Quiet optimism for Guinea-Conakry

Bram Sable-Smith | Op-Ed Submission

As the up-and-coming leaders of the emerging global community, we often forget how recently the world was dominated by imperialism. Guinea-Conakry declared independence relatively early in the history of African independence in 1958 (the first independence being declared by Ghana in 1957). Let me put this in context: My father was already 16 years old when Guinea became independent from France. For our grandparents’ generation, colonialism was the “norm” in interactions between “the West” and the “developing world.”

In the 52 years since its independence, Guinea has been plagued with the all-too-familiar scenario of a series of corrupt dictators. The most recent military junta seized control in December 2008. Many of us remember the atrocities committed by this junta last September, as reports and images of government-sanctioned rape and murder against protesters filled the Western media and conscience.

What is happening now in Guinea is nothing short of extraordinary. It was announced last week that Jean-Marie Doré (who was badly beaten during the infamous protests turned massacre) has been named the interim prime minister of the country until a peaceful election can be held. According to an article that appeared in The New York Times, “Guinea could be the rare case in which swift international sanctions actually worked.” While this statement may be too Western-centric, it is no debate that pressure from abroad and, more importantly, from within the country, as well as the junta, has brought about a very promising turn of events in the West African country: a peaceful democratic revolution.

In the memory of the passivity of our elders during the age of colonialism, it is our responsibility to follow and support these positive developments in a region that the West has historically ravished through exploitation and deliberate under-development. Buttu (peace) to Guinea.

Bram is a sophomore in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail at besables@artsci.wustl.edu.