I’m currently rereading a book I read in 2009 called The State of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence. For those who have an interest in Africa this is a great book as it provides with a good history of the period before independence of African countries through to the period post independence. As I said, I’ve read the book before, but as it was a couple of years ago before moving to Africa, I decided to read it again to refresh my knowledge on the subject.
While reading the book I stumbled upon a piece of interesting information about Guinea: Guinea was the first of French’s West African colonies to gain independence, however it’s the path to independence that Guinea chose that is curious.
France gave its West African colonies the following two options in a referendum on a new constitution in 1958: 1) Accepting it would mean becoming part of a new French community, either by Full political integration with France or Association with France as an independent entity; 2) Rejecting the constitution would mean complete secession as an independent nation.
Guinea’s anti-colonialist leader Sékou Toure campaigned against the “Oui!” vote in favour of full independence and the Guinea population agreed with him and joined him in giving France an overwhelming “NON!” becoming the first French African colony to become completely independent.
“We have told you bluntly, Mr President, what the demands of the people are … We have one prime and essential need: our dignity. But there is no dignity without freedom … We prefer freedom in poverty to opulence in slavery.” – Sékou Toure
The French did not enjoy being given the finger and withdrew completely from the country and cut off any development assistance. The French know how to toss their toys out of the pram!
So there you have it, Guinea was the first African country to tell the French to bugger off!