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By Norman Otis Richmond

I have a confession -- I am addicted to Radio Netherlands. It is not even
a 50/ 50 love; it is more of a love / hate thing. I love their
International flavor. Here is where I can hear about what is happening
from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. However, their coverage of African affairs
on many occasions makes me want to puke.

The West African nation of Guinea turned 50 on October 2. A recent feature
on Radio Netherlands, Bridges with Africa, "Guinea at 50: Going through a
massive mid-life crisis" made my blood run cold. It was a one-side attack
on Guinea's first president, Ahmed Sekou Touré (b. Guinea, January 9,
1922; d. 26 March 1984).

As a youth Touré, along with Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, the Congo's Patrice
Lumumba and Algeria's Ahmed Ben Bella were some of the leaders that I and
many of my generation identified with.

While only a fool would attempt to defend the current regimes, President
Lansana Conte, only a bigger fool would attempt to denigrate the role that
Toure played in the struggle for World African Liberation. Lansana has
been the head of state of Guinea since the death of Toure in 1984. He took
power in a military coup shortly after Toure's death. A professional
military man, he actually fought against the heroic Algerian people on the
side of the French, during their war of liberation against colonialism.

However, he did fight against the French for the independence of Guinea
after his involvement in Algeria. Today, Guinea is one of the poorest
countries on earth.

Touré helped lead Guinea to independence from French colonial rule in
1958. In Cameroun, an armed uprising began in 1955 when the UPC (Union des
Populations de Cameroun) was declared illegal. UPC had demanded the
withdrawal of French troops, an end to Cameroun's status as a United
Nations mandate, and a revolutionary land reform with the slogan, "the
land to those who till it." Without protest the UN allowed the French
troops to violently crush the revolt. Western history books seldom write
about the revolt in the Cameroun.

A trade unionist, Touré was able to help lead his nation to independence
by proclaiming," We prefer dignity in poverty to affluence in slavery."

After secondary schooling, he worked as a clerk and trade union organizer,
becoming a founder of the Rassemblement Democratique Africain in 1946. His
political base in Guinea depended in part on unionized urban workers, in
part on rural opposition to the system of administrative chieftaincy
imposed by the French. This enabled him to lead the local section of the
RDA, the Parti Democratique de Guinée (PDG), and to emerge along with the
leaders of the UPC as one of the most radical of the nationalist leaders
in French West Africa.

African people will remember Touré as a great Pan Africanist who attempted
to unite Africa and Africans world-wide. It was Touré, along with Nkrumah
and Mali's Modibo Keita, who attempted to form a United States of Africa
in the 1960s. Nkrumah asked the Congo's Patrice Lumumba to join this
alliance before his assassination on January 17, 1961.

Guinea was one of the first African nations to open its doors to Overseas
Africans. Six years after Guinea's independence, a delegation from the
Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) visited Guinea on the
invitation of Touré. The politically astute Harry Belafonte made the
arrangements. Belafonte is a direct descent of the "tallest tree in our
forest," Paul Robeson.

Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) has said that Fannie Lou Hamer, the
Mississippi-born freedom fighter who made the statement, "I'm sick and
tired of being sick and tired," was one of the people who benefited from
Touré and Belafonte's gesture. Hamer loved the experience and conveyed it
to Ture.

"Oh, Stokely, the president came to visit. Oh, he was so handsome, all in
his white robes, and he was so kind." Despite the language gap, she had
spoken with everyone she'd met. "Oh Stokely, those people be jes' like us.
The way they fix hey hair, some of them. How they stand, how they walk,
even the way they carry they babies."

It was Touré who gave a base to the liberation forces in another West
African nation, so-called Portuguese Guinea. The movement there was led
by one of the world's foremost theoreticians, Amilcar Cabral (September
13, 1924-January 20, 1973). Cabral was the leader of the PAIGC (The
African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde and Guinea).The former
French colony of Guinea, became known as Guinea-Conakry and the Portuguese
colony came to be known as Guinea –Bissau.

The Portuguese invaded Guinea November 1970 with the intent to assassinate
Toure and Cabral. The Portuguese colonialist made a sensational attempt to
invade Guinea-Conakry. They were knocked out in early Mike Tyson fashion.

The PAIGC started the armed struggle against Portuguese colonialism in
1963. But in the following years the Portuguese suffered defeat after
defeat. Toure's government supported the PAIGC completely.

Mai Palmberg, the editor of the book, "The Struggle for Africa" discussed
the aborted invasion. Said Palmberg, "The invasion proved to be a total
fiasco, because PAIGC and Guinea's defense forces were able to respond
quickly and drive the enemy out. It was later revealed that West Germany
and France had supported the Portuguese invasion, and that their
representatives in Conakry had assisted the invasion forces."

While it is true that Touré's relationship cooled with the Soviet Union in
his later years, he nevertheless cooperated with them against Apartheid
South Africa. When Apartheid South Africans invaded Angola, the
progressive forces worldwide united with Popular Movement for the
Liberation of Angola (MPLA). The forces of reaction supported Apartheid
South Africa and puppet groups like the National Liberation Front for
Angola (FNLA) and the National Union for the Total Independent of Angola

Washington expressed its disappointment and irritation at Touré's
transgression and warned that it would affect relations between the two

Touré was defiant, informing the Soviet ambassador: "You have permanent
and unconditional permission to use Conakry airport for all flights
relating to Angola."

How will history evaluates Touré? I believe the revolutionary forces of
the world will hold him up as a person who was on the right side of

As for Radio Netherlands ,they are merely the mouth piece for imperialism
and history will reflect that the word of Apartheid is of Dutch origin.

Norman Richmond is a Toronto-based writer/broadcaster/human rights
activist. Richmond can be heard on CKLN-FM 88.1 Thursday's on Diasporic Music 8pm to 10pm and Saturday's on Saturday Morning Live 10am to 1pm He can be reached
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