Guinea, under Sekou Touré, chose poverty in freedom rather than riches in French slavery. Spiteful France took to dirty tactics authored by Jacques Foccart - it destabilized the Guinean currency and militarised the opposition to trigger a coup
The Republic of Guinea gained its independence on the 2nd of October in 1958. On the 28th of September, the country had gone for a referendum where 95% of Guineans rejected membership in France's proposed semi-autonomous community controlled by Paris. In August 1958, French President Charles de Gaulle had visited Guinea and a young leader of the Democratic Party of Guinea - Sekou Touré, had done the unexpected.
He gave a most forthright speech whose climax was the immortal proclamation, "We would rather have poverty in freedom than riches in slavery." France was not ready for such a clear rejection. Charles de Gaulle was vexed. He retorted, "Then all you have to do is to vote 'no.' I pledge myself that nobody will stand in the way of your independence." It was a lie. He was later to say, "This will only last a few days and then it will collapse."
The vindictive French were soon on their way out but they needed to make their exit as dramatic as possible. The Washington Post reported, "In reaction, and as a warning to other French-speaking territories, the French pulled out of Guinea over a two-month period, taking everything they could with them. They unscrewed lightbulbs, removed plans for sewage pipelines in Conakry, the capital, and even burned medicines rather than leave them for the Guineans." France, high on narcissism and self-aggrandizement could not take rejection. It clearly thought it had some entitlement to Guinea and the referendum was a rude awakening.
Guinea was not done. It ditched the CFA Franc as the official currency opting for a national Guinean Franc in 1959. France's view of the whole situation was that Guinea's goal was "to rupture all ties with France and to attempt to dismember our whole economic [position] in Africa". The French wanted Toure out.
They resorted to counterfeiting the Guinean Franc to destabilize the Guinean economy. French special services printed the counterfeits which were distributed across the country. According to the Memoirs of Maurice Robert, a former French Secret Service agent, "This operation was a real success and the Guinean economy, already in a bad state, struggled to recover." The idea was to exert as much pressure as possible on the economy, force it to buckle and depose Sekou Toure.
Meshing with the grander goal of deposing Sekou Toure, France militarised the Guinean opposition hoping to foment tension and push the country into military confrontations. In simpler terms: France was setting up Guinea for a civil war. In April of 1960, Guinea exposed the French plan to topple Sékou Touré.
The country accused France of establishing camps and arms caches along Guinea’s borders with Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. The plan was to invade Guinea and topple Sékou Touré’s government. French investigations were to later expose the French Secret Service and Ivory Coast's involvement. Senegal allegedly admitted its involvement. One key figure, however, was orchestrating these aggressive, vile French tactics - Jacques Foccart.
Are you impressed, have any concerns, or think we can improve this article? Comment below or email us.