou Kalil Mara.
Mamady jouera pour l’éliminer et prendre sa place. Mara se retrouvera à Labé comme commandant du camp. Président de comité, Mamady va servir Sékou avec lequel, par interposition, il a des alliances. Mamady est originaire de Kankan. Il est lié à la famille de Moussa Diakité qui a des alliances avec Sékou, comme on le sait. En outre, civils et militaires, tous ceux qui sont de Kankan sont protégés par Siaka Touré. Et Siaka, après la suppression du 2ème Bureau dans l’Armée, est devenu le patron des services de renseignements de la République. L’homme fort du régime après Fodéba, c’est Siaka Touré. Et Mamady est son ami, pour ne pas dire son frère.

« Les douteux »

Sékou avait donné les pleins pouvoirs aux comités militaires nouvellement créés, dont la plupart des présidents étaient des soldats ou des sous-officiers. Mamady va aider à décimer l’armée guinéenne. C’est lui qui dressera de sa main la liste de tous les « douteux » de l’Armée, qui seront tous arrêtés. En avril 1971, Sékou envoya un document ultraconfidentiel demandant aux fédérations, sections, comités de base, entreprises, enfin à tout l’appareil de l’Etat et du Parti, de faire parvenir au Comité révolutionnaire, la liste des « douteux ». Ce procédé va permettre aux haineux de vider leur venin. Par simple rancune ou jalousie, tout citoyen guinéen pouvait se retrouver à Boiro : quelqu’un a fait la cour, il y a vingt ans, à votre femme et vous avez eu à réagir, eh bien, devenu membre d’un comité du Parti en 1971, ce quelqu’un vous enverra à Boiro ! Quelqu’un a voulu épouser votre fille et vous vous y êtes opposé, il y a de cela dix ans, eh bien, vous êtes « douteux » et fait pour aller à Boiro ! Vous avez soufflé une fille à un membre d’un comité de base, vous devenez « douteux », « douteux » pour la Révolution de Sékou Touré et c’est Boiro ! Les 95 % des dizaines de milliers de Guinéens qui se sont retrouvés à Boiro, c’est pour un problème de femme !
Au sein de l’Armée, Mamady, président du Comité militaire du quartier général du Camp Samory, c’est-à-dire président du Comité du siège du Ministère et de l’Etat-Major, se considéra comme le porte-parole de tous les autres présidents de toute l’Armée.
Puisqu’il y a suprématie du politique sur l’administratif, Sékou ira même jusqu’à désigner les présidents de comité des camps comme adjoints des commandants de ces camps. Je vous ai dit que la plupart de ces présidents étaient des soldats. Ainsi, par exemple, après le capitaine commandant un camp, c’est le caporal président de comité qui a voix au chapitre avant les lieutenants et sous-lieutenants. Mieux, le capitaine doit lui rendre compte de sa gestion.
Je dois dire que les soldats guinéens prirent vite conscience de la situation. Beaucoup ne suivirent pas les nouvelles recommandations qui mettaient officiellement la pagaille dans l’Armée. Mamady, lui, exécuta ces recommandations à la lettre. Devenu l’adjoint du ministre de l’Armée, Sagno Mamady à l’époque, parce que président du comité du Quartier Général, il s’en prit sans aucune retenue à celui-ci.
Sagno refusa que Mamady vérifiât sa gestion. Il y eut un scandale. Une bouche ouverte au niveau des Forces armées eut lieu au Palais du Peuple. Sagno Mamady et le commandant Zoumanigui, commandant de la Gendarmerie, se défendirent en vain : Sékou soutint ses hommes de main contre ceux qui ont contribué à faire de lui ce qu’il est, tel un Sagno Mamady qui a facilité l’adhésion de la région N’Zérékoré au RDA. Vieux militant, intègre, modeste, Sagno Mamady sera pris et mourra à Boiro. »

Les cinq maires PDG-RDA élus à la tête des communes de plein exercice, 1956. De gauche à droite: Nfamara Keita (Kindia), Saifoulaye DIallo (Mamou), Sékou Touré (Conakry), Mamadi Sagno (Nzérékoré), Moriba Magassouba (Kankan). Sékou Touré tua les deux derniers. Nfamara mourut en prison à Kindia en 1986 (?).
Guinée française, 1956. Les cinq maires PDG-RDA élus à la tête des communes de plein exercice. De gauche à droite: Nfamara Keita (Kindia), Saifoulaye DIallo (Mamou), Sékou Touré (Conakry), Mamadi Sagno (Nzérékoré), Moriba Magassouba (Kankan). Sékou Touré tua les deux derniers. Nfamara mourut en prison à Kindia en 1986. Saifoulaye échappa de justesse au Camp Boiro. Sékou mourut à la clinique de Cleveland, USA. Un an après sa disparition, en juillet 1985, le CMRN dirigé par Général Lansana Conté mit à mort dix-neuf membres et alliés mâles de la famille de l’ancien dictateur. Les exécutions eurent lieu au pied du mont Gangan (Kindia) au même endroit où Sékou Touré fit fusiller des centaines d’accusés innocents.

Tous les accusés de 1971-72 et ceux des “complots” précédents le furent sans preuves. Comble de parodie de justice, ils étaient reconnus coupables dès l’instant où l’accusation tombait. Ensuite, forcés aux aveux compromettants sous la torture, ils étaient « jugés » en leur absence, en violation flagrante de leur droit à la défense, prescrit par la Constitution.

L’Assemblée nationale populaire qui les condamna à mort était extra-judiciaire. Elle n’était pas compétente en matière de prestation de la justice. Cette fonction revient aux magistrats appuyés par les officiers de la police judiciaire. Le rôle de l’Assemblée était de voter les lois et non pas de les appliquer. En conséquence, le tribunal révolutionnaire était illégitime et illégal. L’Histoire enregistre ses sentences comme des violations grossières et des crimes contre l’humanité.

Au lendemain du coup d’Etat du 3 avril 1984, le Comité militaire de libération nationale (CMRN) relaxa les derniers détenus du Goulag Tropical. Il décida la fermeture de cette prison sinistre, située dans l’enceinte du Camp Mamadou Boiro de la Garde républicaine, en face de l’hôpital Donka, quartier Camayenne, à Conakry.

Feignant d’oublier son rôle actif dans le pourrissement de l’armée, Colonel Diarra Traoré, Premier ministre déclara les forces armées étaient devenues “un foutoir.”

Dans le gouvernement qu’il dirigeait, le portefeuille de la justice fut attribué au capitaine Kolipé Lama, un tortionnaire notoire sous la dictature de Sékou Touré

Témoin oculaire de la scène, voici comment Lt-colonel Kaba 41 rapporte la torture de Barry III et Moriba Magassouba en décembre 1970 :

« Le capitaine Zézé [en réalité capitaine Jean Kolipé Lama], qui deviendra ministre dans le gouvernement Diarra Traoré est le chef de la cabine technique à Alpha Yaya. C’est un officier de valeur, comme par ailleurs tous les soldats formés par la France. Zézé est d’apparence affable. Court et trapu, il a l’air bon tout comme Mamady.
A voir tous ces tueurs évoluer dans la société, personne ne peut déceler en eux la bête innommable qui sommeille. Ces gens-là ne savent pas écrire « pitié » à plus forte raison la ressentir. A les voir en besogne, simplement en besogne, on a le vertige.
En visite au Camp Alpha Yaya, Sagno Mamadi et Marcel Bama Mato, respectivement ministre de la défense et de l’intérieur, avaient le vertige. Ceux qui traînaient là, amarrés du cou aux chevilles, étaient leurs frères, leurs collègues, ministres il y a encore une semaine, comme eux. Aujourd’hui, ils sont là, véritables loques humaines aux 3/4 morts de faim et de soif.
Depuis leur arrestation, Magassouba et Barry III, qui se traînent là, n’avaient ni mangé ni bu. Zézé s’amusait et riait. Il avait jeté aux deux hommes une orange non épluchée. C’est la première fois depuis plus d’une semaine qu’ils ont quelque chose qui ressemble à de la nourriture, qu’on peut mettre dans la bouche, qu’on peut avaler. Ils n’en croyaient pas leurs yeux. Mais comment se saisir d’une orange non épluchée, placée à deux mètres environ lorsqu’on n’est pas une limace, lorsque les mâchoires ne répondent plus à la volonté ? Je vous demande d’imaginer la scène car je n’ai pas le coeur de vous la décrire. Je me demande seulement pourquoi le créateur de toute chose a créé le ventre parlant la faim ? Ceux qui se trémoussent là, dans la poussière, après une orange insaisissable, sous les yeux de leurs collègues, furent grands. Ils ont commandé des années durant. Ils ont contribué à la grandeur de la Guinée par son indépendance.
Quelques jours plus tard, après leur avoir arraché la « vérité », ils seront pendus, et la corde leur sera passée au cou par Mamady. »

C’est le même Kolipé Lama qui chargé de transférer Abdoulaye Djibril Barry de Kankan à Conakry. Son seul crime avait été de chercher à rejoindre sa femme, Nadine, et ses enfants en France. Arrêté à la frontière ivoiro-guinéenne il fut mortellement torturé au Camp Soundiata Keita et mourut sur le plancher de la Jeep où les sbires l’avaient jeté.

Dans le premier communiqué radiodiffusé la junte militaire affirma, entre autres, que nul ne serait plus inquiété en Guinée à cause de ses opinions politiques.

Nous verrons qu’il n’en fut rien.

A suivre, Compléter le slogan “Plus jamais ça” et exiger la justice.

Tierno S. Bah

Fulɓe and Africa

Read also the Semantic Africa program, explore the Africa Peoples Controlled-Vocabulary, and see (a) the Fulɓe Civilization mind-mapping diagram (b) the Fulɓe – Takruri – Wasolonka Patronyms diagram.

Dealing with the Fulɓe, this paper first appeared under the title “Fulɓe” in Ethnic Groups of Africa and the Middle East. An Encylopedia. (pp. 96-100). John A. Shoup, ed. ABC-CLIO. Santa Barbara/Denver/Oxford. 2011. 377 pages.
This version has been edited, updated and expanded. It includes content from my “Fulbe Identity and Cultural Heritage” Project (exhibition, festival, conference, education, publishing), which I  discussed with the management and staff of the National Museum of African Art and the Warren M. Robbins Library at the Smithsonian Institution, back in 2011.

Tierno Siradiou Bah, Smithsonian Institution Libraries annual gala, at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC, May 2006
Tierno Siradiou Bah, Smithsonian Institution Libraries annual gala, at the National Museum of the American Indian, Independence Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC, May 2006

Fulɓe (plural) and Pullo (singular) are the proper names of this pastoral people of West and Central Africa. They specialize in cattle herding. Roaming the Sahel and the Savanna expanses, these nomadic cattle herders are named differently by their hosts or neighbors: Peul, Fula, Ful Fula, Fule, Fulani, Fellatah, and Silmiga, among others. Today, the majority of Fulɓe are sedentary and live in more than 18 African countries, from Senegal to Darfur, and from Mauritania to Cameroon. However, some groups, e.g., the Woɗaaɓe of Niger, northern Nigeria and Cameroon remain nomads.
The main Fulɓe regions are:

  1. Fuuta Tooro (Senegal/Mauritania)
  2. Fuuta Ɓundu (Senegal)
  3. Fuuta-Jalon (Guinea)
  4. Maasina (Mali)
  5. Sokoto (Nigeria)
  6. Adamawa (Cameroon)

The major Fulɓe urban centers are:

  • Podor (Senegal)
  • Labe (Guinea)
  • Dori (Niger)
  • Sokoto (Nigeria)
  • Maroua (Cameroon)

The overall population (Fulɓe and related communities) is estimated at 35 million people.

Cow's head and horns drawing by <strong><a href="http://www.webfuuta.net/bibliotheque/gilbert_vieillard/index.html">Gilbert Vieillard</a></strong> (1936). In Fulbe cosmogony <strong><a href="http://www.webpulaaku.net/defte/ahb/kumen/index.html">Kumen</a></strong> —the bearded, shape-shifting dwarf and keeper of the secrets of cattle herding— rides around his vast domains while seated between the two horns. <strong>Foroforondu</strong>, his wife, is the guardian of the milk and the custodian of its processing into butter, cream, sour milk, etc.
Cow’s head and horns drawing by Gilbert Vieillard (1936). In Fulbe cosmogony Kumen —the bearded, shape-shifting dwarf and keeper of the secrets of cattle herding— rides around his vast domains while seated between the two horns. Foroforondu, his wife, is the guardian of the milk and the custodian of its processing into butter, cream, sour milk, etc.

Fulɓe speak a noun-class language split into two dialectal regions; Pular (also Pulaar) is spoken west of the Niger River Bend, whereas Fulfulde extends east of that line; hence the Pular-Fulfulde compound name. Some dialects have up to 25 noun-classes, or substantive categories that are declined with suffixes:

RadicalSuffixClassSubstantiveEnglish
debb- / gork--oondebbo / gorkowoman / man
ndiy--anɗanndiyanwater
hend--unduhenduwind
kamm--ungukammusky
leyd--indileydicountry, land
nagg--engenaggecow
hoor--endehoorehead
legg--alngalleggaltree
kaak--olngolkaakolleaf

Ethnic Groups of Africa and the Middle East. An Encylopedia

The noun-class system’s function is not limited to ordinary talk and informal communication. It extends beyond the boundary of the substantive to provide ample expressiveness resources. Thus, the suffix is relayed along the sentence and it influences the pronunciation of all dependent elements, whether grammatical (articles, pronouns) or lexical (adjectives). By chaining and repeating itself, the noun-class produces a redundant yet alliterative and rhythmic flow. This effective mechanism is recurrent in esthetic speech and verbal art performance. It is a mainstay in the folklore and lay genres (songs, tales, proverbs, legends, epics, riddles, tongue-twisters, lullabies), as well as in the sacred categories: written ajamiyya and its oral renditions (incantations, tajwid, chants, psalms, hymns).

UNESCO ranks it among Africa’s top 10 languages for numbers of speakers.

Pular Fulfulde language map

A wealth of linguistic resources enable the continued renewal of genres in both the oral (myths, legends, tales, epics, proverbs) and written ajami (meaning written in their language using Arabic script) literature. They shape and proceed from the quest for beauty, knowledge, and understanding: a hallmark of Fulɓe culture.
Folklore masters, court poets (griots) and scholars tap them to carry on a vibrant cultural heritage.

Puuto. Male coffure. Fuuta-Jalon
Puuto. Male coffure. Fuuta-Jalon

Bedho (lefa). Meal-cover, plate
Bedho (lefa). Meal-cover, plate

Theories on Fulɓe origins abound. And they range from outlandish and superficial to plausible and heuristic. They have been varyingly called “distinguished Semites,” “negricized” Caucasians, mysterious Hamites, a lost tribe of Israel, 12th-century dynasty Egypt, or Dravidian descendants.

Bos taurus africanus. Proto-Fulɓe participated in the domestication of this bovine species in Africa.
Bos taurus africanus. Proto-Fulɓe participated in the domestication of the ancestor of this bovine species more than 12,000 years ago. In so doing, they contributed to “one of humanity’s first leap forward” (Anselin, 1981) and into civilization.

Fulɓe civilization rests on four major groupings identified by the four family names: Baa, Bari, Jallo, and Soo, which correspond to the four natural elements (earth, water, fire, wind) and to the cardinal points (north, south, east, west). In contrast, ‘Haal-Pular are non-ethnic Fulɓe communities who natively speak Pulaar/Fulfulde. In Fuuta-Tooro, sociologist Yaya Wane (1969) lists hundreds of family names. Conversely, while retaining the four-tiered naming system, some Fulɓe communities (Wasulu, Khasonke) speak Mande, not Pular/Fulfulde.

Original naming matrixFula Wasulu correspondents
DialloDiallo
BahDiakité
BarrySangaré
SowSidibé

The Fulɓe population displays physical traits (skin tone, hair, facial features) characteristic of a phenotype. Typically the Fulɓe skin shade is copper-like, with a lower melanin complexion. The Pular/Fulfulde language reflects awareness of the phenomenon, hence Fulɓe consider themselves non-blacks and call their neighbors ɓaleeɓe (blacks). Yet, despite some phenotype peculiarities, it is quite certain that Fulɓe are indigenous to Africa. Accordingly, the timeline of their civilization breaks down into four periods :

  • Prehistory (12,000 BCE)
  • Antiquity (0-1450 CE)
  • The Middle Ages (5th-15th century CE)
  • Modern Times (16th – 21st century)

Fulɓe prehistory is embedded in the domestication of cattle.
In 2009, led by Dr Christine Elsik*, professor of computational biology and bioinformatics at Georgetown University (Washington, DC), a team of scientists published their report on the genome sequencing or description of the cow. The genetic sequencing proved that the bovine made a genetic switch some 15,000 years ago. The mutation meant the processing of low-quality food intake into high-grade output (milk, meat).
The taming of the bovine constituted “one of humanity’s first leap forward” (Anselin 1981). It was a watershed achievement that spurred humans’ march into civilization.
Boubacar Diallo, cattle farming engineer (ingénieur d’élevage) from Guinea, participated in the landmark effort. Not that he enjoys a modern research infrastructure in his country. However, as a Fuuta-Jalon Pullo, his cooperation had a technical aspect and a symbolic value.
Between 12,000 and 5,000 year ago it is likely that M. Dialllo’s distant ancestors, the “Proto-Fulɓe”, adopted this ruminant as a lasting companion. In effect, the Pullo and the cow bonded together and became interdependent. A dictum warns that “the strength of the Pullo is in the bovine; if he loses it, he will face distress.”
Fulɓe devotion to their cattle started in the Sahara, when that region was a well-watered land with abundant green pastures. Fulɓe were among the area’s likely inhabitants. Ever since, the Pullo has stuck to the cow like a stick. As the desert advanced, they both migrated westward, leaving behind engravings of their pastoral lifestyle and hints of their cosmogony.

Neolithic Sahara. Jabbaren archeological station (Tassili n'Ajer, Algeria). Rock Art painting called “Young Fulɓe women”; it shows the profile of two women, one with the Phrygian hairstyle still in use among Fulɓe in Mali's Bandiagara region …
Neolithic (10,200 BC to 2,000 BC) in what is today’s Sahara. Jabbaren archeological station (Tassili n’Ajer, Algeria). Rock Art painting called “Young Fulɓe women”; it shows the profile of two women, one with the Phrygian hairstyle still in use among Fulɓe in Mali’s Bandiagara region …
Fulbe Rock Art engravings
Fulbe Rock Art engravings dating from 5,000 years ago

Archeologist Lhote (1959) was the first to associate contemporary Fulɓe with his findings in the caves of Tassili n’Ajjer (Algeria). Amadou Hampate Bâ and Germaine Dieterlen (2009, 1961) agreed. They pointed to similarities between today’s Fulɓe pastoral rites and some rock drawings. However, since rock art predates writing considerably, its analysis entails guesswork and, hence, warrants caution. Thus, scholars have expressed reservation about any Fulɓe Saharan legacy. However, they have not yet come up with a published refutation of the Bâ-Dieterlen-Lhote hypothesis.

Decorated calabash (Horde)
Decorated calabash (Horde)

The Bovidian period (4,500-2,500 BCE) sealed the connection between Fulɓe pastoral society and cattle herding.
Like Ancient Egyptians, Prehistory and Antiquity Fulɓe gave the cow and the sun a central role in their liturgy. Profoundly esoteric and filled with poetic metaphors, the Kumen text goes beyond the one physical sun. It has two main characters: Kumen, the bearded and dwarf “angel” is the protector of the herds; his wife, Foroforondu, is the “goddess” of milk and butter. They both make frequent references to “the adorable seven suns.
However, unlike the Egyptians, the Fulɓe belief in Geno was monotheist through and through. Their credo was that Geno, the Supreme Being, created the universe from a drop of milk. A pantheon of adjunct deities (laareeji) oversaw animal husbandry and partook with herders in the animals’ well-being. Geno then created:

  • Kiikala, the first man
  • Naagara, the first woman
  • Ndurbeele, the first bovine, a hermaphrodite who procreated the first cattle of 22 animals. They multiplied to populate the world with herds

This other version of Fulɓe creation myth is found in La Femme, La Vache, La Foi (The Woman, The Cow, The Faith), Alfâ Ibrâhim Sow, ed. (1966), who writes:

In a pastoral society such as the Fulbe, the woman and the cow are inseparable; they are to be loved together because according to the legend “God created the Cow. He created the Woman, He created the Pullo. He put the Woman behind the Cow and the Pullo behind the Woman” thus creating the intimate trilogy.

Other sources call this ternary bonding a symbiosis.

Bull worship was widespread some 6,000 years ago. Both the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an relate, differently, the incident of “The Sin of the Calf“. While Moses was up on Mount Sinai to seek God’s guidance, the Israelites, led by Aaron, sculpted a golden calf to worship. When Moses returned with the Ten Commandments and found his people around the altar, he became angry and threw down the two Tablets of Stone…

Strikingly, millennia later, leading Muslim Fulɓe thinkers (Tierno S. Mombeya, Usman ɓii Fooduye, circa 1780), A. H. Bâ (1940) and mystic Sufis would interchange the name Geno and Allah, thereby acknowledging God’ Oneness, above human diversity and beyond language barriers.

In his thoughtful Introduction of Oogirde Malal, stanza 13th, Tierno Samba writes:

Geno On wi’a: « Kallaa ! ɗum waɗataaThe Eternal will say: « No! That shall not be.
Nafataa han nimse e wullitagol! »It is needless to regret and to complain. »
Type of Ardo holding his command stick. Pre-Islam men and women, all with braided hair.
Type of Ardo holding his command stick. Centuries after their Islamic conversion, Fulbe men, like women, braided their hair. In Guinea the tradition ended with French colonization around 1930. (Arcin, 1911)
Almami Ahmadu. 13th ruler (1873-1895), from the Alfaya Branch of the Fuuta-Jalon Bari Seediyaaɓe dynasty. His braided hair and groomed beard highlight the etiquette of male elegance in the theocratic state. Pressed by French envoys to sign a protectorate treaty, he declined by framing the diplomatic relations between the two countries in a memorable phrase: « France to the French; Fuuta-Jalon to the Fulɓe. »
Almami Ahmadu. 13th ruler (1873-1895), from the Alfaya Branch of the Fuuta-Jalon Bari Seediyaaɓe dynasty. The crisp braids and groomed beard typify male aristocratic    elegance in the theocratic state. Pressed by French envoys to sign a protectorate treaty, he declined by framing the diplomatic relations between the two countries in a memorable phrase: « France to the French; Fuuta-Jalon to the Fulɓe. »
Neene Mariama Djelo, spouse of Almami Ibrahima Sori Daara II
Neene Mariama Djelo, spouse of Almami Ibrahima Sori Daara II, mother of Hadiatou and Kesso Barry. She is wearing a superb jubaade hairdo. Art historian and critic Jacqueline Delange compares the jubaade to a “Calder mobile: the braids and loops are extended forward and sometimes backward by a sort of enormous black butterfly bow; the hair of the upper part is braided in the shape of a transparent crest stretched on an arched strip of bamboo; crowns with fine rings and pieces of silver ending in twisted cardrops add their delicate glimmer to this astonishing architecture.” For mundane appearance women wore a scaled-down and flatter style of the jubaade.

Moving in on the bank of the Senegal River, Fulɓe eventually achieved a dual specialization: nomadic pastoralism and sedentary agriculturalist. Between the 5th and the 13th centuries, Fulɓe rulers led the centralized state of Takrur (mispronounced Tukulor). Running a standing army, they led the first state to convert to Islam in the sub-Saharan region. They engaged in domestic slavery and they alternated between vassalhoold and rivalry with the Ghana Empire. Takrur probably was the result of an alliance between nomadic leaders (silatigi), trail-heads (arɓe, sing. arɗo) and blacksmiths. In Kaydara Hammadi wonders aloud:

ko waɗi afo baylo wonti aga
faa aga waylitii baylo;

how the eldest son of the blacksmith becomes a shepherd
and how the shepherd becomes a blacksmith.(verses 2,177-2,178)

But in the footnotes we learn that « the Blacksmith/Herder pair is embedded in the myth of the origin of the Fulani and the legend of Buytorin, their ancestor. » (note 156). It is also stated the denɗiraaku or joking relation that exists between blacksmiths and the Fulɓe (note 157).

A.H. Bâ elaborates further on this topic in Aspects de la civilisation africaine.

And in 1936, with the assistance of Tierno Shayku Baldé, Béatrice Appia carried out a detailed ethnographic fieldwork on the blacksmiths of the Fuuta-Jalon and the influence of Islam on their iron-smith tradition.

Anyhow, the above trio transformed its power into a pastoral monarchy dominated by the herder-in-chief, the Aga, symbol of wealth, might, and wisdom. King Yero Jaaje was one such ruler in the ninth century, approximately.

Pullo woman facing the bovine companion of her tradition, i.e., that of the People of the Cow and the Book. It carries the <strong><em>Kaggu</em></strong>: portable home and pastoral altar.
Pullo woman facing the bovine companion of her tradition, i.e., that of the People of the Cow and the Book. It carries the Kaggu: portable home and pastoral altar.

Islam became religion of the court but was not practiced by the rest of the people.
Historical record indicates that a Takrur Fulɓe regiment participated in the Almoravid conquest of Southern Spain (Niane, 1984). At the peak of its hegemony, Takrur designated generically all sub-Saharan Africans in the Arabic literature.

In the 13th century, Sundiata Keita, emperor of Mali, vanquished both Ghana and Takrur. Fulɓe scattered throughout the region —all the way to Gobir, Nigeria— during an interregnum that took place with the rise of the Koli Teŋella Baa dynasty in the West. They also marched eastward, and by 1200 CE, they had arrived in Hausa country. Until circa 1600, these non-Muslim rulers controlled non-contiguous territories, from northern Senegal to western Guinea. Approximately three meters-long, the grave of one Teŋella successor is located in Telimele (Guinea).

Hymn to the Deniyaaɓe dynasty founded by Koli Teŋella Baa (Baaba Maal & Daande Leñol)

Samba Gelaajo by Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté, 2001.
Samba Gelaajo Jeegi is the archetype of chivalrous hero in the Fulbe culture of the Middle Ages, namely the Deeniyaaɓe dynasty of Koli Teŋella (12th-16th century). Read the special issue of Etudes Guinéennes about the Fulakunda who live on the Guinea-Senegal border. And the legend around his exemplary deeds lives on. It inspires traditional and modern contemporary artists: Baaba Maal, Mansour Seck, etc. Here, Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté perform the ode to Samba. Notwithstanding his Mande family name, Ali Farka Touré was a leading cultural icon among Fulbe. Actually, entire Mande communities have retained their ethnic family name (Camara, Keita, Sylla, Touré, etc.) while adoping Fulbe language and/or culture throughout the Western Sudan. Exactly the inverse experience of the Wasulu Fula.

From the 17th century to the 19th century, Muslim Fulɓe scholars launched an Islamic hegemony that placed them to the forefront of history in the Western Sudan. The Jihad-driven movement began around 1625 in Fuuta-Ɓundu (Senegal). Then it spread out south, north, and east to Fuuta-Jalon (1725-1896), Fuuta-Tooro (1775-1885), Maasina (1804-1865), Sokoto (1814-1908), Adamawa (1815-1909), and to lesser dominions and chiefdoms. The main leaders of these Sunni theocracies were: the Sisiiɓe (Sy), Karamoko Alfa, Sulayman Baal, Sheyku Amadu, Shehu Usman ɓii Fooduye (aka Uthman dan Fodio), Moodi Adama, and last but not the least, Al-Hajj ‘Umar Taal, arguably the most erudite of these leaders, he spent twenty years learning and lecturing in the Middle-East.
Imitating the model of the Prophet Muhammad, these warriors-priests mastered the intellectual (esoteric and exoteric) and the aesthetic dimension of Islam. They proselytized and built empires. Their states ruled over stratified societies of aristocrats, free communities, castes, and captives. Critics have emphasized the practice of slavery under Fulɓe hegemony. But, on one hand, although time-immemorial, dehumanizing and reprehensible, slavery remains a universal activity. On the other hand, slavery under Fulɓe rule should not deny or negate the achievements of those leaders, who learned, taught, wrote, and upheld the spiritual and temporal duality of their system of government.

“Juuloowo” by Baaba Maal & Daande Leñol. (Hymn to Al-Hajj Umar Taal)

For a description of Fuuta-Jalon’s educational system and knowledge infrastructure, read my translation of Chapter 7. “La Doctrine et le Culte” in L’Islam en Guinée : Fouta-Djallon (Paul Marty, 1921) done for the filming of Prince Among Slaves, in 2006

Oogirde Malal -ajamiyya-
The title of Tierno M. Samba Mombeya’s classic ajamiyya poem, Oogirde Malal (The Lode of Eternal Bliss), circa 1790. The Arabic alphabet was adapted to the phonological system (vowels, consonants) of Pular..
<a title="webPulaaku. L'Empire toucouleur" href="http://www.webpulaaku.net/defte/yves-saint-martin/empire-toucouleur/illustrations/Pages/5.html" target="_blank">Bornu Pullo cavalryman</a>, Nigeria. Source : Major Denham, Captain Clapperton &amp; Dr. Oudney. Narrative of Travels and Discoveries of Northern and Central Africa in the years 1822, 1823, and 1824. London, John Murray, 1826.
Bornu Pullo cavalryman, Nigeria. Source : Major Denham, Captain Clapperton & Dr. Oudney. Narrative of Travels and Discoveries of Northern and Central Africa in the years 1822, 1823, and 1824. London, John Murray, 1826.

At the peak of the Fulɓe state , two great minds, Tierno Muhammadu Samba Mombeya and Usman ɓii Fooduye (aka Usman dan Fodio), separately took Pular-Fulfulde ajami literature to new heights. Yet, at the same time, Muslim Fulɓe supremacy significantly altered pre-Islamic traditions, for example, by replacing indigenous names (people, places) with Arabic words. Furthermore, the Muslim rulers’ narrative sought to give Fulɓe an Arab ancestry. However, this move was a secular construct purposely invented by the elites to strengthen their grisp on power.

Ayuba Sulayman Jacob SolomonSuleiman Jacob Diallo, Fuuta-ƁunduAbdul-Rahman, prince slave, Muslim, American heroAbdul-Rahman, Timbo, Fuuta-Jalon
Muhamad Saad Abubakr, Sultan of Sokoto, spiritual leader of the Muslim Fulani and Hausa community in northern Nigeria. Descendent of <strong><a href="http://www.webpulaaku.net/ubf/index.html">Shaihu Usman dan Fodio</a></strong>, Amir al-Mu'minin, Lamiɗo Julɓe, and the founder of the dynasty of Sokoto State and of the Fulani Empire
Muhamad Saad Abubakr, Sultan of Sokoto, spiritual leader of the Muslim Fulani and Hausa community in northern Nigeria. Descendent of Shaihu Usman dan Fodio, Amir al-Mu’minin, Lamiɗo Julɓe, and the founder of the dynasty of Sokoto State and of the Fulani Empire. He preached and wrote extensively in Fulfulde, Hausa and Classical Arabic. His brother, Abdullah, his son Muhammad, his daughter Asmau, were theologians, educators and authors in their own right.

Nonetheless, in the 18th century some leading scholars questioned the prevalent rote learning in Arabic. They advocated the meaningful teaching of the masses in Pular. A fierce debate erupted between partisans and opponents of this (ajamiyya) localization. The tension was not unlike the divide between the Latin and the vulgar languages camps in medieval Europe. To make his case, Tierno Muhammadu Samba Mombeya, the standard-bearer, composed his masterwork: Oogirde Malal (The Lode of Eternal Bliss). Theologian, philosopher, artful teacher, his superb poetry flows through Classical Arabic metrics. But it yields rhymed and alliterative verses that heighten the redundancies of Pular’s rich noun class system and nuanced verbal framework. They lend themselves to regular reading, declaim, chant and recital. Their content synthesizes the dogmas and canons, codes and laws, rules and regulations of life and living in the theocratic Confederacy.

In the Introduction, verses 11-14 he asserts :

Sabu neɗɗo ko haala mu’um newotooThe use of one’s own tongue is the best way
nde o fahminiraa ko wi’aa to ƴi’al.To understand what is said in the Essence
Yoga Fulɓe no tunnda ko jannginiraaMany Fulɓe struggle with their education
Arabiyya o lutta e sikkitagol.In Arabic and remain uncertain.

Tierno Samba and his opus became instantly popular. They gained respectively the status of an emblem and an anthem, which keeps growing with time.
Alfâ Ibrâhîm Sow (1971) captured the essence of this chef d’oeuvre when he wrote:

« If one hundred years following his composition, the Lode of Eternal Bliss continues to move readers of our country, it’s chiefly because of the literary vocation it bestows on Pular/Fulfulde, because of its balance, sure and elegant versification, its healthy, erudite and subtle language, and because of the national will of cultural assertion it embodies as well as the desire for linguistic autonomy and dignity that it expresses. »

Hajja Mariama Keso Bah, my elder and learned sister, reading Oogirde Malal

As “West Africa’ master cattle herders,” the Fulɓe created an original material art and a universal intangible culture. Today that dual heritage truly stands out as a shining component of Africa’s contribution to the dialog of civilizations.
Pulaaku, the bosom Fulɓe/Haal-Pular identity, is acknowledged throughout the world. It evolves with each stage: nomadic, Islamic, modern.
Pulaaku encompasses more than what cursive definitions say. For instance, Monteil (1963) breaks down Pulaaku (aka fulanité) to: courage, excellence and reserve. In reality, Pulaaku runs deeper. It echoes Fulɓe eras and worldviews that are long lost.

Fugumba Mosque (1870)
The Fugumba Mosque, circa 1870. Seat of the pontiffs of the Fuuta-Jalon, i.e. the Bari Seeriyaaɓe lineage —primary cousin of the ruling Seediyaaɓe dynasty of Timbo. Among other privileges they had the exclusive rights to the crowning of the new Almami.

The Fulɓe creation myths and millennia-old way of life point to a perpetual quest for enlightenment and wisdom, as expressed in verbal art, speech mastery, and abundant poetry. Hence, in the epic poem Kaydara, the journey of the hero, Hammadi, evokes the pre-Christian and Arthurian quest for the “Holy Grail,” or the search for the unattainable.

In-between the two world wars colonial ethnographers collected and published extensive records on Fulɓe history and culture. Following up on brilliant precursors, colonial administrator Gilbert Vieillard championed Fulɓe studies. After extensive fieldwork he published pioneering ethnographic works. Upon his death on the World War II front, Fulɓe Ponty graduates from Fuuta-Jalon formed the Amicale Vieillard to carry on Gilbert’s legacy. Eventually, the group switched to partisan politics in Guinea, at the dawn of the French Fourth Republic in 1946.

Its leaders (Yacine Diallo, Mamadou Dia, Hamadoun Dicko (Soudan/Mali), Diawadou Barry, Saifoulaye Diallo, Amadou Babatoura Ahidjo) were among the forerunners of the emancipation struggle that led to political sovereignty in the aftermath of 1958 constitutional referendum proposed by General Charles de Gaulle.

Slavery and colonialism were altogether aberrant and violent. And the independence series of the 1960s were supposed to reverse Europe’s Scramble for Africa in the 1880. Unfortunately, given its dismal record, African writers now that independence and the post-colonial experience have been as much a blessing as a bane. Nonetheless, Hampâté Bâ championed the promotion of Fulɓe and African oral tradition. Drawing on serendipity, tireless fieldwork and privileged access to secretive pastoral initiation rites, he wrote Kumen (1961) with G. Dieterlen.
Although short, the masterpiece fuses the Verb with the Spirit, the Act with the Idea. Thus, it nurtures the Mind and the Soul. Its form is so pristine and its substance so genuine that a critic compared “the striking poetry of the text” to “the most beautiful pages of the Bible.” (Hubert Deschamps, 1961)
Then, A.H. Bâ composed the beautiful Kaydara (1969) and Layteere Koodal (1974) epics.

Photo montage Fulɓe Woɗaaɗe gold flute musician tie-dying weaving couture sculpture jubaade
A snapshot of Fulɓe culture and artists.
First row: Woɗaaɓe man and woman (Niger), Aisha Diallo’s gold earrings (Maasina, Mali)
Second row: Flutist Bailo Bah, indigo tie-dye cloth (Guinea), weavers’ artwork (Mali)
Third row: Couturist Oumou Sy (Senegal), Ousmane Sow‘s sculpture (Senegal), Neene Djelo‘s hairdo (jubaade) (Fuuta-Jalon)

<strong><a href="http://www.webfuuta.net/bibliotheque/kesso_barry/index.html">Kesso Barry</a></strong>, Pioneer model, author. True princess, daughter of <strong><a href="http://www.webfuuta.net/colonial/collaboration/almami-ibrahima-sori-daara-2.html">Almami Ibrahima Sori Daara II</a></strong> and Neene Mariama Djelo Barry
Kesso Barry, Pioneer model, author. True princess, daughter of Almami Ibrahima Sori Daara II and Neene Mariama Djelo Barry

<strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katoucha_Niane">Katoucha Niane</a></strong> (1960-2008), aka <em>The Peul Princess,</em> super-model, actress, activist, author, daughter of <a href="http://www.webguinee.net/bibliotheque/histoire/dtn/index.html">Pr. Djibril Tamsir Niane</a> and Hadja <strong>Aissatou Diallo</strong>
Katoucha Niane (1960-2008), aka The Peul Princess, super-model, actress, activist, author, daughter of Pr. Djibril Tamsir Niane and Hadja Aissatou Diallo from Kula-Mawnde, Labe.

Bâ’s memorable phrase « In Africa , when an elder dies, it’s a library that burns down, » was greeted around the world. UNESCO has etched it in marble at its Paris headquarters. His indefatigable efforts earned him the moniker of “pope of African oral tradition.”

An expanding pantheon and scores of modern authors, novelists and researchers follow on the footsteps of the late Master of the Pulaaku: Tierno Chaikou Baldé, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Oumar Bâ, Mariama Bâ, Eldridge Mohammadou, Tierno Abdourahmae Bah, Boubou Hama, Ousmane Poreko Diallo, Telli Diallo, Djibril Tamsir Niane, Alfâ I. Sow, Yaya Wane, Ismael Balogun, Thierno Diallo, Boubacar Barry, Thierno Mouctar Bah, Tierno Mamadou Bah, Dioulde Layya, Bintou Sanankoua, Alioune Traoré, Cheick Bâ, Ismael Barry, Tierno Monenembo, Amadou Oumar Dia, Njeuma, etc.

Arab travelers, European explorers and conquerors, colonial administrators and researchers (Faidherbe, Clapperton, Mage, Gaden, Bayol, Labouret, Vieillard, Arcin, Marty, Demougeot, Tauxier, Appia, Brandt, Lacroix, Alexandre, Oswald Durand, etc.), post-colonial researchers (Monteil, Dieterlen, Dupire, Kesteloot, Seydou, Arnott, Delange, Stenning, Lhote, Last, Johnston, Saint-Martin, Hiskett, Hogben, Kirk-Greene, Boyd, Suret-Canale, Ducoudray, Dumont, Kane, Watt, Meyer, Harrison, Robinson, Mouser, Devey, Harris, Nilsson & Dauber, Boutrais, Schmitz, Botte, Salvaing, Pondopoulo, Brenner, Chavane, Beauvilain, Bovin, Baumgardt, etc.) have contributed an impressive body of literature dealing with the Fulbe/Halpular (See the webPulaaku Library catalog)

In the arts, the creativity is as vibrant, as names such as Sori Bobo, Hamidou Balde, Ali Farka Touré, Bintal Laali Sow, Baaba Maal, Aly Wagué, Oumou Sy, Mamar Kassé, Cole Arɗo Sow, Oumane Sow, Oumou Sangaré, etc. contribute significantly to the vitality of the culture.

The overall roster is long. And the above listings are just indicative and by no means exhaustive. They mix living and departed authors. To the latter, Ad perpetuam rei memoriam. To the former, cheers and keep at it! To all, thank you for making Fulbe one of the most studied, published and celebrated people in Africa and perhaps in the whole world.

George Colinet. Afro-Pop Worldwide. Fula Music

Finally, Fulɓe politicians participated in the birth and the expansion of post-World War II African nationalism. In 1963, Guinea’s Telli Diallo became the first Secretary general of the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union).

The young Kadidiatou and <a href="http://www.campboiro.org/victimes/diallo_telli.html">Boubacar Telli Diallo</a> couple in 1959. Telli cumulated then the Washington, DC ambassadorship and the function of permanent representant at the United nations. He went on to become in 1963 the first elected Secretary general of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU). He was starved to death at <a href="http://www.campboiro.org/">Camp Boiro</a> in 1977 on order of President Sékou Touré, who was jealous of Telli's international prestige and feared him as a potential political threat.
The young Kadidiatou and Boubacar Telli Diallo couple in 1959. Telli cumulated then the Washington, DC ambassadorship and the function of permanent representant at the United nations. He went on to become in 1963 the first elected Secretary general of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU). He was starved to death at Camp Boiro in 1977 on order of President Sékou Touré, who was jealous of Telli’s international prestige and feared him as a potential political threat.
Muhammadu Buhari, twice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: first as a military ruler from 1983-85, and as the elected candidate of the All Progressives Congress since 2015.
Muhammadu Buhari, twice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: first as a military ruler from 1983-85, and as the elected candidate of the All Progressives Congress since 2015.

Beginning with his May 29, 2015 inauguration, Muhammadu Buhari becomes — after Olusegun Obasanjo — the second Nigerian General to lead the Federal Republic twice.  Both officers come to power the first time in a military coup, and the second time,  as elected politicians. In 1983, General Buhari toppled President Shehu Shagari, although both of them are Fulɓe. The late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (1951-2010) joined them as the fourth Pullo president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was in office from 2007 to 2010.

The late Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2007-2010)
The late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2007-2010)

Shehu Shagari, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1979-1983)
Shehu Shagari, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1979-1983)
Macky Sall, president of Senegal since April, 2, 2012, is a Haal-Pular. Likewise for <strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamadou_Dia">Mamadou Dia</a></strong> (1910-2009), the country’s first Prime minister (1957-1962), and <strong>Habib Thiam</strong>, who headed the gouvernment in the 1980s and 1990s, under the presidency of Abdou Diouf.
Macky Sall, president of Senegal since April, 2, 2012, is a Haal-Pular. Likewise for Mamadou Dia (1910-2009), the country’s first Prime minister (1957-1962), and Habib Thiam, who headed the gouvernment in the 1980s and 1990s, under the presidency of Abdou Diouf.

Macky Sall, the current president of Senegal, is a Halpular.

In Les Toucouleur du Fuuta-Tooro : Stratification sociale et structure familiale the late Senegalese sociologist Yaya Wane provides ample details and rich nuances about Fuuta-Tooro’s (Senegal) traditional castes system. It appears that former President Wade has Takruuri aka Toucouleur roots. His patronym appears among the Seɓɓe (warriors), the Subalɓe (fishermen), and the Buurnaaɓe (potters-ceramicists).

Former president of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade (2000-2012)
Former president of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade (2000-2012)

Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania have had Fulɓe/Halpular heads of state.

Ahmadou Babatoura Ahidjo (1924-1989) President of Cameroon, from 1960 to 1982
Ahmadou Babatoura Ahidjo (1924-1989)
President of Cameroon, from 1960 to 1982
General Murtala Muhammed, 1938-1975 - BlogGuinée/webAfriqa
General Murtala Muhammed, 1938-1975

General Murtala Mohammed was born in Kano on November 8, 1938 into the Gynawa clan of the Fulani. He was assassinated in Lagos on February 13, 1976.

His Mande patronym notwithstanding, former President Amadou Toumani Touré is a Pullo form Maasina, renamed Region of Mopti.

Former heads of state Captain Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso) and Alpha Oumar Konaré  (Mali), and the now President of the Republic of The Gambia, Adama Barrow,  are all sons of Fulɓe mothers. And their fathers are respectively Mõnrè, Bamana, and Soninke.

Captain Thomas Sankara, 1949-1987
Captain Thomas Sankara, 1949-1987

Amadou Toumani Touré. President of Mali (2002–2012)
Amadou Toumani Touré. President of Mali (2002–2012)

 

Alpha Oumar Konaré, President of Mali, 1992-2002
Alpha Oumar Konaré, President of Mali, 1992-2002

President Adama Barrow
Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia

Vice President Fatoumata Tambajang Jallow
Fatoumata Tambajang Jallow, Vice President  of the Republic of The Gambia

See past Fulɓe Heads of state

 Grammy Award-winning Malian singer, aka “The Songbird of Wassoulou”
Oumou Sangare, Grammy Award-winning Malian singer, aka “The Songbird of Wassoulou.”

“Denko” by Oumou Sangare.

Yet, like elsewhere on the continent, the economic prospects are bleak. Missed priorities, wrong policies and environmental disasters combine to threaten the Fulɓe way of life (Pulaaku). But various grassroots associations are active in each country and region. They fight to stem the negative trends and they strive to rise to colossal challenges.

On the Internet, dozens of Web sites publish Fulɓe content in Pular/Fulfulde and/or in European languages.

Last but not least, the Woɗaaɓe face painting and male beauty contests (jeerewol ) inspire educational literature and are a main stay in world tourism. It is a fitting tribute to the originality vitality and universality of Fulɓe/Haal-Pulaar civilization.

Caveats, failures, prospects

This blog only scratches the surface of a complex and permanent field of investigation. Fulɓe’s African roots range among the deepest. Their prehistoric and contemporary presence spans at least three out of the five regions of the continent. This somewhat near ubiquity in Africa inspired the coinage of such expressions as Fulɓe Planet, Peul Archipelago… Despite the dispersion dictated by nomadism, they retained their cultural identity through time. They built alliances and complementarity with agriculturalists and other toolmakers: blacksmiths, leather workers, woodcarvers, etc. They valued fusion in Takrur, and they experienced fission with Wasulu. They faced adversity, overcame rivalry, and fought hostility
But “life is an unfinished business” that unfolds as an imperfect —even non-perfectible process. Those truisms apply equally to individuals and communities. And Fulɓe/Halpular fit right in.

Therefore an objective, positive or upbeat account must to be balanced by an awareness of the shortcomings and failures in the Fulɓe/Halpular —past and ongoing—experience.

The failings and gaps are found in history and in present times.

Historically, Fulɓe and Africa have been stuck in the subsistence economy mode for millennia.
We learn increasingly why and how Western Europe made the – lengthy and painful — capitalist switch from subsistence economy to a wealthy society through the Industrial Revolution (18th century). The transformation was evolutionary. It dates back from the Middle Ages and it leveraged the wheel, literacy, the clock (an early automaton that has made its way into the heart of today’s digital computing and networking systems), etc.
Why the process did not spread elsewhere in the world? Why did it elude the other continents, especially Africa. Moral and psychological arguments (work ethic) and ideological claims (racial supremacy) are inconclusive and controversial. As a result, an objective and satisfactory answer is yet to be formulated. Meanwhile, the discrepancy in development between continents takes on tragic and vexing dimensions with slavery and colonialism. Those two phenomena do not simply linger on. They never ended and are still alive. And today Fulɓe and Africa find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
On one hand, rich countries (Western Europe, North America, Japan and now China) are unwilling to share their knowledge, technology and financial resources. On the other, leadership —Fulɓe and African— is unwilling or unable to conquer and indigenize those prerequisites for development. Anthropologists and social scientists diagnose this behavior as “technological somnambulism”, in this case, a lack of policies aimed at embedding technology, effective and innovative tool-building processes into these societies.

Concretely, for Fulɓe this attitude translates into:

  • The inability to process, store and distribute dairy products (cheese, butter, meat)
  • The non-adoption of crops-growing techniques useful, for instance, in hay cultivation
  • The failure to cross-breed bovine species for enhanced milk and meat productivity
    In a paper titled “The Fulani and cattle breeds: crossbreeding and heritage strategies” Jean Boutrais (2007) writes that Fulɓe “cross and change cattle breeds in order to adapt to new ecological or sociopolitical conditions.” But he focuses on grassroots practices in two ares of Cameroon and Burkina Faso. Here, I am suggesting a continental strategy and broader policies aiming to improve cattle species.
  • ………………………………………………………

Bad habits die hard. But let’s hope for a revolution in the mindset and the attitude of African and Fulɓe economic, political, social and religious leaders. May they realistically embrace the world, reduce consumerism, increase production, lessen dependency so that, in unison, they can show the way in carving out Africa’s rightful place in the globalization era.

Tierno Siradiou Bah

  • Anthropologist, Fulɓe Studies
  • Smithsonian Institution Research Associate, National Museum of African Art. Washington, DC. (2006-2012)
  • Researcher/Producer/Developer/Publisher since 1997: webFuuta, webPulaaku, webMande, webCôte, webForêt, webGuinée, Camp Boiro Memorial, Semantic Africa, webAfriqa , webAmeriqa
  • Drupal & WordPress Content Managment Systems & Websites builder (theming and information architecture) and Open Source software evangelist
  • Cultural consultant, Prince Among Slaves, the 2006 documentary movie about Abdulrahman, a Muslim prince from the Islamic theocratic Confederacy of Fuuta-Jalon (1725-1897), who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Mississippi in 1790, and freed 1829.
  • LAMP (Linux(CentOS & Ubuntu)/Apache/MySQL/PHP) and DNS (Domain Name System)  network administrator
  • First public advocate for the .africa Top Level Domain (TLD) Name Space
  • Holder of the GuiBase Assigned Network Number,  Serial #
    9321/TCP — 9321/UDP for XML-RPC or JSON-RPC machine-to-machine communications interfaces, network information products, web services and distributed African content: taxonomies, vocabularies and ontologies.
  • Lessee/owner of the TCP/IP Class B Address Space #165.231.0.0 assigned by IANA in 1993, thus granting me the management of the last two octects [0.0] which, in the binary numbering system (216), yield a total of 65,534 fixed IP addresses
  • Pioneer member, Internet Society, Kobe, Japan, 1992 conference
  • Rockefeller Foundation Dissertation Fellow. Anthropology Department. UT Austin (1988)
  • Ph.D. (ABD), Linguistic Antropology, Anthropology Department. UT Austin (1988)
  • Fulbright-Hayes Senior Scholar. The University of Texas at Austin (1982-83)
  • Director, University Library, IPGAN,  Conakry (1980-1982)
  • Co-publisher, Miriya, Economic and Social Sciences Journal. IPGAN, Conakry (1975-1982)
  • Linguistics & African languages faculty, Social Sciences Department, Polytechnic Institute G.A. Nasser (IPGAN), Conakry (1972-1982)

* In their report “The Genome Sequence of Taurine Cattle: A Window to Ruminant Biology and Evolution” published in Science, Christine G. Elsik, Ross L. Tellam and Kim C. Worley, members of the Bovine Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium, wrote: « Domesticated cattle (Bos taurus and Bos taurus indicus) provide a significant source of nutrition and livelihood to nearly 6.6 billion humans. Cattle belong to a clade phylogenetically distant from humans and rodents, the Cetartiodactyl order of eutherian mammals, which first appeared ~60 million years ago. Cattle represent the Ruminantia, which occupy diverse terrestrial environments with their ability to efficiently convert low-quality forage into energy-dense fat, muscle, and milk. These biological processes have been exploited by humans since domestication, which began in the Near East some 8000 to 10,000 years ago. Since then, over 800 cattle breeds have been established, representing an important world heritage and a scientific resource for understanding the genetics of complex traits. » (Science, Vol. 324, no. 5926. April 24, 2009, pp. 522-528)
Further Reading

  • Adepegba, C.O. Decorative Arts of the Fulani Nomads. Ibadan: lbadan University Press, 1986.
  • Aherne, T. D. Gude Ngara: Exploring the Dynamics of the Creation, Use and Trade in Guinea’s Indigo Cloths. Bloomington: Indiana Univer ity, 2002.
  • Al-Naqar. ‘Umar. “Takrur, the History of a Name.” Journal of African History 10. no. 3 (1969): 365- 74.
  • Arnott, D., ed. “Literature in Fula” in Literatures
    in African Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
  • Bâ, Amadou Hampâté, and G. Dieterlen. Koumen. Texte initiatique des Pasteurs Peul. Cahiers de l’Homme. Dakar: IFAN, 2009; originally published 1961.
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WHO. One year into Ebola. Introduction

Ebola: a deadly, tenacious and unforgiving virus

Introduction

One year after the first Ebola cases started to surface in Guinea, WHO is publishing this series of 14 papers that take an in-depth look at West Africa’s first epidemic of Ebola virus disease.

The Secretary General delegation, including Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General WHO , Dr. David Nabarro, Senior Adviser , Mr. Anthony Banbury, Senior Adviser , Mr. Amadu Kamara, Senior Adviser Dr. Bruce Aylward, Senior Adviser to Director-General WHO  visited today the Ebola Treatment Unit PTS1 (Sierra Leone Facility) near Freetown. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General WHO seen here shaking hand with Ms. Rebecca Johnson, surviving nurse. 19 December 2014 (Photo UNMEER/Martine Perret)
The Secretary General delegation, including Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General WHO , Dr. David Nabarro, Senior Adviser , Mr. Anthony Banbury, Senior Adviser , Mr. Amadu Kamara, Senior Adviser Dr. Bruce Aylward, Senior Adviser to Director-General WHO visited today the Ebola Treatment Unit PTS1 (Sierra Leone Facility) near Freetown. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General WHO seen here shaking hand with Ms. Rebecca Johnson, surviving nurse. 19 December 2014
(Photo UNMEER/Martine Perret)

Introduction

This assessment looks at how West Africa’s epidemic of Ebola virus disease has evolved over the past year, giving special attention to the situation in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The success stories in Senegal, Nigeria, and likely Mali are also described to show what has worked best to limit onward transmission of Ebola following an imported case and bring the outbreak to a rapid end. The fact that a densely populated city like Lagos was successful in containing Ebola offers encouragement that other developing countries can do the same.

An overview of how the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo evolved and was brought under control underscores the many differences between the outbreaks in West Africa and in equatorial Africa, where all previous outbreaks since the first two in 1976 have occurred.

Key events in the WHO response are outlined to show how initial control efforts were eventually overwhelmed by the wide geographical dispersion of transmission, the unprecedented operational complexity of the outbreaks, and the many factors that undermined the power of traditional containment measures to disrupt transmission chains. These factors are also described.

In efforts coordinated by WHO, scientists and the pharmaceutical industry have geared up to develop, test, license, and introduce the first Ebola vaccines, therapies, and point-of-care diagnostic tests. As a strong expression of solidarity with the people of West Africa, these groups are attempting to compress work that normally takes two to four years into a matter of months.

Finally, the assessment takes a look at the potential future evolution of the Ebola epidemic. Based on what has been learned during this first year, what critical strategies and interventions will give countries and their partners the best chance of bringing the outbreaks under control?

Next, Chapter 1 of 12