Sekou Touré: Vive l’Indépendance (Time Magazine 16 Feb. 1959)

Sekou Toure, Cover Time Magazine, Feb. 16, 1959
Sekou Toure, Cover Time Magazine, Feb. 16, 1959

I had to share with you this Feb. 16, 1959 Time Magazine gem of an article on President Sekou Toure of Guinea, the first country to say ‘NO’ to France. As you will see, even the so-called ‘dictators’ of the world have graced the cover of Time Magazine when they were still ‘deemed’ good. Some of the article is a bit a mockery of Africans for wanting independence from their colonial masters, as it is referred to as ‘haste’ in the article (could you really have faulted Africans for wanting freedom?). Enjoy! The full article can be found at: Below are a few words.


Finally, Sékou Touré, 37 President of the new Republic of Guinea, a trim figure in a European busine suit, rose and raised his arm.
Vive l’indépendance!” he shouted, and three times the crowd roared back, “Vive l’indépendance!” “Vive l’Afrique!” he shrieked in a voice close to frenzy. Once again, the cry was three times repeated. There was no reason for Touré to do more. The crowd had seen and heard him, and that was enough.


Broad-shouldered and handsome. Sékou Touré is as dynamic a platform performer as any in all Black Africa. He is the idol of his 2,500.000 people, and the shadow he casts over Africa stretches far beyond the borders of his Oregon-sized country. As the head of the only French territory to vote against De Gaulle‘s constitution and thus to choose complete independence, he has been suddenly catapulted into the forefront of the African scene. ….

Part dedicated idealist and part ruthless organizer-perhaps the best in Black Africa-Guinea’s Touré should have problems enough just coping with the disruption that inevitably came with independence. But he, too, has dreams as wide as a continent. “All Africa,” says he, “is my problem.”

Samori Toure holding the Coran
Samori Toure holding the Coran

In a sense, he was born in the right place and with the right ancestry to favor a big role. Though Africa was, until the Europeans came, the continent that could not write, it had known its times of glory. Guinea was once part of the powerful Mali Empire that stretched from the French Sudan, on the upper reaches of the Niger, to just short of West Africa’s Atlantic Coast. When its 14th century ruler, the Mansa (Sultan) Musa, made his pilgrimage to Mecca, he traveled with a caravan of 60,000 men, and among his camels were 80 that each bore 300 lbs. of gold. … he turned the fabled city of Timbuktu into a trading center and a refuge for scholars.   … But the legend lived on of the warrior Samory, whom Sékou Touré claims as his grandfather.

Sekou Toure
Sekou Toure, one of Samori Toure’s grandson

When De Gaulle stopped off at Conakry on his swift tour of Africa before the referendum, Touré thundered in his presence: “We prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery.” Angrily, De Gaulle canceled a diner in time he was to have had with Touré, and the split was final. A few weeks later, 95% of the people of Guinea voted no to the De Gaulle constitution.


“Ôde à la Guinée” de Aimé Césaire

Aimé Césaire
Aimé Césaire

Aimé Césaire, le grand écrivain et poète Martiniquais, présente ici son Ôde à la Guinée… ce chant qui s’élève et embrasse la Guinée, ce pays si cher qui était le premier en Afrique francophone à reclamer son indépendance à la France, ce pays-là qui nous a montré à tous Africains, que comme disait si bien Sékou Touré: ‘nous préférons la pauvreté dans la dignité à l’oppulence dans l’esclavage.‘ C’est bien pour cela que Aimé Césaire a chanté pour la Guinée!


Ôde à la Guinée

Et par le soleil installant sous ma peau une usine de force et d’aigles
et par le vent sur ma force de dent de sel compliquant ses passes les mieux sues
et par le noir le long de mes muscles en douces insolences de sèves montant
et par la femme couchée comme une montagne descellée et sucée par les lianes
et par la femme au cadastre mal connu où le jour et la nuit jouent à la mourre des eaux de sources et des métaux rares
et par le feu de la femme où je cherche le chemin des fougères et du Fouta-Djallon
et par la femme fermée sur la nostalgie s’ouvrant
Guinée dont les pluies fracassent du haut grumeleux
des volcans un sacrifice de vaches pour mille faims
et soifs d’enfants dénaturés
Guinée de ton cri de ta main de ta patience
il nous reste toujours des terres arbitraires
et quand tué vers Ophir ils m’auront jamais muet
de mes dents de ma peau que l’on fasse
un fétiche féroce gardien du mauvais oeil
comme m’ébranle me frappe et me dévore ton solstice
en chacun de tes pas Guinée
muette en moi-même d’une profondeur astrale de méduses.

Aimé Césaire



Ode to Guinea” by Aimé Césaire

And by the sun installing a power and eagle fac­tory under my skin
and by the wind elab­o­rat­ing the passes it knows best over my power of tooth of salt
and by the black ris­ing along my mus­cles in sweet sap-like effron­ter­ies
and by the woman stretched out like a moun­tain unsealed and sucked by lianas
the woman with the lit­tle known cadas­tre where day and night play mora for spring­head waters and
rare met­als
and by the fire of the woman in which I look for the path to ferns and to Fouta Jal­lon
and by the closed woman open­ing on nostalgia


Guinea whose rains from the cur­dled height of vol­ca­noes shat­ter a sac­ri­fice of cows for a thou­sand
hungers and thirsts of dena­tured chil­dren
Guinea from your cry from your hand from your patience
we still have some arbi­trary lands
and when they have me, killed in Ophir per­haps and silenced for good,
out of my teeth out of my skin let the make
a fetish a fero­cious guardian against the evil eye
as your sol­stice shakes me strikes me and devours me
at each one of your steps Guinea
silenced in myself with the astral depth of medusas

from The Col­lected Poetry of Aimé Césaire, trans­later by Clay­ton Esh­le­man and Annette Smith.

Guinea: the country who dared say ‘NO’ to France


Dear all,

Last week was the second turn of elections in Guinea, and it only made sense to talk about Guinea. Well… Guinea is a country in West Africa whose capital is Conakry… it is a country rich in minerals such as bauxite, gold, diamonds, magnesium, etc. It is well-known for his first president Sekou Toure, who was the first to say ‘NO’ to France in 1958. In his own words, he said: “It is better to be poor and free, than to live in opulence and be a slave.” Guinea, thus became the only nation in French Africa to say ‘NO’  to the General de Gaulle and France. It was seen as a treason and an affront… and France never forgave Guinea, destroying files when leaving, withdrawing abruptly, destroying infrastructures, and breaking political and economic ties. I will not say much, but the video below says it all… Sekou Toure and the people of Guinea dared to say ‘NO’, and for that we, from French Africa, are forever thankful!

Sekou Toure
Sekou Toure

Je lance un appel à tous les Guinéens d’aller sur Wikipedia corriger l’histoire de leur pays. La définition sur Wikipedia est très incomplète! Nul part est-il mentionné le fait que la Guinée était le seul pays en Afrique Francophone à dire ‘NON’ à la France; et à cause de cela, ils ont été persécutés!