A GUINEAN SOUL

Kadijatu Jalloh

Recent Events in Guinea

 

 

Guinea Conakry is a country located in West Africa with a population of  10,057,975.  It was originally known as the Republique de Guinee. Since I can remember, Guinea’s problem has always been about the fight for popularity between the two largest ethnic groups of the country, the Fula’s and the Mandingo’s. The country is 40%  Fula, 30% Mandingo and the other 20% being Susu and a mixture of other groups. It  is predominantly a Muslim country. The fight between the Fula and Mandingo has been going on for decades, to such an extent that I do not remember, The major problem between these two ethnic groups is the fact that both believe that they are better than the other. The Fula’s believe that they are better than the Mandingo because they posses most of businesses in  the country. While the Mandingo believe they are the ones that have the most authority, with the most officials in the government, the power  in the military and the most capable of being the  leaders of Guinea.
France colonized Guinea in the 1890s and we declared our independence from them on 2 October 1958, before I was born. Since we declared our independence we have had four presidents to date. Imagine, in almost 55 years of independence we have only had four leaders to advocate and represent us throughout the universe, and all of them have been Mandingo or Susu. The first president, Ahmed Sekou Toure’s rule led a One Party state with no tolerance of human rights, political opposition or free expression. During his rule, people who opposed him or acted against him was executed. This kind of treatment caused many people to flee to neighboring countries for safety and protection and several others died from starvation or torture. Toure’s reign of power came to an end on 26 March 1984 after almost three decades in power. Lansana Conte came into power shortly after  Toure’s death. Conte  also remained in power until his death on 28 December 2008.  He also led a dictatorship yet was more understanding of his country’s needs and was more helpful to his people and a little more lenient towards all the ethnic groups of Guinea because his family consisted of Mandingo, Fula and Susu.  Moussa Dadis Camara then took office.

 

 

On 28 September 2009, Dadis Camara ordered the military to attack people who were protesting because he took over presidency without being elected. He had the ability to do this because of the power he had over the military as one of the head generals before Lansana Conte passed. They people raped and murdered people throughout the country. I cannot express the grief I feel till this day because of these unlawful, unthoughtful and discriminating actions by the people who were supposed to protect my people and country. I lost family members that I will never get to see again. Because of these actions, innocent souls were lost, children were killed or exposed to such violence that they have to live with for the rest of their lives. On 3 December 2009, Camara was shot. Although he did not die, he was left with no option but to flee the country. After he fled Guinea to get medical help, the Guinean people elected a prime minster for six months until they were ready to have an election for the next president of Guinea.
Since 1958 Guinea has not had electoral votes to select a president. The elections were set to take place on 27 June and 18 July 2010. The first round took place on 27 June 2010, leaving Cellou Dalien Diallo and Alpha Conde as the two runners up to fight for the presidency. The people claimed electoral fraud because Cellou Dalien would have been nominated as the first Fulani president of Guinea, but the opposition was not having it, opposition referring to the people who are Anti-Fulani. This caused the second round of elections to be postponed until September but because of difficulties within the government, the elections were held off until 7 November 2010. On 16 November 2010, Alpha Conde was announced the winner, as the president of the Republic of Guinea. He promised to reform Guinea with more security and outside mining contracts to help the economic sector of the country. Yet since his presidency, Guinea has not seen a day of peace. A typical Guinean life today is someone being  attacked in their own home because of their ethnic group, usually because they are Fula or Mandingo. There was a time when he first took office that it seemed as though Mandingo people would  go into the homes of  Fula people and kill and destroy their families as if they did not matter because they were of a different ethnicity. This caused the Fula people to retaliate against the Mandingo people and so until this day, the sporadic riots have not ended. People are ready to fight till the end, some say it is just the beginning of the riots because they will get worse if they do not get justice and peace from their fellow citizens.

 

 

In February 2013 the riots erupted once again when Guinean citizens took to the streets to voice their opinion on the upcoming (continuously delayed) legislative elections on 30 June 2013. The authorities took it upon themselves not to  allow these people  to  voice their ideas and opinions regarding their rights in their own home. By using live fire on protestors the police force of Alpha Conde killed nine people and injured 220 people. How can the same police officials that are put in security to protect the citizens of their country be the same people to kill and destroy the lives of innocent people?  This has been causing deeper grievances between the Fula and Mandingo peoples. The United Nations have had to get involved because of the seriousness of the matter, before it turns into a civil war.
The riots are just getting worse. Recent news shows there were students and children being killed in the streets of Guinea. One of the first people to be announced dead last week was a former student in school working towards changing his life and bettering the lives of his family, country and people. After they announced this young man’s death, four other people were announced dead as well and some of them wounded. It is just getting worse right under our eyes and we must act now for our own stability, our own safety and for our own nation.

 

 

Enough, now.

 

Guinea is a prodigious nation. Regardless of being Fula or Mandingo we are all one and we should all looking forward to making our home more united and peaceful. No matter how far we go in life, no matter where we live, even if we visit every city, state and the most beautiful places in the universe, there is no place like home and regardless of how light or dark we are, regardless of what language we speak, whether Fulani, Susu, or Malinka we are all Guineans and we are one. We have allowed our hearts and minds to be manipulated with thoughts of our difference in tone or language to the extent that we have lost our human rights and freedom in our own home. We have allowed successive corrupt governments to determine that, if someone is Fulani they should not be president or because someone is Malinka they have the right to power. We have forgotten who we are as a nation.
We sit around talking of change yet we do nothing to bring change. We have talks of changing Guinea and making it the great country it is yet we destroy one another by killing and harming each other. Instead of using the intelligence that has been given to us to bring change, we ignore the reality of Guinea and  embark on the journey of who is more powerful and popular. Who cares about popularity when one cannot be in peace?  Who cares about power when one cannot be happy?. People, who is going to stand for the innocent people of Guinea, the people who have faith that their home can be restored? Why are we so worried about power when we are starving from hunger, we are dying from diseases?  We are nowhere in the world because of the lack of education and yet we embark on this journey of fighting ourselves.

 

 

Ask yourself, who are you to advocate so much violence upon the lives of innocent people.

 

 

There are children too afraid to step foot outside their homes because they might not see their families again, because they might not see another day. There is no proper education system to help children to learn and develop. They do not have opportunities to see their abilities and the things they are able to achieve because education is not free. We cannot afford to give education to the little boy or girl that has a dream to change the world and make Guinea better.  I ask myself, where are the leaders of Guinea who are supposed to be giving education and assistance to our children? I ask myself why is it that we are not fighting to improve our education system rather than fighting about the small issues. Let’s work together to end hunger and poverty, let’s use our resources to bring healthy foods to our people. Let’s fight about how to give people shelter and food to eat. Let’s fight to bring ways and use technology to ensure that we have better lives in Guinea so that people can feel safe. Let’s fight to help decrease the rate of disease from dirty food and water, let’s fight to get clean water in our homes. Let’s fight to end the mistreatment of women in our country, let’s help stop people from raping women and girls. Let’s fight to stop marriage for girls who are defenseless because they have no education or skills to be anything other than a housewife when they are just children themselves. If we must fight, Guinea I call to you, let’s fight for what’s right, lets fight to make a change not for more destruction. Stop the violence in Guinea, let’s stop putting ourselves in danger just because we are different in skin tone or because we speak different languages.
The world has many opportunities for everyone to be able to make a difference for themselves and their families. Let’s work together to open up doors for the people of Guinea, let’s stop fighting one another and work together as Guineans to make a difference in our country, to bring change to our people, to bring peace to our people. The world has not been able to see the side of Guinea that I dream about every night, the side of Guinea I wake up thinking about ways to change, I want us to work to show the universe the wonderful place we have as home. In order to stop the political fights among our government we must first change the entire government because we have people in office who only care about their personal safety and their families. Let’s change those people to bring in others who will actually work to reform Guinea, to make a change. The military should not have the ability to rule our nation, we the people are the ones who should be able to vote for our leaders. Let’s stop police brutality in every form, the police who are supposed to bring safety to us when we walk on the streets of Guinea cannot be the ones to kill us, we need safety and security so that we may be in peace in our homes. Guinea has all the potential in the world to be great but it is up to us to bring awareness to the world of the difficulties and brutal things we face. Let’s bring change.
I am a Guinean by heart, soul and mind. I am a Fulani descendant, my tongue is a fluent Fulani tongue. Most of all, I am a Guinean who lives and breathes and does do not care where in the universe you reside, if you call Guinea home, we are one. Whether you are Malinka or Susu we all walk the streets of Guinea at the same pace and with the same authority because that is our home. Whether you are Malinka or Susu understand that we are all brothers and sisters, we all want to see Guinea at its best, we all want to make it the best we can.

 

 

Let’s live in the peace our great grandparents lived in. On my mother’s side my grandfather was a light skinned, tall man, my grandmother was a beautiful dark woman, both of Fulani descent. My mothers grandmother was a Fulani who had Malinka origins somewhere in her family line. My grandfather was the most gentle-man I have ever known and my grandmother has the most beautiful complexion I can think of and my mom came out looking just like both her parents. On my father’s side I never even met my grandfather but the way my grams explained him, he was a handsome tall man not too dark not too light,  just right, my grams was the most beautiful woman for him in his same skin tone but my father is short and looks like his father. My grams was the most hard working and strongest human being I have met, and my father inherited that from her. The whole point of that story is to show that no matter what, we are all the same, no matter what, we are all Guineans and we come in different shapes, sizes and colors I am a Guinean and I ask you to join me in this progress of bringing awareness to the rest of the world of Guinea’s struggles and let’s seek for ideas and ways to work on changing our home and bringing ourselves peace and joy.

 

 

I am Kadija Jalloh, I am a Guinean, I want to change the world and make it a little better than it is now and I often hear people say the people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world are the ones that will change the world. I believe I fit right into that description because I will not give up until I change the world, change Guinea, make someone else’s life a little better, open up doors for people who have had no opportunities to showcase their talents and intelligence. I will not rest until I see the little girls and boys of Guinea stop dying from diseases and hunger. I will not stop until I see women not being rapped or mistreated. I will not stop until Guinea has an education system to educate our people and give them knowledge and opportunities. I will not stop until we realise we are all the same people regardless of our ethnicities. I will not stop until I see the little girl who dreams of being the President of Guinea accomplish her goals. I will not stop until I take my last breath.
 I am Kadija Jalloh, I am from Guinea Conakry a tiny country in West Africa and every time I can write that sentence or say it to anyone I am filled with joy because it is one of the things that I am most proud of.  I am a Junior at the City University of New York better known as CUNY and I am studying Business Administration. I hope to go to grad school right after I graduate. I love and enjoy reading, writing, speaking, helping and giving
One of my heroes once said “When a person places the proper value of freedom, there is nothing under the sun that he will not do to acquire that freedom. Whenever you hear a man saying he wants freedom, but in the next breath he is going to tell you what he won’t do to get it, or what he doesn’t believe in doing in order to get it, he doesn’t believe in freedom. A man who believes in freedom will do anything under the sun to acquire or preserve his freedom.”  Malcolm X was not only an honorable man when I read his story but he became one of the people I look to on how to live and approach my life.

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