Poverty in Liberty

Guinea was part of the Mali empire, which covered a large part of western Africa between the 13th and 15th centuries. From the mid-1400s Portuguese and other European traders settled Guinea's coastal region, and the country eventually became a French colony in 1891.

The end of French West Africa began with Guinea. It was granted independence in 1958 under the leadership of Sekou Toure, who rejected a French offer of membership in a commonwealth and demanded total independence, declaring 'We prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery'. French reaction was swift: financial and technical aid was cut off, and there was a massive flight of capital.

Sekou Toure decided to model Guinea on the revolutionary Chinese pattern, collectivis-ing farms and industries. It was an unmitigated disaster, and his paranoia triggered a reign of terror. 'Conspiracies' were detected in one group after another, and dissidents were either imprisoned or executed. By the end of the 1960s over 250,000 Guineans lived in exile.

Towards the end of his presidency Toure changed many of his policies. A major influence was the Market Women's Revolt of 1977, in which several police stations were destroyed and some local governors were

killed, as part of the fight against state plans to discourage private trade.

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