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Playing the Marginality Game: Identity Politics in West Africa

Table of contents :
Maps, Figures and Tables
Notes on Names and Spelling
Introduction. Identity at the Margins A Place in Guinea
Chapter 1 A Journey to the Margins
Chapter 2 Maintaining Marginality: Ethnic and National Elements of Identification
Chapter 3 Reaching for the Margins: Negotiating State Power
Chapter 4 Mixing and Mingling: New Politics, Old Structures?
Chapter 5 Bargaining with an Ailing State
Chapter 6 Citizenship at the Margins: Performing the Future State
Conclusion: Liberties at the Margins Playing the Game

Citation preview

Playing the Marginality Game

Integration and Conflict Studies

Published in association with the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale Series Editor: Günther Schlee, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Editorial Board: Brian Donahoe (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology), John Eidson (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology), Peter Finke (University of Zurich), Joachim Görlich (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology), Jacqueline Knörr (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology), Bettina Mann (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology), Stephen Reyna (University of Manchester) Assisted by: Cornelia Schnepel and Viktoria Zeng (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology) The objective of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology is to advance anthropological fieldwork and enhance theory building. ‘Integration’ and ‘conflict’, the central themes of this series, are major concerns of the contemporary social sciences and of significant interest to the general public. They have also been among the main research areas of the institute since its foundation. Bringing together international experts, Integration and Conflict Studies includes both monographs and edited volumes, and offers a forum for studies that contribute to a better understanding of processes of identification and inter-group relations. Recent volumes: Volume 19 Playing the Marginality Game: Identity Politics in West Africa Anita Schroven

Volume 14 ‘City of the Future’: Built Space, Modernity and Urban Change in Astana Mateusz Laszczkowski

Volume 18 The Wheel of Autonomy: Rhetoric and Ethnicity in the Omo Valley Felix Girke

Volume 13 Staying at Home: Identities, Memories and Social Networks of Kazakhstani Germans Rita Sanders

Volume 17 Bishkek Boys: Neighbourhood Youth and Urban Change in Kyrgyzstan’s Capital Philipp Schröder

Volume 12 The Upper Guinea Coast in Global Perspective Edited by Jacqueline Knörr and Christoph Kohl

Volume 16 Difference and Sameness as Modes of Integration: Anthropological Perspectives on Ethnicity and Religion Edited by Günther Schlee and Alexander Horstmann

Volume 11 Masks and Staffs: Identity Politics in the Cameroon Grassfields Michaela Pelican

Volume 15 On Retaliation: Toward an Interdisciplinary Understanding of a Basic Human Condition Edited by Bertram Turner and Günther Schlee

Volume 10 Friendship, Descent and Alliance in Africa: Anthropological Perspectives Edited by Martine Guichard, Tilo Grätz and Youssouf Diallo

For a full volume listing, please see the series page on our website: integration-and-conflict-studies

Playing the Marginality Game Identity Politics in West Africa Anita Schroven

berghahn NEW YORK • OXFORD

First published in 2019 by Berghahn Books © 2019 Anita Schroven

All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purposes of criticism and review, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without written permission of the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Schroven, Anita, author. Title: Playing the marginality game : identity politics in West Africa / Anita Schroven. Description: New York : Berghahn Books, 2019. | Series: Integration and conflict studies ; v. 19 | “Published in Association with the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale.” | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2018056883 (print) | LCCN 2018057357 (ebook) | ISBN 9781789201901 (ebook) | ISBN 9781789201895 (hardback : alk. paper) Subjects: LCSH: Political participation--Guinea. | Democracy--Guinea. | Identity politics--Guinea. | Marginality, Social--Guinea. | Forécariah (Guinea : Region) | Guinea--Politics and government. Classification: LCC JQ3381.A91 (ebook) | LCC JQ3381.A91 S37 2019 (print) | DDC 320.96652--dc23 LC record available at British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-1-78920-189-5 hardback ISBN 978-1-78920-190-1 ebook


List of Maps, Figures and Tables


Acknowledgementsviii Notes on Names and Spelling


List of Acronyms


Introduction.  Identity at the Margins: A Place in Guinea


Chapter 1.  A Journey to the Margins?


Chapter 2. Maintaining Marginality: Ethnic and National Elements of Identification58 Chapter 3.  Reaching for the Margins: Negotiating State Power


Chapter 4.  Mixing and Mingling: New Politics, Old Structures?


Chapter 5.  Bargaining with an Ailing State


Chapter 6.  Citizenship at the Margins: Performing the Future State


Conclusion.  Liberties at the Margins: Playing the Game


References197 Index213

Maps, Figures and Tables

Maps 1.1 Forécariah town. 1.2 Forécariah prefecture with sub-prefectures. 3.1 Development poles in Forécariah prefecture.

28 33 108

Figures 0.1 Sticker at the Ministry of Human Rights and Public Liberties. 12 0.2 Tea parlour in the early morning. 15 0.3 Freshly painted mural on the walls of the military barrack Camp Almamy Samoury Touré.19 1.1 Colonial-era bridge over the Kissi-Kissi river. 26 1.2 Colonial-era administrator’s residence of Forécariah. 27 1.3 The national Syli at the Belle-Vue roundabout in Conakry. 47 1.4 The prefectural director of public works and infrastructure discovers a new road project. 56 2.1 A comedy is being shot in Forécariah. 61 2.2 Mmeni masks dancing at a village celebration. 67 2.3 Mmeni women dancing at a village celebration. 67 2.4 Moria elders waiting for the tabaski prayers to begin. 73 2.5 The main mosque of Forécariah in 2007. 75 2.6 Only debris remains from the old Forécariah mosque. 76 2.7 A women’s association attending a wedding in a member’s family. 87 5.1 The governing party’s local headquarters at the end of Conté’s rule. 142

Maps, Figures and Tables  vii

5.2 Ramata-Fodé branch of the Touré family in Forécariah. 148 5.3 To Alamamy Touré as a French colonial soldier in Madagascar. 150 5.4 Even today, the confrontation between the government and the citizens is conceptualized as the state (l’état) destroying the nation and its citizens (la nation).167 6.1 Public and UNICEF media record the visit of a malaria campaign. 174 6.2 Local youth performing a theatre skit on malaria symptoms. 174

Table 3.1 Administrative and self-governing bodies in Guinea, from the colonial period to today.



Just as any part of life, books are a collaborative effort. Over the years, many people have contributed in the making of this book. My research on Guinea began in Halle in 2005, where I thank Jacqueline Knörr, Günther Schlee and Richard Rottenburg for their continuous inspiration and support. The members and associates of the research group ‘Integration and Conflict along the Upper Guinea Coast’, including the late Christian Højbjerg, supported the project throughout and helped me to hone my arguments and to embed my empirical findings in the broader theoretical debates of our region of study. I thank all my colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology for their creative engagements with the topics presented here. Engaging in theory or epistemological debates with colleagues studying vastly different regions and empirical phenomena brought out surprising connections in the universal humanity that we strive to grasp across the different fields of study. I am grateful for the kind support of all the staff, particularly Brian Donahoe, John Eidson, Joachim Görlich, Cornelia Schnepel and Jutta Turner who helped to bring it to completion. The staff at Berghahn Books have been constructive and patient with the final touches. Alice Bellagamba, David Berliner, Vincent Foucher, Baz Lecocq, Mike McGovern, Bruce Mouser, Omar Ribeiro Thomaz and Ramon Sarró have also commented on different chapters and contributed their seasoned advice, as have the anonymous reviewers of previous drafts, all of whose input I am indebted to. Individual ideas and arguments have been discussed at various conferences and I thank all discussants for challenging ideas and adding theoretical body to the debates I am presenting here. In Guinea, members of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Université Gamal Abdel Nasser de Conakry and Université Général

Acknowledgements  ix

Lansana Conté de Sonfonia, particularly Professors Ansoumané Camara, Fodé Cissé, Moustapha Diop, Sidiki Kobélé Keita and Aboubacar Touré, have shared their knowledge and archives with me, discussing arguments about potential futures and nostalgias of the past. The fellowship at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas with Omar Ribeiro Thomaz granted insights into cross-continental comparative research and helped me engage differently with the entangled post-colonial and post-socialist aspects of West African history and its nearly inseparable inheritance. Such discussions introduced new academic discourses that enriched the evaluation of anthropological methodologies. My heartfelt appreciation goes to the late Mikhail Touré and his family for welcoming me into their home and their lives, thereby allowing me to work in and return to Forécariah ever since. Sana Bangoura, Fö Barry and Abou Soumah proved indispensable for their insights into the lives lived as strangers and hosts. Aided by attaya, I spent long hours with these different groups, engaging in detailed discussions of events that revealed the intricacies of the seemingly ordinary. Colleagues, my family and friends supported this project from its inception on, especially Andrea Riester, Britta Deutsch, Christiane Adamczyk, Eva Gerharz, Fidi Genzing, Jutta Banonyi, Manuela Amenat, Merle Schatz, Olumide Abimbola, Rene Gerrets, Silke Pietsch-Cooper and Tina Leipoldt. They listened with never-waning patience and infused optimism and courage at difficult times. So did Baz, whom I d ­ edicate this oeuvre to. I owe the greatest thanks to so many people in Forécariah, for their openness and keenness to make me understand both the joys and the challenges of their everyday lives.

Notes on Names and Spelling

I use the contemporary transcription of Susu and Malinké into French for places and personal names such as Futa Jalon or Mr Cissé. The regional preference of calling adults only by their honorary title, such as ‘Hajja’, or family name as a direct reference to their djamu, the extended family, is maintained throughout the text. For administrative units like circle and prefecture and political titles like sub-prefect, I use English spelling to facilitate reading.



Action de démarrage alternative Archive préfectorale de Forécariah Bloc africain de Guinée Conseil administratif préfectoral Confédération nationale des travailleurs de Guinée Communauté rurale Communauté rurale de développement Communes urbaines Economic Community of West African States Ebola Virus Disease Guinean Franc Médecins sans frontières Non-Governmental Organization Organisation of the African Union Parti démocratique de Guinée Programme de développement local en Guinée Pouvoir révolutionnaire local Parti de l’unité et du progrès Rassemblement démocratique africain Revolutionary United Front Radio-Télévision de Guinée Structural Adjustment Programmes United Nations Development Programme United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund Union syndicale des travailleurs de Guinée


Introduction Identity at the Margins A Place in Guinea

We were the centre of regional politics and commerce; we were trading with the Sahel and with the Europeans at the coast before colonialism arrived. We were rich; our boubous were made of the finest cloth. Everyone was jealous of us Morianais. Then colonialism came, then the state came, and now we are marginal . . . —To Almamy Touré Mr Touré presents his grievances about the perpetual decline of the region called Moria in southern Guinea and, more specifically, of his own family which has ruled the town of Forécariah and its surroundings since the mid-eighteenth century. He claims that the town’s past connections and riches, and its prestige and political weight, have been altered by regional and subregional changes and by the outside forces that caused Moria to be marginalized. Mr Touré uses ‘marginalization’ synonymously with powerlessness, and thus portrays a stark contrast between the present and the history he describes for the town and his family. It is not only members of his family, however, who agree with this depiction, but other members of the local elite as well. Moria is indeed now described by many of its inhabitants as marginal. As the area is only about 100 kilometres south of the country’s ever-expanding capital Conakry, this assessment cannot possibly be based on geographical location. Given the town’s historic roots, with its foundation dating back at least 250 years, one could perhaps expect it to hold more weight, all the more so since the town has been the seat of regional government since French colonial rule. Yet, despite its apparent historical and, in some respects, even present-day centrality, this view of its marginality is rooted in perceptions of both the past and the present.

2  Playing the Marginality Game

This work explores how local communities make use of their marginal positions, real or imagined, to integrate into larger socio-political bodies through identity work that combines histories, ethnicity and religion in addition to performances of state, citizenship and institutionalized ties to administrative bodies. Local perceptions of the political self and performances of marginality can be instrumental in both making claims on and resisting a state or a government’s politics. Investigating how local elites negotiate political reform processes such as decentralization against a background of locally accepted oral tradition and questions of legitimate rule reveals negotiation processes that cross the boundaries between the local and the state. This, in turn, shows how small-town traditional elites create a public discourse that, willingly or not, ties local populations closer into larger entities such as the nation-state. Boundaries become blurred as perceptions of old political systems influence the performance of new politics and the world-making of all people concerned. Rural political elites, like Mr Touré above, appear to maintain their privileged positions and manage to redefine the legitimacy of their rule in the local setting throughout all the changes in official ideology, governments and systems of public authority. Following the use of oral tradition provides a means of investigating this phenomenon as it serves as a resource for political power by legitimizing superior positions throughout time. The way in which certain versions of history are employed today will be examined in various contexts throughout the book, since it is through their use that individual and collective identities are being created. Some of these topics are pertinent across West Africa and beyond. The book will investigate them in the specific context of marginality and the way in which geographical, political and economic marginalities are being employed to make claims, to protest and to resist outside powers. These powers may take the form of the state, a development initiative or administrative policy changes. As an analytical term, marginality has long exceeded its original meaning, of denominating a minority group – however that group may have been defined. Marginality has become a term used to analyse characteristics of many diverse and heterogeneous groups. They are far from homogenous. However, they ‘are structurally dependent from other persons who could be described as socially and economically “adult” – a person who can make decisions about themselves and provide for themselves and their dependents’ needs’ (Fokwang 2016: 213). Such powers can be seen as suppressive but also as enabling, as long as they are embedded in social relationships that are to some extent reciprocal. As Abu-Lughod pointed out, such power can produce ‘forms of pleasure, systems of knowledge, goods, and discourses’ (Abu-Lughod 1990: 42). These are common themes across contemporary West Africa, where advancing infrastructure and technologies bring remote and rural regions under the more direct control of ambitious centralized states. Guinea is no exception to

Introduction  3

this. What makes the Guinean context so specific is the heritage of different political state (and societal) ideologies that have at some point in history been prominently promoted and then left alone, when the ailing state of the late 2000s withdrew from an active nation-building project. This left the citizens on their own with issues relating to identity and political and economic challenges. Their struggle to make sense of this shifting and changing context lies at the heart of this book. Their marginal situation enabled them not only to struggle but also to employ a broad repertoire of identity-related notions in creative ways to engage with and appropriate the repercussions of governmental disengagement with the nation-building process, economic decline and political unrest and centralized displays of – often oppressive forms of – power.

States at the Centre As much as this book focuses on marginality, it also addresses the state. Much of the literature on the African state accuses it of power abuse, criminalization (Bayart, Ellis and Hibou 1999) and self-enrichment (Hibou 2004) or of abandoning the people in the countryside by not delivering state services there (van de Walle 2001). The overall picture of the continent is a negative one, with economic figures and statistics on wars and sickness underlining the ‘failure’ of Africa’s nation-state projects in general and its governments in particular (Ferguson 2006). Clearly inspired by the dark pictures painted of the continent, an association with shadows has emerged in the anthropological research, such as in Ferguson’s title Global Shadows or Nordstrom’s Shadows of War, ‘Out of the Shadows’ or ideas of ‘shadow states’ (Nordstrom 2001, 2004; Reno 2000, respectively), leading to an understanding of the informal workings of African societies and states (Chabal and Daloz 2001). As Ferguson and Gupta argue, it is not only nations that can be construed as imagined, but states as well, making them ‘powerful sites of symbolic and cultural production’ (Ferguson and Gupta 2002: 981). Therefore, they need to be constructed and co-constructed, maintained and engaged with. Unlike Chabal and Daloz’s examinations of the more informal workings of African states as opposed to an imagined ideal type, I will focus on the everyday practices of state-making by civil servants, local politicians and rural elites. They work in a reality of under-funding, under-staffing and corruption as well as a lack of public recognition. They also have ideas and ideals of statecraft, and memories of doctrines other than the contemporary developmental ideal. Therefore, both the ideal-type state, normative state and the ‘actual’ state are intricately interconnected and dependent on each other (Pratt 2002). While the relationship between them may not be causal or antithetic, it is potentially both, with the actual state practice certainly being a possible image of the ideal type. People contrast and compare the actual manifestations of states with the ideal

4  Playing the Marginality Game

that is presented and promoted within the context of an international moralizing development discourse. It is through this very local level of ‘state hierarchy’ that people encounter the state and it is precisely this encounter that shapes their perspective and knowledge of it (cf. Bierschenk and Olivier de Sardan 2014). If structures or institutions are in such dire conditions as perceived by some students of the African state, Graeber points out, they cannot and will not fulfil the Weberian requirements of a state. It therefore becomes even less clear what these political entities actually are (Graeber 2004). If the Weberian state model cannot be used as a reference, discerning the state in practice becomes a challenging notion as ‘there is not a deficit of state but an excess of statehood practices: too many actors competing to perform as state’ (Aretxaga 2003: 396). Faced with an apparent abundance of state practices, the research has been dealing with governance practices of non-state institutions or informal arrangements in the context of an allegedly weak or absent state, thus increasing the visibility of the diverse actors participating in statehood practices. Rather than looking into central government practices ‘from the top’ or the resistance strategies of ordinary citizens ‘from below’, the focus here lies on the ‘middle’, to adopt a term referenced in classic and recent publications on African bureaucrats (cf. Lawrance, Osborn and Roberts 2006; Bierschenk and Olivier de Sardan 2014).

Socialist Histories? Contemporary debates on the African state also address post-socialism, the post-colony, democratization, decentralization and economic development. It is not easy to disentangle socialism and its aftermath from all the other processes that have been going on during the same time frame. It is also difficult to delineate the specificities of the African experience in this post-colonial and post-socialist perspective. In Guinea, the experience of socialism is irrevocably tied to the process of independence from France in 1958, with post-colonial struggles, anti-imperialist struggles and the ever increasing violence of the government under Sékou Touré (1958–1984), whose reign – and thereby the implementation of his socialist vision for Guinea as the experiment for a new independent and therefore truly free Africa – was not put on hold like in other countries with post-colonial socialist aspirations such as Ghana, Mali, Zaire or Tanzania. At the same time, Guinea shared the fate of many African countries where liberation movements turned into dictatorships in the post-independence era. The ‘socialist’ debate in and about Guinea and across Africa has been intertwined with the post-colonial context as well as the quest for development through modernization. Each of these concepts carries a vast scope of ideological and historic interpretations that are intricately intertwined. Scholars grapple with this situation when, for example, trying to compare Eastern European countries with African countries, naming the former post-socialist and the latter

Introduction  5

post-colonial (cf. Bondarenko et al. 2009). While this shorthand enables social scientists to look beyond geographical locations, such juxtapositions are challenging. Debates on (post-)colonialism usually focus on political power relations first and may regard economic relations in light of these. When discussing (post-) socialism, the focus is on an idealized economic system that, in the dominant neo-institutionalist understanding, has created path dependences. Thelen argues that as scholars of globally embedded phenomena we need to ‘take otherness seriously and move beyond normative analyses primarily derived from economic perspectives’ (Thelen 2011: 54). Thus, differences in ideology, institutional form and people’s engagements with these result in such a heterogeneous landscape of interdependent yet also discrete processes that they can hardly be subsumed under comparative perspectives without losing much of their ‘otherness’. Such simplifications undervalue multiple pasts, that is to say a colonial and socialist past that many countries or regions within countries have experienced and whose repercussions they are grappling with today. They risk blocking out specificities that shape the appropriation and interpretation of these larger ideological or political processes. They risk oversimplifying identities that are being made and remade in their shadows. Students of West Africa have begun to call for a clearer differentiation of these political undertakings, even though according to an historical perspective they may not be separable (Højbjerg et al. 2013; McGovern 2017; Piot 2010; Schmidt 2007a). As with other countries undergoing socialist reform, Guinea adopted long-term agricultural and industrial development schemes, nationalized land and other production facilities, and centralized the administration of domestic and international trade. These were common strategies for newly independent African states entering socialist pathways. However different and diverse these paths would turn out to be, Pitcher and Askew identify five core characteristics of ‘African Socialism’ in its diversity: ‘(1) a language to promote the modernization and unification of emerging national states, (2) centralized control of economic resources, (3) consolidation and expansion of the state, (4) emphasis on revolutionary change, and (5) international bonds to the wider community of socialist/communist states’ (Pitcher and Askew 2006: 7). Such a general list already reflects the difficulty faced by social sciences in grappling with the challenge of performing an in-depth case analysis and revealing comparative aspects. As for Guinea, the public services remained centralized and limited due to budgetary and personnel limitations, just as they had been under French colonial rule. The state’s main income was and continues to be generated by extractive industries which had started under the French administration and continued to expand after independence in cooperation with multinational mining conglomerates. While European and Asian socialist states would have frowned upon this practice, it can be understood as a necessary move to evade French economic and political suppressive strategies against its former colony that began directly

6  Playing the Marginality Game

after Guinea’s declaration of independence in 1958. Throughout the rule of the first president, Sékou Touré, Guinea remained unaligned and often switched collaboration partners between socialist/communist, neutral and the Western bloc. Sometimes these moves were motivated by fear of foreign domination in one area, sometimes they were born out of the increasing paranoia of the leadership that felt threatened by internal coups and external attempts to destabilize the regime. According to Pitcher and Askew’s list, Guinea did not fulfil demands 3 and 5 but held on to its economic control of major, albeit limited, industry. On Pitcher and Askew’s check-list, Guinea would have fared better on the points of modernization and unifying language as well as revolutionary change. The post-independence project of ‘demystification’, which ran predominantly between 1960 and 1962 and had at its core the systematic exposure and destruction of initiation societies’ secret shrines, masks and other artefacts in order to bring their former adherents into the national fold, has been interpreted as a manifestation of these three concepts. The term demystification was taken from the writings of chief ideologist and new president Sékou Touré, who called people’s adherence to these politico-spiritual practices ‘mystification’ and saw the need to liberate his people from such exploitation. On an institutional level, schools were nationalized, teachers, public servants and religious leaders charged with voicing only sanctioned opinions. This was just as much part of the modernization of the Guinean population as was its forced unification under Islam – which was deemed more civilized than other local religions not just in the French colonial heritage but also by those Muslim population majorities of ethnic Susu, Peul and Malinké origin. Minority ethnic groups which can be found throughout the whole country but have their centres in the Eastern forest region (Engeler 2016; Rivière 1978; Højbjerg 2007; McGovern 2013; Straker 2009) and the Northern coast (Lamp 1996; Sarró 2009), fulfilled the niche of the ‘internal other’ (Goerg 2011), with a prevalence of those ‘mystic’ societal elements that needed to be overcome by the revolution and a comparatively strong Christian church membership as opposed to the majority Muslim beliefs of the larger ethnic groups. These groups had already been made the object of European civilizing missions during the (pre-)colonial period. Trouillot points out that in the context of nation-building, such groups provide an inherited and inherent ‘savage slot’ (2002) that others could identify and unite against in order to reference their own superiority, modernity and civilization. While such processes take place on a national, continental and global level, they are also relevant to contemporary identity politics on local levels, as will be debated here. Scott argues that a central part of effective state interventions is ‘legibility’ which in turn requires visible units or categories (1998: 183). The demystification programme provided the state with such pervasive powers that these units were created. People’s lives, previously organized in many different contrasting, opposing and decentralized ways, became more legible to the centralized state.

Introduction  7

Such units might borrow from already established social formations; they might also congeal formerly fluid and flexible social entities. These units would sometimes outlast this specific time period and ensure the lasting cohesion that was built into Guinean society during this violent and oppressive period. However, the Guinean socialist state did not go to the length of identifying and then abolishing peoples and ethnic groups, as happened in the Soviet Union. Here, scientific insights and census information were used to track ethnic groups that were to merge into the new national units under socialist-evolutionist pressures (Hirsch 2005). The demystification movement was at the same time interpreted as a post-­ colonial liberation from local structures that colonial powers had abused during their direct rule in the form of chieftaincy and gerontocratic relations (McGovern 2013; Sarró 2009). Both these aims were deemed necessary precursors to the socialist vision that the Guinean governing elite proposed and that linked the young country with other liberation movements across the region and the globe and to a vision of a unified and free African continent. Pan-Africanism was a cornerstone of the independence movement and remained a major component of official state ideology beyond the frustrations of Cold War battles that would follow. Guinea’s national anthem reflects this aspiration to date.1 Comparative perspectives with other socialist endeavours in Tanzania, Mozambique, Benin and Mali highlight the different extents to which governments were ready to push for a nation, for anti-imperial independence and at the same time envision an integration into a new overarching entity such as that proposed by Pan-Africanism. Following the proposed list of Pitcher and Askew, it is really the fourth point, the revolutionary aspirations, that marked Guinea, since both the leaders and the population of the country had no illusions about the challenges on the road ahead. However, different waves and initiatives of change, revolution and mobilization ensured the perpetual popular engagement with the socialist regime. Both socialist doctrine and post-colonial anti-imperialism oriented the new citizens towards a better future that they would help to create – not only for themselves and their descendants but as model citizens for their neighbours and those peoples forced to live under imperialist exploitation. Such a vision also allowed leaders to re-shape the past and make new sense of the present in order to fit into this larger-than-life narrative of the envisioned future. Such ordering brought clarity, coherence and causality to an otherwise turbulent present that was marked by economic insecurities, socio-political changes and cultural reform. Becoming a better, modern, socialist citizen and not being deterred by the mundane hardships of everyday life became a vital part of public discourse that pervaded all aspects of rural and urban life. It became such a powerful part of Guineans’ national identity that it outlasted the Touré regime and the rule of his successor President Condé, and is still vital today.

8  Playing the Marginality Game

While these three elements – post-socialism, post-colonialism and the introduction of neo-liberalist ideology – need to be analysed separately, they are irrevocably intertwined in the memories of the people who lived through that period, which was so clearly marked by the reign of Sékou Touré. Institutionally, it actually carried over to the so-called Second Republic, as the period of rule of President Lansana Conté is commonly known. For Guinea, regime change cannot therefore be linked to the end of the Warsaw Pact and the crumbling of the so-called Eastern bloc. The end of Guinea’s socialist experiment started earlier and ended later. The ideology and the state practices of modernization also revealed many aspirational aspects. The future was painted in radiant colours: whether in terms of political, socio-cultural or economic development, modernization intended to improve lives and prepare the way for a great future. Mirroring Piot’s ingenious title, Nostalgia for the Future (2010), several scholars of the Guinean socialist period discuss the relicts of this aspirational phase, when possibilities and public projects were safely enshrined in the shared project of creating a new and improved life and country for Guineans (cf. Goerg et al. 2010; Straker 2009; Engeler 2012). Aspirations and practices were certainly separate entities, but their shared goals supported the unification project for a diverse population. The aspirations of the young country appealed to many individuals who shared them, such as Miriam Makeba, Stokely Carmichael and Kwame Nkrumah, who were amongst the more famous individuals, and also amongst those who received shelter there when their respective countries of origin or residence failed to provide it.

Guinea’s Regime Changes While the debate on socialism and post-socialism has focused on Europe and Asia, the thirty-five African countries that called themselves socialist at one time have so far elicited little academic attention. Noteworthy exceptions are studies of Tanzania, Benin, Togo, Zambia, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Angola on this topic. Given this sparse background of literature, comparisons are often drawn between European and Asian texts and specific African case studies. This in fact parallels the main axes of international socialist influences before the 1990s, when either the Soviet Union, China or the ‘Non-Aligned Movement’ served as ideological reference points, financial donors or military partners. In Guinea’s case, all these axes were relevant at different points in time under the governments of Sékou Touré (1958–1984) and Lansana Conté (1984–2008). Just as during the Cold War when students of socialism either doubted or ignored the commitment to socialism in African countries, similarly, most theorists of postsocialism overlook the persistence of historical

Introduction  9

memories, the symbolic and discursive continuities, and the institutional ruptures and restorations in those African countries that once embraced socialism and have now relinquished it in favour of neo-liberal reforms. (Pitcher and Askew 2006: 2) Today, there are more studies on what happened after this phase, such as Katherine Verdery’s What Was Socialism, and What Comes Next? (1996), which battle with this debate and in some cases helped to create a body of literature known as ‘Transitologies’. They often described an assumed shared departure point for these Eastern European and Asian states, societies and economies and emphasized the changes that occurred, often reflecting the aspirations for a better future. Transitions were seen as temporary states in which improvisation and short-term fixes dominated, all in the expectation of a better future situation. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that many Eastern European and Central Asian countries went through violent changes, with these changes not resulting in a better future but in a constant state of improvision and short-term fixes, as Thelen points out (2011). For Guinea, the post-socialist phase began before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. The death of Sékou Touré in 1984 led to a palace coup and brought in a new kind of political leadership from the ranks of the mid-level military under Lansana Conté’s leadership who would run the country till his death in 2008. Slowly, he opened up the country to international financial institutions, market capitalism and political liberalism. A multi-party system was launched in 1990 that saw the first presidential elections in 1993 and legislative elections in 1995 (cf. Soumah 2004, 2006). Little has been written about the first years of Conté’s rule. Following oral accounts of the period, and with contemporary hindsight, I argue that during the later years of the Conté regime a double process of thawing began: the authoritarian socialist period and the authoritarian colonial period could now be engaged with; and individual and collective memories could be rewritten under the ideological freedom (or lack of general vision for the nation’s future) that characterized the Conté regime, with its lack of national-building efforts and its neo-liberal economy that quickly enabled the establishment of a national elite that removed itself more and more quickly from the reach of the average Guinean by amassing riches based on mineral exports. As Arieff and McGovern show (2013), the absence of a national project did not mean that in times of crisis the government could not tap into the authoritarian legacies of its predecessors. When skirmishes along the Sierra Leonean and Liberian borders of Guinea turned into fully-fledged attacks during the regional civil wars (mainly 2000–2001), Conté mobilized the population for self-defence in much the same way as Touré mobilized the masses against (supposed or actual) foreign invasions. In the absence of a new, all-encompassing political

10  Playing the Marginality Game

ideology, Guineans could fall back on those they had known, experienced and suffered under in previous decades. Added to this contemporary thawing of public space to address the colonial and socialist past, another level of slow socio-political change is happening, which is the challenge of authoritarianism. While both French colonialism and Touré’s socialist regime were characterized by top-down authoritarian rule, the rule of Conté and that of President Condé (elected in 2010) have brought about qualitative changes in the way in which state and society engage with each other. These are not easily covered by the analytical debates that post-socialism or post-colonialism engender. This third process is more complex and cannot be lumped under neo-liberal economic reform or participatory democratization. Since these ideas have been put into practice in Guinea, people have become aware of the violence and injustice that they engender. Hence, I argue that another wave of demystification (a process of post-independence religious and social campaigns to lead rural populations into socialist modernity) is happening: the demystification of democracy and its violent dividend in the forms of corruption, nepotism, arbitrary political and administrative choices, suppression of opposition forces are commonly referred to in Guinea as ‘libertinage’ (Faye 2007; Soumah 2006). While libertinage covers the abuse of public funds by government, elected officials and powerful private individuals, the term does not cover all abuses. As stated by Le Meur, elders and government officials were entitled to ‘their share’ of profits as long as this share remained proportional and could be controlled by the ‘moral community’ in which these individuals were embedded (Le Meur 2006). Ferguson referred to such phenomena as ‘demoralised economy’ under the guise of a neo-liberal economic vocabulary (1990). The over-extension of the accepted share, however, is a delicate issue. Locally, people would refer to this practice as ‘eating with both hands’. From the late 1990s onwards, this practice came to characterize the Conté regime, during which the moral community crumbled. In Guinea, the reckoning with the colonialism, socialism and authoritarianism of the past has only just begun – and has even been complexified by the destabilising effect of the lack of a national project. The post-independence socialism had brought about a clear-cut national project, collective identity and economy. This governing system remained in existence during the ensuing Conté era which did not provide an alternative but did not capitalize on the existing national project either. Guineans in many difficult and dangerous situations, that shall be explored in the following chapters, had recourse to these models that they invoked from collective memories. While creating a sense of national cohesion for a certain period, it appears to have weakened over time. Since the early 2000s, political mobilization along ethnic lines has become more virulent, and public conflicts amongst beleaguered elites, systemic clientelism and the absence of a new national project have weakened the collective Guinean narrative.

Introduction  11

Since the 2000s, there has been a dilemma amongst the students of Guinea with regard to how to describe appropriately a country that so often seemed on the verge of implosion due to military chaos and potential violent ethnic conflict or that has been destabilized by the whirlwind of neighbouring wars and waves of refugees. Attempts to explain the surprising stability of the Guinean state beneath the crumbling government facade have been particularly pressing in light of the Ebola outbreak and the response to it, which unfolded in a different way in Guinea compared to its neighbours (McGovern 2017; Schroven 2014). Unrest and stability appear to be continually created and challenged – and sometimes even simultaneously. This phenomenon reveals the diversity of the country but also the heterogeneity of the powers that be.

Collective Challenges While Guinea ranks low on indices like the UNDP’s Human Development Index (ranked 183 in 2016), its GDP is growing due to extractive industries, especially iron ore and bauxite – which the population does not really benefit from. In recent decades, Guinea has been repeatedly identified as an unstable country, slipping down a dangerous slope towards civil war, as some of its neighbours have done in the 1990s. Remarkably, this has not happened, despite repeated threats through mass refugee influxes in the 1990s, a coup d’état in 2008, re-occurring national strikes that are often violently suppressed, and a government that despite formal changes has not improved how it rules the country or the living standards of the majority of the population. Guinea is a multi-ethnic country, with three predominant ethnic groups – Malinké, Peul and Susu2 – which are the most numerous in each of three so-called ‘natural regions’, respectively: Haute-Guinée, Moyenne-Guinée or Futa Jalon (central highlands), and Guinée Maritime or Basse Côte (Lower Coast). In addition to these groups, many smaller ethnic groups exist, some of which (Guerzé, Kissi, Toma, amongst others) are commonly grouped together as ‘Forestières’, referring to the fourth of the country’s ‘natural regions’: Guinée Forestière, also called ‘Forêt’ in Guinea. In Guinea, the awareness of potential ethnic tensions is high. The vocabulary of ‘natural regions’ circumvents highly controversial issues such as assigning home territories to ethnic groups or implementing a policy of ethnic parity in public service. According to official numbers, twenty-five ethnic groups and around the same number of languages exist in Guinea, some of which are communities that cross borders into neighbouring countries. It is, however, important to note that the Malinké, Susu and Peul comprise about 80 per cent of the population. The numbers in population statistics vary and are particularly contested in Guinea with the expectation that political power should or could be partitioned according to ethnic proportions. The comparatively young ‘Ministry of Human Rights and Public Liberties’ reflects the political awareness of these tensions.

12  Playing the Marginality Game

Figure 0.1  Sticker at the Ministry of Human Rights and Public Liberties, Conakry (photo: A. Schroven).

The ministry, which has been renamed a couple of times during the course of its brief existence, tries to promote civil-military discourse, peaceful conflict resolution as well as an overarching national identity. Despite the fact that the three most numerous ethnic groups dominate these three regions, Haute Guinée, Basse Côte and Moyenne Guinée, all of the regions are ethnically heterogeneous due to long-term and recent migration processes. Over the centuries, conquest and trade relations have propelled diverse migration movements, such as movements towards the coast for trade with Europeans or for plantation labour in colonial times. Urbanization is a growing phenomenon in Guinea, sweeping large amounts of youth towards larger cities. The aspiration for a better future leads many to Conakry, the sprawling capital that started at the tip of the Kaloum Peninsula and is now encroaching on the mainland coastline. Just as in many other countries of the region, the countryside is emptying out and the roads of the capital city have become filled with petty traders and hopeful youth from all regions and ethnic groups, trying to make a better life. So Conakry has become a rapidly growing city of 2–4 million inhabitants in a country of 12–14 million people, depending on the sources used. Just above 60 per cent of Guinean citizens are estimated to be under the age of twenty-five. In the wider West African context, this figure is not remarkable. It must be kept in mind though that many of these young people will grow up to be older than twenty-five but remain in what is called the ‘social youth’ category. They will not be able to live independently from ‘social

Introduction  13

adults’ but will remain heavily reliant on extended family resources and friends to make ends meet. Ethnic identity continues to serve as a group marker and also as a means of interacting with other groups of people. References to historic intermarriages may rhetorically alleviate tensions between members of different ethnic groups, tensions that mirror nationwide stereotypes that these groups have of each other. Other well-known ways of bridging these tensions are joking relationships, referred to in the greater Mande complex as sanakouya. These standardized discourses on ethnic stereotypes channel tensions caused by class differences or family obligations that are linked to the regional phenomenon of landlord-stranger relations, which ties together so-called founding families of particular localities with more recent migrants. In the following chapters, different group identities will be discussed which facilitate integration processes between ethnic groups and which enable both differentiation and the channelling of conflict. In some regions, ethnic identity is strongly interlinked with religion. Guinea is predominantly Muslim, with a minority of about 10 per cent practising Christianity or other faiths. While estimates vary on the monotheistic religions, practitioners often combine them with so-called ‘traditional beliefs’ that appear only marginally in the official statistics. The introduction of Islam and its different manifestations is closely tied to particular migration movements and to the prevalent foundation myths of many contemporary cities and towns in the wider region. Over time, this led to the creation of a new collective identity known as Morianais, the people of the region of Moria, in which the main fieldsite for this empirical study lies. This category of identification remains vital today and can be seen as competing, overarching or mediating among the different ethnic, national and religious identities at play at any given moment. It is in the self-proclaimed and ever-maintained margins of a state that such a regional level of identification can survive and thrive despite the efforts of ethnic entrepreneurs and state policies who push for the national integration of all citizens. As Ferguson (1990, 2006) and others (Bierschenk 1999; Boone 2003; Glenzer 2005; Lund 2006) have argued, the relations between centre and margin have never been clearly hierarchical, as power is invested differently in different places, and actors continuously transgress supposed hierarchies, resulting in a horizontal rather than vertical arrangement of power, which undermines the supposed centre-periphery paradigm. The term centre does not thus imply a geographical node but one that is imbued with certain types of power. As a consequence, the centre’s counterpart, whether it is referred to as peripheral or marginal, cannot be an absolute reference to a geographical location or permanent dependency in a fixed hierarchical system, but signifies a changing relationship vis-à-vis the centre. Various processes of marginalization, in the sense of exclusion or denial of access to rights or resources, may indeed be taking place, as the centre, or the state in Ferguson’s argument, can make reference to spatial

14  Playing the Marginality Game

claims and supposedly superior and therefore more legitimate sources of power. Nevertheless, neither the geographical locality nor the political influences of, for example, the established local elite deserve to be strictly labelled as marginal. Centre-margin perspectives are vital in terms of positioning oneself in relationship to another. These positions can then be used as the basis for negotiating future power relations. In the process of these negotiations perceptions of marginality may be re-evaluated or reaffirmed. The local discourse is partly founded on the local Morianais political identity, constructed on the basis of a historical foundation myth and historical notions of landscape. It is complemented by a situational perception of this local identity as marginal. This perspective allows for a strategically chosen self-marginalization, motivated by memories of and discourses on the past and the contemporary experiences that form the discursive prism. History and socially inscribed landscapes are central resources used in the creation of both local identity and its representation as marginal.

Oral Tradition and Power Oral tradition is particularly effective in smoothing out and ‘correcting’ diverging memories of the past, just as it reflects the intentions and efforts invested in the process of forging divergent memories into continuity. Oral tradition enables claims to be made regarding the present and future on the basis of a seemingly consistent and continuous history that grants justification and authority. This perspective reflects a very constructivist approach while being restricted to a functional attitude towards the motivations and effects of the phenomenon of oral tradition. I argue that there is more to it than that: referencing history reveals the efforts made toward linking today’s people to the wider context of ideological, religious, economic and political processes in the region and the wider world while also allowing for the creative construction of identities over time, and firmly rooting these identities in the locale. As local history is presented in terms of a greater scope of continuity, questions of agency and hegemony have to be posed: ‘The language of continuity . . . assumes that all changes can be seen, discussed and analyzed as aspects of deeper continuities. In other words, the language assumes that every change, however enormous, is only a special case of continuity’ (Nandy 1987: 118). Nandy links historic representation to questions of hegemony, of who can intervene and potentially redirect the ways in which past events are discussed and situated in the previously established, wider historical discourse. As communication is based on the interplay between speaker and addressee, the agencies of all actors should be emphasized just as structural restrictions are introduced: while all of the actors do know ‘the game’, they cannot easily break out of it to resist the dominant scheme. Oral traditions and oratory culture in Guinea have been examined in various contexts (see Camara 1992; Osborn 2011; Sarró 2000). These studies focused on local meanings of history and identity

Introduction  15

without necessarily including larger issues of governance. Other studies have concentrated on the official and public discourses of government documents or presidential speeches and their reception and appreciation by the population at large (see Barry 2002; Camara 1996; Camara 2004). This perspective is vital to the investigation of how people integrate supra-local events into different local discourses. The way in which local boundaries are drawn vis-à-vis local minorities and the external world, the national capital and neighbouring countries, and the way in which local relations are presented and lived in everyday life will therefore be investigated against the background of this oral tradition. The establishment and maintenance of boundaries between oneself and the outside world or a local ‘other’ through oral tradition is highly relevant in the establishment of a group’s identity and the self-legitimation of its political position (Barth 2000), as will be explored with regard to the perpetuation of the rural elite’s political privileges.

Fieldwork in Times of Upheaval My interest in self-ascribed marginality came about in a very different way when I accompanied the older girls of my Forécariah hosts to the market and thought to stop and drink something on the way. My companions quickly rushed me on to the market and hinted that it was the ‘lazy and unemployed’ who were sitting around. No respectable person would sit down with those people; they lacked

Figure 0.2  Tea parlour in the early morning (photo: A. Schroven).

16  Playing the Marginality Game

self-respect and propriety. After getting to know the town better, I could see that there was more to the comment than merely cautious remarks by parents who were trying to keep their daughters away from these tea bars. As one might have expected, these supposedly sidelined people were not members of the town’s founding family. They mostly worked in public services or small businesses and spent their time sipping attaya, strong green tea with a lot of sugar. I started to frequent one of these bars. My presence would be quietly acknowledged by the fact that only French and Susu, the two dominant languages in town, were spoken by the usual clients, and in some instances newcomers were asked to speak either Peul or Malinké instead, which many of the men understood as well. Aside from being a rare foté fixe [‘white stranger’, in Susu] in town at that time, I was the only female patron of the tea bar. After weeks of sipping dizziness-inducing sugary tea, I gained the impression that my presence was not only accepted but sometimes expected to discuss daily events and have specific arguments which I was to be a witness to. My presence was sometimes used to expand and expound debates so as to teach the newcomer the ways of the locality, the political dynamics and the grievances that these brought about. Such situations created challenges for my research and some aspects of its methodology. Participant observation is a key element of ethnographic fieldwork. However, researching politically charged issues in a semi-public environment like a café, a family gathering or indeed public encounters in administrative meetings or court proceedings posed challenges. How free were we to discuss particular issues, how much was spoken aloud for my benefit, how much omitted due to my presence? While I used follow-up interviews to sound out the latter aspects, it was the former that presented me with most ethical concerns. The evolution of specific situations – some of which will be presented in later chapters – was not in my hands, nor could I openly intervene when I felt someone was exposing their views too blatantly in a public setting, explaining details or backgrounds for my benefit. In an authoritarian setting, such as Guinea had been for decades after independence, interlocutors needed to be careful with their wording when in public, but at the same time they could draw upon their rhetorical mastery to use my presence to express ‘various opinions’. Anyone familiar with West African small towns and conversations will know that nearly all activity in such a place is at least semi-public. People pass by, listen in and sometimes intervene. These somewhat precarious situations can only proceed in a context of shared responsibility and respect for each other. With regard to more intimate matters such as illicit activities, violence, love, sexuality or personal power negotiations in a household or family, I decided to use more caution and anonymity to protect those individuals who shared such sensitive subjects with me. When I introduce an individual’s experiences I shall therefore refrain from using real names.

Introduction  17

However much anthropologists try to insert themselves into the field, become part of the local setting, observe local lore, respect customs and become reliable interlocutors, differences remain. The general economic privilege of originating from Northern Atlantic societies is ever-present. In my context, it needed to be repeatedly negotiated as part of the perpetual effort of becoming – albeit mostly temporarily – part of local life, of family, of a circle of friends. Whether it was to assist a person in a medical emergency, or balancing out household economics at moments of spiking inflation, financial responsibilities came with social contacts. These countered my status as a ‘young woman’. While my hosts afforded some social contexts about me to my local counterparts, my status as a researcher was translated to being a student. This resonated especially with older people who experienced the yearly influx of social science students from Conakry university in the 1970s, who came to conduct research for their theses. Their collective socialist-inspired mission was to write an imperialistically uninhibited historic and sociological account of the young country. As a young, tall woman, I gained access to certain social circles; as a student I could gain access to others. Generally speaking, as a young female I appeared unobtrusive and non-provocative – which helped to open a lot of doors. Such perpetual negotiations are also reflected in the contextualized power struggles that occurred during fieldwork. While certain privileges were mine, socially speaking I was a minor and had to learn the language, local idioms, how to conduct myself correctly. My hosts, interview partners, generally my interlocutors held the answers to my queries and sometimes came up with more relevant questions in their interactions with me. These situations highlight the relational context of empirical research and render the ‘field’ into a complex web of relationships that span across place and with some luck also across time. Thanks to advancements in communication technologies I could message and call, with increasingly high quality, my main interlocutors over the years, following their families, their joys and their struggles from a distance. This eased the re-entrance into the physical field years later. One of my main interlocutors explained: ‘When people are fighting with you, then you know you have really arrived’. Controversial debates were an important step towards breaking up the rather homogenous and harmonious picture of the past and present that the landlords were painting in their recitals of history and family relations. These debates proved useful as a counter-point and provided opportunities to see this elite’s practices of marginalizing the tea-bar clientele as well as their strategies of self-marginalization towards the outside – an entity that was often left vague or totally undefined. Thus, marginality as a phenomenon of ordering social relationships and establishing hierarchies quickly became a central question of this book, which inevitably links to questions of integration and conflict. These were and are perpetual dynamics between different social groups in the region that are sometimes bounded by

18  Playing the Marginality Game

religious, sometimes by family or ethnic, and sometimes by regional or national identities. This chosen field had seemed bounded at first sight by the town of Forécariah and its network of formerly dependent villages as well as close ties to the country capital. It quickly became clear that the field was not geographically limited by the fact that national and international discourses penetrated or were drawn into it, just as Forécariah and its inhabitants participated in and were drawn into events beyond the locality itself. The rhetorical field also integrated debates on national politics, global economics and questions of justice and equity. There was a high level of awareness of West African, European and American politics based on radio programmes that were perpetually discussed, sometimes as tropes for local events, sometimes with reference to a global citizenship that some interlocutors claimed for themselves – an aspect that will be explored in later chapters. During my initial fieldwork in 2006–2007, four national strikes of different intensity, death tolls and relevance took place. The atmosphere in Guinea in general changed throughout this time from extreme anxiety, to shock, to enthusiastic hope for changes in political and economic living conditions. Discussions and some formal interviews took place in less than private settings. Particularly after the violent suppression of the February 2007 strikes and the ensuing negotiations about potential changes in the country’s government, people discussed what kind of change they envisioned. Statements like ‘Il n’y a pas de retour!’ [There is no return!] could be widely heard. Some of my interlocutors, however, remained cautious and insinuated that this phase might not last long, hinting at moments in the recent past when change in general and liberalization in particular had been promised without rendering people’s lives freer or more prosperous. Important events in the following years proved them right – to some extent. With the death of Lansana Conté in December 2008 and the ensuing palace coup, the military character of Guinea’s government came to light more clearly (Handy and Souare 2009; Picard and Moudoud 2010). While the international public watched President Dadis Camara’s televised humiliation of former Condé family members and associates, my commentators in Forécariah briefly voiced hopes that the new government would fight corruption and hold long-overdue legislative and presidential elections. In the course of the last decade, Forécariah briefly made international news due to a military camp for President Dadis Camara’s militias just outside Kaliah. The rumoured presence of the so-called ‘ethnic militias’ made up of ethnic Kpelle – Camara’s ethnic group – recruits from Guinea’s Forest Region sparked fears amongst the local population who recalled the attacks in 2000 from Sierra Leone that had targetted both the refugee camps and the local population and resulted in a long-term militarization of the country’s border area. The violent crushing of an opposition demonstration on 28 September 2009 came to be known as ‘Bloody Monday’ and put an end to those hopes. Political

Introduction  19

Figure 0.3  Freshly painted mural on the walls of the military barrack Camp Almamy Samoury Touré in Conakry (photo: A. Schroven).

turmoil continued even after President Camara was shot in December 2009. The following Interim President General Konaté and a transitional government organized presidential elections in late 2010. This transition from President Conté’s twenty-four years’ rule to that of the current President Condé was not a smooth one (Bangoura 2015), just as the previous transition from Touré to Conté had not been (Soumah 2004). However, these transitions are already being re-­imagined in popular images, just as Nandy suggested, to create a ­somewhat smoother transition. This mural depicts (left to right) presidents Conté, Konaté and Condé, omitting Dadis Camara from the line of succession. While Konaté, also known under his battle name el tigre, is described as a visionary, Condé received the attribute of fighter, referencing his long-term opposition work under previous presidents, one of whom – Lansana Conté – even incarcerated him for years. The long-time opposition leader and newly-elected President Alpha Condé managed to consolidate Guinea’s economy for a couple of years, gaining international respect for newly regulating the mining sector in order to increase the country’s revenues. He also served as a successful negotiator in regional standoffs within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which earned him more international acclaim. Domestically, however, his star has been sinking. The promised economic gains from the mining reform did not stabilize and little trickled down to the general population. The repeated delaying of legislative elections until September 2013 and local elections until February 2018

20  Playing the Marginality Game

has already disillusioned many Guineans’ timid hopes for a so-called democracy dividend of socio-political stability and economic development. The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the wider region in 2013–2016 economically devastated the fledgling middle class and brought the national economy to a standstill due to the downscaling of mining activities that are the backbone of the country’s economy and had also become a significant part of Moria’s economy since 2010. During my 2017 stay there, the economic downturn was locally visible, with a whole neighbourhood of half-constructed, empty residential buildings crumbling under the onslaught of the rainy seasons and suffering from the lack of new investments. In 2015, Forécariah again made headlines due to the so-called ‘resistance’ of its population to epidemiological interventions against the local outbreak of Ebola. This continued the outbreak experience in this prefecture, where in 2012–2013 an unusually aggressive strain of the cholera virus killed more inhabitants than usually suffer from the annual ‘cholera season’ in the wider region (Rebaudet et al. 2014; Reliefweb 2012). Both nationally and internationally, the supposedly backward and reticent character of the local population seemed to be affirmed by the lack of cooperation with the epidemiological and hygiene measures deemed necessary by global health authorities in Geneva and New York. These health emergencies also underlined the negative reputation of Moria within Guinea. National news outlets reported on the army’s intervention to extract suspected Ebola victims from their families’ care and move them to treatment units in more central locations. The army was again called in when an Ebola vaccine trial began in 2016, which targetted the families and communities of confirmed Ebola victims. News items on the ‘unreasonable reticence’ of the Morianais who do not want to bow to authority or reason turned them again into a domestic ‘other’ and a threat to national security. Force was seen as a legitimate instrument to curb the infection and serve the greater good. This ignored the longstanding experiences with the army, the central government and the meaning of border-dwelling that these communities share (Faye 2015; Fribault 2015; Migliani et al. 2016). The following chapters provide an insight into how the area’s reputation could develop and how sometimes it is in the interest of these populations to uphold such stereotypes of backwardness or reticence by manifesting notions of marginality themselves. What they gain from this are aspects of autonomy, control and certain forms of liberties that will be explored in the text.

The Book Many theoretical debates that have only been alluded to thus far will be deliberated in the following chapters. The historical background of the region under study will first be introduced in preparation for the exploration of identity games. These games may be based on very different understandings of identity,

Introduction  21

such as historical context, ethnicity and profession. Despite such varied bases, they nevertheless encounter each other and intertwine and thereby contribute to a creative political game that holds different forms of incorporation into and distancing from the state (Feyissa 2011). The next chapter will investigate oral tradition, using notions of landscape to highlight the relevance of history to contemporary perceptions of the self, identity and relationships with the outside, i.e. processes of integration into a wider and ever-shifting regional and national setting. How such ties have been manipulated in various ways, to bring Forécariah closer to and to distance it from its surroundings, is linked to people foregrounding one particular aspect of group identification over another. How they are referenced in local historical discourses and discussed throughout the local landscape will be discussed using examples of social space making. Marginality, as To Almamy represents above, is often perceived as a negative term in that it is usually constructed in contrast to a centre, whether this involves geographical, economic, social or other qualities that the centre is imbued with and which ‘the marginal’ does not share in. Thus, connotations of periphery, borders, limited access to resources and other kinds of indigence are interlinked in the self-portrayal of marginality. How and in what light marginality is perceived and constructed in Forécariah as part of the local political identity is the second subject of this chapter. If being Morianais cannot be regarded as an ethnic identity, it is a local political identity constructed through concepts of history, landscape and marginality. Many analysts use the term periphery, following models of core and periphery put forth by Wallerstein (1974), among others. It is strongly linked to the Marxist economic perspectives that inspired investigations into global systems and economic dependency models of development theory. In the present context, I use the term marginal as it permits greater conceptual flexibility, encompassing a wider scale of the qualities and processes in question. The simultaneous phenomena of marginality and integration into the state are explored from various perspectives in six ethnographic chapters. These chapters introduce different protagonists from within the local arena and focus on various moments of conflict and integration in Forécariah and Guinea. Two chapters on ‘identifications’ introduce the history of the town’s founding families. Rooted in eighteenth-century migration and conquest, the Touré family history has figured in the foreground of the development of the prominent version of oral tradition that guides a large part of everyday life in the area. Ethnicity and religion are intricately intertwined in the formation of a regional identity based on the pre-colonial principality of Moria. Institutional changes are discussed with regard to their identitarian relations, with state reforms carried out in the local arena in the form of a democratic decentralization programme. While these pose threats to established actors, they

22  Playing the Marginality Game

present opportunities to descendants of (pre-)colonial chiefs, questioning the practical implications of participatory democracy in Guinea’s decentralization project. Elders who become councillors and experts in workshop terminology have questioned the meaning of participation. The chapter on ‘Mixing and Mingling: New Politics, Old Structures?’ explores these various actors’ negotiations of old and new notions of legitimate rule. Differing interpretations of legitimate decision-making processes lead to shifts in the local arena and enlarge the definition of what it means to be a politician, thereby blurring previously established boundaries between elders, government representatives and NGO staff. The use of oral tradition in debates on legitimacy issues shows how actors strive to construct historical continuities in the context of the state’s attempt to further integrate the countryside and expand its presence. This theme continues into the next sections of the book. ‘Bargaining with an Ailing State’ focuses on local activities during national strikes in 2006 and 2007, when the central government under the leadership of a dying president became selectively unresponsive and at the same time more and more violent towards the general population. These desperately optimistic events set the stage for new versions of performances of politics that challenged local ideas of the state that had been inspired by the post-independence socialist regime. The chapter focuses on public servants’ negotiations about whether or not they are part of the Guinean state apparatus, or form part of the nation that is demanding changes in the way the state is run. The following chapter, ‘Citizenship at the Margins’ discusses the people’s performance of a future idealized state through aspects of citizenship, using the examples of taxation or meetings addressing young people as political actors. These events, moving beyond national strikes, reveal these different groups’ histories within the Guinean state and their desire for change. They also show how different historic references can be used to negate the claims of the current state and make demands – as citizens of a better, an idealized future state. Most of the events described in these two chapters took place as people expected substantial change at the national level and reflected on the history of the country and state. Performances of state and of citizenship are therefore part of a broader process of the people’s integration into the larger state project in Guinea, leaving behind their previous self-positioning as marginal. The stages in which these performances take place, moreover, indicate their firm rootedness in the social landscape of Forácariah and their basis in oral tradition. The events reported in this chapter highlight how people can use citizenship against the state, mirroring back the state-sanctioned discourses of rights and responsibilities as well as historical rootedness to demand fundamental change – a demand that comes from the margins but targets the centre of power. Some topics cut across the different chapters. They include debates on local, bottom-up development as opposed to central decision-making, taxation as

Introduction  23

the responsibility of citizens, and the authority of actors in their particular institutional and normative settings. These topics reappear in different sections, highlighting how pertinent they are for the people of Guinea. Taken together, these elements highlight the multifaceted nature of the overarching theme of marginality, both as a self-chosen reference for a regional identity and as a means of integration into larger political bodies. Local elites negotiate the boundaries of collective identities, of the state and local arenas, and ultimately how they employ notions of marginality in the face of perpetual processes of state integration, at a location that at first sight does not seem at all to be an ‘out-of-the-way place’ (Lowenhaupt Tsing 1993). Most of the topics presented here are not exclusive to the Basse Côte of Guinea. There are topoi shared with the wider West African region. There are challenges of the post-independence statehood that has been crumbling across Africa for the last decades. There are debates of socialism, developmentalism, geo-political dependencies and the meaning of the past that used to hold a better future, that are shared in many places across the globe. Memories of a more optimistic and more painful past may bring people in Guinea and beyond to make sense of their daily lives and manage contemporary perturbations, emergencies and an outlook into the future that currently appears less than hopeful than those times that are now described as the past. Throughout the book, some descriptions of empirical details enliven the complexities of people’s realities between the forces of economic perturbations, political insecurity, authoritarianism or military interventions. They hint at the force of everyday life and sociability that make communities and enable families to survive challenging times. They also hint at the complexities of each individual life that is shaped by, but not limited to, the grand events that are usually called history. Such complex intersections deserve attention, since life worlds are being made and perpetually re-made exactly there.

Notes 1. The original Guinean hymn in French: ‘Peuple d’Afrique, Le Passé historique! / Que chante l’hymne de la Guinée fière et jeune / Illustre épopée de nos frères / Morts au champ d’honneur en libérant l’Afrique! / Le peuple de Guinée prêchant l’unité / Appelle l’Afrique. / Liberté! C’est la voix d’un peuple / Qui appelle tous ses frères de la grande Afrique. / Liberté! C’est la voix d’un peuple / Qui appelle tous ses frères à se retrouver. / Bâtissons l’unité africaine dans l’indépendance retrouvée.’ An English translation: ‘People of Africa! The historic past! / Sing the hymn of a Guinea proud and young / Illustrious epic of our brothers / Who died on the field of honour while liberating Africa! / The people of Guinea, preaching Unity / Call to Africa. / Liberty! The voice of a people / Who call all her brothers of a great Africa. / Liberty! The voice of a people / Who call all her brothers to find their way again. / Let us build African Unity in a newly found independence.’ 2. Peul is the regional name for the group that in English is often called Fulbe or Fullah. As members of this Guinean ethnic group refer to themselves as Peul, I will do so as well.

Chapter 1

A Journey to the Margins?

To reach the places this story unfolds in, one needs to move towards the interior of the country from the coastal city of Conakry, Guinea’s capital. The main road first passes the ‘Kilometre 36’, a former military checkpoint and important ­bottleneck of transport between the capital and the rest of the country, which used to be, as the name indicates, 36 kilometres outside the city limits. From there, the road leads 20 kilometres to the southeast to the town of Coyah. Today, the urban sprawl of Conakry has turned this town to a suburb. Here, the main road continues eastward, heading up the Sangara and Yangekori mountain ranges towards Futa Jalon and the country’s vast interior. A smaller road turns south, running parallel to the coastline which is overgrown by mangroves. The tree-­covered mountain range is usually very visible during the dry season (November to April), whereas it is shrouded in heavy clouds during the rains. Looking towards the coast, extensive mangrove swamps are visible, interrupted by rivers, streams and estuaries. Seeing and hearing the abundance of nature there is soothing after the hustle and bustle of the capital and its urban outgrowth. The three large rivers stretching southward, the Moribaya, Béréiré and KissiKissi, are bridged by massive steel constructions from the colonial period. These bridges are just wide enough to accommodate a single lane of trucks overloaded with Chinese plastic utensils and Guinean foodstuffs that are headed to the border beyond Forécariah towards the Sierra Leonean capital of Freetown. Immediately before crossing the third river, the Kissi-Kissi, the traveller can see a mosque, shining white in the sunshine, with its four short minarets that are typical of the region. It is the most prominent building of Forécariah, set on a hill next to the head of the bridge on the other side of the river. Traversing the river, a 200-metre steel construction from the colonial era stands as testimony

26  Playing the Marginality Game

Figure 1.1  Colonial-era bridge over the Kissi-Kissi river with Forécariah mosque in the background (photo: A. Schroven).

that some infrastructural change is quite recent in this area. The trucks heading towards Sierra Leone follow the road turning right in front of the main mosque. This used to be the centre of town, with the founding family’s compounds distributed around the square: one branch of the Touré family occupied the area to the south, which is today called Tatagui, while another branch occupied the ward to the west in Fatako and another lived to the east in Koutoumania. They settled together with the families of ‘strangers’ they had accepted and integrated into their extended family system. To arrive at today’s centre, the traveller has to continue along the road to the east, passing the market and the remnants of old trading houses, memories of the former wealth derived from the long-distance trade via caravan and pirogue that connected Futa Jalon to the coast in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century, agriculture replaced the income from declining trade, with extensive banana, mango and groundnut plantations securing the wealth of the town until Guinea’s independence in 1958. Behind the market, along a boulevard lined by tall baobab trees, colonial buildings have dominated the scene since 1913, when the French moved their regional headquarters there. The living quarters of the colonial administrateurs du cercle are situated next to their offices to the right and left of the street, which leads on towards the former residence of the commandant du cercle, an impressive two-storey building standing behind palm trees and guarded by high walls, old canons and some soldiers lounging in the shade.

A Journey to the Margins?  27

Figure 1.2  Colonial-era administrator’s residence of Forécariah which had been refurbished in the First Republic (photo: A. Schroven).

Today, most of these buildings are used by the current administration as offices or as housing for high-ranking members of the prefecture staff, as had been the case all through the socialist post-independence regime that ruled from 1958 to 1984. The influx of Sierra Leonean refugees in the late 1990s brought new donors to Forécariah who funded the building of new prefectural headquarters for line ministries. These new buildings are scattered around the older ones, emphasizing the widely different styles across the ages. The road turns to the left in front of the guarded gates of the residence and continues past the police, gendarmerie and the prison to arrive at the youth centre, the maison des jeunes. It was constructed during the socio-cultural revolution of the 1960s to support the single-party state’s propaganda and mobilization efforts with public events, folkloristic music and dance to support the newly independent state (Counsel 2015). When President Touré called for a permanent revolution in 1962 and integrated this idea into the party’s official rhetoric, the building, like many of its kind in Guinea, was referred to as a permanence. And that is where the tarmac ends. A dirt road does continue to the next town, Moussayah, located about 35 kilometres to the northeast in the mountainous region of Benna, while a second road leads to the right into Forécariah’s newest neighbourhood. There, a new collège has been constructed across from Foulaya, a previously separate neighbourhood of Peul traders and their families. Next to these buildings are the houses of successful ressortissants, emigrants from the town who have moved either to the capital or abroad. Their houses are hidden behind

28  Playing the Marginality Game

Map 1.1  Forécariah town.

A Journey to the Margins?  29

walls, with power supplied by their own generators, and are empty most of the time, except for their guards who live in the courtyards. Some of these buildings even have three storeys, making them the tallest in town, even taller than the résidence.

Landscapes and Places of Moria This short journey through Forécariah passes through a variety of different neighbourhoods while providing an impression of the major periods of the town’s history, from its foundation to the colonial period, and from Guinea’s independence to today. These different political phases, mirrored in particular institutions, are manifested in buildings spread over the different neighbourhoods, all representing the growth of the town. The main mosque and surrounding quarters symbolize the period of foundation and Islamization. The old trading houses leading past today’s central market mirror the past splendour originating from trade and plantations. The old names of these quarters, Paris and Le Boulévard, reveal the early French influence as manifested in the buildings erected to house colonial staff and offices. The extension beyond the initial settlement during the colonial period stretched so far that it incorporated Foulaya, the previously separate Peul neighbourhood, into the main part of town. Further enlargements continued to the southeast, away from the older parts of town. This newer part of town also hosted public buildings after independence, of which the largest was and remains the permanence, a convention centre for the ruling party’s activities. The road was extended from there towards the east and the collège, the secondary school for the whole prefecture. This served as the basis for the non-Peul settlement of the area formerly exclusively known as Foulaya. Schoolteachers and their families were assigned to public housing next to the new school, after the area had been seized and divided up by the newly independent state. This appropriation led to the possibility of drawing up further concessions in this area and selling them to successful ressortissants, who locally demonstrated their economic success in the capital by constructing large houses after the end of the socialist regime in 1984. That the town expanded in the manner sketched here was partly due to the physical landscape, with the river and marshland presenting a natural barrier to the west and southwest. The expansion scheme also pays tribute to the way in which landlords allocate plots to ‘their strangers’, thus keeping these more recently arrived families in a constant client position, bound to the landlords’ political leadership. This system of control over population groups by those who claim first-comer status has been established throughout the wider region to accommodate migration movements while maintaining positions of power. The town is officially subdivided into four neighbourhoods, the oldest being Tatagui which is Susu for ‘centre of town’. Fatako is named after a famed Malinké general of Samory Touré who allegedly set up camp there in the late eighteenth

30  Playing the Marginality Game

century. Koutoumania is derived from the French expression coutumiers, used for traditional landowners. These three neighbourhoods are said to be the settlement areas of the three branches of the Touré family, the landowners, who are descendants of the three prominent wives of the founding patriarch, Fodé Katibi Touré. According to regional landlord-stranger logics, the families of their respective ‘strangers’, counsellors or advisors live amongst their hosts. Madina, derived from the Arabic word for town, is a younger settlement and hosts families who arrived in the early twentieth century. The names of the courts there are linked to the protagonists of the foundation myth and their counsellors. All of the neighbourhoods, especially Madina, contain empty spaces between the courtyards. The smaller ones are sometimes used for seasonal gardening. Others just lie fallow, much to the frustration of the prefecture’s Department of Planning. The secretary responsible for urbanization and land-use issues often told me that these empty spaces robbed the town of its potentially urban character, instead maintaining a village atmosphere with houses surrounded by gardens and roaming goats, ducks and chickens. He and his colleagues blamed the coutumiers for not selling the free plots and complained about the inability of the prefect and the unwillingness of the mayor to force them to do so. They accused the officials of being afraid of the elders, whose allegiance they might need in the future. Within this context, the elders were seen as holding back the town’s urbanization and potential development, while the prefect was accused of being too weak to stand up to the elders who were reputed to have close ties to the capital and could ‘get the prefect fired with the flick of a finger’ (interview, Forécariah, 6 December 2006). This also explains how the two newest neighbourhoods, Tatagui 2 and Fatako 2, acquired their names. As the members of the municipal council explain, they are provisional extensions of the two older neighbourhoods of the same name and were only officially recognized by the relevant government ministry in Conakry in 2010. The slow population increase in Forécariah, which even exacerbated by the mining activities in the area in 2010, made the allocation of new plots necessary, plots that were found in these previously uninhabited areas. The older, more established neighbourhoods remained largely closed to strangers in terms of acquiring plots, even though there would still have been space, particularly in Madina. The allocation of the new neighbourhoods became necessary due to the continuous population increase through new arrivals and the growth of previously resident families. In the process, the new inhabitants have been declared to be clients of the old ones, becoming participants in the well-­ established landlord-stranger dynamics so common to the region. This underlines the symbolic prerogative of the founding families to continue to claim political control over the newly arrived population, even though they were not integrated into the social landscape as individual clients. The rough layout of Forécariah will serve as a reference not only for details of local history but also as indications of the changing administrative and political

A Journey to the Margins?  31

systems that the people of the region have been exposed to and which they have appropriated, accommodated or resisted and continue to do so today. One such accommodation can be seen in the procedure of naming new neighbourhoods which incorporates spatial aspects of envisioning control over land and people. Conceptually speaking, social landscape draws on geographical references that focus on power relations. As explained by Raffestin and Barampana (1998), geographical inquiries can reveal symbolic powers invested in certain places by people and the events associated with them. These are expressed by the people’s interpretations of a place’s relationship to others and uncover the powers associated with and signified by this landscape. They may be perpetuated, adapted and assimilated into contemporary perceptions and needs while their geographical manifestations remain. Place is here distinguished from landscape (de Certeau, Giard and Mayol 1998). Place can be understood as a physical context for everyday practices, where social relations are reproduced and transformed in relationship to wider systems of reference. Landscape is a site with further meaning, as identification processes and historical remembering are connected to or enshrined in it. As Howard pointed out in his study of trade networks between Freetown and Futa Jalon, people in the eighteenth and nineteenth century ‘re-marked (on) the past through action in and discourses about places and about people-in-places’ (2005: 291). Landscape is therefore understood as social, made up of social relations between people acting in places which, due to their intensity, longevity and relevance, develop into networks that are created, sustained and manipulated by these very actors. Their ability to participate in the wider network, and thus their personal ties, can vary substantially in accordance with their individual resources, such as rank, class, gender or fortune (Howard 2005). Important resources in the coastal networks at the time of the establishment of Forécariah in the eighteenth century included landlord titles, membership in a noble family, religious expertise, economic resources and trade relations or war leadership. Individuals often managed to combine positions and use them to acquire more influence. For women, marriage to a powerful man or high positions in bundu / sande initiation societies were, for example, key to becoming outstanding parts of the social landscape. These women were able to obtain economic services or even exert political influence, especially through the families and later husbands of the girls they initiated (cf. Bledsoe 1980; Hoffer 1974; MacCormack 1979). Part of the ability to manipulate networks was based on history, with perceptions of the past and processes of remembering taking on relevance. Past experiences and the memory of them define contemporary perspectives on the social landscape, the opportunity to operationalize particular resources and, as a consequence, potential agencies. As these memories vary for each actor, they

32  Playing the Marginality Game

have different ‘spatial lenses’ that allow the social landscape to appear different for every person involved (Howard 2005: 313). Amongst the foundational basis of the social landscape are also commonly shared references to important people as social and geographical nodes. Nobles and big men often became features on this type of ‘human map’ in the Sierra Leone-Guinea plain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Their actions and networks had a great impact on the commonly shared landscape of the region. Large parts of the chapter therefore focus on these people, who are often referred to as the ‘elite’ for short. They lent their names to towns and villages, which generated other, dependent farming outposts over time, developing a genealogy of settlements linked to the noble family, which people still refer to today. References are made to parent or rather ‘uncle’ villages that have some authority over newer villages, while they take command over other, smaller and more recent settlements, always linking these places to the descendants of the ruling family settling there. Such toponyms are therefore a great source of popular etymologies, becoming references in oral history and thus part of past and present power struggles over the control of resources such as land, people and politics. The continuously shifting power with regard to who gets to name places and who has to accept these names will become more apparent in the discussion of contemporary naming debates between current and former landlords in the Forécariah area. Collective and individual remembrance of the past is thus closely tied to places and, through the people’s persistent references to these memories, reinforces or contradicts them, while ‘marking’ them in places. The markers not only include rivers, mountain ranges and villages but also family plots close to the main mosque in town, which used to be a miniature copy of the famous mosque of Timbou, before a fire destroyed it in the early twentieth century (Touré 1997; Traoré 2007). Together, these markers form landscapes with all their variety of historical meaning, and focus in particular on the effect of these landscapes on power. The primary interest lies in the ways in which power is constructed and established in changing social, political and economic environments, which in turn leave their own traces and form the wider landscape people live in. As the contemporary memory of the past lays the foundation for the social landscape, it is sensitive to changes in the alteration of social networks due to the rise and fall of prominent individuals or families over time. It is in this context that oral traditions become particularly relevant: ‘“Ancient things are today.” Yes, oral traditions are documents of the present, because they are told in the present. Yet they also embody a message from the past, so they are expressions of the past at the same time. They are representations of the past in the present’ (Vansina 1985: xii; emphasis in original). Vansina views oral tradition as embodying access points to past events through the very fact that it is an expression of the past in

Map 1.2  Forécariah prefecture with sub-prefectures.

34  Playing the Marginality Game

the present day and therefore subject to the concerns and needs of the present. He differentiates between oral traditions and oral history by emphasizing the time period needed to turn history into tradition: ‘a period beyond the lifetime of the informants’ (Vansina 1985: 13). With such a longue durée, oral tradition can be particularly fluid as it reacts to diverse changes and is continually exposed to challenges and renegotiation by the parties involved in its (re-)production process (cf. Bakhtin 1978). Skilfully employed, it can survive changes in the dominant ideology or government systems and helps to safeguard established social relations over generations. Oral tradition can serve as an integrative force to balance divergence, safeguard shared identities under duress or, conversely, instigate conflict. Its existence, reproduction and performance therefore represent a ‘social product’ in its own right (Vansina 1985: 94–114). Various authors have argued for the relevance to the sub-region of local forms of oral tradition and of history in general. Some look into oral sources as a means of writing an ‘African version of history’ (see White, Miescher and Cohen 2001), while others trace ‘myths’ like the Soundiata epic as the basis for contemporary ethnic and national projects (see Conrad 2006; Jansen 2001; McNaughton 1993). Knörr and Trajano Filho provide particular support for the relevance of local long-term historiography to people’s everyday experience of conflict and violence beyond the recent regional wars along the Upper Guinea Coast (Knörr and Trajano Filho 2010: 12). Højbjerg, in particular, describes how Mandingo migration myths and perceived historic injustices have been remobilized by various conflict parties during and after the Liberian civil war (Højbjerg 2010), highlighting the intricate links people make between oral ­tradition, past experience of violence, and everyday conflict today.

Interlude: The Founding Myth of Moria In the seventeenth century, a group of noblemen called Malinké-Mori [learned Muslim scholars of Malinké origin] migrated with their entourage from Kankan in Haute Guinée towards the west. Passing through the Futa Jalon and its religious centre and political capital Timbou, their leader, Fodé Katibi Touré, married Ramata, the daughter of the first Imam, who became his second wife. After exchanging religious wisdom, the group continued towards the southwest, arriving in the principality of Soumbouyah. There, Fodé Katibi Touré married his third wife, Menge, the daughter of the local ruler. He advised them to travel southwards to a thinly-populated territory and to convert its inhabitants to Islam. Following this advice, the group crossed two big rivers. When they arrived at the third, they decided to camp for the night and debate the possibilities to cross to Koyin Daalla, as their destination had been called, the next morning. That night, in his dreams, one of the elders saw that the long journey of the group should end the next day. Before traversing the river, they would see a deer

A Journey to the Margins?  35 on the opposite bank, which they should shoot. On the place where the animal eventually fell, they should erect the first mosque and settle around it. When this vision came true, the group settled the uninhabited area and divided the roles between the three oldest and most respected members of the group. Fofana took over the religious leadership and converted the surrounding population to Islam. Yansané was responsible for security and trade relations while Fodé Katibi Touré took charge of the political leadership, as he was the most senior of the three patriarchs. Their respective descendants continued this sharing of responsibilities and the community grew into a regional base of economic and political power. Moria became a centre of early Islamization and a hub for Muslim scholarship in the area. Over the generations, the familial ties to Timbou and Kankan were maintained by sending sons to study in Timbou’s renowned Islamic centres and by marrying young men and women from Kankan and Timbou into the leading families of Moria.

Historic Networks beyond Time After this general depiction of the lay of the land, it is time to meet the protagonists of this book. The founding family in the region traces its descent from Fodé Katibi Touré, a merchant and warrior of the early eighteenth century, who supposedly gave the town the name ‘Fodékatibiyah’, meaning ‘the place of Fodé Katibi’ in the regional vernacular (Rivière 1966: 123). According to European sources, the group led by Touré originated from Binko, close to Kankan in Haute Guinée,1 the same area that the family of the nineteenth-century hero Samori Touré originated from (Person 1968: 101). Today, this group’s descendants are an integral part of the population of the Basse Côte. How they came to be in this area, far away from the heartland of Mande, can be explained in many ways. One version is the foundation myth widely known and referenced in Forécariah in everyday life; the second is based on information from old travel records and historians’ investigations into colonial archives and oral tradition. While the details of the founding myth, presented in the previous interlude, vary, the commonly shared basis is very consistent. This account presents typical topoi known throughout West Africa and beyond. A long migration period, including elements of hunting, is followed by the (variously) legitimated establishment of a settlement in a previously uninhabited area proven by the clearing of the virgin forest. Such accounts are narrative devices that combine potentially multiple and diffuse events into a concise account that makes them easy to remember and able to justify multiple claims of political authority, access to the land and ritual responsibilities (Vansina 1985). At the same time they explain basic principles of interaction and family ties and they justify the distribution of land (Lentz 2006b). Murphy and Bledsoe emphasize in their study of a Kpelle

36  Playing the Marginality Game

chiefdom the fact that such accounts need to contain ‘pivotal historic events’ and therefore mark them in local history in order to be accepted and grant legitimacy to those who claim the right to rule (Murphy and Bledsoe 1987). Relating to this particular myth, the old layout of Forécariah reflected the relations between the different groups. The Touré family, subdivided into three branches that are named after the descendants of the three wives of the patriarch, constructed three neighbourhoods off the square in front of the mosque, while the Fofana settled close to the mosque itself and the Yansané secured the outside of the village and ventured out to found new settlements, starting as farming outposts and developing into dependent villages. While the founding myth presents a consistent perspective of settling, Islamization and ruling of an area by the alliance of three main families, other historic accounts time the arrival of the group from Haute Guinée between 1730 and 1750 (Mouser 2007; Person 1968; Skinner 1978). They were part of greater population movements from Mandé-speaking areas or later the Futa Jalon that occurred in the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with traders and Islamic reformers leading expeditions and conquests into unallied territories, to settle, conduct trade and proselytize.2 These waves of migration often had an aggressive character against already existing Muslim principalities which were sometimes conquered, sometimes reformed by self-proclaimed Mahdis and their armies. Mouser points out that the rulers of Moria followed the principals of Mandé or Peul states, which had previously been alien to the coastal regions (2010). The previous inhabitants of the region, the Mmeni and Mandenyi,3 were either converted to Islam and, over time, assimilated into the new community or pushed towards the southwest, towards the coast and into the mangrove swamps. This area had already been inhabited by the Temne and thus increased the population density around the Samou Peninsula. The Susu who had migrated to the coastal regions about 150 years earlier (Arcin 1907; Bangoura 1972), were also converted to Islam but remained and intermarried with the newly-arrived Malinké-Mori. Over time, this mythical alliance of the three patriarchs’ families lent their name to the surroundings of the town Forécariah, the principality Moria, and to the contemporary inhabitants, the Morianais. The above description of the population movement of that period emphasizes the relevance currently accorded to religion. Owen, a slave trader and witness of these movements, refers to the initial conquest of the area as a jihad (1930 [1747–1757]), a term followed by other historians of the region who identify three jihads within 100 years, leading either to the establishment of noble families and the principalities of Moria and neighbouring Soumbouya and Benna or to their near destruction (Skinner 1978; Mouser 2010). Beyond the Islamic reform waves or jihads in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (led prominently by El Hajj Alpha Oumar Tall) that had their effects on Moria and the whole subregion, Islamic learning was an aspect of recognition

A Journey to the Margins?  37

and respect that the Malinké-Mori commanded far beyond their principality. Therefore contemporary references can only underline the past greatness of this previously ethnically and linguistically heterogeneous group.

Regional Trade Networks Neighbouring ethnic groups and principalities were not the only influences the newly arrived faced. Population movement from the continental interior to the coast was not new (Arcin 1907, 1911; Person 1971). While the coastal peoples had been in contact with Europeans since the sixteenth century (Rivière 1968), the European interests changed from trade to empire-building which became manifest in this region during the nineteenth century. Written sources on this region are available from this period onwards, when early travellers began exploring trade potentials from the recently founded Freetown settlement and later Sierra Leone colony, such as Afzelius, Butscher and Blyden.4 Based on these reports and other archival material, historians have worked to reconstruct the political and social development of this region with particular attention to religion and trade relations (Howard 1972; Mouser 2010; Skinner 1978). These sources will now be revisited with regard to the establishment of Moria and its influence throughout the region. Thereby the social landscape of this period will be explored and the founding myth of Moria contextualized on the basis of historians’ investigations. Mande-speaking traders and Muslim missionaries arrived and settled in the region throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and quickly gained important trading and political roles amongst the local population of the coast. This swift ascent was facilitated by their previous participation in trade networks in Haute Guinée and the Futa Jalon, their region of origin. They were connected by family ties, shared religious and ethnic characteristics and thus laid the basis for long-term networks that led to the establishment of Mande-style institutions in the newly-settled area. They also gave their names to settlements, new and already established ones, which are still in use today and bear witness of this foundational period, replacing many of the previously established names of Mmeni or other origin. Despite intermarrying with the local population and turning into landowners and the new political elite themselves, the Mande nobles retained certain ceremonies, clothing styles and personalized links to greater trading networks in Haute Guinée, which continued to set them apart. One marked difference were certain religious institutions that the newly arrived introduced, such as communal prayer on Fridays, Sufi orders and centres of Islamic learning as well as systems of rule informed by Islamic law. Over time, the political titles used drew on Muslim Mande traditions and became established throughout the whole region, to be used later even by the French colonial system. Almamy, originally meaning leader, especially in the context of prayer but also elsewhere,

38  Playing the Marginality Game

and alkaly, designating a judge, became titles conventionally used for political office, the latter in the context of (village) chief or ruler, the former designating a paramount chief (Skinner 1978). The very same rulers were mostly referred to as kings by the early European travellers, but the Mande-inspired ruling style and terminology soon had its impact on outside perceptions as well. European travellers of this period ascribed different ethnic identities to these Mande-speaking groups. It was common to call any Muslim on the Guinean Coast a Mandingo in the early Anglophone literature, for example the Mandespeakers of Malinké and Djula origin were all subsumed under this name in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century travel accounts. Yet over time, some individuals and families were called ‘Muslim Susu’, particularly when referring to ruling families established along the Kolente and Melakori rivers south of Moria (Skinner 1978). Howard analyses the region between the Kaloum Peninsula in the north and the Freetown peninsula to the south as the ‘Sierra-Leone-Guinea plain’ for it accommodated the same political and economic systems throughout the ­eighteenth and nineteenth century, a thick web of marital and economic relations and shifting political alliances between chiefdoms and big men who were not necessarily bound to only one chiefdom (Bakel et al. 1986; Howard 1976). Political alliances and competitions were continuously forged and re-forged in the historical absence of empires or other territorial states. While a system of chiefdoms existed, these were not the only entities acting in this coastal region. Trade relations were just as decisive and exerted economic as well as political power and traders had, at certain times and places, potentially even more influence than bearers of official titles. Indeed, no holder of an official title could hope to see his decisions executed if he lacked charisma, general respect and the energy to unite members of his council and his wider dependants (Touré 1997: 69). These big men (less so women) came to be temporary nodes in the perpetually shifting networks of political and trade dynamics. Even before the fast-growing Freetown oriented regional trade networks towards itself in the nineteenth century, a lot of commerce took place between European merchants and native people living on the coast. This exchange already linked the continental east-west trade routes of the Upper Niger through the Futa Jalon to the coast as early as the sixteenth century (Person 1968). Traded goods were kola nuts, salt, cotton and palm oil from the coast towards the interior, exchanged with gold, wax, cattle and leather products, sometimes even ivory (Goerg 1980). The overseas markets demanded timber from the early nineteenth century, but had already sought kola nuts, groundnuts and palm kernels which were to dominate demand by the end of that century, besides gold, ivory and cam wood that were traded in smaller but steady quantities to European ships. Slaves were exchanged between the regions and trafficked towards the coast. Even after the official abolishment and the decline of their transatlantic trade in

A Journey to the Margins?  39

the early nineteenth century, local demands for labour force continued and even increased, when after the 1850s plantation economy expanded along the coast (Howard 1976). It was in this very dynamic environment that the above-cited group led by Fodé Katibi Touré settled Forécariah, a town known for Muslim learning and trade. While the early settlers have been described as ‘not very industrious’ as they did not work the land themselves but had their subordinates to do so, they were very successful in trade. Rulers and big men in Moria participated in the manipulations of the regional trade networks by exerting their influence along routes to accelerate and secure caravan and pirogue trade. They sent their sons to be educated in Timbou, Kankan and Port Loko not only to advance their religious knowledge, but to foster personal relations between these centres of education and trade. In addition, daughters were strategically married into these networks and in rare cases became big women who manipulated these regional networks to their own advantages.

Colonial Period: Borders and Shifting Notions of Marginality The social landscape presented so far changed dramatically during the nineteenth century. Under the advent of imperial interest, allegiances, trade links and family ties shifted and, in the recollection of today’s elders, the marginalization process of Moria began. The emerging French interests along the coast, expanding from the Kaloum Peninsula, today’s Conakry, disrupted the region’s trade and power networks. French colonial ambitions to control a cohesive territory only began late in the nineteenth century, when business with French trading houses had intensified and at the same time English interest in the area south of the Kaloum Peninsula began to manifest (Goerg 1980). The defeat of three important rulers who had fought the expansion of imperial powers into the interior for decades enabled European advancement in the region at the end of the nineteenth century.5 The French and British could now concentrate on the physical implantation of their rule by putting up border pylons, military posts, offices and housing for their administrative staff. By erecting buildings and boundaries they manifested their presence and marked the landscape physically (Howard 2005: 336–37). These changes had an effect on the social landscape of the local populations, changing power relations between people, as now movement was being restricted in new ways. Instead of a landscape shaped by continuously shifting and evolving networks of people trading and forging political ties, formal regions were created with fixed lines that were reinforced symbolically and physically by signs of colonial rule. One other decisive change that came with the advancement of colonial control was the changing relationship between free and enslaved people in the region, which affected local economic and social dynamics. While the transatlantic slave trade had ceased by the end of the nineteenth century, domestic slavery

40  Playing the Marginality Game

was still common and formed the basis for extensive agricultural production and thus income from trade of their produce for local landowners and from taxes for the colonial powers. These changes show in the difference between estimates of the slave population in the region. Nowak refers to eighteenth-century travellers who estimated that three-quarters of Moria’s population was made up of slaves (Nowak 1986: 158), whereas Klein estimates that about one-third of Moria’s population were domestic slaves at the turn of the twentieth century, a number quite low in comparison to other, larger centres such as Timbou in the Futa Jalon or Touba in the interior of the French colony, where estimates go as high as 60 per cent (1998: 255). One reason these estimates differ so significantly is that slavery existed in various forms, sometimes not easily distinguishable by the outsider. With categories of domestic slaves, slaves for transatlantic trade and various forms of indenture, up to 80 per cent of Moria’s population could be characterized as unfree (Mouser 2010: 59). While the dynamics between slaves and their owners were marked by temporary upheaval and rebellion, the basic system of social stratification was, so far, not principally drawn into question. Domestic slavery was practically abolished by the French around 1910, after a transition period of careful consideration of the economic and (local) political impacts of slave liberation. Regarding the effects of increasing colonial presence, Moria also experienced another frontier situation. While the port of Benty had first served as a stronghold for the French, both to mark their territorial interest vis-à-vis the British and to start taking control over the area then termed cercle de Mellakoré, they moved their headquarters to the area’s centre of politics, Forécariah, in 1913. The name of the territory was thus changed to cercle de Forécariah. The establishment of the southern border coincided with that of the border negotiations with British Sierra Leone which concluded in 1908. While many of the usual activities could be continued despite the colonial border, the improved customs services on both sides rendered trade and general movement more difficult over time (Brot 1994) and thereby cut off some links that Moria had with the south. Local historian Traoré (2007) argues that it was not the colonial presence itself that made the biggest impact on the lives of the Morianais, but the experience of the border that manifested itself more and more throughout the 1910s and 1920s. While the colonial border had turned Moria into a frontier zone, with military-staffed border patrols and customs checkpoints, and had obstructed the previously flourishing trade towards the south, this re-orientation in the context of the ever-evolving regional networks brought new opportunities as well. The plantation economy was flourishing in many places of littoral Guinea and mainly benefitted the land owners who, in the case of Moria, had managed to convert the title of landlord to actual property rights recognized by the French (SuretCanale 1966). The economic development triggered work migration from Futa Jalon and the forest region, with many of the newly arrived settling permanently

A Journey to the Margins?  41

in their workplace (Rivière 1977). This brought a new influx of strangers to Forécariah, adding to the ethnic and religious diversity, as the immigrants from Guinée Forestière were mostly not Muslims and ethnically heterogeneous.6 They were integrated into the local society as strangers or social juniors who remain dependent on ‘their landlords’: the owners of the plantations they worked on, the owners of the plots in town they constructed their houses on or with whom they primarily conducted their trade. The French administration controlled the activities closely, demanding certain products as taxes in kind and thereby influencing agricultural decisions (Schmidt 2005; APF folders 1934 and 1952). They also demanded labour services and interfered with the plantation work and the relationships between landlords and their dependants. The trade of agricultural products was now oriented towards the French trading houses installing themselves in all towns easily accessible by river and later by road. Additionally, Lebanese traders became more prominent as intermediaries along the coast, working in their own family networks. Now the small agricultural producers could directly sell their merchandise to these traders and did not have to rely on the established elite to be the profiteering intermediaries, shifting economic prerogatives away from the previously dominant Malinké-Mori (Howard 2005: 334). Judicial powers were taken up by the colonial system as well, using the French civil code to govern the colonial subjects. Thus the French took over some of the decision making that had previously been the prerogative of the holders of land titles, the ruling family of Moria and their corporate group of closely associated families, the Touré, Fofana and Yansané. These changes did not happen overnight. With the gradual establishment of French control over the territory, local elites had time to adjust and to integrate some colonial dynamics and use them for their own benefit. One major aspect was the installation of a clearly hierarchical system of local government with village chiefs, alkalies, and their superiors, the almamies on a canton level. With the Cercle de Forécariah being subdivided sometimes into four, sometimes into up to six cantons, the almamy of Moria of the colonial period officially controlled a smaller territory than the pre-colonial ruler of the same title. Due to his previous family networks and established authorities, he could nevertheless exert influence on the other almamies in the cercle but had to do so informally. With the colonial system being much more static and less open to power shifts in the networks of the area, and with the commandant du cercle and his staff being a potential ally to the other parties possessing different kinds of powers which were formerly unknown, their influence had to be integrated into the new social landscape of the area. This landscape changed with the changing cantons, of which sometimes four to six existed in the cercle. Boundaries were re-drawn in the 1910s and 1920s. McGovern highlights the fact that for the Guinean Forest region, French

42  Playing the Marginality Game

administrators tried to find boundaries that matched presumably ethnic boundaries and would result in easier governability (McGovern 2013: 94–96). Archival material from Forécariah also points to other French colonial motivations, such as dis-­empowering particularly difficult alliances of alkalies and almamies within the cercle by splitting cantons in order to then be able to nominate new local leadership. The idea of finding the right territorial unit to adapt to local political, historic or identitarian premises (and on that basis establish easier and more reliable governance over the territory) can be seen as a precursor to later state-making practices of high-modern states such as the socialist government of Guinea and contemporary developmentalist states. Moria was known, from the early colonial period onwards, to be ‘problematic’, a fact that is sometimes recounted with pride in the contexts of oral traditions of the period of colonial implementation or the socialist period. Other sources speak of frequent internal power struggles that rendered the search for reliable local counterparts difficult for outside actors (Howard 1976; Skinner 1978). This historic background was also played out in relationships to later colonial administrators. Several commandants du cercle complained about problematic local rulers they had to accommodate despite their administrative failings (Touré 1997: 320–21). The need to support these personalities became even more apparent after the military service they did during World War I. In many ­people’s perceptions this entitled them to better treatment, more income and more rights, much to the dislike of the respective colonial officers (APF folders: Notes Personnelles 1931–1945). Moreover, there were frequent complaints that the population was using their frontier location to hide themselves or their property from tax collection. Schmidt estimates that between 1941 and 1946 alone, the period of most intense French tax collection, 5,000 or more people left the Cercle de Forécariah (2005: 27). The tax yields were, therefore, lower than calculated by the metropole, causing additional problems for the colonial officers stationed in the area. These complaints show that the population tested the colonial powers and looked for their advantage under changing circumstances. During such transitional periods networks crossing the borders weakened, but could be reinvigorated when opportunities arose: ‘From their varying social positions, [people] made decisions in the context both of imposed structures and of special patterns and landscapes that they generated through local and regional social processes and discourses. People continued to re-mark on space locally and regionally within a dynamic framework’ (Howard 2005: 346). In the course of about 150 years, Forécariah had moved from being a newly founded settlement, a frontier town regarding Muslim faith and proselytizing, quickly establishing itself as a religious and commercial centre and exerting a great deal of influence on the region’s fate, to a centre of colonial control in that

A Journey to the Margins?  43

area, altering the power relations within the town and to the surrounding territories, and infringing upon the possibility of Moria’s elite to make autonomous decisions. Thus, geographically, Moria had changed from being an important centre of sub-regional trade routes to a border town, guarding French interests against the British neighbours. Politically, the position of its elite changed from an autonomous principality, influential in the whole region, to governed colonial subjects, integrated into the French administration to be local executives of their masters’ will. Had the political and economic landscape changed so dramatically with the establishment of colonial rule in Forécariah, limiting the Morianais’ autonomy and influence – or is it the scale of reference that changed, now focusing on colonial boundaries rather than alliances and networks? This area and the neighbouring Kambia district in Sierra Leone make up what historians like Howard described as the ‘Sierra Leone-Guinea plain’, the thick network described in the pages above. The fact that these social and economic ties, with family networks spanning international borders, are thriving can be attested to by the events surrounding the 2012 cholera outbreak (Rebaudet et al. 2014) and the waves of new Ebola infections in 2015 (Jalloh et al. 2017; Nurridin et al. 2018; Thiam et al. 2015).7 While epidemiological interventions tried to control the respective outbreaks by curtailing population mobility, inhabitants on both sides of the border continued their mobile lives. This inadvertently lead to the spreading of the infectious diseases that the international interventions found it difficult to grapple with, prioritizing national intervention schemes over the reality of mobile populations. In the mangrove-dominated western parts of Kambia district and Forécariah prefecture, roads and road blocks are less significant than waterways which guide transport and trade networks.

National Integration with Shifting Identities The mobilization for an independent Guinea had taken hold of the country by 1956 as its major promoters took care to put the movement, led by intellectuals, teachers and trade unionists, onto a broad, popular base. Even in a rural context such as Moria, the Partie Démocratique de Guinée (PDG) found strong supporters. This time it was not the elite based on the Touré family but the wider population that saw the advantages, as the PDG had mobilized for, and achieved by December 1957, the abolishment of chieftaincy for the whole of Guinea. Suret-Canale argues that this victory paved the way for Guineans to vote for independence in the referendum of September 1958 (1966: 459). The popular decision to vote against a prolonged French colonial rule has taken on a dramatic weight in the national consciousness of Guineans and the foundation myth of the nation until today (cf. Goerg et al. 2010). Both the bravery of the Guinean population and the ensuing suffering under economically very limited

44  Playing the Marginality Game

possibilities for the young national state are remembered in this mythical act of conquering imperialism by popular vote. Before this could be achieved, a process of political mobilization took place, starting with post-war France granting its colonies the right to elect their own territorial assemblies, a pre-form of parliament. Political parties were established in Guinea throughout the 1940s and 1950s that quickly divided on the question of the abolishment of chieftaincy from around 1955. Out of these different parties, ethnically or regionally based, two opposing alliances emerged that covered the whole territory: the PDG, mobilizing for the abolishment of the chieftaincy, and the Bloc Africain de Guinée (BAG) which opposed the abolishment of the chiefs. Rivière argues that this question not only motivated political parties to build up these two blocks but it also enticed the population to involve themselves in previously unknown (party) politics in general (1977). During World War II, French colonial subjects were forced to pay higher taxes to finance Paris’ warfare. As these orders were implemented by canton chiefs, they became the face of what would be judged as an unjust and excruciating regime. The abuses of power by chiefs became less checked by colonial officers as their preoccupation lay with tax collection. Therefore, the PDG’s call to abolish canton chieftaincy attracted people to this party. This gave rise to hopes that local power relations within villages or the wider countryside would be re-negotiated. To this end people engaged the different levels of colonial administration, complaining to the governor in Conakry about the conduct of his staff in Forécariah while accusing local staff and canton chiefs of embezzling collected taxes (Schmidt 2005; cf. APF letters: Commandant Quastane – Gouverneur Parisot 1955). The PDG provided an ideal forum to channel such dissatisfaction and by 1955 the French were increasingly agitated about the party’s success throughout the colony, just as well as its West African umbrella organization, the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA). ‘Forécariah circle was also marked by the ascendancy of the RDA [and] equally . . . by the loss of authority of the customary chiefs’ to an extent, that the governor acknowledged their loss of control over large parts of their territory’ (Schmidt 2005: 110). When the Parti Démocratique de Guinée (PDG) overwhelmingly won the elections for the territorial assembly in January 1956, neither their political opponents nor the French administration had doubts about the future power balance in Guinea that would directly oppose the rule and privileges of chiefly families (Rivière 1977: 72). Once abolition came into effect in late 1957, the canton chiefs not only had their formal powers taken away but some also suffered physically, with the agitated masses taking revenge symbolically or actually for the perceived injustices of the past. While no violence took place in the Cercle de Forécariah, all the chiefs lost their position, but in town the former almamy was elected to the city council (Suret-Canale 1966). Suret-Canale further reports that in most of Guinea the former chiefs had lost their sources of income and tried to negotiate land tenure

A Journey to the Margins?  45

rights with the formerly dependent population, leading to further confrontations and violence. In Moria a substantial portion of land had been declared private property in the form of vast plantations that had fuelled the colonial economy and had filled the pockets of the ruling family. Therefore, the question of partitioning common land for former chiefs did not arise, leaving the former almamies, alkalies and their families with their plantations and other landed property (Suret-Canale 1966). This should not make an argument for the particularity of the situation in Forécariah itself, but we should explore one possible cause: due to its coastal location, Moria had been exposed to many different influences, including different colonial regimes, from its foundation onwards. The political and trading elite had obviously managed to accommodate the shifting and evolving networks of political systems to such an extent that a change in official titles did not rob them of their economic basis that shifted from cross-regional trade to plantation agriculture. Over time, they continued to exert formal political influence as almamies, colonial chiefs and politicians and party members in the 1950s. Indeed, key personalities shifted their allegiance from the pro-chief-party BAG to the PDG already in 1957. They could thus engage with the popular movement and become its regional leaders, once it became obvious that the latter would be dominating the political scene and strive for independence from France. Therefore, the Touré family, through certain key members, remained prominent nodes in the sub-regional social landscape while political systems changed around them. Certainly, conflicts erupted during the independence process in Forécariah as well. But due to its location on the Basse Côte and close to the capital, the new government of President Sékou Touré paid it little attention. The party’s major focus was on the urban centres and Futa Jalon, where most resistance against its ideology was expected. This was one of two advantages that the elite of Forécariah had in order to safeguard their privileged positions throughout the independence process. The second was that the majority of the population in town was made up of either extended family or dependent strangers who lived and worked under the tutelage of the landlords. As a consequence, apart from the established political elite no group could be seen to mount new interests or to link itself to other, regional or countrywide movements. Either they did not receive sufficient support from the capital as it was concentrating on other regions, or the potential paths were already occupied by the elite. Such was the case with the new ruling party, the PDG, of which key members of the Touré family quickly claimed membership, and the prerogative of representing the party locally and the locality towards the party and the central government in Conakry. During the late colonial period political processes from outside were used by the local population to renegotiate power relations among each other. Colonial rule had changed dynamics and given priority to keeping efficient control rather

46  Playing the Marginality Game

than integrating local power negotiations. Thus, the political landscape had become comparatively static. The political mobilization of the PDG and its basically anti-colonial ideology, expressed in the campaign against canton chieftaincy, enabled a new dynamism. This also affected the human landscape by ousting village chiefs from power, manipulating the relations between different colonial administrators and positioning new people in the political networks by integrating party ranks. From a supposedly marginalized position as colonial subjects, people managed to use the interdependencies of the French administrative system where staff were closely controlled by their superiors in Conakry or Paris. By sending letters of complaints and demands, they integrated into the colonial administration’s logic and thereby integrated it into their own social landscape in order to employ it to their benefit. Throughout this period, conflicts were also played out within the ruling family; individuals rose and fell within the family dynamics as well. Nevertheless, to the outside they continued to form a corporate group, defending their shared interests and predominance in Forécariah and Moria towards the others while contesting relationships internally.

National Integration and Economic Decline Twenty-four years after independence, Cort commended President Sékou Touré’s success in developing and maintaining the PDG, ‘one of the most militant, disciplined and well-organized political parties in Africa’ (1982: vii). The ruling party was an instrument of reform just as it was an instrument of national building. Many national symbols were crafted and maintained. The largest ethnic groups were represented by a hero each, a leader who had fought against colonization and was now commemorated on the new bills of the national currency, the syli. This name, meaning elephant in Malinké, was also used as a synonym for both Sékou Touré and the nation, implying a unity of the two. The term syli is today more commonly used for the national soccer team. For the fiftieth anniversary of independence in 2008, statues of national symbols were erected on the principal roundabouts in Conakry. They, just like the nation, remain an eternal construction project, which has been neglected in recent years by the ailing president and a lack of visionary politics. Conté himself was too weak to attend the celebrations of the anniversary. Indeed, the PDG had taken over vast parts of public life and integrated itself into the newly founded government body and state administration. This could also be witnessed in Moria’s landscape. The colonial delimitations had been kept but renamed; the ‘cercle’ was now called ‘circonscription’, later ‘region’, and was governed by high-ranking party members, mostly teachers by training, who did not originate from Moria. The council, however, was comprised of local notables and dominated by the Touré family. The local party chapter was led by themselves or their councillors.

A Journey to the Margins?  47

Figure 1.3  The national Syli at the Belle-Vue roundabout in Conakry (photo: A. Schroven).

With early European exposure and the wealth from the plantation economy, some families had sent their sons to higher educational institutions. Throughout the colonial period, these young men became teachers and worked in the colonial administration. After independence the new country faced a lack of educated staff and quickly promoted those available. Thus, members of the Forécariah elite became prominent staff of the young state administration, the party or the army. By the 1970s, when Guinea had surpassed the initial revolutionary phase and the PDG government had turned into an autocratic regime, the Morianais still claim today that the country was run by the ‘three Tourés’, meaning Sékou Touré, his younger brother Ismael Touré, and Himi Touré, member of the Moria ruling family and in the PDG’s inner circle. While Himi Touré was not actually related to the president, people assumed close political links. Sékou Touré’s reputation for favouring ethnic Malinké as his close collaborators and thus underlining his claim to being a descendant of Samory Touré, was not even compromised. The Touré of Moria emphasized their Malinké origins not only through their name and migration history, but also through cultural traits and Muslim orders that linked them to Haute Guinée and the Mande heartland. Prominent men from the ‘Ramata Fodé’ branch of the Touré family, descendants of founding father Fodé Katibi Touré and his first Malinké wife Ramata, married women from leading families in Kankan, the capital of Haute Guinée.

48  Playing the Marginality Game

These marriages reinforced the Malinké alliances of the Morianais on a very personal level and at the same time re-connected (historic) ties over space and time, leading to another form of integration across regional and ethnic lines that connect central places of the country, like Kankan, with more marginal areas like Forécariah. Parallel to these processes of political integration, Forécariah’s economic fortune was declining. The plantation economy had already become less profitable in the course of the 1940s due to descending world-market prices for bananas. At the beginning of the 1960s production of this primary agricultural export crashed when a disease destroyed nearly all plants in Guinea and deprived Moria of its basis of wealth. When the socialist economy turned plantations and the few food-processing plants into public property, the whole country experienced the slow destruction of its agricultural production due to mismanagement, delivery delays and embezzlement of public funds (Cort 1982). In addition to nationalized land and centralized agricultural projects, prices for subsistence foods such as rice were fixed and could only be sold to government stores. At a later stage of economic decline some taxes were even demanded in kind to serve as salary substitutes for the civil service (Schwartz 1989). This economic situation discouraged the production of surplus. At this time, the border location provided farmers with an advantage. They could smuggle their privately farmed products into the neighbouring countries’ markets and make a profit (Cort 1982). Thus, they were trying to use their frontier location to their benefit. Stories originating from the 1970s tell of whole groups of farmers resisting tax collection by burning the rice before the official agents from the capital arrived to take it away. Such acts are mostly reported from border areas towards Sierra Leone and outside the historical delimitations of Moria, such as Benty and Farmoreah. Nevertheless, they are today proudly recounted even by the members of Moria’s ruling family, revealing notions of resistance to a regime that had seemingly been appropriated in so many other ways in the centre of that administrative region. This may shed some light on the changing interpretation of landscape, as burning taxes in-kind in a border area can be viewed as a distancing act vis-à-vis the perceived centre of power, be it Forécariah in the administrative region or Conakry as the seat of the autocratic national government.

Post-Socialist Liberalizations and Local Elections After the death of Sékou Touré in 1984 and the immediate end of the PDG-run party-state, the Second Republic was proclaimed under the leadership of Lansana Conté, a military officer originating from Dubreka, a prefecture to the north of Forécariah. While now many ethnic Susu were being promoted in the military and public service, observers reject the claim that this reflects mere ethnic favouritism, as ‘the Susu are suffering more than any other group. Conté’s power

A Journey to the Margins?  49

is personal and it’s being mistaken for Susu’ (Bâ, cited in Groelsema 1998: 167). Groelsema goes on to point out that while many important and profitable positions were filled by ethnic Susu, the president’s extended family and people associated with them profited most – therefore a more regional perspective opens up, centring on Dubreka and prefectures north of it. To the south, people from the prefectures of Coyah and Forécariah, who are also predominantly Susu by ethnic origin, were complaining about being ‘underrepresented’ and ‘underprivileged’ in a government allegedly privileging Susu (Groelsema 1998: 167–68). Nepotism within the extended family was in this case interpreted as ethnic favouritism. The post-socialist period presented a further decline in the perception of the people of Moria: they were not as well represented in the central government as before and, consequently, they were losing out economically as well. Structural adjustment programmes in the mid-1980s led to the scaling down of public service delivery and employment. Morice claims that between 1985 and 1988, 50,000 of the 80,000 public employees were laid off (Morice 1987: 112). This scaling down was accompanied by an attempt to decentralize public services and slowly hand them over to the authority of newly created local councils. These administrative reforms went hand in hand with the political changes. The new president announced multi-party legislative elections for 1992 and founded his party Parti d’unité et du progrès (PUP) which was to win elections until his death in late 2008. The two leading members of the Touré family in Forécariah pride themselves on having been delegates to the foundational congress of the PUP. With the first elections of town councils, To Alamamy Touré, the older of the two, became the first mayor of the town. In the next municipal elections, his direct competitor and second in rank of the town elders, Ibrahima Kadiali Touré, won. The third round, however, brought a change: in 2000, Mme Fofana won and was even re-elected for a second term in 2004. In the absence of new local elections, she remained in office until 2016, when a national power-sharing agreement led to the appointment of mayors from that party which had won the respective constituency in the 2013 legislative elections. In Forécariah, this meant again the appointment of a Touré family member. The electoral success of a woman who does not bear the name Touré in presumably conservative Forécariah was often explained in two different ways. Some people argued that the two previous candidates had been too corrupt to seriously reconsider running again, even if they had the most political experience due to their prominent positions in the PDG in the past. When arguments broke out about who was to be proclaimed mayor, the President Conté came into town to calm the situation and decide on the third most promising person – Mme Fofana. The other group of interlocutors, including the two former mayors, argued that Mme Fofana was indeed a member of the Touré family through her

50  Playing the Marginality Game

mother and thus presented a natural succession in the ‘modernization efforts’ Guinea and Forécariah were making. Mme Fofana’s ancestry was proclaimed central to her right and ability to represent the local population, and was sometimes even commented on in ironic terms: ‘That’s the only reason we let her pretend that she’s in charge’. Her strong ties to her mother’s village of origin were emphasized to highlight the Touré side of her ancestry. This village, located on an isolated island in the river Kissi-Kissi, was portrayed by her supporters as a place of authenticity regarding Malinké-Mori culture, sheltered from the colonial, socialist and contemporary seductions of quick money, corruption and nepotism that are otherwise perceived to rule political life in the country. Interestingly, Mme Fofana herself does not fulfil local ideas of a conventionally respectable woman. She only has one son and is allegedly divorced from his father, lives on her own now, chain-smokes in public and plays cards. Once we sat on her porch together and I asked her why she aspired to join politics. She presented a hearty tirade of emancipatory arguments and hinted at the fact that she saw herself as the compromise, an alternative candidate to avoid direct conflict between her two predecessors. Those two man had been locked in direct competition for decades, representing different branches of the Touré family, a different approach to the collaboration of locals in the colonial regime, and the implementation of socialist-inspired revolutionary projects under the PDG government. Mme Fofana viewed herself as the reasonable alternative to avoid further competition, under which the people of Forécariah would only suffer. She therefore portrayed herself as more reasonable and ‘hands-on’ than the two ‘overly political’ male candidates. Whatever the perspective on Mme Fofana’s election, the fact that her political title is justified (ironically or sincerely) by her connection to the Touré family perpetuates the claim of political predominance of this family in Moria. Simultaneously, it highlights the construction of personal continuities in the face of structural changes. Interestingly, the above story of Mme Fofana’s nomination as mayor also underlines the diplomatic skill of President Conté, and the special relationship that the Morianais remember having with him as a younger and healthier man. This link is exemplified not by the fact that Conté had to come to Forécariah in order to prevent an embarrassing duel between the ‘two grand men’, but by the fact that he cared specifically about the town and saw it as an important ally for his rule. He came to support the orderly electoral process. In the many recountings of this event, Conté was portrayed as the caring father, all-powerful but kind, a supportive president who took time out of his busy schedule to help out a group of people close to his heart. In later events, this idealized, close relationship to the national government, to the centre of power and finance would be reneged and a greater distance sought. At these times, the Conté regime would stand for corruption and

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libertinage and local leaders would have to distance themselves from it in order to – ideally – protect Moria. Even in the light of individual changes at the helm of Moria, the overall claim that Forécariah continues to be ruled by the Touré still holds true for those protagonists introduced above. Throughout changes of political ideology and state system, this elite managed to adapt and thereby safeguard many of their local privileges, a fact that is being referenced in a variety of ways. Sometimes, this particular position is also translated into a collective responsibility for the town and its population.

Historical Landscapes in the Present: Oscillating between Marginality and Integration Against this background, two examples of people interpreting the social landscape will be discussed, as they reveal how people create proximity or distance to places outside Moria, re-enforcing the legacies that are associated with this history: Since the arrival of the patriarchs [founding fathers], there have always been people here who could hide the town in case of danger; they could protect it by hiding it from the eyes of the enemy. So when he arrives from there [north bank of the river] he will only see bush and not the buildings, the mosque and the people . . . So we are safe. But this can only be done as long as the people are pious and a balance of power between the patriarchs’ families is kept and this means that the Touré are in charge of Moria. (Interview, Allasoyah, 5 February 2007) Comments like this one, made on the eve of a national strike that would cause upheaval everywhere in the country with the exception of Forécariah, were repeated in many different versions and with regard to different historical periods. Sometimes events from the late nineteenth century were used, for example when Samory Touré’s officers were gathering to attack the region on their way south towards the British protectorate of Sierra Leone and agreed to change course towards the East (Person 1968; Touré 1997) because the route had been barred by thick fogs invoked by the elders of the ruling family, making it impossible to cross the Kissi-Kissi river. In other stories a senior woman from the Touré family is reputed to have ‘wrapped up’ the town and hidden it in her robes from the sight of a French gunboat that had travelled up the same river to bombard the town in the time ‘before the colon8 came’, as contemporary oral accounts time it, so potentially during the 1890s (Kup 1967; Touré 1997). While the reasons for this attack were mostly not related by the informants, the references to danger coming from the river or north of it were the same, and the town could be protected by the powers of Touré family members. While the exact connection between the family and these powers was not elaborated, the topos of hiding

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or rendering the settlement invisible is common in the region (Berliner 2005). Some interlocutors, especially the older ones, cite the devoutness of the respective leader, others the powers inherited from the founding father of the family and the town. Both perspectives address different aspects of the founding myth and therefore claims to autochthony. The striking significance of the river in these different stories is underlined by the geographical observation that many towns and villages founded in the area during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are indeed located south of a river or sea meander. Traoré (2007) argues that this is a remnant of potential threats coming from north of the river, and therefore this particular location would increase the protection of the settlement. It also mirrors the history of migration that traces the movement of people into this area from the north/northeast towards the south/south-west and potential threats such as so-called jihads in the eighteenth century (Bangoura 1972; Mouser 2010). This element is again closely tied to the social landscape and the special significance ascribed to certain individuals and families. When in 2007 a national strike brought about public upheaval, destruction and death in almost all towns and cities of the country, it did not reach Forécariah at all. Even if the strike itself was averted, it received local interpretations that referenced the (social) landscape – rivers and people of Moria that together ensured the security of the town. Elders met for prayers in the main mosque and then passed through the neighbourhoods’ mosques. They negotiated with opinion leaders, particularly with young people. They also met with the officers of the military camp in town as well as the prefect to negotiate their peaceful conduct. Later, when a state of siege had been proclaimed, they even negotiated for the market to continue running. Besides these activities and their general public presence, they were rumoured to perform ‘sacrifices’ at particular places around town. While these were kept secret or at least hidden from me, they were referred to in various forms, also at the evening meetings of young men where I often shared attaya. In early 2007, they regularly listened to radio broadcasts and debated what they would do if people in Forécariah participated in the national strike. The most evident and easy opportunity to cause mayhem would be to inhibit traffic over the Kissi-Kissi river, cutting the town off from the rest of the country. Ideas were exchanged as to whether they could re-start an old car from one of the neighbouring court yards, drive it onto the bridge and leave it there to block the bridge for a couple of hours. Every time the discussion turned towards the question of who was to try to ignite the old engine, someone brought up an excuse: ‘The elders can cut off Forécariah much better, and without all the trouble we would have to go through!’ While these young men speculated about enacting the national strike in Forécariah by blocking the only bridge connecting Forécariah to Conakry and the rest of the country by car, elders blocked the bridge in another way. They ‘cut

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off’ the town from the rest of the country and thereby prevented the strike from being actively followed. A discursive distance was created between Moria and the country’s capital and the events taking place there as well as from the central state institutions that had failed to give guidance to local officials and representatives of that same state. Local bureaucratic institutions were openly accused of being generally powerless in the face of public outrage around the country, but this fact actually provided the space for other, localized agents in the social landscape to act. Another event, the attacks of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and other combatants of the Sierra Leonean civil war, is also interpreted along similar lines. Their attack in 2000 on the Guinean border regions south of Forécariah resulted in the destruction of several refugee camps and adjacent villages along the border, reached the Mellacorée river between Farmoreah and Forécariah – or the border of the pre-colonial principality of Moria – and could not advance any further. Today, some see this as a successful counter-insurgency strategy employed by the Guinean army that managed to hold key passage ways over the river. Others claim that protective measures by the Moria elders secluded the area, prevented the enemies from advancing and thereby facilitated the success of the military. In this case, the historic landscape to the south is referenced as saving the Morianais from the direct onslaught of the neighbouring civil war. It invoked a perception of distance towards the south, towards the border and re-directed attention towards the interior of the country, the capital Conakry and state institutions such as the army that had intervened and then stationed itself along the borders to try to prevent population movement between the two countries and thereby a potential RUF infiltration of the area. These events also caused a shift in perception of those people living south of the border: Sierra Leoneans are today accused of collaborating with the rebels, importing lax behaviour especially amongst the youth, drug use and petty crime, whereas before they had been welcomed as (extended) family members and friends. In the accounts of these events most of my interlocutors changed the terminology they used. From ‘brothers and cousins’ who were naturally welcomed, descriptions moved to ‘those Sierra Leoneans’ who caused trouble. A clearer difference in perception seems to have developed regarding the identification of these people. From this period onwards historic ties, family connections and shared ethnic as well as language group receive less recognition and the border, a formal institution of a fence, not hindering people’s movements, their trade relations or allegiances, became invested with a new social reality. These events emphasized the border and gave it more significance in the social landscape of Moria, detaching it from the otherwise closely associated communities in Sierra Leone’s Kambia District, and attaching it more closely to the country’s power centre in Conakry.

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A similar reference was presented when the regional Ebola outbreak (2013–2016) arrived in the region, with its peak in 2015. Kambia district and Forécariah prefecture were presented as the last outposts of new infection chains while the rest of the respective countries saw a sharp decline. During this period, the international border was closed but cross-border mobility remained high. Yet again, Sierra Leoneans were categorized as ‘strangers’ and together with those strangers from far away were seen as a threat to local health and safety. This interpretation stands in sharp contrast to the experiences of other waves of communicable diseases that traverse this section of the border. The annual cholera season in 2012 was such a case, when mobile traders and fishermen who frequented both Port Loko and Kambia district in Sierra Leone and Forécariah in Guinea were helping to spread a particularly aggressive cholera strain, causing much higher infection and death rates than during the annual cholera outbreaks. While vaccines administered by Médecins sans frontières (MSF) helped to curb the outbreak, mobile ­populations were not ostracized but maintained their local status. There are other recent events and processes that cannot be described as distancing or isolationist but rather as the opposite. They speak for an infrastructural integration of the area into the nation-state. The road between Forécariah and Conakry has been improved several times and the bridge over the Kissi-Kissi river renewed for two-lane traffic. The eternal growth of the capital has led to it growing closer to Coyah, which has nearly become a suburb. Land in the neighbouring sub-prefecture of Maferinyah has become more and more attractive, both for a new airport and harbour projects, but also for housing and investment purposes. Maferinyah has also become a medical research site, where vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases are supposed to be studied in an outpost of the national hospital and the health ministry. Similarly, the mining venture in the area brought jobs and more residences to Forécariah, while it lasted. The brief rule of President Dadis Camara (2008–2009) also highlights the military relevance of the area. The old refugee camp structures in Kaliah were quickly rehabilitated after Camara took power and officially turned into a police training school which was said to house the training camp of Camara’s personal guard. The location was seen as close enough to Conakry to deploy in critical moments, but sufficiently isolated in order not to raise concerns within the regular security structures of the capital. Locally, rumours of strangers’ rituals, sacrifices and killings abounded while this camp was active, referencing the ‘uncivilized’ and ‘disrespectful’ traditions of the Forest region. People in Kaliah feared the area and many farms close to the camp remained uncultivated, unless they could implement their own protective measures. Under the transitional government (2009–2010), new military-civilian relations were sought out. The Kaliah camp was abolished, along with the old military camp in the town of Forécariah. A new, much larger military camp was

A Journey to the Margins?  55

established along the road towards Pamelap and the frontier and now soldiers can no longer be seen lounging in downtown Forécariah. With the differing notions of proximity and the distance of Forécariah to the country’s capital, the impressions above reveal the power invested in local interpretations that reference the historically generated social landscape. It can be used to distance Moria from its surroundings – or do exactly the inverse. These surroundings can include communities to the south as well as to the north, the state border as well as the capital, state institutions in the form of the government and the army. These diverse references reveal how flexibly the social landscape is used to – in some sense – make Moria oscillate between its marginal position in the wider political landscape of Guinea on one side, and on the other side the close political and infrastructural ties the area has to the capital, which are on occasion referenced with pride. The close ties with people in the capital can have downsides as well. When political strongman Ibrahima Kassory Fofana decided to sponsor a new mosque in town, he did not consult with local councils or local elders, but sent the construction team directly to work. To the surprise of local inhabitants, early one morning, the team started with the demolition of the old mosque. Similarly, when I accompanied a prefectural fact-finding mission to Benty in 2017, the staff was surprised to find a road construction project on the way that they had no knowledge about. As it turned out, a politician with ties to the area had instructed an international NGO to implement one of their infrastructure projects there, bypassing the prefectural infrastructure office altogether. From a political or administrative point of view, Forécariah seems close enough for direct interventions from the central government or its ministries that are located in the national capital, and excluding administrative middle ranks and otherwise appropriate communication channels and courteous consultation levels. In light of people being relegated to passive recipients of projects, it is not surprising that they want to reclaim some power, albeit on a rhetorical level, over events and projects that directly affect their lives. The events above share some important characteristics. Many represent outside threats, or at least were interpreted as such in the dominant strands of public discourse. The need for internal cohesion became apparent and was achieved by employing the foundation myth of Moria, recalling a particular version of social integration that combines political and religious responsibilities with family legacies that are engrained in the formation of the social landscape: ‘Landscape can, through the associations it generates, create in the viewer a sense of affiliation with or difference from others, and individual identity in relation to a variety of communally-held identities’ (Adams 1994: 66). This particular communally held identity shall be further explored in the next chapter, to provide a better understanding of how a set of families have become so dominant in the public discourse of Forécariah and have managed to lead the

56  Playing the Marginality Game

Figure 1.4  The prefectural director of public works and infrastructure discovers a new road project in Benty sub-prefecture (photo: A. Schroven).

A Journey to the Margins?  57

area’s integration into the colonial and independent state of Guinea, just as they contributed to the perception of marginalization by so prominently inscribing it in the area’s identity. In this context, identity formation becomes entangled with ethnicity and religion as central points of the foundation myth’s contemporary interpretation. That this myth can generate integration into a corporate group has been glimpsed already in the considerations of the various historical stages of principality, colonial base and regional administrative centre which are immersed in various networks of regional and later national character. This historically grown landscape forms the backdrop for the complex contemporary negotiations of identities in this area, in which ethnicity and religion are relevant ingredients used to shape collective processes of identification, integration and conflict.

Notes 1. When I use names of places, regions or countries, these pertain to the present names and borders to better orientate the reader. If historic terms are used, these are indicated as such. 2. The given names of the mythical leaders are often cited as ‘Fodé Katibi’, indicating a high level of (Islamic) education. Fodé is a regional reference for a man of high learning, with ‘katibi’ – a reference to the Arabic root for writing – reinforcing this status. Some descendants of this core group, like Ibrahima Konditu Fofana, a Muslim scholar, became known beyond Moria at the turn of the nineteenth century (Skinner 1978). 3. Mmeni or Mandenyi are used as ethnonyms in today’s Guinea. The terms also refer to the languages of the two groups who insist they are separate ethnic groups with different dialects. Linguistically they are subsumed into one language group, the Bullom So, the majority of whose speakers live in coastal Sierra Leone. Along these lines French colonial officer and linguist Houis claims that Mandenyi is the exonym and Mmeni the endonym for the same group (Houis 1950a). 4. See also Kup (1967), McLachlan (1999 [1821]), Rodney (1970) and Winterbottom (1969 [1803]). For a detailed list of European travellers to Moria as early as 1785, see Mouser (2007). 5. These were Samory Touré, defeated at the Upper Niger in 1889, Bai Bureh who surrendered to the British forces in Sierra Leone, and Bokari Biro, the last almamy of the independent theocracy of the Futa Jalon, who was killed in battle in 1896. 6. The purely regional identity of being Forestièr is gaining ethnic characteristics. Depending on the reference, people originating from that region nowadays identify themselves not as established ethnic groups, for example, Kissi or Loma, but as Forestièr (Goerg 2011). This regional identity was reified during the Ebola outbreak which started in the Forest Region in December 2013 and ended in March 2016 in the same area, ostracizing local populations from their compatriots. 7. National and international news focused in on these areas at the end of 2015, when new infection heights were detected here, while the rest of the two countries reported decreasing numbers of new Ebola cases (see for example world/africa/the-last-place-on-earth-with-ebola-guineas-fight-to-get-to-zero.html). 8. Colon is a common Francophone term referring to colonial powers or officials.

Chapter 2

Maintaining Marginality Ethnic and National Elements of Identification

In a multi-ethnic society such as in Guinea, ethnic identities and the way in which their boundaries are manipulated and maintained in the interest of cohesion or differentiation play an important role. While Guineans have been lauded by political commentators for having a stronger sense of national identity than their West African neighbours, ethnic tensions and violence have not been unknown in the post-colonial history of the country. Since the introduction of multi-party elections in the early 1990s, political competitions have seen tensions being ethnicized, pitting political parties, with their respective regional and therefore ethnic majority support, against one another. This political competition has sometimes led to the overt ethnicization of electoral campaigns, especially since the 2010 presidential elections that were – somewhat ironically – declared the first free and fair election of the country. In light of the electoral violence and the increased ethnic tensions of these last years, some local commentators commend the wisdom of the one-party-system of the past which granted less public space to regional, ethnic or religious political party bases than the current multi-party system, but which restricted political competition within the uniting framework of one national party. In fact, many criticize President Conté’s decision to allow a multi-party system instead of the proposed continuation of one-party rule by his PUP in the 1990s as the beginning of the overt ethnicization of the Guinean public. This move gave rise to the foundations of political parties around well-known political individuals or around certain themes. All parties shared the characteristic of having a party base which was dominated by a certain region. Despite ongoing migration, Guinean regions are often dominated by one ethnic group. As a consequence, these two characteristics of regional and ethnic base end up overlapping. Over the following decades, this situation enabled the

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more and more overt introduction of ethnicized mobilization for government or opposition rallies and electoral support. This development opened long-festering, but usually supressed, memories of wounds caused by struggles for political and economic dominance or prejudices and campaigns against certain ethnic groups in the country. Part of these wounds were inflicted under the rule of first president Sékou Touré. Under his reign of ‘permanent revolution’, the ‘complot permanent’ became an important instrument to maintain control and fear within the leadership ranks of the country (Barry 2002, 2004).1 The infamous ‘complot peul’ of 1976–1977 saw President Sékou Touré declare ‘war against the Peul’ for supposedly plotting to overthrow him (Jeune Afrique 1976: 30–35) and saw many prominent Peul in the government, party and military removed from their position, imprisoned, tortured and killed. Most famous of these victims was former justice minister and secretary general of the Organization of African Union (OAU), Telli Diallo. While this period is certainly the most violent in Guinea’s post-colonial history, the continued adoration and – sometimes qualified – support for the liberation movement that had turned into this authoritarian regime reveals the ambiguous position it holds in the memories of people. Students of Guinea have referenced this period as the ‘controversial heritage’ of Sékou Touré (Pauthier 2013) or as a ‘socialist peace’ that outlasted his reign (McGovern 2017), which will be addressed in the following chapters. In the following pages, the political threat of ethnic tensions and the power of political mobilization along ethnic lines will be discussed in relation to the historical processes of integration and contemporary moments of violence in Forécariah. These processes exemplify the situation across this vastly heterogeneous and diverse country. They will highlight the importance of deep analysis beyond the superficial faultlines of ethnic tensions, which are undoubtedly also present. It is only in the deep historical local analysis that the complexities of ethnic identities, the inclusionary and divisive practices of regional landlord-stranger dynamics, religious conversion and national identities become visible and vivid. Only with this rich insight can the inevitable forces of i­ntegration and conflict be appreciated. Having outlined historical perspectives on the identities of the region in the previous chapter, I now turn to situational identities and describe how descent, regional belonging, ethnicity and religion are intertwined and creatively prioritized in particular contexts, taking shape in the idea of marginality as the basis for a shared identity. The foundation myth and historical considerations of population movements, principalities, colonies and nation-states provide an indication of how important boundaries are. These may emerge in more or less exclusive trade networks or colonial borders but may also be found in ethnic and religious identifications. In a seminal text, Fredrik Barth framed the question of boundaries as being central

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to the investigation of ethnic groups. He explained that these boundaries were not fixed and that there is therefore a need for a group to contrast itself with the other (Barth 1969). Identification as a group thus becomes relevant with regard to outsiders. However, these outsiders may be found inside the very group as the relevant identity markers, such as ethnicity or religious affiliation, may shift, depending on the context. It is as irrelevant as it is impossible to discern how historically correct the foundation myth is and how today’s prominent Touré family members are related to the oft-cited founder Fodé Katibi Touré. It is more important that we investigate the meanings derived from it today, the ways in which people identify themselves, engage with others and the role historical references play in all these engagements. By foregrounding day-to-day life in these contexts, the questions of ethnicity and identity ‘as day-to-day practice and historical process’ will become visible and at the same time more intricate and complex (Jenkins 1994: 218). Despite the focus on the everyday, the study of historically based identification processes remains elite-focused, with particular families, elders, bureaucrats and political entrepreneurs dominating contemporary identity debates. I combine historical and contemporary discourses on how people have identified the population of Moria. Beginning with the foundation myth, I investigate how the settlers came to be known as Susu. Students of the Basse Côte have identified a process of ‘Susuization’ during the twentieth century (Berliner 2005; Lamp 1986; Sarró 2007), i.e. the integration or assimilation of smaller ethnic groups into the larger Susu ethnic group. Such integrative processes or assimilationist pressures can be observed today as well and this ongoing process will be discussed in detail using the regional example of the Mmeni, a group that has been constructed as a ‘significant other’ in the founding myth, and which has consequently faced prejudices and pressures. The Mmeni are thus inhabiting the ‘savage slot’ (Trouillot 2002) against which the Morianais maintain their specificity. This significance is not explicated directly, as will be shown in this chapter, but serves as an implicit argument that permits the Morianais today to distinguish themselves from the wider Susu population that they are simultaneously part of. These negotiations of belonging and distancing highlight the rhetorical manoeuvres the Morianais employ that enable them to maintain their self-perceived marginality in the wider context of the Guinean population, in which the significance of ethnicity still persists. In a second section local cross-ethnic processes of integration, conflict and mediation will be investigated. Relevant references include stereotypes and joking relationships that are either based on the foundation myth, are Mande in origin or reflect nationwide stereotypes. Particular events of ethnically framed violence and the way in which they are mediated will show how such processes reinforce the local constellation of ethnic relations and the dominant position of the established elite. Taken together, these processes reveal how the regional and

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historically based Morianais identity can also include those otherwise deemed late-comers into the logic of the foundation myth, thus not only serving the first-comer elite. This very same group is itself the object of stereotyping and prejudice on the part of neighbouring groups as well as in the national view of the coastal population. The main line of argument for Morianais specificity is that, while ethnic and religious characteristics may be shared with the wider population living in coastal Guinea and neighbouring Sierra Leone, a particular constellation developed in Moria. The name Morianais is widely known in Guinea as a term for the indigenous inhabitants of the area, and most prominently the Touré family and their closely related associates such as Fofana, Yansané or Cissé. Even a singer with Forécariah ancestry, Yarie Touré, used this reference to name her first album Moriah, and is in turn referred to as ‘la Morianaise’, the woman from Moria. The associations connected to this group of people are diverse. Laziness, pride and arrogance are negative characteristics applied to the otherwise (religiously and politically) conservative reputation of the people living in Forécariah. Corruptibility and dishonesty, lack of unity and internal conflict are others, sometimes used in popular media such as Guinean comedies directly distributed by DVDs. Viewed from the outside, it does not necessarily seem advantageous to be Morianais. Nevertheless, quite a number of people identify as such, both locally

Figure 2.1  A comedy is being shot in Forécariah. The themes are emblematic: jealousy, laziness and pride (photo: A. Schroven).

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as well as in the capital or abroad. In particular contexts, pride, aristocracy and conservative Muslim virtues are highlighted as characteristics specific to them. It is a particular category of identity based on a geographical reference that is invoked in certain situations and does not qualify as a ‘superordinate identity, one which transcends or at least is equivalent to all other identities’ (Barth 1969: 17). A closer investigation of its boundaries reveals that the construction of ethnic identity is a continuous process that is highly susceptible to the broader changes people live through, while at the same time revealing continuities in their identity formation. While local history is interpreted in new and different ways, the main figures of reference remain over time. To better understand this process, the work of boundary maintenance will be examined with the help of performance which has been studied in anthropology in a vast array of contexts and many of these studies reveal how intricately supposedly traditional institutions, focusing on the spiritual life of the community, are interwoven with the profane, everyday political life and the state. Here, the focus is placed on everyday aspects of performance, how they multiply and transform reality regarding people, space and time, appreciating the links between the individual and the collective and between private and institutional performances. Such connections through ritual performances are polyvalent: ‘In practice, ritual, theatre and individual performance have a strong tendency to intersect temporarily and borrow from each other’ (Strauss and Cruise O’Brien 2007: 3). Bakhtin’s research on carnivals focuses on the subversive potential of ritual performance. His model works with notions of contesting official meaning through an ‘unofficial ideology’. Bakhtin refers to ideology as the ‘definition of self and person exhibited in a social formation’ (Karp 1987: 143). While an ‘official ideology’ is portrayed in a ritual itself, particular intonations, movements or words can reveal an ‘unofficial ideology’ underneath (Bakhtin 1965). Through such inclusions into performance, subversive messages can be inserted in ritual that, to the unprepared observer, appears to adhere to the official ideology. While these unofficial elements may not be subversive enough to upset the ritual itself, they ‘comment on’ its originally intended reception. Following Ortner’s idea of a ‘quite effective agency’ (Ortner 1997: 148), compliance may be a strategy employed by people to achieve their aim. Local means of complying with state rituals may thus enable an agency that is used for an unofficial ideology in Bakhtin’s sense. This reception is based on the larger community. If, as Bial explains, communities are defined by the rituals that they share, since they invoke the authority of some concept larger than the individual: the state, the community, tradition. Even a private individual ritual such as one’s daily grooming routine takes an enhanced significance as a means of defining oneself in relation to society at large. (Bial 2007: 77)

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With this notion of ‘everyday’ ritual, Bial takes a broader perspective on human action that can be termed ritual than did Turner’s classic definition (1975). For the present argument, the more important notion is the definition of self towards society. Repetition is central to the recognition and authentication of ritual and asserts its reproductive function. However, only focusing on the reproduction of social institutions and the reification of norms in the ritual context cannot be enough, as ‘the moment of reproduction is after all the moment of change’ (Karp 1987: 140). If there is potential for change without breaking the ritual, some notions of Bakhtinian ‘unofficial ideology’ may already be integral to the ritual itself. I argue that everyday rituals taking place in private encounters are just as relevant to the integration of society and the creation of a marginal locale as are the political performances of state in moments of national crisis. They are also, both in an everyday sense as in a crisis mode, highly relevant to the maintenance of boundaries in ethnic and religious terms, as employed by the Morianais and the Mmeni in Forécariah.

Autochthony between Oral Tradition and Contemporary Practices Eriksen has pointed out that the concept of ethnicity was introduced through colonial and later national statistics and education systems and has now ‘become part of the social reality which needs to be accounted for’ (Eriksen 1996: 8). The local employment of ethnicity as a malleable category of identity is therefore not at all surprising. These processes also affect anthropologists who, through their very study of ethnicity, continually ‘bring it into being’ themselves (Banks 1996: 189), creating epistemological and methodological confusion in their studies. Therefore, (self-)ascription is used to identify ethnic groups and their boundary works. Foregrounding practical day-to-day aspects of boundary work and identity formation, ethnographic examples from everyday life will be examined along with events that are regarded as ordinary by most of the involved people themselves. A few extraordinary incidents will be discussed as well to highlight how small the differences can be between the mundane and the exceptional.

Contestations of Ethnic Belonging The area generally referred to as Basse Côte has experienced a variety of population movements throughout history. The usual explanation for groups of people arriving in the area is that they descended from the highlands situated in the interior of today’s Guinea or the vast forested areas to the east/southeast (Touré 1997). For the coastal region that was to become Moria, historians usually cite first Mandenyi, then Susu and then Malinké settlers over the course of five centuries (Arcin 1911; Machat 1906). The origins of the people moving towards

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the coast are, however, already heterogeneous in these descriptions. That is to say, the ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds of the various groups and waves were not at all homogenous, even if they are categorized as Mandenyi, Susu or Malinké today (Bangoura 1972). Some accounts add Limban and Temne, which are in fact more prominent in neighbouring Sierra Leone, to the ethnic and linguistic make-up of the region (Rivière 1968; Touré 1997). Despite this heterogeneous past, the Susu language and ethnic identity dominate the region today while most of the above-mentioned groups have been sidelined as either border groups that are seen as belonging to neighbouring Sierra Leone or indeed as identities consigned to the past. It seems that the Morianais changed their (ascribed) ethnic identity over time. They claim to have been Malinké when they first arrived, and were referred to as such by European travellers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Over time and during the process of colonial and later national integration, they were categorized as Susu. Local colonial records reveal that the population of the area consisted of a Susu majority, with Peul as a cross-regional trading group, and Mmeni or Mandenyi as a ‘problematic minority’. The Peul enjoyed special recognition, at least by 1910, with their own representatives on the advisory councils of Forécariah canton2 while the Mmeni did not receive any particular rights or representation. In describing this population mix along the coast, the French linguist Houis, who spent time working in Dubréka, just east of Conakry, found the claim to ethnic identity to be inconclusive, and particularly so in the case of the coastal Susu: Are the Susu therefore Dyalonke? Many Susu are of this opinion. But they emphasize a difference between ethnicity and race. The language spoken by the two groups is nearly identical. It belongs to the Mande-Fu language. The Susu do not, however, represent a unit racially. The Touré claim to be Malinke and to come from the region of Kankan. The Sylla call themselves Baga, with elders of the family speaking the [Baga] dialect of Kaloum. (Houis 1950b: 78–79)3 Houis’s explanations highlight how origins can be framed in different ways and how easily confused an observer can become when taking family names or places of origin to be an indicator for ethnic identity. With regard to the prominent Touré family in Moria, he explained that ‘[t]he Touré call themselves Susu or Malinké, but it is important to know that one can find the same name in Moria, Kankan, Bamako and the ancient dynasty of the Songhay kings’ (Houis 1950b: 79).4 Thus, associating the family with either the Susu or Malinké, both of which number among the Guinea’s most numerous groups, seems difficult at first glance, an issue reflected in the writings of other European travellers

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and explorers who refer to Moria and its surroundings as ‘Mandingo country’ (Skinner 1978: 54). Arcin, the earliest historian of the Guinean coast, even claimed that the Touré of Moria were Peul due to their close religious, trade and political ties. He cited the Futa theocracy’s sole acceptance of the almamy of Moria from within the entire coastal region, while adding the particular physical features of some Touré family members to support his argument (Arcin 1911: 139). Considerations of ethnic origins did not change throughout the colonial period, as the direct French rule regarded landlord titles and effective influence over local populations to be more important than any potentially shifting ethnic differentiations. While taking into consideration Forécariah and National Archive material as well as elders’ accounts, I could not ascertain any particular moments at which French colonial policy might have changed and begun to record the particular ethnic identities (e.g. Malinké or Susu) of individual village chiefs or court councillors beyond marking them simply as ‘indigenous’. This stands in contrast to the differentiation that was always made between those of Peul and Mmeni ethnicity. With independence, a new ideological regime of ethnic identity came into place that treated ethnicity as harmful, segregationist and anti-modern. This came about, according to Schmidt, because people had suffered the burdens of ‘French colonialism as Guineans – not as Malinké, Susu, or Peul’ as was later reflected in the protests against colonialism and the national movement for independence (Schmidt 2005: 18). This nevertheless began within a framework of associations and later political parties that were ethnically or regionally based. Most of these parties merged with the RDA/PDG during the course of 1955 and 1956 in an effort to unite against colonial oppression, so that during ‘the final drive for national independence, the cracks in Guinean unity were papered over, at least temporarily’ (Schmidt 2005: 192). Language became a vehicle of anti-imperialist struggle that promoted education and public communication in the major languages of Guinea. As a result, Susu became the standard language of communication in Basse Côte for a couple of decades. This is often mentioned in Forécariah to justify the fact that the Malinké-Mori no longer speak Malinké today. People are reported to have spoken Susu as their mother tongue even earlier, however, due to intermarriage with local (Susu) women who had taught it to their children.5 In any case, the official population statistics of Forécariah and of Guinea today group together the entire population as Susu. In addition to this official perspective, the historian Aboubacar Touré, himself a member of Moria’s founding family, lists Malinké-Mori as a distinct ethnic group amongst the others inhabiting the region: ‘Mandenyi, Sosso, Maninka-Mori, Peul, Limban et Téminé’ (Touré 1997: 5). While he asserts that the Mandenyi, Limban and Temne have since been assimilated to be Susu, he claims that the Malinké-Mori remain distinct even today, despite the dominance

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of Susu as the regional language and ethnic identity (interview, Kindia, 2 July 2006). The Susuization process that has been attributed to Basse Côte generally (cf. Binet 1962: 104), was already observed during the colonial period and has since been analysed, for example by Sarró for the Baga in the northern part of Basse Côte (cf. Lamp 1996; Sarró 2009). The Susu were viewed as late-comers there and therefore clients or ‘strangers’ of the Baga landholders. Sarró cites Baga sources that have recently claimed that the Susu ‘rewrote history to sell land’ (2010), claiming to be landlords who were entitled to do so. This claim raises questions of autochthony and the legitimate rule over land, which have become more relevant in recent years across the whole region (cf. Ceuppens and Geschiere 2005; Leonhardt 2006). For the southern part of Basse Côte, Houis and Balandier already pointed out that people of Mandenyi origin did not usually identify themselves as such, but instead claimed ‘the race of their conquerors’, identifying as Susu and refusing to show any knowledge of the Mandenyi language in public (Balandier 1952). Earlier, however, the French colonial administration closely noted the differences between ethnic groups in the Cercle de Forécariah, and in the Canton de Benty and Morécania, which was home to the largest percentage of Mandenyi, in particular. In April 1930, the commandant du cercle Kermadec described them as ‘an arrogant and villainous race’ who caused problems in the sensitive area bordering Sierra Leone, which was only manageable thanks to ‘their attachment to the rich and very productive soil’ (APF Folder: Chef Canton Samou). This left the impression that Susu was the dominant ethnic group during the late colonial period and others, in this case the Mandenyi, were forced to either ‘retreat or assimilate’ (Balandier 1948:1). The pressure of Susuization thus surpassed the level of questions of language or identity and began to touch upon access to and ownership of land, issues that have become more relevant in recent decades, especially as mining companies began prospecting activities in Forécariah prefecture.

Mmeni: The Significant Other For a long period during my fieldwork, I did not seem to encounter any Mmeni. People did not talk about them in the present tense but only as the past ‘pagan occupants’ of the area conquered by the Malinké-Mori, who had been converted and assimilated into the wider population or had been pushed onto the Samou Peninsula, which mainly belongs to contemporary Sierra Leone, and where Mmeni or Bullom speakers form a significant population group. Enquiries about music and dance performances in interregional competitions during the Touré era did, however, uncover more recent references to the Mmeni. These performances were part of a wider ‘cultural revolution’ which was meant to demystify Guinea, purify Islamic practices and modernize the population after

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Figure 2.2  Mmeni masks dancing at a village celebration (photo: A. Schroven).

Figure 2.3  Mmeni women dancing at a village celebration (photo: A. Schroven).

the fall of colonialism. In the official vocabulary of the time, the concept of ‘race’ was to disappear and Guineans were to be unified as Africans (Sékou Touré, cited in Mazrui and Tidy 1984: 91; Diallo 2013). The music and dance of particular ethnic groups was therefore expected to serve the socialist revolution and help to bring about the creation of the nation in the form of folklore. This was to

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showcase the diversity and richness of Guinean history under public guidance and control in a process termed by Bender as the ‘bureaucratization of culture’ (Bender 2000). As a consequence, folklore competitions were regularly organized during Touré’s regime among the country’s regional youth associations (Kaba 1976: 207), where the ‘local minorities’ of Mmeni and Mandenyi6 apparently excelled and won quite a few prizes on behalf of the prefecture. While they were admired for their dance performances, they were also looked down upon for their religious practices, which were rumoured to include the adoration of particular rocks. Some such settlements continue to exist today in the sub-prefectures of Farmoreah and Benty, close to the Sierra Leonean border. The path to Kagbou, a Mmeni settlement with about ninety inhabitants, was often difficult to follow through a new growth of rice which formed part of the upland slash-and-burn cultivation around the settlement. My first visit had been facilitated by an interlocutor who had praised the open-mindedness and hospitality of the villagers. When we arrived together, however, the atmosphere was more tense than welcoming. Upon the usual introduction and passing of kola nuts to the local dignitaries, the village elder explained: ‘You come as a surprise. We are in our Susu attire now. In this way we cannot talk about our culture, our village, where we come from. We will make an appointment and then you can see the whole village, what it is like, and all the people, what they are really like’. However surprising this explanation may have seemed, later encounters brought to light the fact that, on that day, people had just come back from the new rice paddies in their work clothes and were thus caught up in the context of everyday life: while the people certainly acknowledged their Mmeni origins, they did not explicitly experience it in their everyday lives. Only a few older people spoke the language, and the people’s clothes and everyday habits were the same as those of the Susu. Their Mmeni character only appeared at festive occasions and ceremonies, including the dance and music that were preserved through the isolation of their village. I was asked to bring a camera and record the dance that they had been performing at the regional culture contests in Farmoreah and Pamelap during the First Republic. After discussing dates for a new, official visit and exchanging greetings, we were quickly sent on our way as no further conversation about identity or ethnicity was possible at that time: ‘We are Susu today’. The two young men accompanying us towards the main path were adamant that any insights gained from their village be duly preserved: ‘We will want to see our pictures in the book. Send us the small part of your work about us’. The recording and preservation of their Mmeni existence remained of great interest to the people, an issue that was to be reiterated in subsequent encounters and interviews. Viewing video documentation of the inhabitants singing and dancing with masks – as Mmeni and not as Susu – the village elders were ready to discuss more details of the villagers’ identities. Religious practice was

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a particularly sensitive aspect of this. Next to the local mosque is a small ritual structure in a hollow, where an iron separation surrounds three stones like a miniature fence. The stones were brought to the village from Táigbé, further inland, and symbolize the village and its inhabitants. Sacrifices are made to the stones, and the stones are protected as a means of averting potential dangers. It is not, however, a site for people to ask for personal favours. For that, sacrifices have to be made to a large rock next to the settlement, a place usually covered with undergrowth unless a ceremony is being held. While Muslim prayers are conducted at both places, the language changes from Arabic and Susu inside the village to Arabic and Mmeni outside of it. This shift in the language of prayer was explained as an essential part of Mmeni culture. The fact that only a few old people in the village speak Mmeni does not diminish the meaning of this. In an area where the Muslim faith has been closely tied to the predominance of one ethnic group and the dominant lineage of the Touré, these religious practices present a challenge to the version of Islam linked to the Morianais. They therefore also give way to the interpretation that the Mmeni are not ‘real’ Muslims but adhere instead to older faiths expected to have been made extinct through past efforts of conquest and conversion. Being ostracized by the predominantly Muslim neighbouring Susu areas may have been the reason to choose such an isolated location. This self-chosen isolation is, however, only partial. The language and initiation practice were kept alive under these difficult circumstances by sending young people across the border to the Mmeni in Sierra Leone, who kept their cultural practices alive in public and were able to initiate young people into ritual adulthood during Guinea’s socialist era. While the language and other knowledge could be learnt there, not a lot of young people were said to be interested as the initiation into the Mmeni version of Poro and Sande initiation societies is quite taxing in terms of time and resources. While this lament of ethnic identities being lost to majority ethnicities resonates with the elders of other groups along the Upper Guinea Coast, Sarró explains that similar fears have been expressed for over a century among some Baga-speaking groups along the northern coast of Guinea. There, generations of different elders have had the same feeling of losing the next generation’s Baga identity and, in effect, having Susu children. Questions of what essential traits someone needs to have in order to be a Baga and not a Susu have been debated over generations within the context of a minority group facing life with a different majority ethnic group (Sarró 2010). The same debates will, without a doubt, continue amongst the Mmeni in Forécariah. Even if large portions of the youth are no longer being initiated today, the knowledge of their distinguished descent is still held and cherished by the elders. A hand-written Arabic script in the Susu language of the founding family’s genealogy is referred to as the proof of their Mmeni origin and their status as first-comers. This symbol of distinction is, however, also a symbol of

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their situation as religious outcasts, dispossessed landowners and marginalized rice farmers. The document consists of a list of male names linking the population to the founding family of Táigbé, now called Farmoreah, a place allegedly named after Fámori Touré, who is presumed to be a grandson of Fodé Katibi Touré. Houis, the colonial administrator and later linguist who worked in the region in the 1940s, notes that the toponyms of the Samou Peninsula were Baga, but that the toponyms were Mmeni in Benna (today’s Susu-inhabited sub-prefectures of Moussayah and Sikhourou) (Houis 1950a: 27–28). On the basis of early European travel accounts, Rivière notes that the region had been inhabited by ‘Mmeni/Mandenyi’ in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Rivière 1968: 734). While it is today impossible to verify past toponyms in Benna, the multitude of claims to land, by naming places in their own languages, again reveals how different peoples inscribe their histories upon the landscape. These constructions of Mmeni migration history highlight how the boundary and thus the basic differentiation between themselves and the Morianais is maintained: with one group having conquered the land of the other within the living memory of the group, this history has become constitutive toward essentializing the differences between the Morianais and the Mmeni. The two groups have much in common otherwise, with both being Susu in many respects. In today’s geographic isolation, the life in the margins offers the village protection to maintain some aspects of Mmeni culture – indeed, a few aspects are in demand as performances of folklore at the regional dance competitions that were so popular during the Touré regime and which still occur, albeit in a less ideologically charged environment. The pride placed in and importance connected to capturing and thus preserving elements of the Mmeni identity demonstrate the concern that this part of the identity might disappear over time and with changing circumstances – just as the language skills already have. Even in the isolated ‘Mmeni stronghold’, these processes are apparent today. Following my last visit, after I recorded dances and shared photos, impressions and explanations, the village elder pointed out that two brothers, ‘sons of the village’, had built a house where they lived with their families just behind the intersection off the main road towards the Mmeni village: First we avoided them; they are not allowed to come back here. Getting close to the road means getting closer to being Susu. We never wanted that for ourselves. They will lose what little is left of their Mmeni identity. They have to be Susu there all the time. But now, we find it practical, it is easier to get to the road, to the market. Those of us from the village have a place where we can rest along the way or even stay overnight if necessary.

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As both ‘traitors’ and mediators, the brothers and their family appear to be a bridge along the way toward preserving Mmeni identity in a Susu-dominated area. While the people in the more isolated area may present themselves as Susu on the outside and Mmeni on the inside – an inside they can reveal on certain occasions – they deny this possibility to the members of that particular household, which also, due to its mere physical distance, lies beyond the protection of the village shrine next to the mosque. There was therefore a fear that members of the household would cease to be Mmeni after a while since the double ethnicity practised in the village was not possible for them. The value attached to performing aspects of Mmeni cultural practice and capturing it on video shows how relevant this question is for some of the village’s inhabitants. They visibly fear further stages of integration that would make them even less Mmeni and more fully Susu. The example of the Mmeni shows how fleeting and dependent on context ethnicity is. Even though differences between Susu and Mmeni are expressed in religious matters, ceremonial life and debates on autochthony, they are framed in essentially identitarian terms by the different groups. Following Eriksen’s notion of language games, I argue that it is in this sphere of life that differences are experienced in the most pronounced way, lending their meaning to the experience of ethnic difference (Eriksen 1991). Having multiple ethnic affiliations becomes a negotiation of collective and individual histories and contemporary possibilities. There are, however, also important differences between the actors. While the Morianais do not have to explicitly position themselves vis-à-vis the Mmeni, they in turn do see the need to differentiate themselves from the predominant Susu and therefore implicitly also from the Morianais conquerors. This need arises from domination by numbers and continuing to be deprived of an autochthonous status, while the Morianais can afford to leave the reference to the significant other on a merely implicit level. In this way, Susu ethnic identity emerges as a mediator between the Mmeni and the Morianais. Both can establish distance to it through particular histories and contemporary differences, thus maintaining their boundaries. Nevertheless, the quality of their relationship to the Susu identity is different; while the Morianais are simultaneously ‘fully Susu’, the Mmeni are sometimes Susu, ­sometimes Susu ‘on the outside’ and sometimes ‘fully Mmeni’. The multitude of identitarian notions at work among the Mmeni, the Morianais and the Susu again reveals, as in many anthropological works of the constructivist era, that ‘people have undoubtedly always been more mobile and identities less fixed than the static and typologizing approaches of classical anthropology would suggest’ (Gupta and Ferguson 1992: 9). While anthropologists (as well as state administrators and other professionals working with identities) have constructed and deconstructed groups and their origins, they are

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not the only ones to think about boundaries and identitarian essentialities. The debate among the Morianais, Susu and Mmeni shows how important boundaries are to these people themselves in their everyday lives, in rituals and in politics. The debates also reveal the limits of agency that some individuals and groups experience when manoeuvring among their histories, identities and potential futures in relation to significant others.

The Role of Islam Moria’s foundation myth recounts that the patriarchs were traders and pious Muslims who sought to convert the coastal populations. The establishment of the town Forécariah and the ensuing conquest of the surrounding population of Susu and Mmeni were the bases for the supremacy inherent in this link between political rule and Muslim faith. Winterbottom, a British traveller from Sierra Leone noted in 1803: A few emigrants from a powerful nation, called Mandingos, settled themselves upon the banks of the Kissee, and have since become possessed of a considerable tract of country in its neighbourhood. The Mandingos are strict Mahommedans very zealous in making converts, and have spread their religion with much success among the Soosoos, where it appears to be daily gaining ground. (Winterbottom 1969 [1803]: 5–6) Islam was thus not only an ex-post justification for conquering the area that would later become Moria, but it became a foundational element of legitimate rule. Along these lines Skinner notes that ‘the Toure family ruled over the Muslim-based kingdom of Moriah throughout the nineteenth century and strongly promoted the development of Islamic education and law’ (Skinner 1978: 43). While Moria was never anything like the Futa theocracy, links were cultivated between religious learning and political rule, in part by being translated into family relations: the Fofana of Forécariah gained regional recognition as Muslim scholars in the nineteenth century (Howard and Skinner 1984: 16) and continue to occupy the position of first imam of the town’s main mosque today. The close alliance between the families of the Touré, Fofana and the Yansane is referred to by the historian Touré as the ‘holy alliance of Moria’ (Touré 1997: 312). Even though the Yansane family is assigned a place here, the contemporary interpretation of the alliance has marginalized the Yansane. This power-sharing arrangement has its basis in oral tradition but also in public rituals of the present day, like Tabaski (eid al-adha). The town’s population prepared for this important Muslim celebration for months. Children received new clothes and adults dressed in their best. Goats

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Figure 2.4  Moria elders waiting for the tabaski prayers to begin (Photo: A. Schroven).

were bought in the markets of the area or sent by family members who live further away and cannot come to their home town. Ressortissants returned from Kindia, Conakry or even abroad to participate in family meetings and celebrate the day together. Around 11 a.m., people began to gather in front of the permanance, men and women arriving separately, carrying prayer rugs and sometimes their small children. By around 11.30 a.m. those gathered started to settle in rows, the women behind the men, common people behind dignitaries, the elders of the Touré and Fofana families in their fineries of colourful grands boubous and headdresses such as the ghabana with igaal to indicate their status as hajji. Behind them to the right sat the Peul dignitaries, each with their typical taagiyyah headdress. One year, the first imam of the main mosque, Imam Fofana, did not arrive to lead the prayers as he was too tired. Other well-respected imams were present but the dignitaries quickly agreed that another imam from the Fofana family had to be rushed in, the next in rank and education being the imam of Taaigbé, a village 25 kilometres away. With no mobile phone connections at the time, an envoy was dispatched to bring him to town. After a delay of more than three hours, the people were finally able to pray together and hear a short sermon by the far-travelled imam. Afterwards, praise was given to the communion among the town’s inhabitants and the peaceful life together, upon which the male goat was sacrificed. Despite the delays and inconveniences, the dignitaries insisted that an imam from the Fofana family lead the prayers at eid al-adha, one of the most important

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Muslim celebrations. It is also the largest public gathering of families throughout the year. In this light, it appeared particularly relevant to the elders involved to perform this ‘holy alliance’ as it is in the common interest, even of non-Touré, to perform and reify these historic links. Islam’s strong ties to the (historical) legitimation of political rule in Moria and the interdependence of different spheres of power has been central to the justification of the Touré family retaining its authority over both political matters and the privileges of other families. This becomes evident in Mouser’s comment that the ruler of Moria was decided by an ‘alliance of lineages’ (2000: 7), meaning not only the branches of the Touré family but also the descendants of the other two founding patriarchs, including the religious specialists of the Fofana family. Even the popular interpretation of the name Moria as ‘the place of the Mori’, i.e. ‘place of the learned Muslim or Muslim scholar’, demonstrated the close relation to Islam. The strong link between political office and religion reflects processes taking place across Guinea and throughout the wider region where religion is implicitly expected to impose a moral code onto those in power to act for the good of the wider community. But other historical events have furthered the political preference of Muslim leadership in the region. During the period of European exploration from the Sierra Leone colony and later French colonization, people of Muslim faith seemed to have been preferred to those of other faiths as the principal interlocutors for trade and later treaties of protection (Koivogui 1992). As discussed above, while European Christian missionaries tried to convert the population, they did not succeed in building up a presence in areas such as Moria that were renowned for their Muslim scholarship. Local attitudes towards Christian missionaries were so negative that until the French arrival in Forécariah, no mission or school was allowed to establish itself there (Mouser 2003). For later periods, material from the Archive Préfectoral de Forécariah (APF) suggests that twentieth-century colonial administrators paid close attention to the faith of candidates running for posts such as canton or village chief or other positions in colonial service. Pious Muslims who received the support of respected imams stood a better chance of obtaining such positions. Moria’s reputation as a Muslim stronghold was thus reaffirmed in such colonial practices. After independence, Islam was used by the ruling party as a tool for modernization and unification, and to overcome ethnic and religious particularities (cf. Berliner 2005; Højbjerg 2007; Sarró 2009). As in many newly independent countries, religion and particularly Islam was instrumentalized in the new nation-building project (cf. Knörr 2007). The movement did not, however, only start with independence. Even before waves of Islamization and reform campaigns had reached different parts of Guinea, but all the more so with the fervour, coordination and support of the newly independent state, ‘being a non-Muslim came implicitly to mean being a second-class citizen both in public and in private life’. As Camara continues:

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Thus many converted to Islam including the first lady and the prime minister, who were both Christians. Such conversions were often the occasion of largely publicized events during which Islam and the revolution were equally praised. Henceforth, the mosque became effectively what the National Islamic Council recommended in its congress, namely a place for the manifestation of faith, but also of propagation of the state-party’s slogans. (1996: 223) After independence, Islam was tied to political power through the state ideology and one often came to institutionally reinforce the other in rural areas. Indeed, during these two distinct periods of external rule in Forécariah, the intertwining of religious and political systems amplified the local relations manifested in Moria’s foundation myth, which dates back to pre-colonial times. The link between the Morian Muslim community and the Timbou mosque continues today and highlights the importance of even the physical manifestation of Islam in the form of the main mosque in town. The interior pillars that surround the mih.rāb were a donation from the Timbou mosque in the nineteenth century. When the mosque was demolished in 2017, imams and elders scrambled to locate some remnants of these pillars in the pile of rubble. They were livid that

Figure 2.5  The main mosque of Forécariah in 2007, photographed on the occasion of Col. Gaddafi and President Conté passing through town. Elders and dignitaries dressed in white waited for hours in the sun and remembered how they did this during President Touré’s rule, when at ceremonial occasions people had to present themselves in white cloths to listen to the president’s broadcasted speeches (photo: A. Schroven).

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Figure 2.6  Only debris remains from the old Forécariah mosque (photo: A. Schroven).

the mosque had been destroyed supposedly without warning, and that only the portable items had been removed, such as documents, lights and carpets, but not the aforementioned two pillars. Admittedly, their removal would have meant more preparation and a delay in destruction, but for the town elders the safe evacuation of the pillars was essential. There were a lot of rumours as to who ordered the mosque demolition and why it had been necessary. Some argued that its central location along the main road linking Conakry to Freetown was to blame. Heavily laden lorries had been passing by for years and had weakened the building’s foundations. Others speculated that the road would need widening to ease traffic flow, so the mosque would be rebuilt a few metres behind its former position. Again, others said that Ibrahima Kassory Fofana wanted to make a major donation to his home town in the form of a bigger mosque. The mosque in Timbou had only recently been renewed in a long process that had been financed by the association of the Futa ressortissants, the successful emigrants of the Futa Jalon who try to show their piety and their strong ties to their home region by funding such construction projects. Kassory Fofana is one of the most wealthy ressortissants of Forécariah and had ‘eaten with both hands, that is he embezzled so much money while finance

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minister that even President Conté could not tolerate him anymore and kicked him out of the country’, as one of my local counterparts explained. While the reasons of his exile may have been manifold, he never gave up playing a politically active part in Guinea where he was a presidential candidate in the 2010 elections, after which he returned from self-imposed exile to Conakry and started to renew his political ties. One of his younger brothers is at the time of writing economics and finance minister in Condé’s cabinet and Kassory himself became ‘state minister for direct foreign investment’ after the 2015 presidential elections and in 2018 became Prime Minister. So the order to demolish and re-build the Forécariah mosque had been given from the highest levels of government – albeit in a private capacity. As a consequence, the elders dispatched the main imam and other leaders of the Fofana family with some of the collected rubble, on an emergency journey to Timbou to relay the situation and beg for forgiveness for failing to protect the pillars. The emissaries hoped to gain the promise of new pillars for the future mosque of Moria, as a symbol of renewed friendship and protection. As the junior partners in this ancient relationship, it was the Morianais who would have to assure the transfer of the pillars, since they were the ones who lost them. The original pillars are said to have been transported from Timbou in a festive caravan that brought the first imam of Timbou to Forécariah. This recent episode highlights the dependence of the elders’ authority on contemporary actions, whether they be the correct implementation of the tabaski ritual or the securing of the Timbou imams’ benediction for the main mosque in Forécariah. The adaptability of oral tradition to wider religious, political, ideological and infrastructural changes may explain why this ‘old aristocracy’ managed to safeguard some of its privileges over time. This situation and the reverence of the ‘Moria constitution’ is comparable with one from the popular epic of Soundiata Keita, a ruler of the Mali Empire in the thirteenth century: ‘The aftermath of the battle [between Sumaworo and Soundiata] features the establishment of peace, here the great gathering of Kurukanguga, where the relationships among the different clans and social categories were spelled out’ (Hopkins 2008: 87). Hopkins and other scholars claim that this episode is today regarded as the Malian ‘Magna Carta’, with continued relevance to the contemporary political lives of the Mande peoples. While the example of Moria is much more localized and historically more recent, the founding myth’s significance in oral tradition and as a guarantor for the security of the area and its people remains very present in everyday life.

Autochthony and the Legitimate Rule over Land So far, political and religious prerogatives were emphasized for the town of Forécariah. If it is claimed that elders have the capacity to protect the town in other cases of outside danger, the particular relationship of these elders to the land

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would seem to be of particular relevance. In the Francophone literature on West Africa, the particular responsibilities and competences associated with landlords have often been associated with the concept of terroir (cf. Cardaire 1954; Remy 1966; Touré 2004). This emphasizes the particular connection people are said to have with the land they are regarded as originating from or as having conquered first. Possibly due to the term’s (mis-)use under the French colonial administration, the same concept is expressed today using terms such as ‘autochthon’ and ‘indigenous’. Autochthony as a political concept has, according to Ceuppens and Geschiere, recently been on the upsurge and is being used less to describe particular connections to land and more with regard to matters of citizenship and land ownership rights (Ceuppens and Geschiere 2005). These political concerns at the national level or standardized dichotomies such as first-comers vs. late-comers and landlords vs. strangers should not blur the delicate distinctions made between the different concepts. Intricate discrepancies can lead to questions about what autochthon exactly means in particular cases and reveal the wider context of people’s relations, as questions of legitimate rule over land are ‘about relationships between and among persons’ (Moore 1998: 33). Such relationships are, of course, not fixed, but change, for example, with the way autochthony is defined, which in turn affects identities and group boundaries. The conflicting Susu terms used to describe land titles are of central interest in the present context, or as my Susu language teacher at the University of Conakry put it: ‘You can be lasiri without being takani! But both mean autochthon in French. Both mean that your ancestors were born here and that you command the spirits’ (interview, Conakry, 29 December 2006). This statement contradicts, at first glance, the common use of the two terms. Takani is generally used to distinguish the ruler of a village from a ruler over land (boxi kani),7 which could be translated as ‘village chief’ and ‘landlord’, respectively. Lasiri, on the other hand, denotes noble descent and emphasizes the person’s ancestry as free, as opposed to having been slaves. It entails particular responsibilities for the economic and spiritual wellbeing of the villagers, and their protection from spirits through sacrifices and the administration of communal plots. Another important term in this context is boxi kandè or ‘earth priest’. Touré claims that while it was characteristic that the first-comers in the region were both boxi kanie (landlords) and boxi kandèe (earth priests), the arrival of the Maninka-Mori changed this situation in Moria. As they combined certain political and religious aspects into their collective identity, they claimed a superior form of rule to that of the previous autochthones (cf. Kuba 2006). These complexities are exemplified by spirit expulsions in a village that is now located in a Communité rural de développement (CRD),8 which had been part of ancient Moria. In late 2006, a mining company planned iron ore prospection right next to a village in that area. In order not to endanger the people involved in the exercise, the spirits inhabiting that particular area had to be expelled. While

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To Almamy Touré,9 the leader of the Moria elders and himself a hajji, could not to be implicated in the ritual, company officials and village elders consulted him to perform the rituals. He explained in lengthy interviews that he could not expel the spirits as ‘they were older than his knowledge’. While Muslim rituals alone would not suffice to this end, as a pious Muslim and leader of the community he could not ‘meddle in such affairs’. Such an implication could bring shame upon his station and his family. Nevertheless, it was he who had to order the ritual and give ‘spiritual assurance’ to the local earth priests performing it. The assistance of the first Imam Fofana or any of his relatives was neither sought nor required. The village inhabitants later asserted that To Almamy, as the responsible lasiri, had to grant permission for both the ritual and the prospection, although they also insisted that their local boxi kandèe were perfectly capable of handling the spiritual matter themselves. Some also commented quietly on the large share of kola10 To Almamay was granted by the mining company’s officials who had obviously misapprehended the true division of responsibilities and tasks involved in the preparations for the prospecting because the local elders and boxi kandèe bore the brunt of the work and risks. When I visited a Mmeni village in the Farmoreah CRD a couple of months later, people were well informed about the mining explorations and the said expulsion. Indeed, these mangrove-based communities could be potentially directly affected, if the iron-ore concentration of the Moria exploration site was found to be profitable for extraction. With no deep-sea port close by, and the main port in Conakry being over-stretched with its bauxite and general freight demands serving Sierra Leone, Mali and Burkina Faso, rumours abounded that a transitionary solution should be found in this coastal area. Matakan island, off the coast of Kaback, has a natural deep-sea port and has already been the site of colonial harbour projects. After the expansion of mining activities across the country, it again became the potential site of a harbour development. To connect it to ore extractions further inland, some conveyor system would have to be developed that could affect all potential port-sites along rivers and estuaries in Forécariah prefecture.11 And this village was located at such a potential harbour site. Discussing questions on the purity of aforementioned expulsion rituals, syncretic practices and ‘folk Islam’, people hinted at the ‘pretentious behaviour of Moria elders who presented their piety to the world’ and nevertheless ‘meddled in affairs’ that they officially despised. The disrespect for the Mmeni experience as the ‘true boxi kanie’ is incommensurable with the implications of Malinké-Mori in matters of earth spirits. Incidents like the spirit expulsion of the village in Kaliah were not exceptional in Forécariah but were not usually discussed in public. Using Susu vocabulary, different concepts of the French and English word for autochthony were debated. While To Almamy, the widely recognized lasiri, was granted a certain primacy in the engagement with outsiders, and his permission had to be obtained for the necessary rituals, he did not have total authority over the process. Beyond

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the question of his capability to execute the rituals, it would have been unseemly for him, as a pious Muslim, to be present, a perspective asserted by the Mmeni, the relevant other in the context of Moria. Further, the local boxi kanie regarded it as inappropriate as he would have been ‘meddling in their affairs’. The inhabitants of Kaliah village thus questioned the overall authority of the lasiri and negated his potential title as takani. This last term is usually translated as the village chief and would be appropriate as the village in question was indeed part of historical Moria and ties of parentage remain affirmed. While in an interview the lasiri himself regarded his ‘knowledge of spirits’ as insufficient, the legitimacy of his political position was closely tied to his being perceived as a pious Muslim and could be lowered in the eyes of his critical observers if he actually had more knowledge about the spirits of the land. At the same time, his involvement in the spirit expulsion legitimizes his family’s position as autochthonous, which involves both high socio-political and economic interests. The unhappiness of the Mmeni commentators did not therefore seem to arise due to discussions of these various forms of what at the surface simply appears to be autochthony, but about the distribution of the kola involved. The boxi kanie demanded a larger share and it therefore became a question of valuing the differences in the local arrangements between the various autochthonous office holders. While the argument was framed within the context of pure Muslim belief and practice, the whole incident speaks to the potential contestation of the ‘pivotal historic event’ represented in the foundation myth that the lasiri depends on (Murphy and Bledsoe 1987). If this pivotal event should lose recognition, the elders of Forécariah would also lose a large share of the kola which could be considerable in the case of a successful prospection. These considerations call into question the somewhat balanced picture I have presented so far and point to a competition among the differing concepts of autochthony and thus the prerogative to rule over land. This involved disputes between boxi kanie and lasiri over the selling of land to mostly Conakry-based strangers. Multiple parties claimed land titles on different grounds but once the ‘official legal’ papers were signed, the treaty was sealed and no further compensation could be expected from the buyer. With the ongoing expansion of Conakry into the countryside and the arrival of different mining companies in the area, these conflicts have increased, while the competing versions of settlement and identity history have remained. A deeper investigation of the matter would surpass the scope of this chapter but the various dimensions of autochthony will be further investigated in the context of decentralization and shifting notions of legitimate land control in the next chapters. Suffice it to say here that competing ideas of legitimate rule over land give rise to doubts about the actual level of integration that is visible in Moria and so often framed in the historic amalgamation of ethnic and religious relations laid out in the foundation myth.

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Interethnic Integration beyond the Nation The contestations just presented highlight the perpetual state of conflict and integration that usually occurs in any community. The above examples are drawn from within a community of ‘autochthons’, long-term residents who are classified as landlords and who at first glance present little ethnic diversity. This section addresses interethnic relations of a national and regional scope, emphasizing ethnic stereotypes and joking relationships that are potentially bridged by historic alliances but which can still be transformed into fault lines leading to ethnically based confrontations. The Mmeni, as the ‘local minority’, is not the main focus here as their case presents historic and religious specificities that appear to differentiate them from other ethnic groups in the view of the Morianais. As a ‘local minority’ they are sidelined for the moment by questions of ethnic relations on a national scale and how these are negotiated in Forécariah, through alliances, rhetorical modes of integration and through conflict. Marriage is a highly relevant form of alliance. The foundation myth of Moria presents the patriarch Fodé Katibi Touré as having married (at least) three wives, each of different ethnic origin. While the details of their backgrounds vary in the different accounts, the accounts remain comparatively uniform of the three main lineages today and their name-giving mythical mothers. Against this background one could claim that, historically speaking, the Morianais are of diverse ethnic origin. While this knowledge is generally shared and individual members of the Touré family are described as belonging to one lineage or another descending from such a mythical woman, many of my younger male counterparts who were discussing their potential future wives shared common ideas of whom to marry. These thoughts do not match the broader example of the founding father patriarch but display national stereotypes of characteristics assigned to ethnic groups: Malinké women are reputed to be proud, power-hungry, strong-headed and thus difficult wives; Peul women are regarded as pious and beautiful, virgins at marriage and submissive, yet greedy wives; Susu women, especially those from neighbouring Benna, are said to be beautiful, industrious traders and good farmers who strive for personal independence. It is this last group of women that was often held in the highest esteem during our discussions of desirable matches. Malinké women were, however, also lauded as appropriate wives as they represented renewed ties with the supposed origins of the Morianais. My counterparts nevertheless made a generational distinction in that while their fathers and grandfathers has sought Malinké wives, particularly from the area of Kankan, they themselves no longer felt the need to do so. These matches were regarded as particularly difficult to attain due to the distance and financial resources necessary. While these comments reflect stereotypes about ethnic groups held nationwide, they also underpin the attention paid to the origin of wives who become

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part of their husbands’ families due to their practices of patrilinearity and virilocality. They are the ones who bring up the children and pass on central characteristics, as evident in the case of the three dominant Touré lineages of the town. Even though their ‘mythical founding mothers’ have been dead for at least two centuries, they are the alleged source of the lineages’ behavioural characteristics and even physical features. So, while ethnicity is nominally passed on patrilinearily, character and behavioural traits are associated with the mother’s side and can potentially last for generations. Acknowledging the multi-ethnic perspective of the descent of this population reveals how filiation can serve as a means to integration. Historical ties to places of origin are kept alive and renewed with new marriage alliances. Personalized networks bridge distances and time and reify allegiances. Aside from this long-established network of identities, other interethnic relations are also prominent in everyday life, determine individual and group identity and sometimes necessitate mediation.

Bridging the Divide: Joking Relationships Besides marrying into long-established families in town, other forms of interethnic relations exist. As mentioned above, ethnic Peul have been present in the town for centuries, with their numbers continuously increasing. But people from other ethnic groups originating from Haute Guinée and Guinée Forestière also live in Forécariah. Some are there for a limited period of time due to their postings within the public service or military. In informal encounters on street corners, at the market or in tea parlours, predominantly men from different ethnic and family origins frequently begin to insult each other, openly employing stereotypes similar to the ones involving potential wives. The tone struck me as aggressive, particularly early in my fieldwork, and I wondered why people, seemingly unconnected to the interaction at hand, would confront each other, insulting their counterparts’ family background and their ancestors as manual labourers or implying that they had been slaves. This last aspect particularly irritated me as I had been warned not to broach the issue of slavery at all. Concerned about such seemingly misplaced interactions interrupting public conduct that was otherwise generally calm and pleasant, I asked around and was quickly pointed towards a local variant of joking relationships: The Maninka call it sanaku-ya . . . Joking relations are social contracts that allow individuals to hurl insults at each other in a benign, often public environment where retribution takes the form of additional insults . . . Because they are arrangements between clans, the history, reputations, and general worthiness of each participant’s family or clan-membership are often held up for enormous amounts of ridicule. (McNaughton 1993: 10)

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Performing joking relationships of Mande origin so far away from the Mande heartland in Haute Guinée and Mali appears surprising, since this kind of joking relationship is maintained there as an everyday incarnation of the Malian ‘magna carta’ today. The reference to historic origins should not, however, be applied too strictly to what is actually happening in the course of this banter in Forécariah. As is common for joking relationships, sanakouya regulates social conduct and alliances that manage to link people together and set them against one another at the same time. In addition to this narrow interpretation, sanakouya enables other­wise unrelated people to engage in banter and familiarize themselves with one another. It is nevertheless also possible to vent frustration at a particular person in a socially accepted manner, as long as certain rules are followed. In a cultural context that generally focuses a lot of attention on the oral and appreciates talents and subtleties in public speech, the mastery of sanakouya may even translate into a form of social capital. Mr Barry, a prominent member of the Peul community who has lived in Forécariah for over thirty years, is renowned for his command of sanakouya. While his style is regarded as aggressive and his timing not always appropriate, his rhetoric skills are admired by many. As a distant descendant of the imams of Timbou, the leaders of the historic Futa theocracy, he can boast an impressive ancestry and thus ‘insult’ fellow Peul with family names such as Sow to be his ‘tradable slaves’. At the same time he can mark Touré family members as his dependants since, during the nineteenth century, Timbou had to recognize the almamies of Moria to grant them legitimacy. The Morianais paid tribute to the Futa Empire in return and still maintain a special relationship to the main mosque there today, which will be explored below. Such references clearly overstretch the actual situation of Barry who receives a meagre income from teaching that cannot match the comparable comfort that some of the town’s Touré enjoy. He is, moreover, a supporter of a Futa-based opposition party closely associated with the Peul cultural association Hali Pular, in a political environment that usually supports the ruling party. Barry thus uses sanakouya in a way that amends his perceived and experienced marginality in a Susu-/Morianais-dominated environment. The cross-ethnic employment of sanakouya entails certain challenges that necessitate an ethnically specific adaptation on the part of Barry and his counterparts. Due to historic, mythical and linguistic proximity, the Malinké and Susu ethnic groups are closely associated, closer than the Peul. While the sanakouya easily connects families in these two groups, Peul social structures are different and do not therefore match the Mande djamu, which is based on clan and profession (Conrad 2006), rendering integration into this system less detailed and intricate. Nevertheless, basic codes of translation do exist, aligning Peul clan membership and family names with Mande correspondents on the basis of their social and occupational origins. Beyond the scope of Guinea itself, some authors

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have claimed that sanakouya has been employed in nation-building efforts following independence. In Mali, for example, it is seen as ‘national glue’, even used to integrate ethnic groups that do not share this Mande heritage. Pular, the language of the Peul, is not as closely related to Susu as Malinké is. This is sometimes used to underline why the Peul are supposedly not as easily integrated into the Guinean national context which, according to the locally dominant population, is founded on Mande linguistic and cultural heritage. Here, cultural ties and language families, beyond the individual language, have been chosen from a repertoire of possibilities to define alliances and potential adversaries (Schlee 2008). In the case of Barry in Forécariah, his aggressive oratory performance cannot be ignored but have to be played along with by his counterparts if he employs sanakouya correctly. A refusal would result in public shame as the evaluation of sanakouya performances is a major source of gossip in itself. It is this appreciation of the custom that provides Barry with a great deal of leeway for his rhetorical manoeuvres.

Ethnic Tensions and Social Bridges While rhetorical means of venting frustrations may be channelled in historically and socially recognized ways, ethnically charged violence can also take place. Despite the anti-ethnic rhetoric dominating political ideology since independence, tensions between ethnic groups have been known and politically instrumentalized in Guinea. Like in neighbouring countries, the Peul often become scapegoats in moments of political crisis. Other than throughout the West African Sahel region (cf. Diallo and Schlee 2000; Jalloh 1996), their indigeneity in Guinea is never questioned. It is their allegiance to the nation-state that is doubted, particularly during election periods since the end of Lansana Conté’s rule in 2008. Grievances concerning ethnically based violence in the course of the 1956 legislative elections were still remembered, pitting for example Susu against Peul in Conakry but also in other urban centres in the country (Schmidt 2005: 161–68). The alleged ‘complot Peul’ against Sékou Touré in 1976–1977 was followed by mob violence and an exodus of about a million Peul from Guinea.12 In the 1990s, legislative and municipal elections provoked public protests with a slowly increasing ethnic character, which in some cases resulted in attacks on Peul and the looting of their property, so much so that the local elections were postponed after 2005 and only held again in 2018. The increase in ethnicized tension and the ensuing violence proved even more problematic in the presidential (2010 and 2015) and parliamentary (2013) elections respectively. In these party rallies and oppositional protests, prejudice and long-standing animosities were politicized and acted upon, a process which some local and international commentators have identified as the effects of the political pluralism and electoral

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democracy that began in Guinea in the 1990s and announced itself especially during e­ lection periods (Diop 2004). In Forécariah the elections in 1991 and 1993 brought about violence and plundering motivated by anti-Peul sentiments, just as in the capital and other urban centres (Groelsema 1998). While the two previous mayors and other town elders I interviewed denied that these events took place, Barry and his family recounted their experience of the events in 1993 in detail. A crowd had gathered at the market, dissatisfied with the counting of votes. During the day, people had seen Barry conversing with the election commissioner sent from Conakry who happened to be an old school friend of his, and a Peul. Because of this, some associated him with the unsatisfactory election results and he was chased from the market where he was visiting a friend’s stall. He returned to his house in the neighbourhood informally known as Foulayah, the previously predominantly Peul neighbourhood (see Map 1.1) and barricaded himself inside together with his family. A group of agitated men arrived shortly thereafter and banged on the doors, trying to force their way in and threatening the people who lived there, and Barry in particular, with punishment and even death for betraying their Susu landlords by manipulating the elections. The following morning he learnt that some of the market stalls owned by Peul traders had been plundered and burnt and some of their owners injured. Even though he claimed to have known the perpetrators personally and suffered shock and grief, he explained that such incidents would not cause him to leave Forécariah. Town elders, whom he personally respected, had furthermore calmed the angry group during the night in question and organized public prayers and reconciliatory meetings in its wake. Barry assured me that the episode was an isolated one, provoked by politicians and carried out by their misled followers, and that no ethnically motivated tensions existed in town. He explained that people were more cautious afterwards and opinion leaders no longer allowed for such ‘misunderstandings’. This rather optimistic perspective on the future interethnic peace in light of anti-Peul stereotypes that are increasing on the overall national level comes from the same person, Barry, who is renowned for his mastery of the joking relationship embodied in sanakouya, which is able to bridge ethnic lines and through banter is able to amend offensive or discriminatory experiences. Groelsema refers to these particular joking relationships as ‘peace pacts’ because they tie together individual families across ethnic lines rather than ‘unite and oppose’ entire ethnic groups (Groelsema 1998: 160–61). Even the landlord-stranger relations that Barry’s attackers mobilized in their allegations against him enter into the precarious and perpetual logic of integration through difference, in which identities are dualistically ascribed, performed and thereby reified (cf. Schlee and Horstmann 2001; Sarró 2010). Nevertheless, even such integrative social mechanisms as joking relationships can only blur boundaries momentarily and in fact highlight them in that instance. In other moments the same boundaries are acted upon,

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as in the case of ethnically charged electoral violence. They playfully disguise the reification of the very same categories they appear to bridge and therefore cannot be solely interpreted as tools for integration but also have to be acknowledged as incorporating potential for a differentiation that may present fault lines for conflict. While it was difficult to openly discuss the issue of interethnic tension or violence in Forécariah, the knowledge of people’s individual ethnicity was ever present. Different kinds of associations spoke to this fact as well. ‘Hometown associations’ regularly brought together migrants to Forécariah to exchange news, convey greetings and letters, discuss potential development projects they could sponsor or just gossip about shared friends and family back home (Barkan, McNulty and Ayeni 1991). Attending different meetings of this sort, I had the impression that most associations are actually ethnically homogenous. People from the same ethnic group frequent associations linked to towns they are not actually from originally but where they had relatives. Some commented that it was just nice to attend meetings to speak a native language that they could not use there on an everyday basis. While their status as strangers in Forécariah itself was difficult to overcome, these groups could – via their hometown a­ ssociations – transform themselves into elites and thus integral parts of society in the places they left behind (Woods 1994: 480). By sponsoring development projects or political candidates, they participated in public life elsewhere in ways they could scarcely achieve in Forécariah. Some of these associations carry the names of the home town or region, referencing the so-called ‘natural’ divisions of Guinea, Basse Côte, Haute Guinée, Forêt, Moyen Guinée. This is, as so often happens, a common way to try to avoid foregrounding the ethnic character of the group and instead prioritizes the regional reference. These perspectives stem from past (and current) political and ideological efforts to avoid an ethnicization of the population while also not wanting to minimize the country’s (historic and cultural) diversity. The use of this terminology has become so standardized that even the members of hometown associations adhere to it. This regional terminology, potentially used by some as an automatism and without much deliberation, does not manage to disguise the ethnic attributes that such coded language carries. Women’s rotating credit schemes, known locally as sere, form another type of de facto interethnic association. These are sometimes based on neighbourhoods, friendships or hometown references and have names like ‘Beauty’, ‘Pride’ and ‘Good Fortune’. The groups meet, usually once a month, and compete with each other in extravagant clothing prepared collectively for weddings, baptisms and other ritual festivities (Ardener 1964). Other than the hometown associations, these groups do not seem exclusive in their membership selection and well-off women could participate in two or more sere. However, multiple memberships are discouraged, since the annual beauty competition of all the local sere will put such a woman under economic

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Figure 2.7  A women’s association attending a wedding in a member’s family (photo: A. Schroven).

and social stress. The systematic sharing of financial resources that actually serve as a kind of insurance to the group members are just as relevant as the conviviality these women share through the groups that has a stabilizing effect on society as a whole (Kohl 2012, 2018). Personal problems and everyday life issues are addressed at the meetings and often the group can offer helpful advice and open networks to the members in need. Some of these groups share a strong resemblance with hometown associations as they have a regional and not an ethnic focus, as one Baga woman from the northern part of Basse Côte who participants in a Susu-dominated sere was very keen to explain. Her group combined both aspects: the elements of an interethnic hometown association were mixed with a revolving credit scheme in situ. Together, they can also be viewed as ‘experiments with all sorts of new modes to create trust and contain the levelling power of money’ (Geschiere 2000: 71) that the liberalization of Guinean economy brought along, together with the global forces of hyper capitalism. These social groups build a cross-ethnic and cross-family network that ameliorates the other existing ­connections in town which might or might not follow ethnic lines.

How To Be Morianais Today? Memory and its representations touch very significantly upon questions of identity, of nationalism, of power and authority. Far from being a

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neutral exercise in facts and basic truths, the study of history . . . is to some considerable extent a nationalist effort premised on the need to construct a desirable loyalty to and insider’s understanding of one’s country, tradition and faith. (Said 1994: 176) While Said dwells here on ideas of nationalism, I propose swapping the word for variations of Morianais, as the same observations can be made about a regional identity mediating between the ethnic and national levels by means of integrating the inhabitants of the Forécariah prefecture through the dominant version of history. ‘Memory and its representations’ in the form of oral tradition are closely linked to questions of identity for the Morianais, their associates, their neighbours and others whom they wish to separate themselves from. The foundation myth amalgamates claims of identity that go beyond the locale and integrate distant places of political relevance such as Kankan, Timbou and Freetown into the social landscape of Moria. Ethnic and religious ties are interwoven with these and legitimate the position of this particular corporate group. Throughout major shifts in the larger political situation, the instrument of oral tradition perpetuates these claims by rephrasing memories and incorporating new elements into the social landscape. The colonial and later independent state, with its capital Conakry, become part of this as do national borders and new administrative bodies and those representing them locally. These shifts entail the possibility of employing notions of marginality and of isolating the town and its surroundings from distant events. Even though To Almamy Touré laments this same marginality in the opening quotation, it still seems to have an effect, albeit in different ways than those he may prefer. The particular set-up of the corporate group of the mythical founders, including the lasiri, permits the perpetuation of privileges and forms of integration in the town that might have otherwise been lost in the processes of national and state integration or the commercialization of land ownership. The situation is, however, far from being a static one. With the perpetual motion of the social landscape, notions of marginality may be changed as well. This speaks to the understanding that Moria is still perceived as a separate entity that can be distanced from or integrated into wider geographical areas or social landscapes that are imbued with other powers, such as the central government or state institutions. In this context the Morianais actively participate in the creation of marginality and the reification of the social landscape shaped by the founding myth. This supports Ferguson in viewing horizontally the relationships between spaces that are otherwise claimed to have a centre-margin relationship. Marginality is therefore not an absolute in Forécariah but is foregrounded and pushed back depending on the specific context. What can it mean to be marginal in such a fluid context as the one presented here? To Almamy’s opening quotation uses this term to express a lack

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of influence in comparison with that which he perceives his family and Moria’s position to have been in the past. But this word also holds other meaning. Das and Poole point out that perceptions of the margin can have many implications in local-level politics. Local big men blur the boundaries between the formal and informal, public and private, legal and extra-legal by employing local references and resources of power and tying them into what would normatively be ‘a state affair’ (Das and Poole 2004: 14). They use marginality to further their interests, and thus interpret the amorphous perception of power distribution creatively to emphasize the lack of power vis-à-vis the capital or alternatively the abundance thereof (Das and Poole 2004: 21–23). When ethnically charged violence occurred against Peul in the 1990s within the context of elections, elders did not or could not prevent it, in contrast to the national strikes in 2007 when the town was allegedly ‘cut off’ from the rest of the country. This discourse may re-affirm conventional perceptions, but it may also constitute a reinterpretation, shifting influence and ensuing responsibility towards the capital or away from it and potentially towards the locale. The elections in the 1990s pitted two senior elders from Forécariah against each other and thus divided the Morianais themselves. It is therefore of particular consequence that the old style of protection, involving hiding the town from outside influences, did not work – as opposed to the events in 2007, when the elders were united. These incidents reveal how sensitive the issue of ethnicity is when tensions arise at the national level. In such situations Forécariah seems to remain an integral part of Guinea and cannot be cut off and hidden as in some (historical) accounts presented above. The historic Foulayah neighbourhood that has now been incorporated into Tatagui 2 remains distinct in the social landscape, just as ethnicity remains a distinct part of the identity of people living in Forécariah, which in turn connects them to Guinea and its politics of ethnicity. Nevertheless, the argument presented so far is even more complex. Allowing for violence to happen seems, at first glance, to oppose the Morianais’ claims to integration while simultaneously reinforcing their position and the perceived need for them to perpetuate their performance as a corporate group, as exemplified by the public prayers during tabaski. Rituals that have been maintained over generations help to maintain the social order by uniting people across ethnic groups, by bringing them back into the religious fold that the founders had created. While tabaski is the feast of sacrifice, it is performed in such a way that it transcends its original meaning and creates social realities, re-ordering firstcomer-newcomer relations and maintaining a particular social peace (Højbjerg 2006: 637). While the name Moria, like Forécariah, may have different origins, it is almost hegemonically agreed today that they are tied to the predominant version of the area’s history and social landscape that has evolved around the extended Touré family. The term unites not only the interpretations of history and landscape,

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but also of regional, ethnic and religious identity, thereby managing to keep the indigenous population distinct and separate from the surrounding areas. This separation goes hand in hand with the prerogative of the founding families to engage with the complex interplay of different features that are part of the Morianais identity. This creative process reflects the normative power invested in the people, who engage in the enactment of marginality. The incidents and comments cited above expose the dependence on a shared reference system based on perceptions and experience, on a perspective of the past that is laid out in a landscape of powers and marginalities. What does it mean to be Morianais today? Many (acclaimed or real) descendants of the Malinké-Mori now living in Forécariah identify as ethnically Susu. Recognizing and cultivating their Malinké heritage does not pose any contradictions at all. Their identity is strongly attached to the historical imagination of the locale and ties together memories of past glory and privileges that are maintained within the local context. People are well aware of the negative stereotypes that exist about them outside Forécariah but seem to be little concerned about them. More important are the changing local conditions that have to be negotiated and where to be Morianais becomes relevant in many different ways. While some of these have been presented above, others will follow in the coming chapters as they are tied to local questions of political authority, legitimacy and autochthony. This contestation and change will be discussed in the next chapter, with a focus on shifts in administration and political systems. Marginality and notions of integration will continue to be taken into account in the analysis. Suffice it to say at this point that it is within this marginality that one can be Morianais today.

Notes  1. The historian and member of the contemporary ‘Club Ahmed Sékou Touré’, Sidiki Kobélé Keita, addresses this period with a less critical and more ideologically motivated voice (1993, 2002).  2. Representation on the basis of ethnicity became more common after World War II. The members of the tribunal coutumier [indigenous court] were now also registered according to which coutume they belonged to. In the case of Forécariah, Malinké, Peul and Temne were noted in addition to the majority Susu. Documents from 1910/20 reveal a different situation, in which a separate Peul council was responsible for judging minor crimes, in addition to the majority Susu council (ANG, APF). This shift can be explained by a policy change in the politique des races (Delafosse 1972 [1912]), central to the direct rule of French administration (Suret-Canale 1964: 103).  3. My translation from the French original. Note that the use of the term ‘race’ in colonial French and in contemporary Guinea generally corresponds to the Anglophone expression ‘ethnic group’.  4. My translation from the French original.  5. The relevance of maternal language teaching in creolization processes has been studied by Knörr (1995).

Maintaining Marginality  91  6. I use Mmeni here as it was the endonym used during interviews. The inhabitants of the village insisted that Mmeni and Mandenyi were indeed different people and were only lumped together by linguists into the larger language of Bullom So.  7. Kani is a Susu word for owner, while ta designates a settlement and boxi land. An ‘e’ at the end of a noun indicates the plural, e.g. kanie.  8. In 2014, CRDs were renamed Communautés rurals (CR), leaving behind the developmental mission they had – in name at least – set out to accomplish.  9. In this region ‘To’ indicates that the person has been named in honour of an older person, usually a respected family member. The child can use the cognomen of the adult such as El Hadj, Almamy or Nana, but often adds the prefix ‘To’ to indicate that he or she is the younger homonym of their namesake. 10. Kola is the common term for gifts, sacrifices and fees both in public and private matters. Originally, kola nuts were presented to elders or dignitaries for these purposes. Today, bribes are also referred to as kola. 11. Such a conveyor system was later developed by the mining company Belzone. It had two routes planned; one was to connect their open-pit mine close to Kalia (Faranah prefecture) in Haute Guinée via Conta village, where overland trucks filled the barges to be transported to the improvised transfer site off Matakan island; the second system was to convey iron ore from Yomboyeli in Moussayah sub-prefecture via road to the new Conta transshipping port. The first route was actually implemented and active during 2012-2015 under the title ‘Forécariah Guinea Mining S.A.’; for more details see and depart-de-forecariah-guinea-mining-cri-de-coeur-orphelins-de-de-fer/. 12. Numbers vary greatly as systematic records do not exist and many contemporary reports were politically motivated (cf. Barry 2004; Kobélé Kéita 2002).

Chapter 3

Reaching for the Margins Negotiating State Power

The African state holds a peculiar place in the analysis of political powers. As discussed above, scholars often describe it as lacking some quality, often either legitimacy or reliable public service. On another level, scholars identify areas where this state is replete, overstepping its responsibilities, for example overreaching security forces, suppressing the opposition or manipulating elections. Such states exert too much or the wrong kind of power. The analysis of African states lacking or being replete may stem from the idea that states across the continent are not indigenous and have been imported from another continent and hence the post-colonial legacy lacks inherent stabilizing qualities that ensure its appropriate functioning. Some are called ‘not well integrated’, especially when national elites are concentrated in the capitals and neglect rural settings, as they are concentrating on their outwards affairs (e.g. Bayart and Ellis 2000). Other scholars argue that the state actually works, just in different ways, with different priorities than those often expected by outside analysts (e.g. Chabal and Daloz 2001). Institutional integration and territorial reach are often referenced as being key to a state’s performance, especially at the margins. Arieff and McGovern (2013) have argued that at no time, not even during the socialist revolutionary era, had the Guinean state – often reported as a good example of the too much/ too little challenge – reached as far into the countryside, into neglected interior areas and tried to exert control over its population so directly as in recent years. And indeed, the Ebola outbreak and the ensuing international investments into epidemic alert systems that are to span the country are just a new technology to obtain more control over a population that is well used to abuse and neglect, but which is also used to certain kinds of autonomies that are enabled exactly by that neglect (Schroven 2010). While the roll-out and implementation of

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these policies needs to be evaluated in the coming years, the implementation of previous policies that aimed at a better institutional integration of the country can already be studied. Policy changes and administrative reforms may originate at the state level but are really executed elsewhere. To understand the social life of institutional changes, a multi-scalar approach is necessary that reveals the intricacies of institutional hierarchies and interconnectivities of the people populating them, bringing them to life. The ongoing Guinean decentralization reforms are such an example. International donors pushed for their implementation in the late 1980s and detailed decisions of the cabinet were expected to be put into practice at regional, prefectural and local levels of administration in the 2000s. Established administrative players are key for the appropriation of these new policies which we will follow for the case of Forécariah. This example will highlight the fact that beyond administrative practices, many more aspects of public and private life are tied to such institutional reforms that aim for a closer integration of the state’s territory and its people. Individual and collective ­identities are but one aspect that needs to be considered. So far, the history of the area has been foregrounded in the form of oral tradition and its use for political purposes such as the legitimation of rule or other perpetuated privileges. Such representations may have created an impression of comparative stability in the social landscape of Moria. While this may be the case in certain contexts, change does occur in others. Different influences encourage the appropriation and adaptation of new ideas to legitimate rule or political and administrative institutions. The widely used expression ‘Je suis pas politicien!’ [I am not a politician!] signifies a distancing from politics when at the same time people want to make a statement about public affairs. The play between what is presented as political, public and what is personal will be investigated in the following pages, always against the backgrounds of changes and continuities. As notions of the political change, people expand the meaning of this rhetorical formula to carry multiple and potentially contradictory meanings. After an analysis of the government-led decentralization process with its local governance reform, the concept of participatory democracy will be explored as it is presented in policy papers and enacted by government representatives, NGO staff and municipal councillors in the local arena of Forécariah. The way in which they perceive, debate and implement established norms and new ideas connected to political life and legitimate rule reveals how outside influences may be incorporated or appropriated by the local arena, and how change can become an integral part of oral tradition in the long run. Furthermore, these debates reveal how political actors position themselves between a normative discourse of participatory democracy, government-led decentralization programmes and a political arena that is both highly localized and subject to change.

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Local Changes of Governance Changing relations between different actors in the local arena lie at the centre of this chapter, which will first look into theoretical approaches to decentralization and its inherent logics and then explore the Guinean example. A short recapitulation of political and administrative institutions from the colonial to the post-socialist era will provide an insight into the institutional (and legal) pluralism that exists at the formal level. The conceptual background of the Guinean decentralization project will be provided, highlighting the normative expectations of democratic rule to then look into the government-led process of administrative deconcentration and political decentralization. In Guinea, the term ‘deconcentration’ designates the devolution of power within public service while ‘decentralization’ refers solely to the devolution of political power to the elected district and municipal levels. The current reforms of local governance in Guinea have been under discussion since the late 1990s. It is, however, only the latest reform process. Colonial rule until 1958, socialist rule until 1984 and military rule until 2010 brought various reforms of governance and government structures that local actors have been contending with. While decentralization is only one reform process amongst many, it is one that affects many spheres of life directly. Hence decentralization serves as a lens on a process that involves a large number of crosscutting issues in diverse spheres of public and community life. It touches on individual and collective identities and social relations often mediated through established categories such as (social) age, landlord-stranger dynamics, degree of formal education and one’s position in the public service hierarchy. These issues are sometimes expressed in contemporary debates on legitimate rule. Thus, normatively charged ‘by-products’ of decentralization find their way into debates over landownership, development initiatives and ideas about citizenship. Such debates now include notions of representative democracy and popular political participation. In some cases they might even challenge what have so far been regarded as legitimate decision-making processes. While Guineans have experienced new public institutions in the course of several administrative reforms, a new element has emerged since the 1990s in the form of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These institutions cooperate with international NGOs and intergovernmental donor organizations, while also engaging with local dignitaries, public officeholders and government representatives in the local arena. The ensuing debates on normative values of democratic decentralization in the form of participation in the nation-state through elections or just ‘being political’ reflect the different actors’ aim to legitimize their decisions and actions in new ways. They fuse or synthesize discourses from different historic periods to forge their arguments in a legitimate and socially appropriate way. These may affect identities while also revealing the importance of being ‘modern’.

Reaching for the Margins  95

Figurations In order to study the effects of policy and administrative changes, change needs to be better understood. Individuals from established institutions like the founding families, but also new ones from NGOs and central government agents, come together in the local arena. These actors are immersed in multiple constellations, or ‘figurations’, that may change over time. Elias likens them to a dance. A particular dance may be performed by individuals alone and in a group. At the same time, the figuration is not dependent on the individual to continue. In other words, while people can leave, others may join in and the figuration will be perpetuated throughout time (Elias and Scotson 1994). It can thus become independent of the actors themselves as it is carried on by the group and slowly becomes an integral part of its historical and social repertoire. The notion of figuration is employed here to conceptualize institutions that are carried through time by a diversity of individuals and which thus guide people in their thinking and their employment of the institutions. Elias’s conception of power is linked to figurations. They are invested with power as they motivate people’s actions and guide particular forms of interaction. In other words, individuals work with available ‘institutional templates’ and rework them in a very practical mode of reasoning to devise their course of action (DiMaggio and Powell 2002: 22–24). The notion of figuration helps to conceptualize institutions that are carried through time by a diversity of individuals, and at the same time guide people in their thinking and their employment of these figurations in a history-laden social landscape. These landscapes, also termed ‘social worlds’, can be thought of as ‘universes of discourse’. Discourses surpass the level of rhetorical interaction and come to assemble ‘language, motive, and meaning, moving towards mutually understood ways of (inter)acting’ (Clarke and Star 2007: 116). Some particularly committed and active individuals represent the core of these social worlds and mobilize other people around them. At the same time, efforts are made to establish and maintain boundaries and thereby legitimize their very existence. In this discursive process, history is both used as a resource and (re-)created. It becomes an implicated actor, commonly recognized and referenced. Seen from this perspective, the arena is a collaborative product of very different people and their social worlds, where the rules of interaction are determined by multiple conditions resulting from long-term historical developments. Before entering into the details of this local arena, the polyvalent decentralization programme will be presented to clarify the ideological and rhetorical backdrop against which local implementations take place.

96  Playing the Marginality Game

Becoming Political: The Perks of Decentralization Decentralization is a recent project in Guinea. It officially began with the opening up and liberalization of the country after the death of the first president and socialist leader Sékou Touré (1958–1984). The government of Lansana Conté (1984–2008) decided to follow international discourses on democratization and devolution of power to the local level after it opened up to multiparty elections in the late 1990s. Since then, decentralization has become a neglected albeit highly symbolic instrument of government reform that only receives attention when local elections are being scheduled. Decentralization has been under academic scrutiny particularly since its inception as an international policy instrument in the 1990s. Investigations could draw on an older body of research addressing questions of centralization and decentralization in the context of administrations of empires, churches and large economic systems (Bloch 1989; Engels 1972; Henkel and Stirrat 2001, respectively). These questions are being debated in a variety of disciplines with different definitions, emphases, vocabularies and countries being compared, sometimes even without a study defining what exactly is meant by the term (Dubois and Fattore 2009: 721). Decentralization is practised by a variety of actors in different forms and it is therefore impossible to speak of a single type of decentralization (see Ribot, Chhatre and Lankina 2008). While these different types may appear contradictory at times, they are represented in an ideologically coherent fashion. It is this characteristic that makes their presumed effectiveness as a policy instrument so potent and pertinent and yet so elusive in the context of ethnographic research. Here, decentralization serves as a lens to follow political and administrative reform processes in Guinea as they are understood and practised by actors on the ground. In order to understand the multiple meanings and employments of the term better, a short introduction of the policy is helpful, as it aims to improve diverse things like public service delivery and the accountability of local governance institutions, while ideally enabling locally driven development. Along the lines of the famed Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs), decentralization is supposed to scale down the size and responsibility of the central government and administration, which is often the only formal employer in rural areas. Instead, more responsibility should be transferred to local-level governance structures that are financed by local tax revenues. This process is, in the case of Guinea, accompanied by the foundation of local councils and town mayors as well as a project educating and preparing the people for representative democracy (see Condé 2003; Rey 2007; Robert 1997). With regard to elections, the emerging civil society is gaining prominence in the preparation of elections and the training of councillors. Along with international institutions’ financial and programmatic priorities, NGOs exert their influence on different local actors.

Reaching for the Margins  97

These assumptions reveal that besides the administrative deconcentration, decentralization is linked to highly specific political expectations. At the levels of policy and implementation, it is interwoven with structural adjustment programmes and thus intricately linked to free market capitalism and notions of popular empowerment. The phenomenon of decentralization thus appears ­inseparable from other development and financial reform processes. Together, they are transported into rural settings through development actors or government reform programmes, which are themselves subjected to the logics they intend to effect: To this end even the organizations that define the institutional scope of the new order are supposed to be subjected to the laws of the market as far as possible (privatization and commercialization), and the democratic decision-making structures are to be organized so that the problems are solved and paid for where they arise (subsidiarity, decentralization, deconcentration, participation, and empowerment). (Rottenburg 2009: 98) Expected dividends of people’s empowerment and political participation, which are the implicit outcomes of these political reforms, reveal the ambitions behind the idea of subsidiary and democratic models of governance. Decentralization is indeed not merely a project in its own right but a means to other ends. With the end of the Cold War and the shift of official governance mechanisms popularly termed the ‘third wave of democratisation’ (Huntington 1991),1 some authors have argued that democracy in Africa is impossible unless it is adapted to local conditions. These were also associated with re-emerging ideas of indigeneity, autochthony, a longue-durée approach to history and local understandings of political legitimacy – topics that have received much scholarly attention.2 Such considerations translated into demands to integrate so-called traditional authorities, often referred to as ‘chiefs’ for short, into local governance.3 Under the title ‘Promoting Partnership with Traditional Authorities’, similar demands were made by the World Bank Group (World Bank 2000), and by other actors. These ideas are not new, but reach back into the colonial era, attempting to turn local administration from mere population control into local governance. According to Olowu, these efforts were pushed into the background by national independence processes and later economic crises. Only later did governments approach the subject again, with structural adjustment programmes drawing attention to a leaner and more efficient public sector (Olowu 2001: 6–8). Beyond the efficacy of public services, the efficacy of democratic institutions has been linked to decentralization as well. Along these lines, some authors claim that chieftaincy has to be ‘domesticated’ by and integrated into governance systems if African countries are to aspire to a form of democracy open to popular participation (van Dijk and van Rouveroy van Nieuwaal 1999).

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Democratization through Decentralization: Participation With the ideological shifts of international governance and development discourses in recent decades, the local has become more important in relation to the central state. In Guinea, the deconcentration of state services and a moderated devolution of central government powers to elected local councils go hand in hand with the development industry’s emphasis on participation of so-called ‘beneficiaries’. These projects aim at the seemingly enticing and simple, but in reality highly ambiguous integration of the population into a larger system of ideological, political or economic reference, in which these people have no or very little influence. By way of participation, rural populations are now enticed to feign participation and thereby also feign their influence on that larger system. Popular participation becomes highly problematic. When ‘village chiefs and the rural councils of local state governance structures are . . . taken to represent rural populations’ in projects conceived by central governments and other outside actors, ‘representation without participation’ may be the inadvertent result (Ribot 1996: 1). Ribot explains that participation practised this way ‘is a modern reproduction of indirect rule . . . Like colonial rule, it can also strengthen and legitimate the non-representative, unaccountable governance forms it relies on’ (Ribot 1996: 7). Participation as an instrument of institutional change, termed ‘the new tyranny’ of international cooperation by some authors (Cooke and Kothari 2001), may thus lead to the reification of established authorities and processes of decision making that were actually intended to be changed. However much they have been criticized, notions of participation have become integral parts of development projects as they have an air of rightness that can transcend the method itself and become part of the desired outcome – beyond any question of whether the expected and actual outcome necessitates the approach itself. Transferred to political decentralization processes, participation invokes a subtle, yet pervasive integration of people into the realm of the state, rendering any criticism, let alone resistance against it, more difficult. Such a level of formal integration into wider institutional structures does not profoundly change the everyday workings of power in localized settings. Inequalities persist due to more or less visible strategies of normalization processes, ensuring the perpetuation of hegemonic structures. It is this ‘complex of practical and theoretical activities’ that elites use not only to justify and maintain their dominance, but also ‘to win the active consent’ of those they rule (Gramsci 1971: 244). Here, inequalities may persist due to societal normalization processes, perpetuating hegemonic conditions rather than a shift to popular participation. Under such conditions, Trotha identifies a shift from ‘administrative chieftaincy’ towards ‘civil chieftaincy’, whereby chiefs are directly incorporated and become executives of central governments. Granting greater autonomy to local governance structures thus inadvertently turned the chiefly office into a ‘parastatal

Reaching for the Margins  99

agency’ (Trotha 1996). Nevertheless, this perspective implies that the state would be the only source of authority in ‘modern’ societies, a perspective widely criticized as unrealistic and due to its challenging stance to the democratic ideals’ more ‘horizontal’ approach to power relations. Considering these perspectives on participation, including so-called traditional authorities or councils of elders, into governance processes may fail to lead to more authentic and thus more legitimate means of governance or to the ‘domestication’ of supposedly traditional authorities and their incorporation into broader participation in governance. Central governments, state agencies and other actors face the challenge of negotiating the perceived needs to follow participatory guidelines of international donor agencies and ideas and ideals of democratic participation: ‘Until local authorities become more systematically accountable to local populations, governments, NGOs and donor agencies involved in participatory approaches must ask themselves if they are unwittingly supporting and strengthening non-representative or un-accountable ­governance – which is unlikely to accomplish the ostensible goals of participation’ (Ribot 1996: 7). State services, good governance, elections and development are combined into a seemingly attractive and yet amorphous body (or shadow) that places all responsibility upon the population, as well as the blame should the expectations not be fulfilled that have been distilled from the idea of democratic decentralization: ‘Meanwhile substantial matters involving the policies of external donors have tended to be insulated from processes of representative democracy, often via the use of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) . . . as a kind of surrogate demos’ (Ferguson 2006: 13, emphases in original).

NGOs and Civil Society Guinea was generally isolated from the influence of international discourse during its socialist period and only opened up to organizations specializing in refugees due to their high influx from the regional wars of the 1990s. The phenomenon of civil society in its institutionalized form of national and international NGOs is still recent and highly dependent on international financial flows and knowledge transfers. Against this background, most NGOs concentrate on humanitarian, educational and basic infrastructural projects. Usually refraining from outright political engagement, in the context of decentralization and election preparations, international NGOs play an explicit role in political development. Decentralization is thus not only an administrative process driven by the central government but also involves other actors, international NGOs and Guinean NGOs. They are of particular relevance here in their capacity to provide information and training seminars for public servants, elected c­ ouncillors and local elders. While the proliferation of NGOs in Guinea has not reached the heights seen in more popular African development projects such as Ghana and Kenya, here

100  Playing the Marginality Game

too international NGOs have been assuming areas of work otherwise assigned to the state. Ferguson concludes that it was the state itself that, through this development, became ‘nongovernmental’, with other bodies, amongst them NGOs, assuming governing functions (Ferguson 2006). The perspectives put forward by Ferguson and others introduced here limit themselves to one particular realm of the state: the provision of public services. As discussed above, NGOs are taking on many such tasks today. Others still appear to be firmly in the hands of the state as in its executive institutions or in the ideological indoctrination of citizens. Even with weak performances of public services and in light of public servants and government officials abusing their powers, the ‘ideological’ frame provided by the very same state has (so far) yet to be substantially questioned in Guinea (Arieff and McGovern 2013; Pauthier 2013). In fact, civil society is intricately interlinked with the state, and not only with regard to institutional actors such as government members and NGO staff. It has often been attributed the position of either the natural counterpart of the state or a mediating body between the state and citizens who in turn are conceptualized as families and local communities. Both perspectives speak to profound ideas of the state creating and permeating hierarchies with itself at the very top, or as an all-encompassing entity that by definition contains all the elements of society within (Ferguson and Gupta 2002: 983). Along this line of reasoning, NGOs can be conceptualized as mediating between the state and the local as they participate both in the localization of the state and in the integration of people into the state. The state has entailed a transfer of the operations of government (in Foucault’s extended sense) to nonstate entities, via ‘the fabrication of techniques that can produce a degree of “autonomization” of entities of government from the state’ (Ferguson and Gupta 2002: 989). Along these lines, NGOs come to participate in governance in a way that is implicitly enabled and supported by the democratic decentralization introduced above. This is a sign not of less state involvement but of new modes of governance that include a higher diversity of actors in the local arena such as NGOs, but also of individuals themselves, who are made more ‘responsible’ and ‘increasingly empowered to discipline themselves’ (Ferguson and Gupta 2002). With the people forming the constituency of NGOs, these institutions can then also claim to be the people’s voices and implicate themselves, with the backing of the international development discourse, in the administrative workings of the state, and even in its very production at the local level. The result is ‘a depoliticized mode of technocratic governance’ (Gould and Ojanen 2003: 7), the very inverse of the officially proclaimed intention of involving the population in governance and integrating them into the state. Ferguson and Gupta call this ‘government-by-NGO’ as a form of ‘transnational governmentality’ with all its presumed advantages of transparency and accountability. It levels out some of

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the differences between state and non-governmental actors and blurs the boundaries between the presumable separate spheres of governing bodies.

Reforming Guinea’s Institutions In light of Moria’s past, depicted above, it is evident that the Forécariah area has been exposed to numerous political changes over the centuries. Today, many of these are only referenced in passing, but colonial and post-colonial institutions, administrative and political practices are constantly referred to in the everyday. After strong resistance against colonial politics, and in particular the tax payments and forced labour during World War II, France introduced its Loi cadre in 1956. Territorial assemblies were created in the colonies, their jurisdiction quickly expanded and the number of elected representatives from overseas territories increased in the National Assembly in Paris. Starting with the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA), a political party that spread over all French West African colonies, the Guinean leadership under Sékou Touré quickly became the avant garde to demand full independence from a war-weakened France (cf. Schmidt 2005, 2007a). The mass mobilization, protests and strikes organized by Touré’s RDA party section, the Parti Démocratique de Guinée (PDG), were to become parts of the founding myth of the young nation (Camara 1996; Dumbuya 1974; Goerg et al. 2010). Binding the people to the new nation-state was to be facilitated by their integration into the party-state and by a newly established bureaucracy that was mirrored in the ruling party structures. At the level of villages and districts, party and governing bodies were closely intertwined and overlapped, with individuals holding several party and governmental-administrative offices at the same time. Interestingly, the internal delimitations of Guinea were not altered following independence, and only their names were changed from cercle to arrondissement. There was already heavy criticism of the mode of governance in rural Guinea before the end of the First Republic in 1984. With the spirit of change in the advent of the Second Republic, the territorial administration was again reformed. Arrondissements were renamed prefectures, while provinces were dissolved into new regions. Today the public institutions in rural Guinea are part of the system of governance inherited from the centralized colonial and later independent socialist state. The basic hierarchy of Guinean administration has the president at the top, above the governors of the eight regions, the prefects of the thirty-three prefectures, and then the sub-prefects. Staff of line ministries are assigned to provide public services at all these levels. In both the local context and at the central government level, the question needs to be asked as to whether the administrative reforms have brought about any real change in terms of political and ideological reference systems. As some authors argue, the passage from the First to the Second Republic did not bring

102  Playing the Marginality Game Table 3.1 Administrative and self-governing bodies in Guinea, from the colonial period to today. Administrative unites over time

Self-governing bodies today

French Colony (Local Leader)

1. Republic

2. Republic

Rural Setting (Local Leader)

Urban Setting (Local Leader)

– Cercle Canton (Almamy)

Province Arrondissement –

Région Préfecture Sous-Préfecture

– – Commune Urbaine (Maire)

Village (Alkaly)

Pouvoir Révolutionnaire Local


– – Communauté Rurale de Développement (Président) Conseil du District (Chef du District)

Conseil du Cartier (Chef du Cartier)

Note: Territorial entities and administrative hierarchies are represented schematically. In reality, their boundaries were sometimes realigned in the course of time.

about the substantial change that is often claimed. They assert that the liberalization process in the 1990s did not reform the system of territorial administration in Guinea in any meaningful way (Bangoura 2004; Soumah 2004). This continuity can be seen, for example, in direct government representation at the prefectural level. Following Decree 081/PRG/SGG/87, the prefect is the direct representative in the prefecture of the president, cabinet and the rest of the government. Each prefect is chosen by the president, from among the highest-ranking public servants and senior army and police officers, to safeguard the execution of decrees and uphold the law. Prefects are assisted by two secretaries, one responsible for everyday administrative processes, and the other for ‘decentralized communities’ (Rey 2007) or self-governing bodies. These bodies include, from top to bottom, the communautés rurales de développement (CRD) or communes urbaines (CU) that are in turn made up of district ruraux and quartiers urbains, respectively (see Table 3.1).

Institutional Pluralism: Changes and Continuities The Guinean population has elected councils as their self-governing bodies since 1992, with the council electing from their ranks the president of the communautés rurales de développement (CRD) or the town mayor. A parallel process occurs in rural districts and urban neighbourhoods where the elected are usually referred to as the chef [chief]. It is at this level that a council of elders is expected to share authority over the district with the elected council (Condé 2003), a matter that will be discussed below. While elections do not produce democracy per se, they are now nevertheless a prominent part of the legitimation rhetoric, both within the international

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discourse on local governance (Schatzberg 2001: 209) and locally in Forécariah. Councillors recount with pride the number of votes they receive and how relevant this is to their claim on a strong position in the council and within the local community at large. For example, Alpha Barry, a member of the municipality council and descendant of a santigi family, those who advised the almamy of Moria, used his elected position to establish his authority in negotiations on marital and neighbourhood conflicts in town, rather than simply making use of his santigi family background. Territorially speaking, the CRDs correspond to the sub-prefectures, and with some of the cantons of the colonial period. Public servants from the line ministries work together at both levels with the prefect and sub-prefect to provide what is known as technical services. Over time, these should come under the control of the CRD and CU, which are under the guidance or tutorship of the prefects or their subordinates. To assist in everyday bureaucratic work, each CRD council receives the services of a communal secretary, assigned by the Ministry of Interior and Territorial Administration. These public servants are specialized in the laws guiding the decentralization process as well as the management of the CRD paperwork. This aspect is particularly important in light of the high illiteracy rates in the rural context (Rey 2007: 46). Part of this administrative duty also involves financial oversight. The CRDs and CUs are supposed to collect the local development tax to enable them to work towards their raison d’être of local self-development (Condé 2003: 84–87). The councils’ responsibilities include the provision of infrastructure, including streets, health centres, schools and markets. They are also in charge of the management of natural resources such as water, forests and wildlife in addition to the keeping of the public records of people’s civil status [code civil], as stipulated in decree 092/PRG/SGG/90 of 1990. To this end, they are also supposed to oversee deconcentrated departments of the line ministries that provide such services. The Forécariah office of the Guinean water services, for example, is expected to follow decisions taken by the municipal council, while the representative of the department for forest resources and wildlife is supposed to execute decisions of the CRD council. Centrally organized public services are to be guided in their execution less by prefectural decision-making and more by communal authority. Therefore, the work of CRDs and CUs nominally connects processes of public service deconcentration and political decentralization. Rey, however, argues with findings of the ‘Observatoire de la décentralisation’ (Décentralisation 2003: 221), that rural communities in Guinea have experienced no effective change in public service delivery or self-governance as a consequence of these changes (Rey 2007: 44). This can formally be justified by a later decree: prefects and sub-prefects are entitled to suspend all decisions taken by CRDs and municipal councils if they contradict any law, or proceedings that do not ‘correspond to the official version’ (040/PRG/SGG/92, article 55 of 1992). With this move, government

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representatives remain in formal control of their tutelle. The problematic implications of this theoretically education-oriented relationship will be explored more closely in the following chapter. Before the nationwide founding of CRDs a pilot CRD was installed in the sub-prefecture of Farmoreah, part of Forécariah prefecture, from 1988 onwards, followed by a second CRD in Moyen Guinée (Condé 2003: 83). The president of the Farmoreah CRD recounted with pride that the government had confidence in the local population to live up to expectations, setting an example for the whole country and not disappointing hopes (interview, Farmoreah, 25 August 2006). In his publication on Guinea’s decentralization process, the long-time minister for the interior and decentralization, Alhasane Condé, highlighted the degree of solidarity that the Guinean people naturally possessed, linked to their shared ancestry, beliefs and historic experiences. These should come to the forefront with the reconstitution of local decision-making processes deemed ‘natural’ and ‘culturally appropriate’ as they are argued to have already once taken place, for example in the Mali Empire of the thirteenth century (Condé 2003: 51–52).4 It is in this vein that the council of elders has, according to Condé, officially been reinstated within rural communities, continuing a cultural element essential to ‘social cohesion’ and the ‘authentic rule’ of the Guinean people (Condé 2003: 59–60). While the term commonly employed in this context is sages [‘elders’], it does not necessarily indicate the descent of today’s sages from (pre-)colonial chiefs but may simply allude to village elders descended from families of first-comers or landlords. This also clarifies the rural context envisioned for the council of elders, constructing an authentic style of society in contrast to urban communities that do not need a council of elders to advise on decision-making processes or assist in conflict resolution. Interestingly, Condé does not address the question of the colonial collaboration of a large number of chiefs, which had led to their official suppression in 1957 and further disgrace during the ‘cultural revolution’ and demystification campaigns linked to the socialist regime’s nation-building efforts in the 1950s and 1960s. Rey argues that although elders’ councils were included into Guinean decentralization rhetoric, they do not feature in the country’s constitution, as revised in 1991 (Rey 2007: 55), which had been reviewed by the Condé government elected in 2010. The foundational phase of the Guinean nation-state requires particular attention with regard to the literature on local governance, the domestication of democracy and the role of (pre-)colonial chiefs in the Guinean decentralization programme. Reports on including chiefs in local governance bodies in Ghana, South Africa and Burkina Faso often depict these rural institutions as not unproblematic but essentially intact and popularly accepted (Lentz 2006a; Ouédraogo 2004; van Rouveroy van Nieuwaal 1999, respectively). Such ideas do not in fact seem to have guided Guinean decentralization policy and rhetoric. Following Weber’s analysis

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of legitimate domination as authority (Weber 1972), Guinean institutions today favour rational legal authority and do not explicitly touch on traditional authority as embodied by the descendants of (pre-)colonial chiefs in the countryside. In real life, however, ‘legitimacy is not an all-or-nothing affair’ (Beetham 1991: 19–20). This issue will be explored more diligently in the following, with an examination of debates among councillors and elders in Forécariah. The history of governance in Guinea shows that many different institutions exist due to the varying political regimes leaving their legacies behind, which can be captured in both ideologies and governing institutions. These are equipped with infrastructure and personnel and do not just fade away with a change of system of governance. Some may be explicitly terminated, others may outlive any changes, leading to an accumulation of governing bodies that are not isolated from each other but interact, counteract, promote and obstruct each other. Today’s actors include official members of the state administration and ‘leftovers’ from previous political regimes such as the families of first-comers, the descendants of colonial chiefs, socialist-inspired neighbourhood committees and elected members of town councils. Additionally, there are councils at the village and neighbourhood levels organized within the context of NGO projects that also claim authority over some public concerns.

Local Evolution of Institutions Describing a setting where local elders and agents of the public service and central government converge is complex in itself. Like many other countries, Guinea continues to experience changes on both the politico-ideological and technical-administrative levels. In order to convey the perpetual debates and competitions about the exercise of local power, this setting will be investigated as an arena. While being local in the sense that many actions take place in a geographically local scope, the arena is not in fact limited to this and should thus not be conceptualized as such in the present discussion. The arena is indeed influenced by outside forces and decisions as exemplified above by government representatives and NGO staff. It is not isolated or merely reactionary but also exerts influence due to the actors’ agency. There is, however, also the dimension of time and of institutions having an impact even after their ‘official’ abolition. Such is the case with colonial village and canton chiefs who were officially abolished in 1957, one year before Guinea’s independence, but who continue to hold substantial authority in rural settings. Bierschenk presents a perspective on the local arena that explains its existence as a historically built-up entity, the result of a process of the sedimentation of institutions created during ideologically different periods of governance and engaged by local and outside actors (Bierschenk 1999). The idea of local institutions outlasting the regime that had brought them into existence within their ideological contexts is helpful when considering the multifaceted effects of

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France’s colonial rule and the traces the socialist regime left behind. The changes in the contemporary decentralization processes only add to this multitude and result in a situation, usually described as legally plural, in which different legal orders exist and compete with each other. As such, Bierschenk’s metaphor of sedimentation allows for little agency on the part of the local actors but proposes a way to deal with organizational pluralisms. It assumes a pre-given void of institutionalized regulatory mechanisms for power, upon which an outside force can simply construct and later add its newest ideas. As a consequence, it does not grant room for contemporary negotiations or an integration of past and present ideologies that might be merged in creative ways and thus meet current needs and interests without a clear separation of original political regimes. Picking up on the idea of fusion, Lund describes the local arena as being made up of ‘twilight institutions’ and thus emphasizes the spectrum of (un-) official and (in-)formal qualities that different actors employ when working in the local arena (Lund 2006). From this perspective, it becomes irrelevant whether people act in accordance with the official institution they represent or not, whether they adhere to the norms they are officially guided by or abuse resources they are entrusted with. The main point is that as soon as actors are involved in the local arena, they become part of an institutional blur with undistinguishable boundaries, where the need for such institutional boundaries is not even felt. This line of argument bears the risk of imposing values from an ideal-type of public service and governance apparatus onto the analysis itself. These may imply measures and judgements following normative expectations that are not appropriate in the given context and which deflect from local interpretations of processes, events and people that may be called corrupt or nepotistic from one standpoint but express care, respect and social responsibility from a different perspective (cf. Olivier de Sardan 2005; Smith 2001, 2003). As a consequence, what appear as ‘twilight institutions’ from a normative viewpoint may be regarded as very different from the perspective of the local actors. Notions of formal or informal behaviour and expectations for normative behaviour may be used to manufacture particular arguments, for example to establish legitimacy or accuse people of corruption. These are, however, not always applicable on a generalized level. The actors employ norms flexibly and creatively and thereby shape their own and other people’s behaviour by providing cognitive scripts. These are indispensable for action. Without them actors could not find orientation for their own actions or interpret the actions of others: When they act as a social convention specifies, individuals simultaneously constitute themselves as social actors, in the sense of engaging in socially meaningful acts, and reinforce the convention to which they are

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adhering . . . The relationship between the individual and the institution, then, is built on a kind of ‘practical reasoning’ whereby the individual works with and reworks the available institutional templates to devise a course of action. (Hall and Taylor 1996: 15–16) Merging these thoughts with Elias’ figurations, the power of institutions to shape perceptions and possible actions – beyond the individual actors themselves and yet not independent of them – becomes obvious. Institutions, in this view of things, can shape what actors regard as possible and as socially appropriate. Along these lines it becomes interesting to see how actors engage with new institutions and combine them with those they are already used to acting in and interacting with. Generally, we find that actors are very skilled at forming links between old and new institutions, constructing continuities and carrying forward titles from older to new institutional realms. The remainder of this chapter investigates such strategies. Each section foregrounds two particular groups of actors to show how, following Hall and Taylor, individuals ‘work and rework institutional templates’ (1996). By using established templates, actors not only reify them but blur the institutions’ boundaries by merging them in creative ways.

Development Poles: Performing Decentralization for Local Development This section introduces an ambitious project that aimed at the economic self-development of rural communities suggested by the local prefect. Sponsored by an international NGO, he and some of his staff travelled to Haute Guinée in August 2006 to visit CRDs that had pooled resources for local infrastructure projects under the guidance of a UN-funded initiative called ‘Programme de développement local en Guinée (PDLG)’. The reports from the trip were enthusiastic and plans were presented to the biannual meeting of prefecture staff, the conseil administratif préfectoral (CAP), on how this success could be reproduced in Forécariah. One of the prefect’s closest collaborators, the secretary for decentralized communities, explained at length how future development poles (pôles de developpement) would regroup certain CRDs that share a common history, solidarity and trust, and would therefore cooperate with one another. In this vein, he presented a project plan that was already part of the final report of the CAP, to be adopted at the end of the meeting. The two days after the meeting saw people designing future projects for the development poles that would group certain CRDs together as project partners. In this project the municipality of Forécariah and the Allasoyah and Moussayah CRDs were regrouped as Moria, the (pre-)colonial name for the area. The other poles bear the names of former colonial cantons: Kimambourou to the northwest, Benna to the east and Méllacorée to the south of Moria. The regrouping and naming of development poles was highly intentional, as the secretary responsible explained to me later:

Map 3.1  Development poles in Forécariah prefecture.

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We want to emphasize the social cohesion based on shared ancestry. This historical experience will help the people collaborate on their own development. I do not foresee any problems with this, except for Moria. The Touré fight so much. They think that they have everything so they destroy every chance to change things. So the two CRDs might not cooperate with people in town. They finally have achieved independence from the town through decentralisation, and now they should work together again? (Interview, Forécariah, 26 December 2006) While the secretary’s comments reflected doubts about the feasibility of the prefect’s idea to copy the project in Forécariah, they also highlighted the ideas that have been expressed within the international discourse of democratic decentralization. Shared history in rural settings is usually emphasized to bring about solidarity and thus increase chances for collective action. The origin of the names reflects a mixture of pre-colonial (Moria, Benna) and colonial (Méllacorée, Kimambourou) political entities. The intended historic references are very different. Moria and Benna constituted pre-colonial principalities. Méllacorée was the name of the first French cercle in the region, with Benty as its headquarters. The cercle was later enlarged and renamed Forécariah. Kimambourou was a canton that existed for a few years around 1912. While the regional references Kimambourou and Méllacorée are no longer in everyday use, the others can be heard in everyday conversations to designate regional identities, even without any particular historic reference. The depth of historic reference thus differs widely in the four envisioned development poles. As the secretary hinted above, a strong historic reference and shared (historic) identity may not be helpful. It may even be counterproductive for the kind of solidarity and trust the development-pole project would imply. This at least had been the experience of colonial and post-colonial administrators before this current team. They had re-drawn administrative boundaries with exactly this aim: making people more easily governable, making them pay their taxes, integrating them more into the larger political entity that was Guinea. The highly motivated ideas of the prefect, of the UN’s PDLG and of many countries currently re-drawing internal boundaries in order to better adapt administration to the people, in order to make them feel more integrated, all face history and the failures that their similarly motivated predecessors produced. Ethiopia is one such example of re-drawn boundaries that should ideally reflect the ethnic origins of the populations living there. This has, however, resulted in further discrimination of those people who suddenly find themselves in the minority in a given area, now that the borderers have moved. Democratic representation, an ideal of many of these reforms, was not achieved. Neither were cohesion and social peace improved.

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It was this project that initiated a series of activities in Forécariah. A national NGO collaborated with the prefect’s staff to organize workshops that would unite representatives of CRDs in accordance with the envisioned development poles. These workshops were expected to enforce councillors’ capacities as elected representatives and encourage their future cooperation in collective development projects. In accordance with the prefect’s wishes, this initiative was to further local solidarity and democratic understanding, as the prefect explained: I want to make a point here for progress, for development, for modernity. Democratic elections, representative democracy, these are new things for people here. How are the councillors supposed to know? But the local solidarity that has been here all throughout, this is where we are going to start and turn it into something contemporary . . . I want to leave a trace of modernity, to show that I moved things, that the Guinean countryside can evolve and lift itself out of darkness [endroit sinistré]. (Interview, Forécariah, 26 November 2006) The use of historical territorial names and the construction of continuities may be more easily carried out in retrospect than during a phase in which new ideas of legitimate rule are being introduced and hence negotiations and contestations dominating the local arena. It is this phase that is dominant within local governance bodies in Forécariah. As indicated above, NGOs contribute to the phase by introducing concepts of representation and participation. This process is very similar to what Geertz (1980) described as Negara, which is a ‘peculiarly modern theatre state’, in which outcomes are almost completely predetermined, and where the most important audience is comprised of foreign NGOs and international organizations. Entirely hollow elections are held; the foreigners in turn send in their commissions and applaud. This external applause confers the external legitimacy necessary to keep things in the hands of the extant political elites and keep the all-important flows of aid on tap. The domestic audience has meanwhile absorbed a quite different message: elections and their accompanying systems of electoral complaints and conciliation hearings serve to perpetuate local elite and thug dominance of those elections; they are nothing more than an empty show of form and it is a dangerous and risky thing to behave as if the show is real, or has any appreciable impact on possible outcomes. (Strauss and Cruise O’Brien 2007: 11) Similarly, in the case of decentralization in Forécariah, elders, councillors and NGO staff observe the ritual, the known rules of workshops are respected,

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and the vocabulary of democracy and popular participation is employed. Simultaneously, actors are well aware of expectations and conventions – rituals so to say – that are relevant outside of the workshops. Participants do not therefore take for granted that the transferred knowledge and ideology can or should be implemented as presented within the particular workshops. Nonetheless, the words and meanings receive their own potentially new interpretations along their journey from meetings at the sub-prefecture to discussions on land access and sub-delimitations of CRDs, as will be discussed towards the end of this chapter. Here, debates on legitimate rule become more complex as the authority of one decision-making body, the local elders, is challenged by the introduction of councils and questioned by the ideologies transmitted in NGO workshops. While Strauss and Cruise O’Brien emphasize continuities in the face of government reform, negotiations and a desire for change amongst key actors in the local arena are highlighted here. Whether or not this change will come to be institutionalized and in time become a further representation of continuity remains to be seen. The important matter here is that some actors in the local arena aim for change. This may be expressed in a desire to ‘create something new’ or ‘be modern’ as will be seen in the following sections.

Translating Governance: The Politics of Language What participation can mean in the context of democratic decentralization, and how it renders people, institutions and decisions more or less legitimate is being discussed by actors negotiating these new forms of political life across continuities of the local arena. In order to place these different activities into perspective, the publicly perceived character of local and national NGOs and their staff will be investigated, focusing on explicit and implicit influences of international policies. In the Guinean context, the non-governmental character of NGOs and therefore their independence from different national elites is being questioned in popular discourse. The causes for this will be addressed by the investigation of particular relationships of government representatives and NGO staff at the prefecture level. People living in Forécariah prefecture have had a comparatively lengthy experience with NGOs in the Guinean context due to their proximity to the capital (which international staff often do not like to leave due to the relative comfort of the infrastructure concentrated there) and due to the consequences of rebel attacks and refugees from neighbouring Sierra Leone. Before the 1990s the country was quite secluded from international agencies due to the late President Touré’s fears of other governments’ direct or indirect interference in Guinea. NGO interventions only began with humanitarian aid in the context of the regional wars of the 1990s.

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The oral accounts of project participants, observers and NGO staff can provide us with an impression of the interactions between town elders and the established elites in local public service and these organizations. Variations or adaptations of the vocabulary employed during workshops and official meetings may occur due to efforts made toward translating international discourse to the local circumstances and vice versa: trying to make sense of the local reality in the context of the international discourse of democratic decentralization. Democratization itself addresses aspects of public life that are often defined locally in non-political ways. As part of the heritage shared with post-socialist countries, many Guineans view anything outside the vast state-government apparatus, at first glance, as non-political. In the past, the extent of the ‘political’ was somewhat more clear-cut but is now being questioned in line with the liberalization policies that have been opening up the public playing field by introducing new actors, as members of government, leaders of political parties and businessmen formed an alliance tied together by nepotism and the embezzlement of public funds. This combination resulted in the emergence of an international jet-set, travelling between Conakry, Dakar, Paris and the United States. Local commentators classify all of these as belonging to the political elite of Guinea, together with high-ranking army officers within the president’s closest circles. Rumours of their wealth and international lifestyle abroad abound, while local people have a hard time making ends meet. These elites’ lifestyle is locally referred to as libertinage [debauchery], which emerged along with political liberalization and is therefore intertwined in local reasoning, reaching as far as associating contemporary politicians of any kind with libertinage. The implicit call to participate in politics through elections and by engaging with local councils thus meets a widespread understanding of ‘politics’ as a national playing field of personal ambitions, nepotism and corruption. The call by NGOs for people to become politically active is therefore not without its challenges.

Lost in Translation: Political Vocabularies Subcontracted to organize a workshop on elections and citizenship, the three men of the local NGO ADA (Action de Démarrage Alternative) discussed the translation of a French information booklet into Susu. ADA specialized in providing adult literacy programmes in Susu and its members are therefore deemed appropriate partners for the national NGO to deliver decentralization-related messages. The workshop participants could only read or speak French in a limited capacity but were still supposed to receive information on their rights and responsibilities as elected councillors. But how could these be translated without distorting the meaning or rendering the vocabulary and concepts behind it inconsistent?

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While official documents use the French term conseillers, councillors, in their documents, the NGO staff did not want to simply use the French word but work toward a faithful translation. One possible Susu word for councillor is santigi, which indicates a minister or ‘second in command’ to the king [mange]. A person with this title would be the head of mange sanyi [the feet of the king], the administration or executive of the ruler. But if santigi and mange sanyi have connotations of being part of the government’s executive, then the overall goal of the workshop, exploring democratic decentralization, could be lost in translation. In the end, the French terms were in fact adopted. Asked why they had decided to change their usual ‘Susu-only’ approach, the director of ADA explained: We want to emphasize the new character of the councillors and to distance them from the santigie, the public servants that are much more mange sanyie than the councillors ought to be. So we want to make this more evident as this is going to be a modern institution, less weighed down by tradition, the tradition of the state. (Interview, Moussaya, 06 January 2007) The new local government institutions, in Bangoura’s reasoning, require less tradition and more ‘modern’ conditions to live up to the ideals with which they were conceived. They therefore need to be clearly distinguishable from other governance institutions and their staff already present in Forécariah. Unlike neighbouring Mali, where the government went to large efforts to translate key French terminology into at least some of the local languages (Béridogo 1997), the Guinean government and public service uses the French words instead. While the Malian decision does not solve the problems in the implementation of policies, it nevertheless reveals the perceived need to translate terms into local vocabularies. The question of language is a highly political one in Guinea. The First Republic promoted the systematic use of so-called national languages in opposition to French in order to break with the colonial past. All public documents and broadcasts had to be delivered in the four main languages of the country, Malinké, Pular, Susu and Kissi. Schooling below university level was also conducted in these languages. While it is questionable how effective this policy was in suppressing the allegedly imperialist French language, it led to generations of people, particularly in the countryside, who did not learn French. Today, however, French is the language spoken in public broadcasting and in government. Laws, orders and decrees are now published in French and reports have to be written in the language. Using French has become a symbol of the urban or educational elite and in rural contexts it is sometimes looked down on exactly because of this.

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Beyond the question of language, (Latin-alphabet) literacy itself is also important in this context. Both historically and until today, councillors and male members of chiefly families received a thorough Quranic education and could therefore read Arabic writing. While respect for the positions of elected councillors and elders makes it impossible to broach the subject of literacy directly with them, the issue itself is widely known. Often, this is based on a certain level of education: Being able to read and write is the key. Once you have mastered that you can found your NGO, you can get money from donors and make a living. Or you can join the public service, become a public servant and earn money. That’s why I go to school. Afterwards, I will bring development to my village. (10th grade high school student, Forécariah, 13 September 2006) In the rural context, public service and NGOs are widely associated with literacy, a concern often voiced by members of the public service when speaking about councillors: They can’t read or write. This is why we exist. This is why we were invented. Without us, this whole decentralization would not work. We have to read everything to the presidents, and then write down everything for them. We have to teach them everything, make them fit into a system that is modern, while they are old-fashioned. This is true tutelage, not what the prefects are doing by making decisions in the name of the councils. (Interview, Allasoyah, 30 October 2006) This comment by a communal secretary is representative of many similar opinions about the local councillors’ lack of literacy and formal education, which supposedly disqualified them as equal partners. Such attitudes seemingly justify the councillors’ position as tutelle, as the tutored party of local governance that has to be helped through the transition into participation in local governance envisioned by the government and in international policy. In his comment the secretary accuses government representatives like the prefect of not taking council members seriously and not respecting their jurisdiction. The fact that ADA, an NGO with a reputation for emphasizing Susu as a working language, was employed, reveals the attention this question received on the part of the prefect and the brokering national NGO. This becomes particularly clear when looking into languages used in official meetings of the prefecture and the tensions these particular choices created.

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Project Speak: Adapting the Language of Development The project for which ADA had been contracted was first introduced in the local arena at the Conseil administratif préfectoral. This meeting, both in terms of the spatial allocation of seats and the possibilities to speak, reveals how precarious language issues and the envisioned tutelage of the local councils can become. Knowledge of the French language and official administration speak5 were prerequisites to actively participating in this particular performance. The senior staff of the prefecture administration, military, police and of the CRDs gathered in the conference hall. The sub-prefects were seated at the main table together with the prefect, and the presidents of the CRDs were seated together in concentric rings with the local directors of public services, military and police. Mayor Fofana was the only woman present. As the town mayor, she should have been sitting in the second row together with her rural counterparts, the CRD presidents, but she had a seat at the central table. This invitation-only event was one of two annual administrative meetings of the prefecture. The prefect opened the meeting by asking his staff to translate his French speech into the ‘national languages’ to allow ‘the elected’ to follow the discussions. While this translation was not in fact provided, Mayor Fofana started her report on municipal tax collection in French and then changed to Susu, her presentation of the town’s political situation becoming more vibrant. The spatial arrangement of the meeting pointed towards clear hierarchies. Seats at the central table had been given to those holding an important post within the prefecture and – as with Mayor Fofana – those who could speak French and who could supposedly participate best in the ensuing debates on the development poles. The fact that the prefect asked staff to translate the proceedings into local languages, in line with his tutorial role, shows a will to ensure communication with the CRD presidents who are the oldest and probably least formally educated in the room. The gesture seems open to misunderstanding, as he addressed those seated at the central table during his presentation, the Frenchspeaking sub-prefects, while not speaking to the elected representatives of the population who did not speak or receive a translation from French. Mayor Fofana’s switch from French to Susu broke up the performance of the government hierarchy assembled at the central table. While she was sitting at the conference table she spoke Susu – the language that had previously been reserved for the second row. She had started off in French, stating, in a technical tone, facts and figures relating to the municipality’s activities in the last year. When she changed to Susu, she began to elaborate on internal political contestations, particularly between the most senior members of the Touré family. This personal battle had cast a shadow on activities in town and even hampered the commitment of the ressortissants based in Conakry. Switching languages

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according to topic, Mayor Fofana showed a mastery of the political performance which she then managed to unhinge. Administrative speak was delivered in a factual tone in French, while addressing the prefecture staff at the table, employing vocabulary such as tax yield, register office and performance indicators. However, important political news was delivered to the other audience, the CRD presidents and other Susu-speakers seated in the second and third rows of the conference room. The prefect and many sub-prefects and communal secretaries could only partly follow these deliberations as they did not understand Susu well enough. Using the prefect’s example, the mayor evened the scores by excluding one audience and including another. She defied his authority as the convenor of the meeting by leaving the room after her presentation. Using the cooking duties she had been assigned by the prefect as an excuse, she left and did not return during the following days. Mayor Fofana was indeed charged with providing lunch for the CAP but had her helpers to do the work. According to local norms, she should have overseen these tasks as the leading woman at the meeting. As the mayor of Forécariah, however, she was expected to attend the whole meeting. Her exit after a challenging performance underlined her agency to choose between the different spheres of her authority. For this, she gained the respect of most CRD presidents who complimented both her speech and her cooking during the following days. The prefect and his staff, on the other hand, pointed out that Mayor Fofana flouted their rules according to administrative hierarchy and their hospitality as the convenors of the meeting. After a short pause at the CAP the local tax collection status of the nine CRDs was reported, one by one. Sometimes it was the communal secretary or the sub-prefect who spoke – assuming that the CRD presidents did not speak French. The tone of the meeting changed when the prefect and some of his staff criticized the low level of tax collection in the municipality (20 per cent) in comparison to the CRDs (between 65 and 80 per cent). One sub-prefect commented: In Sikhourou, the president, the communal secretary and the sub-prefect cooperate well and people invest in local development. In Benty, things work even better, and they even have started to plan their own market stall at Pamelap [sub-regional] market. But, as always, in the country of the Touré, things don’t seem to work. The town and its surrounding CRDs are too divided over internal affairs. (Interview, Forécariah, 26 December 2006) With his comparison of several localities, the sub-prefect in turn revealed that he could in fact follow the Susu language and is familiar with local politics. While it is public knowledge in the region that the Touré family in Forécariah is internally

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divided over historic disputes and contemporary political competitions, it is usually left unsaid at official occasions. He thus breached the usual etiquette and implicitly counteracted the town mayor in the breaching of procedures. He too divided what he said between project speak and the local political situation, although he did not switch languages, possibly because his knowledge of Susu was not sufficient. The sub-prefect’s comment above can also be read as a lamentation of his own failure to cooperate successfully with the communal secretary and CRD council to deliver a high level of tax collection. His yield of 65 per cent for Kaliah was the lowest of all CRDs. He evidently had not managed to exert his authority sufficiently to encourage his local counterparts to perform better in their tax collection tasks. He put the blame for the political situation on the ‘country of the Touré’ which directly affects Kaliah as the town’s neighbouring CRD and part of the historic principality and colonial canton of Moria. Within the official logic of his tutoring role, he placed the blame for the local conditions on a lack of envisioned solidarity and drive for self-development.

Tutelage and Participation: A Moral Community? The sub-prefect’s comment cited above reveals the problems seen by the tutors, government representatives who are expected to guide the new decentralized self-governing bodies. Using terminology known throughout the region, landlord-stranger relations are called tutelage in the literature, as this connects contemporary decentralization processes with established notions of social relations of juniors and seniors in rural areas. The prefect and his staff have expressed parallel views for their project of development poles, idealizing shared history and social cohesion in the countryside as ‘natural solidarity’ with an accepted landlord-stranger/tutor-tutored hierarchy. Looking more closely, however, it becomes clear that roles are inverted within the tutelage scheme: landlords as leaders of the local population become tutelles, while government ­representatives – and strangers to the locale – become tutors. The ‘traditional’ notion does not therefore appear to apply here. Conversely, from a different perspective, in which the Guinean decentralization project is government-driven, the allegory does seem correct, as it is government agents who dwell in ‘their territory’ and the elected councillors are the newcomers – and thus strangers – and need tutoring. Both the above perspectives on tutoring can be supported. They do not, however, clarify how power and authority are distributed among the two parties. Landlord-stranger or tutoring relationships extend way beyond the ‘mere dyadic tie’ and include ‘a social institution and an element of governmentality . . ., namely the moral community’ (Le Meur 2006: 883). The above examples have shown that the moral community, i.e. the collective of people concerning themselves with questions of legitimate rule, is currently growing in Guinea. New

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actors such as NGOs are appearing on the scene, just as new ideas of public participation are being introduced. One very pertinent question in connection with democratic decentralization is the participation of the wider population in politics. Communication in a variety of forms is of importance here. Language issues and translations between French and Susu pose a challenge, as does the choice of subjects at appropriate settings or vocabulary employed within the appropriate arena. The case of Mayor Fofana and the sub-prefect revealed the negotiations taking place within the larger arena of the prefectural meeting. Who can participate in which capacity – and who can be heard? Choices of language and tone become highly relevant in such performances of participation. Even the presence of CRD presidents at the council meeting was not sufficient to ensure engagement with the local population, and they were instead sidelined on language grounds. With these restrictions, participation does not, as Ribot pointed out, result in the political representation of wider parts of the population, but it seems to enable new legitimations for established methods of governance (Ribot 1996). The case of ADA’s goal of having authentic and modern translations of institutional terminology from French to Susu, and Mayor Fofana’s performance at the CAP both reveal how contested this context is. While the idea of participation has entered into the local arena, it is not yet clear what the corresponding moral community (Le Meur 2006) which is needed to check and balance the new rulers will be like. It is this moral community that will be investigated more closely in the following chapter. Agents, old and new, will be introduced in the persons of elders and NGO staff members who cross-cut the categories of government representative and local self-government in different and creative ways, blurring boundaries that have hitherto been presented as relatively clear-cut. In their boundary efforts, they will also manipulate collective identities and processes of integration into the larger state.

Notes 1. For a critique of this concept see Diamond (1996) as well as Rose and Shin (2001). 2. See also Ceuppens and Geschiere (2005), Holtzappel and Ramstedt (2009), and Ribot, Chhatre and Lankina (2008). 3. See also Englebert (2002), Fanthorpe (2005), Ferme (2003), Moore (1986), and Skalník (1996). 4. Sources such as Condé (2003) conflate the administration’s deconcentration in the sense of subsidiarity with today’s notion of decentralization. 5. The expression ‘administration speak’ is an adaptation of Sampson’s use of ‘project speak’ (1996: 121)

Chapter 4

Mixing and Mingling New Politics, Old Structures?

With decentralization, new actors and new forms of participation are introduced into the complex setting that is Guinean local governance, or indeed local governance anywhere else. Simultaneously, however, another process is taking place that brings about a challenge to what is already a contested situation: the emergence and manifestation of civil society, rendering the pluri-legal arena of Forécariah, as well as the identity politics of its actors, even more complex. By assuming different functions, actors not only blur the boundaries between individual institutions but also enlarge the scope of what had previously been labelled ‘political’, thereby engaging creatively with their interpretation of democratic participation that decentralization – somewhat inadvertently at times – brings with it.

Workshopping Councillors: Indoctrinating the Past The prefect’s initiative for development poles presented in the previous chapter resulted in a series of workshops across the prefecture. ADA, the local NGO, had been contracted to facilitate these workshops within the designated poles, regrouping councillors and elders from the respective CRDs. The programme comprised an overview of citizenship rights and the duties of councillors within the context of local self-governing bodies, issues that were presented as complementary. Just as citizens had duties, such as respecting the law, paying taxes, giving relevant information to the registry office and participating in elections, so the council had to collect taxes, provide registry services and ensure the delivery of public services to its constituency. Such rights and duties were elaborated at the workshop that ADA hosted for elected councillors in one of the sub-prefectures. Once the participants had

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gathered, the head of the ADA reminded people of the ideas of decentralization and local development that had been brought forward at the last administrative meeting of the prefecture. Only the presidents of the CRDs and Mr Touré, in his capacity as press correspondent, had attended. The expected outcome of the meeting was that CRD councillors would pool local tax income in the interest of larger development projects that they could not afford individually. They were therefore invited along with the communal secretaries, to help with the legal notions of the tasks and the paperwork at hand. They were also easy to identify as the councillors wear boubou with a corresponding head cap while the secretaries and civil society representatives wear locally tailored shirts and trousers. Touré, who was called Monsieur le Maire [Mr Mayor] throughout the workshop, wore shirts and trousers of matching material that resembled a shortened and tighter version of the boubou the other council members were wearing. In a seeming routine, participants demanded the reimbursement, pens and paper they felt were their due. They flicked through the pages of a small information leaflet handed out and followed the presentation of the NGO as well as that of Touré who had been sub-contracted to facilitate during the sessions. The afternoon was spent in group discussions on decentralization as well as the rights and duties of councillors. As in most workshops, while this was envisioned as a collaborative effort, it was the secretaries who wrote things down on large paper sheets and it was the secretaries who checked the notes and later presented group results to the plenum. The next day, these reports were received with a round of applause and the approval of the NGO representatives who thanked the participants, encouraging them to cooperate across CRD lines in the interest of local development. Proceedings of this kind are typical of NGO meetings and not at all specific to the issue of decentralization. Nevertheless, it is in this context that the workshop provides interesting insights into the dynamics of the different office holders in the local arena. In the workshop one person was particularly noteworthy: Mr Touré, also known as ‘La Presse’ and sometimes also called Monsieur le Maire. He gained his first nickname as the official correspondent of Radio Rural, the rural branch of the public television and radio broadcaster Radio-Télévision Guinée (RTG) which for a long time dominated the Guinean media landscape. Only in the late 2000s did private radio stations and even later private TV stations become affordable, but initially they remained in the capital and large population centres. Touré regularly reported on the public events of the week in a brief summary by mobile phone. His main occupation however was being vice-mayor of the municipal council of Forécariah, and it is in this capacity that he was officially invited to attend the workshop. ‘La Presse’ was part of the council the second time as well. When the first election results came in 1998, he allegedly disputed the outcome, proclaiming himself mayor. However, the majority of the council

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elected Mrs Fofana as mayor, amidst interventions from the prefecture and the relevant ministry in Conakry. In the end, Touré was persuaded to stay on the council ‘as the representative of our family’, as one of the leading town elder, Ibrahima Kadialy Touré, put it. Ibrahima Kadialy, Touré’s distant uncle and the second mayor of Forécariah between 1996 and 2000, stressed the need to have family members on the council since he himself was ‘slowly retiring from politics’ but could ‘advise and guide people’ through members of his family (interview, Forécariah, 9 November 2006). Accordingly, Touré family members would legitimize the council as a whole in the eyes of the local population. A male deputy for Mayor Fofana in the person of ‘La Presse’ would assure respect for her person and the symbolic continuity of the Tourés’ rule over the town. Four years later, the second election of Touré to the council and the re-­ election of Mrs Fofana as mayor earned him the unofficial title of vice-mayor, a position that is not provided for by the local government act. He had his own office in the municipal building, slightly smaller than that of the mayor, and was sometimes addressed as Monsieur le Maire, in contrast to Mrs Fofana who was officially addressed as Madame le Maire. During the workshop in question, I was surprised when people addressed Touré as Monsieur le Maire. He had been sub-contracted by the NGO as he had actually been present at the administrative meeting CAP introduced above and therefore had a better understanding of the views and intentions of the initiators. ADA members, in contrast, had not been invited to the meeting. ‘La Presse’ therefore attended in two capacities, as a council member and as a paid facilitator, contracted by the local NGO, and consequently he combined two principal agents of the local arena in one person. By addressing him as Monsieur le Maire, workshop participants recognized him as a council member, even as the head of the council which would be the position of the mayor. In following his deliberations, participants also recognized him as part of the larger NGO body that organized this particular workshop. In international policy documents, civil society has often either been attributed the position of a natural counterpart to the state or as a mediating body between state and citizens, conceptualized in families and local communities; this perspective is based on Eastern European post-socialist contexts, which made both citizens and civil society into essentially apolitical entities (Hann 1996; Wedel 1998). Both perspectives speak to profound ideas of the state being an instrument causing and at the same time permeating hierarchical organization with the centralized government at the top as well as an all-encompassing entity that by definition contains all other elements (Ferguson and Gupta 2002: 983). This (artificial) separation has seen many creative and forceful transgressions (Bayart 1989; Bayart, Ellis and Hibou 1999; Chabal and Daloz 2001; Verschave 1998). Guinea is certainly no exception to this. Here, the term civil society is

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generally employed for national NGOs, grouped together with what is known as forces vives. This comprises, as political agents in their own right, the leaders of trade unions, opposition parties and religious leaders as well as NGO representatives. Within the Guinean media, the forces vives are a counterpart to the national government and took on a prominent role in 2007, as unions led national strikes and the forces vives became the negotiation partners of then President Conté. Even though NGOs are a comparatively recent phenomenon in Guinea, they have quickly gained acceptance as a valid and accepted form of enterprise. Those who have access to them engage in a variety of ways, many of which can be termed entrepreneurial. ‘La Presse’, for example, was paid as the facilitator of the workshop above. This money was substantially more than the GNF 10,000 he would have received if he had attended as a councillor. Other participants expected him to be paid twice: once as a councillor and once as a facilitator. Even his dress during the workshop seems to have performed a double role. In accordance with President Conté’s preference for traditional robes and his practise of not accepting visitors who are not styled accordingly, local councillors usually dressed in grand boubou. Actually, they were thus styled like village elders, which they effectively were as most CRD council members originated from chiefly families. NGO staff and communal secretaries, on the other hand, wore locally tailored shirts and trousers. While both groups of men do respectively own the other types of dress, they chose to wear those that they were there to represent: a more traditional style for councillors and a more urban and modern style for the others. ‘La Presse’ syncretistically combined both looks by dressing in a smaller, tighter boubou version that was currently in vogue in Forécariah. Following Bourdieu’s idea of how different kinds of capital can be exchanged for others (Bourdieu 2005), entrepreneurs like ‘La Presse’ employ their social and political capital to transform it into economic capital within the context of NGOs, turning them into an economic market to be profited from. Internal organization, the standardized division of (administrative) tasks of NGO presidents, cashiers, accountants and secretaries, and a manifesto or ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) appear to be crucial in the eyes of entrepreneurs. Such documents were handed out on multiple occasions to be approved by people already part of an NGO. A sub-prefect in Forécariah, who is also an army officer, made use of every opportunity to get the local and national NGO staff to look at his MoU for an NGO he wanted to found to promote tourism in the region. All the facultative positions were filled by his wives and children in order to ‘eliminate the chance of corruption and increase mutual trust and hence transparency’, as he argued (interview, Farmoreah, 23 September 2006). Asked why he felt tourism would be an appropriate goal for funding by international donors, he submitted a list of qualities from the development context that would characterize his project, ranging from ‘community-based’ to ‘environmentally

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friendly’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘democratic’. When someone challenged him during another NGO workshop about whether the organizational form of an NGO would be the appropriate one, with the organization’s future director being both an army officer and government representative, he replied nonchalantly: ‘I can differentiate between my lines of work. If others can’t, that’s their problem, not mine. Today, everyone has their projects on the side, I am no exception’ (interview, Farmoreah, 28 May 2007). The sub-prefect intended to advance the project as much as possible while in office. This allowed him to be mobile and establish networks with the potential donor organizations he encountered while on duty, either as a sub-prefect or as a military officer. Beyond the diversification of economic enterprise, some actors strategically manipulated the different options open to them, profiting from personal contacts and forging mutually beneficial alliances. Such an alliance is widely rumoured to have developed between the prefect and the director of the Forécariah office of a national NGO. While the director slowly expanded his pineapple plantations in the north of the prefecture, close to the national capital, the prefect was able to avail himself of national and international training programmes that were provided through the national NGO. Even the workshops that form the ethnographic backbone of this chapter stemmed from mutual collaboration, enhancing the esteem of both individuals in their respective professional environments and therefore overlapping and combining the realms of government office, NGO and private business in various ways.

Entrepreneurs in a Project Society: Who Is Not Political? Each of the individuals presented has personal projects that extend into a realm that is at least nominally outside their primary professional fields, but which are nevertheless mostly in the public arena, interlinking government and civil society. This phenomenon has been termed ‘project society’ by Sampson. It designates collaborations of NGO staff, government officials and public servants with the aim of channelling NGO and public funds to personally gain access to resources such as training programmes, certificates, qualifications and, ultimately, public recognition (Sampson 2003). Those in question could easily collaborate with other state or public service functions, benefiting each party and the wider population who would ideally receive improved (if not public) services, creating a win-win situation for all parties involved (Sampson 2003: 334). In this light, the ‘family NGO’ planned by the sub-prefect seems an appropriate response to the context of the project society that he identifies. It merges parts of the local arena in new ways. The same can be said for ‘La Presse’, who has been contracted for the decentralization workshops by the local NGO. His ‘multifunctionality’ did not seem to inconvenience the other participants at all (Le Meur 1997). These actors take part in blurring the boundaries between what

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is often separated in analytical contexts but is actually intertwined in real life (Rottenburg 2000: 55). How this may affect public perceptions of the state will be discussed further below. The widely used phrase, ‘Je suis pas politicien!’, usually introduces a personal opinion on politics in the widest sense: local power struggles between lineages of the founding family, between the prefect and local elders or events occurring in the capital. People express opinions on national politics only cautiously in everyday conversations. Young people and women often refrain by saying they could not know anything specific about such matters. Older men, on the other hand, do express opinions, but only following the opening phrase, ‘Je suis pas politicien!’ Historically, the First Republic has been described as ‘over-politicized’. When asked why they employ this term before presenting an argument about a political party, a government member, or the state of the world at large, many of my counterparts in Forécariah referenced this period. They cited weekly meetings in the villages and neighbourhoods that ‘turned anything into a political topic, dragging personal things into the [weekly] party meetings’. This spoiled the word, as Bintou Cissé, a leader of the Market Women’s Association, explained to me when I asked why she did not like to be called a politician (interview, Forécariah, 02 December 2006). Explained in other terms, the governance-related accomplishments ascribed to entrepreneurs today, as channelled through NGO workshops, were achieved differently during the First Republic. A comparable education, including the associated certificates and reputation, could only be obtained from formal education facilities and a career in government and thus in the ruling party, ­connections that would necessarily be political. The meaning of the phrase ‘Je suis pas politicien!’ may change over time. For example, Mayor Fofana, herself a descendent of the Touré family through her mother’s side, was quickly accepted by the population as someone who ‘does not eat with both hands’, that is to say someone who does not embezzle too much from public funds – unlike her two predecessors. Her exceptional position as a woman in local politics was often explained by the fact that she could trace her descent from both the Touré and Fofana founding families, a widely accepted argument for her entitlement to engage in politics in Forécariah. As a female politician, she symbolized social progress and modernity to both outside observers and the younger generation. In focus group discussions with high school students, many agreed that, as a woman, Mayor Fofana was more credible in working for the public good: ‘She is a woman, she has no ambition, she is not political – what ambitions could she have other than looking after her family? We are now all her family, so she is looking after us’. This comment reveals the high moral expectations people have towards their elected leader. Proclaiming her not to be a politician is as much a compliment as an expectation for Mayor

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Fofana to act differently. The expression of this responsibility comes in terms of family ties and the duties they entail. A young woman was quick to add: ‘She is a woman. We hear all the time that we are supposed to have gender equality. Here it works. It is good, it means we are developing, we are changing as a society’ (interview, Forécariah, 23 June 2007). Both these comments show that knowledge of how governance should be conducted translates into expectations of people towards their representatives. They are framed in the context of the change and development that these high school students feel is desperately needed. Other councillors in Forécariah refused to be called politicians or associated with politics at large. Many interlocutors would say that ‘politics is something that happens in Conakry’. Government, parliamentarians and party leaders ‘were political’ and therefore allegedly involved in corruption,1 embezzlement and intrigues. As a consequence, the common practice of saying ‘Je suis pas politicien’ separates the speaker from this realm. The addendum ‘Je suis pas politicien, mais . . .’ is meant to signal that there is indeed something to be added, some opinion to be had about the matter at hand – but not as a politician. As mentioned above, despite the common rhetoric, many people refused to be called politicians. The word could even be used as an insult rather than a job description as Mr Barry, the local leader of the opposition party RPG, pointed out on various occasions. The implicit effects that NGO workshops on decentralization have on notions of who is political may not be immediately visible. The general liberalization process outlined above reveals an idealized aim to bring about the engagement and integration of wider segments of the population into governance structures by virtue of political participation. How then should councillors who are part of a comparatively young institution specifically accept the title of (local) politician? During the workshops, most participants refused being associated in this way. When asked later, some agreed that, viewed externally, they could indeed be termed politicians but that they themselves knew they were not. Fodé Soumah, a workshop participant and councillor in Sikhourou, commented: I may be accused by some to be a politician because they did not like what I said. Or someone will make up a story about what money I have eaten. But I know what I do, my conscience is clear. I serve the community by being a councillor, and I want to be a good one, so I can serve better. The village and the whole CRD will benefit my family as well. That is just like under Sékou [Touré]. People had local meetings then, too. Politics was done in Conakry, but the meetings took place here . . . It is just like now, we meet, while politics is done in Conakry and the orders come from there. (Interview, Moussayah, 26 December 2006)

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While the negative associations emerge very clearly in Councillor Soumah’s comments, he also alluded to the PDG era to make sense of these processes. This link seems to tie together the memories he has from the First Republic (when he was in his thirties) and the meaning of being political then. Equating it with the situation today indicates that he perceives politics as something happening in Conakry but also that orders come from there. This perception mirrors both the decentralization process and the current organization of workshops that were also ordered from above. In a similar vein, Professor Fodé Cissé, who taught philosophy, held the chair of human rights at Conakry University and was a Forécariah native, commented on my accounts of the workshops: People know what this is about. They know that it is only a fashionable thing that it may pass as quickly, just as all the old orders came and passed. The councillors might play along in the workshops, that’s what they do, that’s what everyone does, and what is expected of them. But they can see right through the talk, even if they don’t speak French. (Interview, Conakry, 28 December 2006) While Councillor Soumah alludes to parallels with the First Republic, the PRL and revolutionary efforts to modernize the countryside, he implies a fundamental critique of what Ribot termed ‘participation without representation’ (Ribot 1996), a critique Professor Cissé explains with the notion of continuity: ‘people continue to do what they are expected to’.

The Consolidation of Civil Society and Professionalization of Councillors In Guinea, most NGOs concentrate on humanitarian, educational or basic infrastructural projects. In the context of decentralization and electoral preparations, however, they play an exceptionally explicit role in local ‘political’ development. This area of NGO activity has recently become so prominent that a specialized national umbrella organization has been founded to this end, pooling smaller NGOs that have been working or are interested in working with the government’s decentralization programme. This process was less organic or bottom-up than the usual ‘project speak’ would imply. The initiative for national or local NGOs to engage with this topic came with election-related funding from a major international donor. Emissaries came to each prefecture and invited locally present NGOs to participate in an orientation meeting, designed to found and structure a local ‘antenna’ of what was quickly to become a nationwide network. How the invitees were selected or indeed who had sent them in the first place remained unclear to the various people who self-identify as being part of Forécariah civil society. The local head of the taxi drivers’ union, one of the biggest trade unions in the country, was invited, but his counterpart from the

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market traders’ association was not. The only local NGO, Action de Démarrage Alternative (ADA), was not contacted. Its director explained after hearing about the meeting later that these kinds of procedures were usually done quickly, and whoever happened to be around and had time to come to the allocated place would be present and become part of a network that otherwise was comprised of lists of signatures and positions for the ‘antenna’ coordination team: ‘Usually nothing much comes of it. People in Conakry get money for each name on the list. Then it’s buried and no one will ever hear of it again. If they need to show their faces, justify their expenses, they will just call another meeting in some town somewhere, and write new lists of names. That’s it!’ (interview, Forécariah, 9 January 2007). This critical remark hints at the presence of invisible actors or ‘action without agents’ (Meyer and Rowan 1977) that could be seen in the context of development cooperation. Funding mechanisms that govern donor agencies, as well as channelling and facilitating NGOs, rely on written reports that are based on lists of participants, beneficiaries and activities. While they may indeed constitute a purpose in themselves and primarily benefit the organizers, workshops actually benefit all parties involved, albeit not in the ways indicated by the organizers. Councillors and government representatives vie not only for per diems but also for invitations and participation certificates to prove their connections and qualifications in certain contexts. In contrast to Bangoura’s prediction, this particular initiative did take off. Following national strikes and the rescheduling of legislative and local elections, the umbrella organization, now transformed into an NGO, directly received international donor money. The initial umbrella organization has quickly become a contact point for both government bodies and international actors and appears to have become the gatekeeper for funding, projects and workshops. From the local perspective, the director of ADA explained: Now we have to knock on a couple more doors to get to know what is going on, to maybe facilitate a workshop and earn some money. These doors are becoming less accessible for small organizations such as ours. We would have to be there constantly at their office in Conakry to really know who’s doing what. A small initiative like ours cannot do that. So we are now cut off, even though we have been there in the very beginning. (Interview, Forécariah, 22 March 2009) Initial opportunities for entrepreneurs to engage with particular topics or start local initiatives concerning decentralization or citizenship have now been restricted in the sense that institutionalization at the national level in the form of NGOs and NGO networks has begun. Just as in other countries before, Guinean civil society appears to be going through a phase of consolidation:

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democratic decentralization . . . has been responsible for ‘constructing social capital’, and because of this, through the way in which it has drawn people in to what are clearly ‘civic endeavours’, it has ‘consolidated civil society’. But it has all taken place in the context of a political process in which different groups of actors at different social levels are all involved, not by ‘constructing-social-capital-as-local-organisations’ and thereby ‘consolidating civil society’ in place of state action. (Harriss 2001: 14) The process described here may also be a question of the timing and preferences of donor organizations that can influence the evolution of these organizations by preferring some internal organizational cultures over others (Chandhoke 2002). Beyond a selection process between more or less viable organizations, be they CBOs, NGOs or other forms, it is the official institutionalization itself that matters, catering to a perceived market of potential funders that could provide an agenda as well. Therefore, Guinean civil society constitutes what Lewis called both ‘a system and an idea’ (Lewis 2004), a potential market for projects that is consolidating more and more into an established system, which in itself provides new ideas. These ideas may vary for the different actors, such as a business enterprise for the sub-prefect, a career move for the prefect and the expansion of political resources in the local arena for ‘La Presse’. The challenge in this process is revealed when NGOs are required to provide an information link between a central body and the wider population – and do so rather quickly. When international organizations arrived in Conakry to counter the Ebola outbreak in 2014, they found many Guinean NGOs in situ, whom they named ‘local NGOs’. They seemed ready to be sub-contracted, sending teams to socially sensitize the public, raise awareness of hygiene and health or conduct contact-tracing of suspected Ebola cases. However, they quickly ran into trouble. These NGOs often lacked sufficient and qualified staff, so they recruited university graduates as new team members, and teams were often deployed into areas they knew nothing about, let alone were able to speak the local languages. This brought about another social inaptitude: in every community, every access point brought new challenges. Often these young teams did not know the appropriate elder, leader and official to contact, since they lacked any sense of the political landscape. Instead of sub-contracting real locally embedded NGOS who knew the landscape and had trusted ways into communities, Guinean ‘strangers’ arrived in the name of international organizations, thus increasing confusion and mistrust of outsiders. Sometimes, this resulted in direct harm (Anoko 2014; Thiam et al. 2015; Wilkinson and Leach 2014; Wilkinson and Fairhead 2017): teams were also attacked in Forecariah, even though no event was as violent as the killing of eight people in Womey in the Forest Region in 2014. These tragic events reveal that the best international and national interventions cannot succeed if there are no qualified and trusted links to local

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communities. Such links could be achieved in the mushrooming Guinean civil society, if donor headquarters were left behind and local counterparts sought out, instead of declaring NGOs that exist in the capital to be ‘local’. The larger phenomenon of civil society is consolidating in certain areas and participation in workshops is becoming increasingly professional. As discussed above, workshops transport and translate concepts such as democratic representation, legitimate rule and participatory decision-making into debates on local development. Just as the terms are appropriated, participation in the seminars themselves is an act of appropriation: respect, status and money are exchanged on these occasions, revealing the interdependencies of the different people, but also the implicit powers they hold. Hall and Taylor stress the way in which the growing professionalization of many spheres of endeavor creates professional communities with the cultural authority to press certain standards on their members . . . Some argue that we can even see such processes at work on a transnational scale, where conventional concepts of modernity confer a certain measure of authority on the practices of the most ‘developed’ states and exchanges under the aegis of international regimes encourage shared understandings that carry common practices across national boundaries. (Hall and Taylor 1996: 16–17) This kind of professionalization is growing amongst councillors and elders – and it is often elders who are elected to be councillors, a circumstance that will be discussed in the following section. At the same time, they reveal their emerging professionalization as workshoppers, with frequent demands being made during the workshops I attended for higher per diems (‘The other NGO pays more, so we will go there next time!’) or more breaks (‘or else we would be too tired to participate!’). That travel was reimbursed per kilometre was well known from the beginning of the meeting, and often better than the topic or occasion of the workshop itself. Those attending workshops not only benefit from the knowledge and information presented, but also from their per diems and free meals, not to mention the boost to their reputation. They receive papers, folders, information booklets and, most importantly, an official certificate for their participation. These documents are particularly cherished because they can serve as proof for the participants’ supposedly acquired qualifications. Social benefits are important as well. The reputation that participants attain through NGOs can lead to further invitations or even inclusion into projects that can make them brokers vis-à-vis their community or the other council members. The informal meetings taking place in and around the workshop are vital for the exchange of information, decision-making and opening up more chances to meet CRD councillors from

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regions further removed, therefore improving the networking capital of individual councillors. This kind of professionalization of workshop attendance can be argued for many participants in the meetings presented in this chapter – including some civil servants such as the communal secretaries who are often invited along with ‘their councillors’.

Forum-Shopping Elders: Integrating Histories The intricate relations of rural-based councillors and village elders show similar challenges and lines of mobilization as their urban counterparts. CRD councillors are mostly elected from amongst leading village elders. In Kaliah for example (see Map 1.2), seven councillors are descendants of (pre-colonial) chiefs. Only the president of the CRD and one other man, who is also a district chief, are not part of a traditional landlord family. All these councillors, one could argue, participate in the blurring of boundaries similar to that of NGO staff and government representatives. They also employ this double capacity in debates over land rights which have been increasing over the last decade, due to population growth, changes in farming patterns and migratory labour for artisanal alluvial diamond mining. In their arguments and use of vocabulary, they represent different (more or less legitimate and contemporary) institutions with the respective notions of authority attached to them. Following Elias, these elders-councillors perform seemingly different figurations that are, as is being argued here, actually adaptations and interpretations of older figurations. As was the case in every previous administrative reform process in Guinea, decentralization has brought in its wake demands to re-draw certain delimitations of communities that are now constituencies (CRDs or CUs) as well. These debates are triggered by the question of who has effective control of the land and who is legitimately entitled to this control. Autochthony as a historic perspective and contemporary ideas of legitimate rule are intricately interwoven with this question. Local history is used as a reference in all these concepts. Details such as cross-generational family ties, the historic migration of individuals as well as old family feuds have been brought forward in order to serve contradicting arguments. These are accentuated by the assortment of actors who become involved in a particular case. Some of these claims have been recognized by central government agencies, while others remain informal practice at the local level. When the town’s various neighbourhoods were introduced (see Map 1.1), we saw that two new neighbourhoods have been established and are employed as a basis for elections and tax records without the central Ministry for Territorial Administration acknowledging their existence. Formal recognition of shifting boundaries was, however, achieved for the village of Arabompa in Allasoyah sub-prefecture in 2002. Located on the northern banks of the Forécariah River, it had been ‘reclaimed’ by elders of the village of Kaliah (see Map 1.2). The

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sub-prefecture of Kaliah lies to the south of the river but, with the establishment of CRDs, elders managed to campaign successfully for the village to be brought under the governance of the ‘old landlords’ who are part of the Kaliah-based Ramata-Fodé branch of the Touré family. Another example of the debate over land rights in the area began to unfold during my fieldwork. It serves here to highlight the complexities of institutions, people and procedures involved in the pluri-legal setting rural Guinea finds itself in today. The example also highlights how, following Bourdieu, social and political capital can be converted into other forms of capital.

Swampy Events: Debating Legitimacy between New and Old Authorities A land dispute between two neighbouring villages whose territory belonged to two different CRDs provides a revealing example for different formal and informal relations between institutions stemming from different political eras. The contested land included a bas-fond, a naturally irrigated area ideal for swamp rice farming, which is the major subsistence and cash-crop agriculture in the prefecture. The ‘traditional’ landlord had become involved in this question as well through the pathways offered by the official administrative hierarchy, but also through older links to the village, manifesting authority and legitimacy through his position in the local arena. These events began when farmers from the two villages argued about the exact boundary that had been decided upon by the course of the stream running through the bas-fond. However, due to alluvial diamond mining further upstream, this had changed substantially. One year later the entire swamp lay abandoned as the conflict was still unresolved and farmers did not want to risk potentially losing their investments in terms of seeds and labour. Different institutions had been called upon to find a solution for the matter that now, towards the end of the planting season, needed a swift resolution. Village elders tried to recall the stories about which ‘authority’ or superior body had been called upon when and why, but their accounts turned out to be contradictory. Here, I reconstruct the events chronologically based on the perspective of a farmer from a village I will call Herico. The first argument began on how to subdivide the swamp during the sowing season. This led to a squabble between farmers from both villages. The other village, let’s call it Woulaya, went to ‘their sub-prefect’ to decide upon the matter. With news travelling fast, the district chief, who was also an elected CRD councillor, quickly acted before word arrived at ‘their’ sub-prefect’s office in Herico and informed the president of their CRD, a man generally deemed more suitable to resolving a ‘private matter’ between villagers. The sub-prefect was thus informed by the local president who framed the issue as a question of CRD delimitations. Rumour has it that the two sub-prefects, one military and one civilian, backed up the villagers’ conflict with their own brawl, which in turn worsened their professional relationship even

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more, and ultimately resulted in the whole matter being referred to the prefect. Meanwhile the village council of elders met and decided that the CRD president, a stranger/newcomer to the area, should not have even been involved and that the district chief had no right to interfere either, as he was himself a stranger and ‘did not know the way things are done’. He was severely criticized and shamed, and accused of being a politician for having involved the ‘authorities’ in the persons of the CRD president and sub-prefect. As the initial question was about land and not about administrative bodies, the lasiri (landlord) would have been the appropriate address for the matter instead. The village lasiri was To Almamy Touré, now head of the Ramata-Fodé branch of the Touré family of Forécariah, as the village was allegedly founded by his paternal granduncle and thus owes allegiance to him – and he to them. To Almamy was also president of the prefecture’s council of elders and the town’s leading elder. Because of this historic allegiance, the village elders expected him to decide fairly – and implicitly in their favour. They therefore brought him the appropriate kola (assorted kola nuts and locally-grown rice) and asked for his assistance. In the meantime, the prefect had been informed of the two sub-prefects’ conflict, and made the land issue into a disciplinary matter. He declared the case an exemplary project in the fight against illicit diamond mining that had been spreading in the region since the early 2000s. He suspected that both villages wanted to begin their own prospecting activities – something the elders of both villages denied – and sent the issue to state court in town. Along with the village elders, CRD councillors and presidents, To Almamy took part in the court proceedings but did not push for a decision in favour of the village – to the great disappointment of some. A second harvesting season had since passed with the matter still pending in court. The district chief was again well established amongst the elders and was participating in the debate on what would happen with the swamp. The same elders who did not want to involve the CRD president and instead went to the lasiri considered directly in their argumentation that it was officially the right step, that the lasiri would have been the legitimate body to deal with this issue, together with his counterpart from the other CRD. A debate broke out as to whether To Almamy was actually the legitimate authority to contact, as he was not elected to any position, and whether the kola should be revoked. Others defended his involvement in the matter as the village’s patron, a position that could not be altered by elections or changes of procedure. In the end, the main line of contestation lay between those who thought that, formally speaking, the matter was rightly in the hands of the state court while others argue that it should be sent back to the two CRDs – all in the spirit of decentralization as it was there that the elected representatives of the people concerned could be found. The discussion was filled with French words for election, representation, participation and legitimacy mixed into the Susu otherwise spoken. The struggle of the village elders shows that they are contesting and affirming ideas of who

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has rights to make decisions and settle conflicts and who has the authority to see these decisions through in an evidently (legal and) institutional plurality. While institutional plurality may seem evident, the relevant question is its employment. The land dispute shows how different elders prefer different strategies to find a solution to the land question at hand. While some prioritized historic ties and used oral tradition as a reference in their argument to involve the lasiri as the legitimate authority, others preferred a more recent institutional set-up. The latter also incorporated a clear chain of responsible institutions: from district chief to the CRD council and its president. But that is where it ends. No superior body exists besides the supposedly separate structure of the state administration. The official tutor of the CRD is the sub-prefect, who had in fact already been involved by then, even though this step resulted in a rather unhappy incident that led to the matter being taken to the court in the first place. These formal institutions were regarded critically by all the village elders involved. They accused the court and the prefect of ‘voting for the highest bidder’ and none of the discussants had faith in a fair trial. The district chief even said: ‘If it were not for To Almamy, I would not attend the [court] sessions’. So even when he would have preferred to see the elected local bodies handle the matter, he recognized the moral authority the lasiri held for the village even in the realm of the state court. The debates show that elders try not only to engage people and institutions that they view as advantageous for their case, but also to address those they deem to be the legitimate ones. Deciding which these may be can prove to be a difficult matter.

New ‘Men in the Middle’: Strangers as Agents of Change? It may be significant for this episode to emphasize that both the district chief and the CRD president were strangers or latecomers. While they may not be party to all details of village relations and founding families’ ancestry, after decades of living in the same rural setting, they should know the local landscape of social relations. And both individuals do know these details, even though, as the president explained on a different occasion: ‘there is far too much talk of history. The Touré still think that we in Wallis owe them something. But it is an independent sub-prefecture and CRD. We should be independent of them by now. The new government policies can help, but they have to be employed the right way’ (interview, Herico, 25 November 2006). He went on to detail how the village had long suffered under the rule of the Touré in Forécariah town, and how they had to pay tribute and provide people for forced labour groups during the colonial and socialist periods. Later, Wallia’s farmers were allegedly forced to complete the rice quota Forécariah farmers failed to provide themselves: ‘The village was just a place to extort from. And the locals here went along with it. I witnessed it as a young man, as a newcomer. But I couldn’t say anything. Then, when the CRD came I wanted to participate in the change, to end our dependence on the town’

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(interview, Herico, 3 December 2006). The president of the CRD thus voiced personal motivations for becoming involved in local politics, a recently available possibility since the local arena had previously been formally dominated by the landlords. People like him and the district chief of the village now had a different perspective and could claim a different kind of legitimacy for their positions and the motivation behind their actions. As the president stated, he wanted to do things differently, with greater justice. The district chief was less ambitious and more pragmatic in proclaiming: ‘I am the only one who can read and speak French in the village. It is only logical that I take this responsibility’ (interview, CRD A, 11 December 2006). This sort of valiant motivation does not necessarily suffice to win elections. Prospective candidates also clearly need to be well respected by the landlords to win popular support in elections, but once through they may have a chance to influence things in a different way to village elders who are more closely tied into old family allegiances. Election chances are influenced by other factors as well. People such as sub-prefects and communal secretaries influence votes by providing information on candidates’ eligibility. For example, the prefect had been rumoured to have selected the CRD president in Sikhourou from among the elected council after the old one had passed away in early 2007. When a district in the western part of Kaliah CRD split up after years of struggle for the recognition of their mutual independence, the communal secretary and the president of the CRD, together with a number of councillors, embarked on a three-day journey to ‘identify’ two new district chiefs. Identification was the term used in these examples. Village elders, rather than the population as a whole, would vote for the district chiefs. The group included the former district chief who was elected councillor of the village in question. He worried about this division as it would upset the well-ordered situation within the CRD council: We currently have a council member from every district. But we will now have two instead of one, so 10 districts in total. But the secretary tells us we are not allowed to have 10 councillors. This is odd. Now that there are rural councils again just like under Sékou [Touré], and everyone should be represented, all the districts. (Interview, Kaliah, 16 January 2007) On another occasion, the communal secretary of Kaliah commented, with some pride, that each district of the CRD had its own representative on the council. He also hinted that achieving this had not been easy as ‘some people just did not understand the idea of representation’ and wished to ‘vote for someone who happened to be from another district’ (interview, Kaliah, 10 January 2007). With the air of wanting to do everything right, he and the aforementioned councillor

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seemed to have shared ideas of direct representation of the PDG model during the socialist era and representative democracy of the kind envisioned in the current local governance act. Both men represent a contemporary model of governance in the context of a previous model, without acknowledging any differences in ideology that might underlie the different forms of representation and participation. At the same time, the communal councillor complained that decentralization would be used by some to reframe local grievances or personal interests in a supposedly more accepted way: People use decentralization for anything. They don’t think about what it is about, but participation sounds good. So they use it as argument to justify why everyone can now decide everything. There is no order any more, just personal interests. They say that the government has brought liberty [liberté] but we have debauchery [libertinage] in the capital. Now we also have it here because people will use decentralization and participation to be political about anything. Any personal query or argument with the neighbour becomes a question of rights to participate in politics . . . and there is no one we can turn to in order to set things right. My colleagues and I are left alone. (Interview, Kaliah, 23 January 2007) Comments like this are frequently made by government representatives or public servants when asked about their personal opinion on decentralization. The institutional chaos or indifference with regard to the effective outcomes of the official decentralization process leaves public servants like the communal secretary to deal with everyday effects and unintended consequences. Such leeway may also be used for personal gains. In Forécariah, it is rumoured that most of the communal secretaries were earning a large income aside from their rather meagre salary. An elder-turned-councillor from Allasoyah lamented: The town should be happy that they don’t have a communal secretary. In the CRDs they twist and turn the laws and orders sent from the prefect and from Conakry so that they can eat parts of the money being moved around. Sometimes I think they become people who eat with both hands as well. They are not landlords . . . They can do as they please as they are not responsible to anyone. (Interview, Forécariah, 27 November 2006) The idioms used here are very strong. As hinted above, people accused of eating with both hands are usually regarded as those who are overstretching the accepted level of embezzlement they are being given leeway for. The use of the term here indicates that the level of perceived embezzlement is higher than had been

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anticipated. In the councillor’s argument this would be quite possible since the actors concerned were not integrated into a larger body of ‘accountability’ that could regulate this consumption. According to this argument, landlords are subject to such a ‘moral community’ (cf. Le Meur 2006). Beyond the question of whether these accusations are based on facts or not, the negative perception of communal secretaries is striking. For many villagers they are the direct face of the government – leading to a situation shared by most public servants that will be closely debated in the next chapter. Suffice it to say here that the communal secretary, the district chief and the CRD president form a group apart from the other elders and councillors in the example above. All the councillors mentioned in the land case participate in blurring the boundaries between traditional elders and elected councillors. They also participate in so-called forum shopping and thus employ the pluri-legal setting to find legitimate avenues of conflict resolution. Nevertheless, the district chief and the president are strangers and can therefore never be regarded as elders. It was the district chief who was temporarily ostracized and publicly shamed – something a landlord-elder would not have to go through – while the communal secretary was sidelined as well, as he was not imbued with the powers of a government representative such as a sub-prefect,2 even though he is the face of the government in the village as the only public servant present. Together, these three are examples of new ‘men in the middle’ created by the decentralization programme (cf. Magid 1976). They do not quite fit into other groups that are currently (being) established in Guinea, as elders-turned-councillors and public servants who are otherwise urban- or town-based. In the ethnographic material they turn to more formalistic or official approaches to perform their positions as district chiefs or CRD presidents and, inadvertently, come to justify their actions and legitimize themselves through a vocabulary of change. This strategy stands in contrast to that of elders-turned-councillors and other practitioners of decentralization who choose to highlight continuities.

Perpetuating Power and Performing Change Decentralisation – as it is imagined, practiced, and re-created – is best described as stories that can change in their telling, as they are pieced together into contingently coherent narratives. Decentralisation’s stories are rife with a micropolitics often obscured by the consistency or more orderly progression implied by the terms continuity or change. (Sivaramakrishnan 2000: 432, emphasis added) In the two chapters on democratic decentralization, contemporary discussions of change have been investigated for Forécariah. Strategies of different actors in the local arena have been examined to show how changes are performed, just as

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continuities are constructed in the appropriation of the central government’s administrative and political reform programmes. Against this background, the decentralization process in Guinea proves to be far from coherent. As Lund points out, the rhetoric stability of internationally travelling policies such as democratic decentralization lasts only till its implementation. This is where it would have to be filled with ‘idiomatic meaning’ by people engaging with it and thus giving it life (Lund 2008) – and this is the process that the people of Forécariah are engaged in. Elders and elected councillors, NGO staff and government representatives in the local arena are all engaging in this process and have been coming up with their own interpretations of what decentralization may mean – and what constitutes legitimate rule in the midst of established political processes. Making sense of new ideologies within the local context enables actors to appropriate or reject aspects of the process as well as to (re-)contextualize personal aspirations and grievances. Appropriation or rejection is often done with the help of oral tradition. History and those embodying it become part of a performance of continuity. This is most visible among elders-turned-councillors. But government representatives and civil servants also have their institutional legacies and perform them at workshops or bring them to light in debates on participation, representation and authority. The prefect’s ‘development pole’ initiative was such a case, where a new project was to build on historic and thus supposedly more legitimate communities than the contemporary government could provide for. Many of these actors have revealed their mastery of ‘project speak’ here, under workshop conditions and in conversations with an anthropologist. However, even when the relevant vocabulary is employed, the meaning of the words can be very different. This is shown in several examples throughout the chapter: when working in at least two languages, the translation of French vocabulary becomes a process of interpretation and thus choice between terminologies deemed traditional and a vocabulary transporting the ideology presented in policy documents. The choice of language in this context is highly problematic. One language excludes some (workshop) participants and privileges others. Symbolically speaking, languages separate actors in the local arena, excluding them from certain debates and marking the people as illegitimate counterparts despite a formal process that should grant them access and participation. This was the case in the language politics in the CAP and the concern of French-Susu translations that opened this chapter. At a more abstract level, the very same words may have different meanings over time. The term ‘being political’ received negative interpretations and now poses challenges in the decentralization context. Councillors do not want to be seen participating in governance activities and therefore be linked to government representatives. The respective district chief, for example, was locally shamed as ‘being political’ for adhering to formal hierarchies and informing the office

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holders that he saw fit to handle the question of land access. In the eyes of local elders, however, he joined a political elite who practise libertinage. The debate over land rights reveals how contested the meaning of participatory democracy is in the local arena. Village elders and elected councillors incorporate new vocabulary into their discussions and aim to adhere to ideals and practices presented as normative in NGO workshops. They problematize these ideas in relation to practices already established as legitimate. These elders-turned-councillors employ them where they see fit. Such negotiations reveal how elders strive to maintain their authority by including new dimensions of legitimate rule. These may have been presented to them in workshops or government decrees. It is these institutions that elders strive to prove their legitimacy towards – but also towards the general population. The authority of the elders would be threatened if the wider population could not grant them that authority. It again becomes evident here how much actors are invested in figurations that persist and work without all individuals adhering to them all the time. Therefore, they have to remain credible and integrate new arguments for their legitimacy. In an ironic twist, the Guinean decentralization documents assign elders a different place in the new local governance than elected councillors. Elders are expected to advise district councils in each CRD and thus represent a ‘just return to sources’ for Guinean rural society (Condé 2003). In this vision, elders are assigned a traditional advisory position and appear to be ‘sent back to custom’ within the official decentralization documents (Beyer 2009). However, by integrating participatory approaches and the language of representative democracy, they resist the central government’s continuous attempts to sideline them, a process that has been taking place since independence in an attempt to modernize the Guinean countryside. Rather, these elders have become ‘modern’ by way of being elected into councils. As a result, they are integrated into the state in new ways that have not been envisioned in official policy documents. It is in such historical ambivalence that the perception of continuity can persist. In pre-colonial times, and to some extent even during colonialism, landlords and chiefs had diverse rights and obligations towards their community that would now be divided into separate institutions; they also fused and combined according to their perceived rights and duties, just as they do today as elders-turned-councillors. The actual change, brought about by decentralization or other, inherently linked logics, is that today more people can engage in precisely the same practice. They can base their legitimate right to participate in the local arena on just as ambivalent logics as the elders. Just as certain boundaries are blurred to integrate people into amorphous entities, so other actors like non-elder councillors and communal secretaries are deemed to be new ‘men in the middle’ who have to mediate between these entities and become new entrepreneurs themselves in the process. How this may affect the social-political landscape of Forécariah in the longer term remains to be seen.

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Modernity and ambivalence come to play in other ways as well. Actors in the local arena employ ambivalence, creating porous boundaries between the different realms of the local arena. Their ambivalent identities as government representatives, councillors and NGO staff enable them to negotiate – with their very person – between those categories of state, government or civil society that are otherwise conceptualized as pure – pure due to the inherent wish of being modern (Heaton Shrestha 2006: 213). This desire to separate categories, to differentiate clearly between NGO and government officials or public servants becomes apparent in the various ways in which actors perform their official duties, for example, as tutors in the decentralization context. The prefect’s efforts to establish development poles speak directly to this logic. His activities implicitly accord legitimacy to the central government bodies that he represents, and at the same time to the role of NGOs in local development. He acts as an agent for rural self-development in the belief that this will not only enhance his career but that he will also fulfil his responsibility as prefect. Actors like him participate in the blurring of boundaries and use the possibilities of project society for personal (career) interests. The increasing consolidation of NGOs in Guinea and the professionalization of workshop participants permit new interactions in the local arena to the inclusion of new actors. In this sense, NGOs do not have as solely a non-governmental character as some policy documents and many government representatives in Forécariah and Conakry would insinuate. Rather, in the new formation of a project society, both parties participate in establishing new forms of governance. Instead of emphasizing a more inclusive strand of governmentality that could have been intended here, I want to highlight how all these actors participate in the ‘localization’ of the central government and in people’s integration into the workings of that very system of governance. This entails a transfer of the operations of government (in Foucault’s extended sense) to non-state entities, via ‘the fabrication of techniques that can produce a degree of “autonomization” of entities of government from the state’ (Ferguson and Gupta 2002: 989). At a policy level, these ‘entities of government’ apart from the state were ideally envisioned as local self-governing bodies elected by popular suffrage. The realities of these bodies, both in the urban context of Forécariah and the surrounding CRDs, show that these bodies have been appropriated differently and have in fact led to the formation of new governance bodies and the formalization of older actors’ participation. This localization of new governing bodies with the help of history constructs perspectives of continuity while arguing for change in other cases. As reflected in Sivaramakrishnan’s introductory quote, we can see that the negotiations of democratic decentralization in Forécariah are about micropolitics that momentarily transform actors of the local arena into entrepreneurs, councillors and ‘men in the middle’. They employ different strategies, new and old sources of authority, to negotiate contemporary governance and the meaning of

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state by situating themselves and others in the new political landscape evolving between government and civil society.

Notes 1. When Transparency International published their annual Corruption Perception Index in November 2006, this was a big news item in Guinea. The country was listed in 160th position, last on the African continent and second to last worldwide. My counterparts in Forécariah commented on the shame this brought to the country in the face of the whole world talking about corrupt Guineans. 2. Sub-prefects are supposed to reside in the area of their deployment. However, none of the sub-prefects I encountered actually spent a considerable amount of time in their office, let alone lived in the village they were officially assigned to. In this militarized border area, this was partly due to their double role as military officers who were seconded to this administrative post.

Chapter 5

Bargaining with an Ailing State

The local arena is a stage for performances of various identities that are linked to citizenship, democracy and the state and that transgress the pervasive notion of Forécariah’s marginality. These performances place the local population at the heart of processes that are usually associated not with marginal places, but with the centres of political power. While the previous chapter addressed processes that emerged from a centre and reached into the countryside, the following two chapters investigate the inverse, how people at the margins construct and create a state and thereby connect to that sometimes distant, sometimes immediately present entity. Studies of statehood often focus on spatial and temporal congruence (e.g. Clarke 2006). The following chapters will highlight how particular performances of state by youths, taxpayers and public servants break up this temporal congruence as they reference a previous state. Memories of that earlier state form the backbone of state as the ‘moral actor’ or behavioural standard for the people in government, as McGovern invokes in his description of the 2007 national strikes in Guinea (McGovern 2007). Recollections of this period are vital for the perspectives on and demands by the current state and are intertwined with the evolution of its institutions. The field of organizational studies identifies past ideological and working conditions in current institutions and memories and self-images of their staff as building blocks for the institution’s ‘path dependency’. This perspective provides insights into the identification and behaviour of professionals that have been addressed in the previous chapters already. The focus on the state as a ‘moral actor’ does not limit the perceptions and performances of public servants, taxpayers and young people to a past period. It

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Figure 5.1  The governing party’s local headquarters at the end of Conté’s rule (photo: A. Schroven).

merely highlights the ‘aggregatedness’ of the state (Trouillot 2003) beyond the conceptual differentiation of the ‘state idea’ and ‘state system’ that Abrams put forward. By ‘system’, he conceptualizes the state’s institutional apparatus and workings, while the notion of the ‘state idea’ refers to the coherent legitimacy of rule perceived by the population at large. The state idea and system have to be in synchrony with each other to make a persuasive argument to both citizens and outside actors and validate their existence (Abrams 1988). In today’s Guinea, the state idea and system are not in synchrony. Memories of a past state continue and challenge the ‘state idea’ as currently performed and implemented by powerful actors such as the Guinean president, government members and their local spokespersons. These memories do not fit into the state system and administrative apparatus that are at work today. It becomes evident that multiple state ideas that are non-synchronous with the current state may all exist at once. The imagination of the state and nation has been widely critiqued since Anderson’s frequently cited book Imagined Communities (1983). By analogy, every social entity has since been regarded as imagined. With the notion of ‘bringing the state back in’, researchers strive to explore what the state is rather than what it is said, reputed, interpreted or imagined to be. Ever since, studies have been examining the daily practices of state bureaucracies to reach an understanding of how public servants ‘work the state’ as if to track down this elusive entity (Bierschenk 2004; Olivier de Sardan 2004). The historic and ethnographic material presented here for Guinean public servants shows how intricately

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intertwined the evolution of state and nation are in Guinea. Beyond any mere independence ideology, the constitutive era of the Guinean nation-state provides references for people’s identification with the Guinean nation, from which, it is argued here, the state is inseparable. Pinning down the state seems a difficult undertaking. As if to oppose this quest, Cruise O’Brien challenges the counter-constructivist attempts in the case of the state: ‘[Anderson’s] imagination is not to be contrasted with an implicit, other, reality. Imagination is the most important political reality that of the state present in the mind’ (Cruise O’Brien 2007: 15). Thus, the performance of something that is imagined, even if it is in some instances manifested in persons, institutions and symbols, makes even more sense. Performances of the state by civil servants, government members and performances of citizenship by taxpayers, the youth or the general public not only manifest the state but create it anew in the very instance of performance. By participating in these stagings, individuals and whole communities participate in the state (or nation) itself. This participation integrates them into the larger, imagined community of state, at times by directly performing the state and sometimes through notions of citizenship or opposition to a government. It is cases such as these that I explore here. The topic is subdivided into three parts. First, performance is conceptualized for the realm of politics with the example of professional ties of public servants to the Guinean state which enable them to perform the state in many different ways. The following investigation focuses on staging national strikes in opposition to a government that is no longer deemed to represent the state as a moral actor, on performances of citizenship by debating the payment of local development taxes and the mobilization of the youth as political actors. All these instances, as will be argued in the following sections, contribute to individual and collective integration into the state, while at the same time creating the state itself. The ethnographic material originates from a particular period. With President Conté ailing and his government embezzling public funds to the extent of emptying state coffers, many Guineans experienced economic difficulties that were exacerbated by a sky-high inflation rate (see Figure 5.1 above). Living conditions became so difficult that the national strikes in 2007 were widely viewed to be necessary. The fact that the government chose to repress it by military force only revealed its continued dependency on the country’s military force. Since then, further events proved this point very clearly. The hopeful atmosphere in the first half of the year 2007 gave way to fear and frustration in the light of stagnating reform processes at the government level. The bloodless coup d’état following president Conté’s death in December 2008, the internal conflicts within the new military government and the so-called ‘September Massacre’ or ‘Bloody Monday’ on the country’s 51st Independence Day on 28 September 2009 all show how particular the post-2007 strike period was. At the same time, they revealed the immense potential and courage shown by the people of Guinea in

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living though such periods of hardship and maintaining trust in the basic notion of the nation-state. Performances take place in diverse situations. Bial points out that it is the ‘everyday ritual’ that creates society at a very individual level (Bial 2007). In previous chapters Alpha Barry was introduced as a master of joking relationships. Sanakouyage is an established mode of social relations and its use, such as in playful accusations of slave ancestry, and further oral retaliations are norm-governed. Nonetheless, aggressive tones sometimes shimmer through the jocularity and, on occasion Barry even vents his frustrations in private at being underestimated by accusing his sanakouya counterparts of not reacting appropriately to his ritual challenges. In these instances the aggressive tone of his performances can be termed, following Bakhtin’s work, an ‘unofficial ideology’ (Bakhtin 1965), something that is not part of the official performance. Whatever the individual reactions, Barry persists in upholding his part of the joking relation in public. Performances of state are often regarded as particular public events. Strauss and Cruise O’Brien study election campaigning as central to the understanding of the state by politicians and their constituents (2007). In the same vein, Spencer argues for ‘a shocking tautology – political ritual produces something we call “the political”’. He specifies that ‘political rituals are not epiphenomenal to the world of real politics. Rather, they are crucial sites for the production of the political’ (Spencer 2007: 78). In his view it is through the ritual that society is created and ‘the political’ by election rituals and such like. Society also creates power in a certain way. Power can be conceptualized as something that is enacted but also as implicated in the enactment itself. Elias emphasized that power could not be ‘a thing’ (Elias 1987) but should be regarded as an integral part of social relations. In this study I want to investigate how power can be both part of an action and of its consequence and therefore I want to emphasize ‘the relational character of power’ (Elias 1978: 75). From this understanding, power itself is not the cause for political entrepreneurs to act, as they instead negotiate their ‘chances for power’ in the local arena. Following Elias, action is central to the establishment of power. This action can take different forms, some of which are scrutinized here. This can be found in the perpetual reference to oral tradition, or in the performance of the state. With Elias’s construction of power as a result of social interaction and the state as a figuration (Elias 1983, 1994), power in the name of the state can be produced through interactions taking place in the local arena, or, in other words, in local performances of the state. Against this background of performing and thereby creating ‘the political’ and ‘power’ in everyday life, incidents will be investigated here that draw on events introduced in previous chapters. Prominent among them is the administrative meeting CAP of Forécariah described above and the ensuing debates on paying local development tax and thereby ‘performing citizenship’. Similarly,

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meetings to establish a youth representation in the town provide insights into debates over citizenship – the right of young people to be recognized as political actors in the local and national arena. These meetings are held in accordance with perceived guidelines for democracy, and in turn reveal the critique of the dominant manner in which ‘the political’ is performed. The first part of the chapter examines performances of the state. By looking at the professional trajectories of public servants based on the country’s post-­ independence period, I will investigate their performance of state during and after the national strikes of 2006 and 2007. Mentioned in various contexts above, these strikes also provide a good opportunity to explore the people’s understanding of the state and nation in Guinea today and the role the memory of a previous state plays in it.

Performing Moria The following section will focus on the perception of popular events and their effects at the local level. Here, recent developments have revealed the limits of the normative power that the state exerts on the people by incorporating them into a national project. While much of the literature on the African state, such as by Chabal and Daloz (2001), examines the workings of African states from a comparative perspective of high-level governmental state craft, I will investigate state ‘workings’ in Guinea’s rural areas by questioning the employment of the state by town elders, councillors, public servants and government representatives,1 their interpretations of it and the actions they attribute to it. Therefore, categories such as ‘formal’ or ‘informal’, ‘working’ or ‘failing’ do not matter as much as the everyday processes which lend meaning to the state idea. As Ferguson and Gupta argue, it is not only nations that can be construed as imagined, but states as well, making them ‘powerful sites of symbolic and cultural production’ (Ferguson and Gupta 2002: 981). Therefore, both the ideal-type, normative state and the ‘actual’ state are intricately interconnected and dependent on each other (Pratt 2002). While the relationship between them may not be causal or antithetic, it is potentially both, with the actual state practice certainly being a possible image of the ideal type. People contrast and compare the actual manifestations of states with the ideal that is presented and promoted within the context of an internationalized (moral) development discourse. It is through this very local level of ‘state hierarchy’ that people in Guinea encounter the state and that it is precisely this encounter that shapes their perspective and knowledge of it. Public servants, government representatives and ‘ordinary people’ perform the state both in their individual everyday encounters and at particular public events. If structures or institutions are in such dire conditions as perceived by some students of the African state, Graeber points out, they cannot and will

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not fulfil the Weberian requirements of state. It therefore becomes even less clear what these political entities actually are (Graeber 2004). If the Weberian state model cannot be used as a reference, discerning the state in practice becomes a challenging notion as ‘there is not a deficit of state but an excess of statehood practices: too many actors competing to perform as state’ (Aretxaga 2003: 396). Faced with an apparent abundance of state practices, the research has been dealing with governance practices of non-state institutions or informal arrangements in the context of the allegedly weak or absent state, thus increasing the visibility of the diverse actors participating in statehood practices. Rather than looking into central government practices ‘from the top’ or the resistance strategies of ordinary citizens ‘from below’, the focus here lies on the ‘middle’, to adopt a term referenced in classic and recent publications on African bureaucrats (cf. Lawrance, Osborn and Roberts 2006; Bierschenk and Olivier de Sardan 2014). These changes pose challenges to the established ways in which public servants and local politicians conduct their affairs. Nevertheless, as the literature drawing on organizational studies reveals, institutions themselves retain a memory and code of conduct beyond the immediate period of the policies that actively envision them and bring them into being. In turn, these policies shape the experiences and views of people working with and within them. Or, as Douglas pointed out, institutions may transcend their originally intended missions and transform themselves into new social entities in their own right (Douglas 1999). Particular to their local contexts, institutions are laden with historical and, in connection with wider political settings, also with ideological meaning. This is not specific to Guinea. In many countries, the independence movement and the official state ideology have been intricately interwoven with the development of political administration and public services. For the present discussion of the general strikes, Guinea’s post-colonial period serves as the constituting background to investigate the significance of institutional and ideological history for the public servants in the production of the state in the contemporary local setting. It is here that biographies of institutions transcend the states that invoked them, by shaping people’s understandings and visions of the possibilities of a different kind of public life and political organization. I highlight the close relationship public servants have with the Guinean state. While the relationship may have its roots in colonial times, it was ideologically reshaped after independence. Using the example of the biography of an individual politician and public servant, we can gain a better understanding of his ties to the state. Further investigations into political and state-building ideology will serve as a background to understand how public servants perceived and performed state during national strikes in 2007.

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Shared Biographies: The State and Its Servants In his discussions of the biographies of public officials, Spencer discusses how personal biographies and the biography of the state are interconnected. People not only witnessed but took part in the evolution of the state just as the politics of the nation-state shaped the lives of people. Spencer emphasizes the shared elements of biographies of person and state (Spencer 2007), intertwining the seemingly separate lives: moments that later become known as history are shared, so that memories develop that link individuals to the state, forming its biography. In reliving them or relating them to others, people in turn create the state. The term fonctionnaires (public servants), a French colonial legacy, encompasses all the hierarchical levels possible in state employment and therefore designates a very heterogeneous group with regard to family or educational background, income or actual influence on decision-making processes. The prefect, his driver, hospital nurses and the mayor’s secretaries are all subsumed under this term. Consequently, their social standing and public regard can be very different. In this chapter, the term fonctionnaires refers to the lower- and middle-rank staff who meet regularly in the tea parlour next to the main square of the town where most official buildings are concentrated (see Map 1.1). They are middle-aged teachers, employees in deconcentrated government departments and workers in the water or electricity service. Most of these men have two or three wives and, in addition to their own, support the school-aged children of close relatives in their homes. Many begin government service after completing their secondary or tertiary education and remain in that capacity until their retirement. They therefore weather many changes and reforms in the course of their professional career. Women are also part of the public service, mainly as secretaries and primary school teachers. After work, however, they return to their family homes and carry out household duties so that they do not have the time to meet in tea parlours. This is an exclusively male affair.

Political Biographies The role of individual and institutional histories in shaping the performance of the state can be exemplified with the life story of one individual that ties in the biography of the state. To Alamamy Touré was born as Daouda Touré around 1920 into the family of direct descendants of Fodé Katibi Touré, credited with having founded the town and principality more than 200 years ago. The last almamy or ruler of the pre-colonial, independent principality Moria was his great-grandfather (Figure 5.2, no.1). Three of his direct ancestors were canton or town chiefs during the colonial period (no.2–4) and his older brother (no.5) was the last canton chief at the time of the institution’s abolishment in 1957. As a ‘second son’, To Almamy did not receive formal school education but was sent for military training and fought in the French army against the

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Figure 5.2  Ramata-Fodé branch of the Touré family in Forécariah (partial representation: succession of canton chiefs or Almamies indicated as 1–5) (figure created by A. Schroven).

Madagascar uprising in 1947. Returning home in the 1950s, he found his family’s rule demoted from being the Almamy of the canton of Moria to Alkaly or chief of the town of Forécariah. Towards the end of colonial rule, the two major political parties in the colony, Rassemblement Démocratique Africain / Parti Démocratique de Guinée (RDA/PDG) and Bloc Africain de Guinée (BAG) fought over the key issue of canton chieftaincy, which was to decide the territorial assembly elections in 1956. These political arguments mobilized party members and youths in towns throughout Guinea and led to widespread violence (Schmidt 2005: 109–10).2 In Forécariah town as well, fights erupted between supporters of the two parties, leading to burnt market stalls and warehouses. While personal attacks were rare, one young man is reported to have died in the clashes. With the abolishment of chieftaincy in 1957 and the implicit victory of RDA/PDG, To Almamy’s family, which had been tied to the BAG, fell from popular grace. Their economic stronghold, based on the region’s plantation agriculture, secured the family’s financial well-being so that, over the course of several years, To Almamy could do the hajj – making him officially El Hadj Daouda Touré – and marry several wives, with whom he had eighteen children. He established himself as the head of the extended Touré family branch, named after a son of the town’s founding father, Ramata Fodé, and built a large complex of buildings behind the mosque on his father’s and great-grandfather’s concession in town, known as Almamiya (see Map 1.1).

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After independence and initial local challenges, To Almamy and some of his (half-)brothers and cousins established themselves in the ranks of the ruling party, the PDG. He rose as far as being a member of the party’s central committee and the leader of Forécariah arrondissement.3 He describes the ideological shift from BAG to PDG as ‘our duty as leaders’: We had to take leadership. We were the experienced ones who had dealt with politics before. It was our duty as the Tourés, our duty to our forefathers and to our people. We could not let them down. It is also our religious duty to support the political leadership. And it was the PDG that was ruling the country. So my support for them was only natural. Just as I took the initiative to join with other leaders to found the PUP after Lansana Conté took power [in 1984] and allowed the foundation of political parties. Together with other elders, we founded the PUP for him in Kindia and he accepted its leadership. I continue to be on the PUP council of elders today. (Interview, Forécariah, 8 August 2006) To Almamy’s sense of duty presented here fits well with the founding myth of town that has been introduced as the foundational part of Forécariah’s social landscape. At the same time, this comment offers insights into the way in which the changes in the political system and ideology could occur, all while he remained as a political actor in the political arena: from colonial chieftaincy and socialist one-party rule to becoming a major actor in a multi-party setting that is moving (nominally and institutionally) towards representative democracy. After the first legislative elections, municipal councils were put in place, and with these elections, To Almamy became the first mayor of Forécariah. He did not want to stand in the way of forming the second council four years later and resigned from active political positions. In the late 2000s, he remained the head of the elders’ council of the town and prefecture and member of the PUP’s council of elders as well, until it was dissolved with the death of President Conté in 2008. The different offices seem not to be at all contradictory. His performing his duties in these different offices is reflected nicely in the pictures on his living room shelf: a picture showing him with a fellow soldier in Madagascar stands next to an image of To Almamy during a PUP party congress, followed by the one taken during the first meeting of Guinea’s mayors in 1992. All of these images are dominated by a PUP clock, showing an image of President Conté and his mother, clad in white hajji attire. On the wall next to the shelf, images portray other ‘family members’ as To Almamy calls them. Samory Touré and Bokar Biro Barry, two legendary opponents to French colonial

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Figure 5.3  To Alamamy Touré as a French colonial soldier in Madagascar (photo: A. Schroven).

conquest in Guinea are situated next to Almamy Babara, the last canton chief of Moria and To Almamy’s father. All these pictures portray men looking into the camera with pride and self-assurance. Time and space seem to converge in the display of these pictures to obfuscate the fundamental political changes that official history books report for the lives of the Touré family and To Almamy. He himself offered no explanations or attempts to legitimate the transgressions between opposing ideologies that this seemingly smooth transition from one political system to another could imply. He explained instead:

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You see, all these pictures hang on the same wall, they all have space here. All those offices have space in my life. They all fit together, because it is all our family’s duty to the people of Forécariah, my duty to my family. The contradictions you see in [ideologies] are not important to me, it is here [pointing to the wall] that you see how it all fits into place. (Interview, Forécariah, 12 August 2006) During most of our interviews on politics and his personal and family history, To Almamy emphasized the smoothness of the transition between the political systems and how he easily found a place to participate in the new state. He thus left an impression of continuity amidst all the changes we discussed for the country as a whole and the current attempts to reform the local state administration. In view of the turbulence of national strikes and the public discussion of the memories of past dictatorships at the time of our encounters in 2006 and 2007, this vision of continuity ensures stability in an otherwise shaky and intimidating environment. As Goerg has shown for other cases of chiefly families in Guinea (Goerg 2003, 2006), elders adapt to changing systems of reference, incorporating them into their self-image and masterfully crafted oral history. Only rarely did To Almamy offer a glimpse into the challenges he and the population of Forécariah experienced in the past. Talking about the economic decline that followed independence, he spoke of the area beyond Almamiya. The ruins of a neighbourhood mosque bore witness to the attempts of To Almamy’s brother, Almamy Sékou, to build a new mosque that was supposed to surpass the size and splendour of the ancient Main Mosque. It could never be finished due to the collapse of the regional plantation economy. With the plantation economy declining, construction had to be halted and was never resumed again. This is a highly symbolic monument. During independence, colonial chiefs were discredited and the construction of a new, splendid mosque could have brought the loyalties of the population back to the last colonial chief and his family, since they were also seen as leaders in Muslim piety. Furthermore, when discussing To Almamy’s election as mayor in 1992, he himself spoke of public upheavals, the destruction of property and ethnically charged violence against Peul following the announcement of the election results. His leadership in the new era of local governance thus arrived awkwardly, not indicative of the ease with which the transitions in his life were otherwise depicted. As Allan points out, the remembrance of elders is often laden with different senses of duty (2013). Their recollections of the past may play heavily on their community’s fate. Thus, this sense of responsibility may ‘obscure everyday’ experiences and knowledge that people share, like the memory of the 1992 violence in Forécariah, in order to forge a more coherent version of history that becomes dominant by the very fact that it is reiterated by the elders.

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Post-Colonial State Building As the case of To Almamy reveals, changes in political ideology need not necessarily be perceived as fundamental incursions into (local or personal) political life. Similarly, the seeming breaks and new beginnings on the level of the national history may be overstated and obfuscate the view onto the larger continuities (Arieff and McGovern 2013). Guinea obtained its independence when it was the only colony to vote against de Gaulle’s offer of renewed cooperation with colonial France in 1958 (see Goerg et al. 2010). Sékou Touré became the first president and ruled the country autocratically until his death in 1984. Being the main ideological force in Guinea, his speeches were recorded, rebroadcast and printed; he not only lauded the party state and the revolution, but also the unity of the nation, which was portrayed as a basic condition for prosperity (Wallerstein 1962). While the term la nation did not feature prominently in Touré’s philosophy, the term le peuple was very important. Le peuple was connected to the Guinean population and the country itself: ‘nous, la Guinée, la révolution, le peuple’ (Barry 2002; McGovern 2017). The co-occurrences of these terms were so pertinent, that Barry argues they had become one associative whole; when one term was used, the others could be expected to immediately follow (cf. Foucault 2002: 99 ff.). Le peuple was therefore used by Touré synonymously with the nation, meaning the unity of the people of Guinea, who had reached independence and pressed ahead with the revolution to achieve a better future. The term le peuple thus fulfilled the contemporary and localized concept of nation, uniting a group of people with shared historic experience and a common cause. Sékou Touré also started a socialist-inspired programme of state-building by linking government organs to a single political party, which was born out of the RDA: the Parti Démocratique de Guinée (PDG) (see Figure 5.4 below). As the party had covered the country with its cells during the late colonial period, the newly independent state’s bureaucratic institutions could be organized alongside the PDG’s organizational structures, not paralleling but usurping its geographical subchapters and institutional bodies (Rivière 1977: 96). At the grassroots level the Pouvoir révolutionnaire local (PRL) served as a combination of party and state apparatus in urban neighbourhoods or combining several rural villages into basic cells. The PRL therefore united responsibilities in the state administration, party mobilization and revolutionary education (Dumbuya 1974). In fact, the term parti-état [party-state] that has commonly been used to describe this phenomenon is too narrow in the sense that it does not fully capture the socialist revolutionary education programme that Touré had envisioned as necessary to mobilize and modernize Guinea. This resulted in a combined body of party-based village governments and local administrations, which closely linked the local administrative staff to the ruling party and the state (Camara 1996), breaking down at the ideological level the potential boundaries between state and society.

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In an article exploring the biography of a teacher of the forest region, Straker highlights the close association of public service and political titles – even without the individual explicitly possessing party membership. Teachers already trained during colonial times were taken to the national capital in the 1960s to be re-educated in accordance with revolutionary guidelines (Straker 2008: 101). Their professional responsibilities increased in 1967 when the ‘Socialist Cultural Revolution’ was announced, a process amplified by efforts to spread the main national languages. Public servants thus became obliged to speak at least one national language besides their mother tongue (Adamolekun 1972: 249), while schools were turned into Centres d’études révolutionnaires, with agricultural production guidelines matching those of the rural population’s in-kind tax demands (Straker 2008: 104–105). Just like the concept of the ‘nation’ (le peuple), the ‘state’ (l’état) was also ideologically highly charged during the post-independence phase. Due to the conglomeration of political, administrative and ideological powers, the short name for any institution or person involved in the nexus of governance or public service became le pouvoir (‘the power’). However, the use of the term le pouvoir today is also relational in the local context, referring to people imbued with significantly more power than oneself. In this context, it is a synonym for the different hierarchical levels and forms of governance, from the local to the national arena, occupying the available public space. Due to the pervasive character of the party-state after independence, the government and the Guinean state are still perceived today as unified in the contemporary discourse of people. During the strike period citizens could thus view themselves not as part of the state but opposing it or, in other words, opposing the government. With the proliferation of the president’s speeches and teachings in various forms, the Guinean population was not only indoctrinated but had become part of the system of governance as this knowledge was commonly shared and could be appropriated in various acts of participation in the revolutionary effort (McGovern 2007). As the leading ideologist of independence and the one-party state, President Touré rhetorically shaped terminology and ideas to such an extent that McGovern terms his legacy a ‘discursive regime’ which was and continues to be invested in the institutions and the people that embody them. On a rhetorical level, this intimate appropriation is necessary as an actor’s discourse could not take place at all if the addressees were not involved in it and appropriated it as their own (Bakhtin 1978: 16). Consequently, by participating in discourses on the institution and in the activities of the institution, public servants and party cadres were investing themselves in the ideology presented and manifested by the institutions. The demands of that intimate appropriation became very visible with the death of Sékou Touré in 1984. Public servants were required, together with party cadres, to publicly mourn the death of the ‘supreme guide of the revolution’ (Straker 2008: 105–106).

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Socialist State Building by Public Servants Researchers who witnessed the revolutionary era in Guinea point out that colonial administrations had a decisive impact on the way in which newly independent countries organized public service and government institutions. Beyond adapting the constitutions of the former metropole, their political life and public service provided guidelines (Rivière 1978; Suret-Canale 1960). Adamolekun shows that the Fourth French Republic in particular provided an example of a tight fusion between political and administrative personnel, quite unlike the British, who saw an increasing differentiation between these categories of colonial administrators (Adamolekun 1969: 235). The professional training of public servants in Guinea continued within the French colonial framework. Institutionally speaking, the schools of administrative studies (Écoles nationale/ Supérieure d’administration de Guinée) taught the French curriculum and even started off with staff from colonial institutions. Later, the staff became more international but continued to be strongly obliged to the official party-state ideology (Adamolekun 1972). Adamolekun problematizes the situation of Guinean public servants in the late 1960s. With independence, the few public servants, mostly teachers, were overstretched in their service to the newly independent country. The ruling party therefore stepped in and filled the ranks both of bureaucrats and political leaders, leading to a strong overlap of offices in the individual persons, a synergy effect that would later characterize the party state (Adamolekun 1969: 236–37). This synergy benefited the country according to the author’s observation that Guinea could escape the ‘acute rivalry . . . between a bureaucratic and a political élite in West African countries’ after independence (Adamolekun 1969: 242). National integration stood at the forefront of these synergy effects – a characteristic Guinea has been praised for, particularly since the advent of regional warfare in 1990s. The government continues to credit itself for this and to demand further integration efforts at times of crisis – as during the national strikes of 2006 and 2007. In a later crisis, namely the Ebola outbreak in the region (2013–2016), this level of national integration was challenged. There was a lack of trust in the information given by government or national media, and sometimes international interventions were more readily accepted than those of the government (Schroven 2014). Also, government emissaries who did not originate from the area they were now delegated to faced major challenges in fulfilling their tasks as they were seen as ‘strangers’ rather than trustworthy locals. Rivière points out that in the first years after independence, the mobility of high-ranking public servants like ministers and regional governors was much higher than those at local levels. With postings usually lasting between two to three years, horizontal mobility was more prominent than upward mobility. The highest ranks were often reserved for the leading members of the

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pre-independence RDA/PDG, while mid-level posts were granted to younger, but formally highly educated newcomers (cf. Charles 1962; Rivière 1978). This qualifies Adamolekun’s observation that people were not promoted after independence according to their professional training and experience but according to their revolutionary sentiments (Adamolekun 1969: 238). The administration, government and party membership thus evolved together and were bound to official state ideology, from the selection and training of future public servants to their careers within the professional system. Other characteristics of their lives associated them even more closely with the state-building project and still continue to do so. They are rotated among postings in the different regions of the country and are ideally never supposed to work close to their places of origin. While this scheme had been instituted after independence, it also engenders its own justification on the part of the people involved in it. The perceived reasons for the rotational scheme were twofold. First, it was meant to discourage corruption and nepotism and immediately after independence was intended to help avoid privileging the families of former chiefs. In the name of ‘social progress’, these practices were supposed to be overcome (Camara 1996: 87). The other motivation, not less ideologically inspired, was the intended integration of different geographical regional and ethnic groups. Rivière points out that in order to ‘liberate itself from the ethnic weight, the political [system]’ posted mid-range officials like the commanders of arrondissements outside their region of origin (Rivière 1978: 88). The fonctionnaires and their families also played another significant role here. While the official language in post-colonial Guinea remained French, ‘national languages’ such as Malinké, Pular and Susu were promoted, for instance, by teaching in these languages in primary school (Adamolekun 1972; Camara 1996). As a consequence, the family members of the rotating public servants would learn a different language to their mother tongue. While secondary schooling now takes place exclusively in French, the whole family still has to adapt to the dominant language of the area it has moved to. In this way, public servants and their families have become important tools for the party state’s social engineering project and still represent a considerable group of internally mobile people who do not follow the otherwise prominent rural-urban migration trajectory. This mobility leads to most of the rotating staff not being considered as autochthones. In the region-wide system of traditional landlord-stranger relations, their status is that of late-comers, so they have little access to the informal decision-making strata of the locale, which is historically dominated by the land-owning families. While this may have been regarded as positive within the ideological decolonization context of the post-independence era and even followed French colonial ideas of rotating staff, it renders the practical day-to-day work of fonctionnaires difficult as they have little knowledge of local political dynamics and sometimes only have a rudimentary command of local languages.

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Even after the tight links between the ruling party (the PUP4 after 1992) and the public service were loosened and the political ideology within the party and the public service became more independent, the idea of loyalty to the ruling party remained. Many public servants in Forécariah refrained from publicly proclaiming their party allegiances by commenting that their duty was to be loyal to the government in place, and not to have political views. Those were reserved for ‘private people’ who were not state-employed. Institutions thus still carry legacies from the past and manage to make their staff adhere to them – even without making explicit demands. The political arena therefore encompasses people from diverse histories, personal and institutional backgrounds, often with overlapping tasks and competing competencies while being engaged in a competition for resources. Bierschenk has referred to this phenomenon as institutional plurality (1999). In the present context, I propose extending this perspective to claim that fonctionnaires also face a plurality in institutional associations. They are public service professionals, citizens of the country, party members, and part of the electorate for the local council, all at the same time, while facing economic challenges when it comes to providing for their families. Lund has, for this purpose, coined the phrase ‘twilight institutions’. The term hints at public servants’ continuous liminal nature, negotiating between official state bureaucracy and government and the realm of more informal power relations at the local level. He relates these various local institutions with their specific characteristics to the continuous production of state, a process he describes as ‘bringing about the idea of state’ due to ‘the quality of an institution being able to define and enforce collectively binding decisions on the members of society. We tend to reserve state qualities for government institutions, but this is more a reflection of our idea of an end result than of the messy process of state formation itself’ (Lund 2006: 676). This production of state relates to the establishment of public authority with ‘collectively binding decisions’. In order to achieve the binding character of their decisions, people ‘take on the mantle of public administrative authority (legitimated administrative operations) and in their attempts to govern articulate notions of state varying from their source of power’ (Lund 2006: 678). While the resource on which the public authority is based may not always be limited to ‘legitimated administrative operations’ in a normative sense, the important point here involves the diversity of notions of that very state which is being produced. The above perspective is based on longer-term institutional history and its longevity in the social life of local relationships that are linked to the various sources of power mentioned above. In the case of public servants, their source of authority, that is the legitimacy to participate in the local arena, derives mainly from central, non-local government (cf. Boone 2003). This makes them even more dependent on their ability to employ the administrative or public service character of their work as a legitimating basis for

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their particular contribution to state production. On many occasions, this binds them to the state even more.

Public Service: Rice and Dependencies In Guinea, rice alimentation has become linked to the state performing its care for the public’s welfare. As the primary staple food, rice has long played a particular historic and ceremonial role and still does today, when the majority of the country lives on subsidized rice imports.5 However, for ceremonial and medical purposes, much care is taken to use specific locally-grown rice which is different in colour, shape and taste. As alluded to above, tax payment in kind had been established – and contested – during colonial times and in the First Republic. Farm collectives delivered high shares of their rice harvest to government stocks or stores from which public servants were ‘paid in kind’ for their work as the Guinean economy was chronically under-monetized (Schwartz 1989: 85). In cases where the storage space was far removed, rice destined to ‘build and feed the nation’ – as was the duty of citizen farmers – rotted away when government trucks did not arrive in time to take it away for redistribution.6 While Straker interprets such events as the symbolic ‘rotting’ of the nation (cf. Straker 2008), I perceive this as reflecting an enforced self-incorporation into the revolutionary state. Not only did rice rot away during the 1970s, it was sometimes burnt upon the arrival of the government trucks intending to take it away (APF, ANG). Some elders in Benty and Farmoreah remember such events with pride: We burnt the rice. All the harvest was compiled, with the grain meeting the required quota, and the [official] collector was satisfied . . . We had a lookout on the road from Farmoreah and it was dry season, they saw the dust from afar. So we got a signal and quickly set fire to all the rice. The collector could not do anything, he screamed and promised punishments. But by the time the trucks arrived to take the rice, there were only ashes. So we said they can take our rice to Conakry and feed whoever they want with it. (Interview, Benty, 14 June 2007) When asked whether he was not afraid of being punished in light of state violence, one of the elders, Mr Tarawalli, dismissed my worries: Nobody was punished. Should they go after all the people in Benty? No, we quickly sent the ones who set the fire and the lookouts into the mangroves and none [of the state officials present] knew who they were in the commotion. That was our way of paying taxes. They could not accuse us of not paying, because they saw all the rice was there, we did not resist, we did not withhold anything . . . Next year they did not

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bother to come again and we were left in peace. (Interview, Benty, 15 June 2007) Tarawalli’s comment included an interesting twist: he did not regard rice burning as resistance to the state order, but as subversive compliance. Thus, rather than viewing this as resistance to national integration, I would describe this as a self-chosen manner of being incorporated into the state as it presented itself to the farmers – and at the same time making such acts of resistance into an analytic of power that need not be romanticised (Abu-Lughod 1990: 42). While such events certainly did not occur on a regular basis, they nevertheless became part of the regional storytelling and construction of identity. Reports of that time in the Forécariah archive on such burnings in the sub-prefectures along the coast complain about the insubordination of the people, referencing their ethnic origins as Mmeni as opposed to the Susu majorities in town. This is all the more remarkable as ethnicity was supposed to have been extinguished for the benefit of national identity. Tarawalli and other interview partners, moreover, commented that Mmeni and people of Mmeni origin were indeed ‘stubborn and unbreakable . . . they don’t accept orders just like that’ (interview, Farmoreah, 22 June 2007). Aside from such spectacular practices, farmers also became more ingenious in their avoidance of collective farming and tax payments. Over time, rice production decreased or became clandestine. In the area of Kaback and Benty, rice paddies retreated into the mangroves, becoming invisible to central government inspectors. The harvest was transported across the border to Sierra Leone in pirogues to fetch attractive prices. Testing and contesting state power did not therefore lead to open opposition but rather to adjustment and integration into the dominant system. The ensuing rice production shortage within the country was covered by massive importation schemes that continued into the Second Republic. Notwithstanding the end of the socialist economy and price control, rice, (palm) oil and petrol were still excluded from market forces well into the 1990s. Even today, members of the public service and military can obtain rice rations for a considerable discount. Some profit from the resale of the allotted rice at market prices, others redistribute it within their extended family. When market prices reached unattainable heights, President Conté was called on to correct for the effects of ‘greedy merchants’ and ‘unjust economic situations’ and fix rice prices at a lower level. His personal interventions helped to turn rice into ‘a symbolic product’ of the president’s care for the population’s daily and most elementary needs (Schwartz 1989: 92–93). Conté’s personal involvement matched his reputation of being Guinea’s biggest rice farmer. He owned more than 2,000 hectares in the Dubréka and Forécariah prefectures already in the 1990s (Chéneau-Loquay 1993: 171).

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Rice therefore remains important today, even beyond the immediate issue of harvest yields and rice imports from abroad. Popular internet sites about Guinea7 showed official Guinean Franc (GNF) exchange rates at the top of the page for currencies like the euro, US dollar and CFA franc, together with the official price of a 50 kilogramme sack of rice in GNF. This reflects the particular role a sack of rice plays in the economic perceptions of both the Guinean diaspora these sites are aimed at, and the population within the country that has to buy rice (and other basic provisions) at prices that are followed and widely discussed. Purchasing power measured in sacks of rice is compared during important religious festivities like Eid al-Adha/Tabaski and Eid ul-Fitr. Complaints such as ‘Last year we bought two sacks of rice for the family, this year it was only one. I hope the president knows about it! Things cannot continue like this!’ (interview, Forécariah, 31 December 2006) are widespread and dominate the public perception of the overall (economic) development of the country. The contemporary situation in Forécariah reveals how important the public service and their rice rations are for the economic pulse of everyday life. In its capacity as the main employer in the region and in the main town of the prefecture, the state has been the major source of income during the last several years with decisive effects on the economic pulse of the town. The artisanal alluvial diamond mining has lost its relevance as the profitable sources are exhausted; the humanitarian crisis caused by the Sierra Leonean civil war, the Ebola response and the iron ore mining have passed and taken away many jobs especially for young and middle-aged men. With past alternatives gone, the economic dependency on the state is felt in all regards. Even young women and children selling sweet oil-fried cakes or sliced plantain on street corners are just as informed about delays in monthly wage payments as the originally intended recipients: We see how people look at our offer, how many cakes they buy in the morning. This is different when the payment is delayed, people buy less. Or children who go to school in the morning don’t get the money to buy the cakes on their way to school. And then, when people expect their pay to arrive, they buy more . . . This is so typical, it always happens, nearly every month there is a delay. And that is why we plan ahead, we would lose money if we baked cakes and no one were there to buy them. We have to know when people can buy more and when less. So we ask around. No, mostly, we don’t ask but people talk about it on the street and so we know how many cakes to bake. (Interview, Forécariah, 5 December 2006) Similarly, market women sometimes stock certain, more expensive ­vegetables, such as pepper fruits or aubergines that have to be imported from Kindia or bigger fish that are only to be found in the markets of Conakry. The women try

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to estimate consumer capacities in town based on the date of payment of the fonctionnaires. Whenever there are rumours about salaries arriving soon, people start to consume differently again: buying special vegetables or bigger fish for their sauce on the market, cakes at street corners, or drinking a second attaya in the corner café. Not wanting to limit the relations of the people with the state to an economic dimension, this everyday dependency is vital as a means of comprehending some particular aspects of the discourse over the strike: who could afford to participate was for many inhabitants a more vital issue than who was eligible or obliged to do so. These later matters relate not only to questions about the standing of trade unions in current Guinean society and politics (McGovern 2007: 136–40), but also to processes of identification with employment groups and thus to one’s professional self-identification. While the salary of a fonctionnaire did not suffice to sustain a family – calculations indicate that it covered 40 per cent of necessary expenses in the 1980s (Schwartz 1989: 90) – it was nevertheless a fairly reliable part of the family budget. With economic decline and inflation continuing, the value of the salary may have decreased considerably ever since.

The Strike: A Nation Confronts the State Two umbrella organizations of Guinean trade unions, the Confédération nationale des travailleurs de Guinée (CNTG) and the Union syndicale des travailleurs de Guinée (USTG), organized general strikes that commenced rather timidly in January and June 2006, respectively, lasting for five days each and having no significant political effects. The two organizations, known for short as Inter-Central, and their most prominent spokespersons, Hadja Rabiatou Séra Diallo and Dr Ibrahima Fofana, were careful not to phrase their demands in political terms such as an exchange of the government but focused on economic demands for the improvement of the living conditions of their members. Using the example of the price of a sack of rice, it was argued that most workers (and public servants of lower ranks with a similar income) could not feed their families with their salaries. This situation would have to be corrected through presidential intervention with regard to rice prices and the introduction of a sensible monetary policy that would halt mounting inflation. Only when the government’s concessions of the strikes in 2006 were not respected did this advance to the political level, with calls for a political change in government. The public and independent media discussions during the preparations in late December 2006 and the effective beginning of the strike on 10 January 2007 quickly employed a rhetorical separation between state and population – conceptualized as the nation that demanded that the state limit corruption by government members, improve economic and basic living conditions and later even change the government entirely. The strike movements

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culminated in mass demonstrations on 22 January and the destruction of government and public service buildings and even the plundering of private homes of the politico-military elite. Negotiations between Inter-Central and government representatives ended with the signing of an accord on 27 January, assuring a change of government by the installation of a prime minister. Only when the president hesitated to nominate a person agreeable to the negotiation parties were calls for a second strike released, displaying the same dynamics as in the previous month, but this time it ended with the declaration of a state of siege and a 24-hour curfew on 12 February 2007. Both strike periods were associated with violence, pillaging and death, but ultimately resulted in a change of government with a new prime minister, Lansana Kouyaté, on 26 February. While some formal demands of the strike had been met, the change in government personnel did not displace or infringe upon the power centred on the presidency. This in turn revealed itself to be a continuing challenge to the political situation in Guinea, characterized by a change of prime ministers and cabinet members by presidential decree, resulting delays in the legislative elections and the ongoing dire economic situation in the country.

Forécariah during the 2007 Strikes During both strike phases in early 2007, which will serve as the critical event in the present analysis, Forécariah town and the surrounding prefecture were not hit by demonstrations or violence. It was one of the two of thirty-three prefectures in Guinea where people did not demonstrate or destroy public buildings and where people and shops were not attacked by military or police. Through radios, mobile phones (cf. Horst and Miller 2006) and the rumours brought to town by the occasional traveller, people were nevertheless informed and debated the events taking place in other parts of the country, mainly in the capital and the other urban centres. Subsequently, the topics discussed in the tea parlours of Forécariah shifted from family matters and everyday gossip to discussions about national politics, individual government members and the general fate of the country. The call for a new strike at the beginning of February 2007 once again addressed union members. As the demands of the Inter-Central were more explicitly political this time, the question of legitimacy was raised in public discussions: the legitimacy of unions in their demand for political change, but also the question of who was truly entitled to participate in the strikes. Since almost no one is a trade union member in Forécariah, the local interpretation emerged that only the formally employed were eligible to participate in the strike. As the state, with its various services, is the only employer in town, the question of how the fonctionnaires were supposed to manifest their potential participation was quickly raised as well, as mere absence from the workplace was nothing unusual for this group of people.

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The prefect wondered about this as well, as he felt that he should not increase the malcontent of the population further by running normal office hours while rallies were taking place in the urban centres of the country, with the homes of some of his colleagues burning down. At the same time he felt that his position as the representative of the president to the prefecture, and therefore the state’s ambassador resident in town, demanded his presence and leadership in the discussions among town elders and the leaders of the military and other security forces. He resolved this dilemma by staying in front of his office building for the better part of the day. He sat underneath the acacia tree in the centre of the town square, next to the flagpole located in front of the prefecture, with one of his secretaries usually keeping him company, and leaving a couple of chairs vacant for passers-by. He maintained this habit throughout the January strike period, placing himself in public view in the town centre and thereby earning himself the respect of many town residents. In a meeting in the prefecture at the end of January, however, he criticized his subordinates for not having kept him company enough during the strike: ‘Some of you came and sat with us, even briefly. That reassured me. But others I saw pass by at a distance, and you did not even come to greet us. Were you ashamed? How can I be sure of your loyalty now?’ (Forécariah, 30 January 2007). This remark met with uncomfortable silence, upon which the prefect moved on to the meeting’s topics, although maintaining a stern look throughout. The second phase of the strike in February commenced and found the prefect sitting in front of his garage, right next to the prefecture building. He initially argued that the sun was too hot to keep sitting in the middle of the square. Many chairs were arranged in front of the official four-wheel drive vehicle whose driver now discretely carried an AK-47 and stayed close by throughout the day – on the orders of the president and not upon the personal wishes of the prefect, as he repeatedly pointed out. While the prefect remained in the shadow of the old colonial building ‘for the shade’ throughout the strike period, he was, in the same instance, retreating into the cover of his office as the local representative of the president and le pouvoir. He nevertheless remained visible, a calm and imposing figure surrounded by his secretaries who listened to the radio, just as eager to hear about the news as all the other people in town. When reports of banished or fleeing governors and prefects became more frequent, however, radios could no longer be heard around the prefect. Just as orders ceased arriving for him from the Ministry of Interior Affairs, his staff refrained from confronting him with information of events heard from international radio stations. With the announcement of the state of siege, the prefect’s retreat became even more pronounced. With the military taking command, the prefecture remained vacant and decisions were taken in the office of the chief of Forécariah’s military zone, just across the road from the café that was so popular with fonctionnaires. The prefect received visitors in his official residence, situated behind the walls

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of the résidence, the home of the commander of Forécariah during the colonial period and the First Republic.

Local Discourses: Performing the Nation With the state under verbal attack, and its symbols physically attacked in some places, public servants faced a challenging situation during the general strikes, which they also discussed with their colleagues. The following introduction and analysis of conversations in the tea parlour outlines the changes in themes and discourses as well as the way in which fonctionnaires identified themselves in certain contexts. The general strike in January 2007 began with little enthusiasm as it was the third within twelve months. But as news had unexpectedly arrived in town that the regional markets were closing down, transport into and out of Conakry was blocked, some international radio stations had been reporting meetings of trade union leaders in the capital and the larger cities of the interior, and tensions had been rising in Forécariah as well. People were lingering less in public places, were reducing their conversations to what was most necessary and trying to buy provisions in case the market should close down. The opinions of opposition leaders, civil society and Guineans of the diaspora phoning in to radio programmes regularly broadcast during the strike called on republican values and upon people to ‘perform the nation’: to wake up and demand their place in the reform and development of a state that had been viewed as failing its people. Their explanations of past developments were made sense of during discussions with colleagues of the public service in the tea parlour: A: It is like the man from Banjul said this morning on BBC [Afrique], the state is too weak; the politicians just go and get money from the central bank; no surprise that nothing works in Guinea, no water, no electricity, no petrol. B: But this is because the people of power [gens de pouvoir] let this happen. Since the military took the power [in 1984] they did nothing, they did not do anything to keep the people together. Under Sékou, we suffered, yes, but he formed us into a people: ‘We prefer poverty in dignity’.8 Have we no dignity anymore? That’s the only thing we have left! So we should strike, most of the people with Juan9 this morning agreed, we have to demonstrate so that everything changes, le pouvoir has to go and then we will change everything. A: That is easy for them to say on the radio, they are not here, they are not getting beaten or having their children shot. (Forécariah, 19 January 2007) At the same time, the people in the tea parlour admired the popular movements in the major cities. The reported destruction of the private property of government

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and military leaders and the pillaging of public buildings were discussed in detail. The fault line of the conflict was identified even more clearly in the discussions than before: le peuple Guinéen was becoming aware of its power to influence and participate in the destiny of Guinea. With every report of acts of violence that arrived in Forécariah, the rhetorical frontline became clearer: the current struggle was taking place between le pouvoir and le peuple. The question of the public servants’ loyalty to le pouvoir appeared more pertinent in the case of lower- and mid-level public servants than for example in the case of higher ranking people such as the prefect, whose personal and external association with the state was not seriously doubted by the wider public during the strike period. But most of the men meeting in the tea bars were state-employed in deconcentrated public services or central government departments that had not been working effectively for years. Through their relations with higher level fonctionnaires they or their family members participated in the embezzlement of public funds, nepotism or corruption, which they were ready to admit amongst themselves. Thus, during the last days of the February 2007 strike and its aftermath, after the state of emergency had been lifted, the conversation in the tea parlour revolved around the question of how le peuple could oppose le pouvoir if the first was implicated in the misdeeds of the second. Which is to say: if the fonctionnaires were themselves participating in the embezzlement of public funds, how could they claim to be part of le peuple? And as a consequence, how could they be part of le peuple and accuse le pouvoir of corruption? How this could develop was readily explained in the discussions after the strike period. While public servant salaries do not suffice to sustain a family, they nevertheless form a fairly reliable part of the family budget. Additionally, such a position is made attractive due to the potential informal access to public services or resources otherwise not attainable. In these discussions, fonctionnaires perceive themselves as gatekeepers, a position that allows them to claim services in return for the ones that they grant to others. While this is commonly known and sometimes individually criticized, most people in town sustain relations with members of this professional group in order to secure their access to public services. As Smith has shown in a Nigerian case study, public servants were deeply implicated in patron-client relations and it was ‘the very demand of clientelistic networks to deliver public resources based on moral obligations and affective attachments that makes it almost impossible for office-holders to run their offices in anything other than a prebendal manner’ (Smith 2001: 361). In this context, even comparatively low-level fonctionnaires can be gatekeepers and therefore participate in le pouvoir in relation to people demanding assistance. While fonctionnaires were well aware of the endurance of personalized relationships and embezzlement, their discussions turned towards whether the current popular movement would be strong enough to lead the population into

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a change of consciousness, with themselves redressing the wrongs they had been accusing le pouvoir of. That these questions were raised reveals the conceptual challenge faced by the local fonctionnaires: the two supposedly opposing entities le pouvoir and le peuple were obviously much more closely intertwined than had been acknowledged in previous discussions. Therefore, changing the ways in which government and public services functioned would be very difficult. This aspect is often discussed in the tea parlour. During the usual morning tea round, the director of the prefectural water department spoke about change, four months after the general strike: The change, everyone is talking about the change. And I am here, in the tea parlour. I should be in my office, I know. But there is nothing there, so how can I work? Everyone is in a similar situation here. Look at him, he is a teacher, he is not in school, what has he done with his students? We are all the same here. How are we going to change? Someone will have to come and make all the fonctionnaires work; he will have to flog us all so we will learn to work again. (Forécariah, 17 June 2007) A colleague then demanded who would be the one doing the whipping, if all fonctionnaires were the same. The answer was given promptly by someone else in the tea parlour: ‘Well, we will have to do it amongst ourselves, from the top to the bottom; we will all flog each other for the sake of the change’ (ibid.). Besides jokingly implying the necessity of using force for political change, the director did convey one important impression: his use of the inclusive first person plural Susu won10 emphasized the commonly shared feeling of responsibility among the fonctionnaires as participants or even promoters of positive change. They charged themselves with this task due to their respective public service positions. This self-ascribed responsibility was also reflected in the topdown approach of the disciplining to be taking place and is even conveyed in the idea of suffering for the sake of the change, or suffering for the nation (Kohl and Schroven 2014). Suffering emerged in different oral testimonies of this period. Many recalled the period of the First Republic, including all its positive, modernist aims and the violence it perpetrated on its citizens. ‘There is no family here, who has not lost someone under Sékou [Touré]’, was an often-heard explanation for the reverence with which this era was treated. Nevertheless, it was not wholly dismissed. Rather, a selection was made of all the potential memories, by forgetting some events and choosing to remember others. This process is as much individual as collective, ‘forgetting is social and historical, and viciously so. It is a given of domination’ (Boyarin 1992: 2). These are discursive references to the Touré era, re-invoking the revolutionary and potentially painful tasks the fonctionnaires – who are both party representatives and teachers of the official state ideology – were expected to fulfil

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in order to modernize the country and thus move Guinea towards being a truly independent nation-state. Aboubakar, one of the director’s older fellows in the tea parlour, spoke from that perspective: ‘If we want this country to work, we fonctionnaires have to change. We have to remember what we learnt under Sékou [Touré]. We have to make people remember and respect what we have achieved in the past; otherwise the sacrifices in January are in vain. This is our duty as fonctionnaires’ (ibid.). Again, the speaker employed the Susu word won, while pointing to all the men present in the tea parlour. While some turned away, waving their hands in dismissal, others nodded energetically and began to laud past political and economic conditions. They referenced the First Republic as a time in which their profession was under much greater demand but also carried more significance. In a similar vein, the director rhetorically separated the fonctionnaires from the rest of the local political setting. He only referred to the top-down disciplinary action and did not relate the public service to other local actors such as the elected council or the town elders. The prefect and the elders had been especially prominent during the strike, calming both the population and locally stationed military, and were therefore also frequently mentioned in the discussions in the tea parlour. The director was therefore not associating the fonctionnaires with le pouvoir in the local setting but with his own professional group that was linked to the central departments and ministries in the capital. Discussions of the strike in early 2007 speak to notions of performance. Radio commentaries from diaspora Guineans urged their compatriots not to be passive, to put their demands and needs into action, and to re-activate a sense of national belonging and la nation. Other events after the strike brought to the fore the repercussions of the past in present political processes. The vocabulary and arguments used in local trade unions meetings or the founding of local youth fora discussed below reveal the logic of popular participation along with the vocabulary or even ideology of the First Republic: a demand for a measure of personal investissement before this could be rewarded by the respective higher echelons of hierarchy. This sentiment was pronounced and accepted at local trade union meetings and in ensuing private discussions. Trade unions, having played a significant role during independence, could clearly refer to their influential past and used that legitimacy to mobilize people today. People were also asked to perform at another moment and from a very different perspective: during a radio speech given by President Conté to announce the state of siege, he argued that outside forces had invaded the country and had been seen in the capital and former combatants from the Liberian civil war were also rumoured to be moving in the forest region. He called for vigilance and the unity of the people in light of such a substantial threat to the state. Vigilance, a prominent notion from the First Republic, targeted potential putschists and strangers in general with the scrutiny of the party state, resulting in public anxiety

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over security, particularly in the border areas and the forest region – an area with a particularly high level of mobility. Conté had already used this term during different phases of regional warfare in order to mobilize the people’s attention or, particularly in the forest region, encourage them to join defence militias (Arieff and McGovern 2013). While the validity of the claims seemed questionable, the call for national unity was well understood by everyone I talked to after the speech had been aired. By placing a potential enemy outside the country, President Conté called for the people to perform their task as a single Guinean people united against outside threats, just as he would perform his task to defend the people and the country.

Figure 5.4  Even today, the confrontation between government and citizens is conceptualized as the state (l’état) destroying the nation and its citizens (la nation). Under the headline ‘Guinea: the presidents succeed one another, bad governance remains. The state destroys the nation’, the cartoon depicts all Guinean presidents, from Sékou Touré to Alpha Condé, looking onto the execution of the innocent population (Le Lynx No.1303 on 3 April 2017). Published with permission.

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Symbolically, President Conté could call for all this and at the same time embody the Guinean state,11 as he had directly ‘inherited’ it from Sékou Touré and had guided it for decades – with liberalized politics bringing about much appreciated freedoms from the distressing revolution and permanent vigilance under the First Republic. Symbolizing all this, he could be seen as the ‘father’ (McGovern 2007) but also, with reference to Bernstein and Lü’s analysis of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, as the ‘clean and upright king opposed to the corrupt lords’ (Bernstein and Lü 2003: 247). He could thus embody the state without being charged with the government’s failures or violence perpetrated by security forces. President Conté’s potential participation in the embezzlement of public funds was by no means denied. Rather, in a particular context after the strikes, individual incidences that became known or were rumoured to have happened were declared to be within the leeway of the presidential office. Therefore, one could argue that even after the strike and its violent crack-down, the normative power of the state was present and still working.

The Perpetual Construction of State The sources for constructing authority are not arbitrarily selected. As discussed above, the actors choose between the different systems of reference according to various criteria. Yet this is not to say that choices are freely made in all situations: ‘While fluidity may characterize institutions and authority, it may not be of the lowest viscosity. Certain settlements, rights and authorities may “stick”. Once successfully constructed, institutions of authority become markers for the future negotiation of society’ (Lund 2006: 679). Therefore, it is repercussions of the past, of either the institutions or their actions, that may explain preferential choices made by actors. These markers also explain why, in the production of state, administrative authority from the central government can be used as a legitimate resource. The use of le pouvoir as legitimation for public servants to exert authority and thereby participate in the local production of the state is not a simple circular argument. The notion of state being used as a rhetorical resource has a different quality to that of the produced notion: it is imbued with historic and local meaning while the product is a new, contemporary practice of the state. The negotiation of identities thus leads fonctionnaires to different possibilities. The context of institutional plurality enables fonctionnaires to make choices which are ‘part of the enabling and constraining context of social interaction in all arenas’. Hence, they, elected councillors and town elders are actively engaged in negotiation processes and all contribute to the choices made by others in their critique or contestation of le pouvoir. These references to institutions with their particular (ideological) histories ‘provide means to rationalize and justify actors’ objectives, behaviour and choices . . . in engaging in the critique of state action’ (von Benda-Beckmann and von Benda-Beckmann 2006: 23–24).

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As hinted above, public servants have been tied to the state since its inception. Considering the ideological and pragmatic state-building process that happened in Guinea during and after independence, their ties seem even stronger – so strong indeed that they continue to exist even after strong ideological binds fell away and a major crisis began questioning the very state that public servants are continuing to construct.

Fonctionnaires’ Negotiations of the State and Le Pouvoir In the discourses during and about the Guinean general strikes and the identification processes happening during this period, the different repertoires at the disposition of the clients of the tea parlour were only partly used. They had chosen to be citizens, distant supporters of the masses protesting the dire living conditions the government suffered people to live under, and identified themselves with le peuple. They did not, however, act on their locally granted right as formally employed to participate in demonstrations. After the strike had passed, they again self-identified as public servants, who saw themselves as bearing the responsibility to make ‘the state work again’. During the strike, they rationalized the role the prefect and town elders played in opposing the strike in terms of not losing privileges. Later, these people were applauded for keeping harm away from the local population and state infrastructure, and for upholding public authority. Just as the director of water services quoted above, with this discourse, fonctionnaires were again producing ‘the state’ in the sense of rhetorically reinforcing public authority. Perceiving themselves as part of the responsible group, they were again implicitly identifying themselves with le pouvoir, despite the critical standpoints taken and discussed in the tea parlour. These criticisms were now phrased in the first person in an impersonation of the state by the fonctionnaires, in which they claimed responsibility while also underscoring their capacity to make a substantial change. The close ideological ties that have been established between the state and the public employees in Guinea supposedly make identification processes easy when fonctionnaires are asked to choose between ‘the people’ and ‘the power’. The socialist period, with its all-encompassing state ideology and rotational system of public service, had made the fonctionnaires into agents of the state and the revolution. Today, the economic dependency on salaries and career promotions as well as informal access to public resources make their position generally very desirable, yet also link them to the state. This situation renders them dependent on its powers and abuses thereof, while also exposing them to the criticism of the general public. Nevertheless, middle- and lower-level fonctionnaires do experience a contradiction in that, in the view of the outside world, they are associated with le pouvoir, even though they face many of the same difficulties and share similar frustrations as the general population. This results in a feeling of alienation from

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the state and especially from its most powerful manifestation: the government. Consequently, these tea parlour customers would also have reason to participate in the strikes against the corrupt and ineffective state administration, under which they suffer as ordinary citizens. The process of self-identification with le pouvoir during the early phase of the strike was also influenced by the environment of the fonctionnaires. As mentioned above, in the eyes of the local population, the employees of the public sector were most entitled to strike as they fulfilled the requirement of formal employment. At the same time, and from a long-term perspective, they are perceived as privileged parts of the state apparatus in that they significantly shaped and embodied the state in the past and continued to participate in the contemporary production of the state at the local level. While the strike gave people, at a certain moment, the impression that they had to choose between identifying with le pouvoir or with the protestors, the processes of identification surrounding the strike show that choices were and are made on the basis of long-term experience with local institutions. These institutions are the results of historic or present ideologies, experiences and perpetual negotiations in the local arena. Here, the institutions are personified by the different actors present. Therefore, the distinction and subsequent choice made between the supposedly opposing sides of the strike’s fault line was harder to make than possibly expected. Since power is relational in the flux of daily negotiations in the highly diverse local arena, associating with one of the dichotomized poles is not an easy choice to make. The basis on which bureaucrats make this temporary choice is not necessarily only linked to the current situation, even if this appears opportune or ideologically questionable at times. This understanding may in turn be personal as well as institutional, handed down in the collective memory of the locale or, as is possible in the current context, in the realm of state administrative institutions. The continuous negotiation of le pouvoir by public servants through their own person is but one part of the wider production of the state in the local arena. As the presented discourses show, in contrast with other actors, fonctionnaires were less free to sever their ties to the state due to their personal and professional trajectories. These are founded not only in Guinean post-independence ideology but also in the practices of state building, with repercussions that can be felt even when the autocratic regime has officially been left behind and new actors have entered the local arena. Yet these changes do not unmake the historic trajectories and render the dissociation from the state difficult for fonctionnaires, even if they, as follow citizens, would side with those protesting. These close ties insert negotiations of the person into negotiations of le pouvoir and the localized notion of the state that is clearly in emergency. NavaroYashin sees a ‘phantom state’ not so much as a state of exception but insists on ‘sensing the emergency’ that underlies the perception and performance of

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normality (Navaro-Yashin 2003). While the emergency that can be sensed in Guinea may not be as pertinent as in neighbouring countries that have been going through decades of civil war, it is nevertheless being discussed as highly critical and continually destabilizing (Arieff 2009; Chambers 2004; ICG 2005). In his latest book, McGovern argues that this perceived stability in the midst of domestic crises and regional wars may be a result of the socialist post-­ independence period which had for decades shielded Guineans from political chaos and basic institutional insecurity that other countries experienced in the same era (McGovern 2017). As I have shown elsewhere, Guineans have used this post-independence era indeed as a reference for stability and continuity, but also as a reference for pain and suffering. They had a larger framework for that, the nation, that enabled them to make sense of political threats and individual suffering (Kohl and Schroven 2014). How long this sense of normality will hold for Guineans – as Guineans – is a crucial point for larger nation-state stability. At the same time, normality prevails for onlookers and actors. It prevails on a surface that is sometimes very thin, yet smoothed over to hide the cracks. These cracks are exposed or may expand in situations where the carefully crafted everyday life is interrupted by unexpected, unpredictable or unprecedented events that form part of the ethnographic examples. In the face of these emergencies, a process of self-marginalization is taking place at the local level. A lot of the literature has recently been concentrating on resisting the state from below, relying on the intricate relationship between hegemony and resistance, as explored by Gramsci and Foucault. In order to avoid perceptions of vertical power relations between a state centre and the locale, marginality is being employed strategically by these actors: ‘Margins are sites from which we see the instability of social categories . . . Attention to marginality highlights both the play and constraint of subordinate social positions’ (Lowenhaupt Tsing 1994: 279). Actors within the local elite employ this notion of margin to (re-)configure local identities, to distance and distinguish themselves from the corrupt centre and integrate into the state that they are constructing.

Notes  1. I differentiate government representatives at higher echelons of central government from lower-level public servants that work in state-run public service institutions in the sense of Lipky’s street-level bureaucrats (Lipsky 1980).  2. As late as the 1951 territorial election, the results showed that Moria canton was firmly in the control of what Rivière terms ‘traditional elites’: only 1.99 per cent voted for the RDA/PDG, whereas the party achieved more than 50 per cent in many other cantons. The following elections in 1954 (to replace the Guinean deputy in the French national assembly) reveal a different picture altogether: 76.7 per cent of the population of Moria supported the RDA/PDG candidate (Rivière 1978: 123–24).

172  Playing the Marginality Game  3. After independence, administrative borders were kept and the entities within them renamed arrondissements, which were later to become prefectures after the end of the First Republic (cf. Condé 2003).  4. After Touré’s death in 1984 a phase commonly known as ‘transition’ started under the military government of Lansana Conté. Only in 1991 were political parties founded and elections held.  5. See also Chéneau-Loquay and Usselmann (1991), Richards (2008) and Sarró (1999).  6. Just as the Guinean Cultural Revolution had been inspired by and sometimes paralleled the Chinese Cultural Revolution to some extent, the agricultural efforts and failures can be compared to those of the Chinese Great Leap Forward, albeit with less catastrophic effects than, for example, the Chinese famine of 1959–1961 (cf. Li 2005; Lin and Yang 2000).  7. E.g.  8. ‘Nous préférons la pauvreté dans la dignité’, a famous quotation attributed to Sékou Touré on the occasion of de Gaulle’s visit before the referendum of independence in 1958.  9. Juan Gomez is the popular radio host of Appels sur l’actualité on Radio France International. 10. The English word ‘we’ has two Susu correspondents: ‘muxu’ excludes the addressees, whereas ‘won’ explicitly includes them. 11. ‘L’état – c’est moi, la justice, c’est moi’ is a famous quote by President Conté when he personally liberated his incarcerated friend and business partner Mamadou Sylla from Conakry’s main prison in 2007.

Chapter 6

Citizenship at the Margins Performing the Future State

After exploring a particular professional group’s links of ideology and identity to notions of state and their ways of producing and reproducing it, I will investigate the events and discussions held by other protagonists who have other (biographical) ties to state (and nation). The particular events took place after the national strikes that have just been described above. While everyday life has returned on a superficial level to what used to be normal, underlying insecurities, fears and high hopes remained. This added an air of desperation to some meetings and discussions in Forécariah. Just as public servants had been debating the issue of change within their ranks, so did others in Forécariah and the whole country. Debates on street corners or those aired on the radio made the word changement very prominent and sparked off local debates about what people could or should do to make Guinea work. Events from this period, such as the health minister’s visit to town, projects to collect the ‘local development tax’ and youth gatherings, will be linked to debates of citizenship preceding the strikes. Taken together, an ethnographic background is established as a means of discussing how people, both as individuals and collectively, see their role as citizens, are integrated into the state and the larger national community, or distance themselves from it and challenge or perpetuate local notions of marginality.

The Meaning of Taxation: Beyond the Developmental State In June 2007, four months after some personnel changes were made in the government and a change in the prefects was announced, the Minister of Health announced a visit to Forécariah. During an afternoon broadcasted on

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Figure 6.1  Public and UNICEF media record the visit of a malaria campaign. It was one of the few occasions of a cabinet member visiting (photo: A. Schroven).

Figure 6.2  Local youth performing a theatre skit on malaria symptoms (photo: A. Schroven).

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national TV, she publicly supported the UNICEF seasonal malaria prevention programme, which centred on the distribution of mosquito nets. With a large motorcade, the delegation of ministry officials, UNICEF staff, national television crew and other entourage arrived at the reception tent erected and decorated in front of the municipality. The mayor, council and elders awaited her for hours, surrounded by curious passers-by, children hoping for sweets and soldiers from the town’s barracks, who were supposed to secure public order. Once everyone settled into their designated seats, with the minister and her collaborators in the first row and UNICEF staff in the second, the programme began. A youth theatre group performed a skit on malaria while two women’s groups waved nets and certificates at the television and UNICEF video cameras. After many recorded speeches, the wife of the exiting prefect gave a short reception for the higher-ranking visitors at her home and the motorcade swiftly left town in order to arrive back at the capital before sunset. At first glance this event would seem to signify nothing truly extraordinary. Reports of such occasions fill the evening news with lengthy excerpts of speeches and – when on TV – images of impressive motorcades. White ministry vehicles, four-wheel drives with stickers of the particular programmes of the sponsoring agencies covered the awaiting crowd in a cloud of dust. Colourfully dressed officials stepped from air-conditioned vehicles to greet their hosts who had been waiting for them in the sun for hours. Speeches given on these occasions highlighted the successful cooperation between the government and donors, the importance of the programmes and the improved conditions for the Guinean people as a result. In Forécariah, the health minister emphasized her trust in decreasing child mortality related to malaria and the efforts the new government were taking in order to secure the international aid that UNICEF delivered in cooperation with the state. She then asked the local councils to ensure the delivery and use of the nets by civil society organizations and women’s associations. Most importantly, she linked the programme’s local implementation to the citizens’ desire and duty to pursue further development by changing their behaviour. The minister connected the establishment of local councils and their employment of the ‘local development tax’ to her liberal notion of decentralization as self-empowerment. The collection of taxes and their use in local development would contribute to the legitimization of the council itself and provide a learning process for citizens who would see their own investments rewarded, just as mosquito nets were the reward for the government’s efforts to liaise with international donors. The minister’s speech was reflected in the group of people seated under the tent. Ministry officials, donors, the mayor and her council colleagues were present, as well as the town elders, sub-prefects and the health ministry staff working at the prefectural level.1 They were the centre of attention, sitting in the shade and drinking cold drinks while other programme participants such as

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the women’s groups, the youth theatre and dancers stood in the sun. Curious passers-by lingered for a while but others, who were somehow associated with the elders or the municipality, felt compelled to stay in order to create a pleasing picture of the town population and ‘community’ to the visitors. One bystander, Ma Fofana, commented on her reasons for spending a large part of her day in the crowd: This is different to last time [visit of the minister for youth and sports in 2006]. It is a new government, a new minister. We are with the municipality, not the prefecture. This is all new. I am curious to see whether she does things differently to the previous visitors. So let’s stay and look and give ourselves a chance to get some more projects. (Interview, Forécariah, 14 June 2007) These comments hint at different reasons for participating in the performance of community. The earlier ministerial visit in 2006 had been poorly attended, despite the fact that the prefect had tried to mobilize the town population to attend. The visit itself took place as a placating effort by the old government to appease the population by sending out cabinet members to visit the prefectures and show an interest in the population, hear their voices and grievances after several rounds of national strikes. But people absented themselves. Only prefectural staff were present along with the town mayor and her council. People at the margins hold certain leverage which is expressed in manifold ways such as criticism of the national or local government, abstaining from fraudulent elections or absenting oneself from town meetings. ‘Abstaining means taking a stand’ (Fokwang 2016: 224). Ma Fofana was herself curious about the post-strike government and whether procedures would be handled differently by the minister and her entourage. The new location also seemed relevant to her. Receptions of this kind would previously have been held in front of the prefecture just across the road, but after the strike it was a symbol of the ‘old regime’ to be discarded and replaced just like the ministers, governors and prefects. The municipality appeared more up-to-date and more legitimate, as Ma Fofana’s daughter-in-law added: ‘We are here in a new space a new government in Conakry and new government in Forécariah’, referring to the municipality that was hosting the event and on whose grounds the reception was taking place. The building itself had been erected with UNDP emergency funds in response to the refugee crisis due to the Sierra Leonean civil war. Although the council had already been in existence for a decade, its legitimacy would seem to have been re-evaluated and reasserted in the context of recent events. The idea of presenting a large crowd was also relevant to Ma Fofana. A few days after the minister’s visit she asserted:

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I think it was a good crowd. That must have impressed the visitors. If we show unity to the outside, we will get more projects. It has always been like that, ever since Sékou [Touré]. People show up at the gatherings and the town is rewarded. If we want to have some change, we have to work together like that. (Interview, Forécariah, 17 June 2007) In these observations, the public performance of a crowd that showed collective unity and common interest were presented as sufficient grounds to ‘be rewarded’ with development projects by outside powers. But in the same instance Ma Fofana conveyed a sense of duty as part of the town’s population to do her share to bring about change – even if only by making the crowd larger for the minister to see and TV cameras to document. The efficient media use and performances of cooperation between the health minister, her staff, the donor organizations along with the national and local implementing partners reveals that the government uses international cooperation not only to increase its own visibility, but also to grant legitimacy to the project. This potentially surprising step is important as the government is widely rumoured to have expelled bilateral development organizations from the country during the refugee crisis of the 1990s. Approval is signalled by such public events, which is essential as it reflects back on the government as a key facilitator of public health, albeit not as the principal service provider itself. Through this detour it still manages to buy into the national project often viewed as the state providing welfare for its citizens. Such public performances blur the supposed lines between government members, state officials and international donors and therefore cast a shadow both on the efforts of development cooperation and on public service provision by the state. Both are precariously independent of tax contributions, as the Guinean government draws its main income from mineral exports. Therefore, public service delivery is not clearly linked to tax payment and can thus not encourage people to pay local development tax.

Paying Taxes To Be A Citizen Attempting to map the older neighbourhoods of Forécariah, we walked with two members of the Koutoumania neighbourhood council, who insisted that we did not have to ask people’s permission to include their family names in the neighbourhood map. They named the owners and some inhabitants of the houses and explain relationships with the founding fathers of the town and the first settlers of Koutoumania. Our small group quickly grew and we were soon accompanied by children and curious neighbours. Questions were quickly raised by a number of inhabitants: ‘Why are you noting all this down? Is this about the local tax? You won’t get to know how many of us live here!’ a woman called out from an enclosed courtyard. An elderly man later added: ‘If this is some state affair [affaire

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du pouvoir] I won’t say anything. I refuse. We now live in a democracy so the state can’t force me to do anything’. This fieldwork episode recalls some of the challenges state officials and NGO staff faced, in the description of Gupta and Sharma. They attempted to collect information on children’s health and household sizes but were faced with reluctance or non-cooperation by the population they set out to study. Names and household sizes were withheld so as to resist the state’s bio-governance efforts seen as part of neo-liberal governmentality (cf. Gupta and Sharma 2006: 288–89).2 The episode links to what Roitman called the ‘ambivalent grounds of the fiscal subject’, where different kinds of fiscal intervention in the form of taxes and fees become acceptable – or not – in very specific circumstances (Roitman 2005: 14). The angry reactions and the fear of there being some connection to tax collection show how that tax is perceived in contrast to market fees. Nana Touré, who had shouted out from her family’s courtyard during the mapping exercise in Koutoumania, explains during a later encounter on the market where she sells tomatoes: You were the woman with the taxes. Well, let me tell you: here I am paying my fees. Every day I have to pay for this little space on the market – sometimes I think it is not even worth the profit I make with my vegetables. But here is my receipt for today, you see? I know that it is necessary in order to keep order on the market. So it is just right that you pay a bit more for these tomatoes today to allow me to earn my market fee. (Interview, Forécariah, 27 September 2006) Nana Touré later pointed at other vendors, who were also discussing market fees. She smiled and said. ‘It’s just like buying tomatoes’. With this she implied that it was conventional, even expected, to debate the fee. While the development tax’s yield was intended to build a new market, which could be to her advantage, Nana Touré was not ready to pay for that: The local tax – that is only being eaten. I won’t pay, at least not for everyone in my family. We pay for some in the family, but not for all. Everyone does that. That’s why you could not come in the other day . . . I can see that we need the market tax because I can see people cleaning the floor and the officials keeping order and know the vendors’ association is negotiating with the municipality over fees – we in the association get a share of that money, too. We get a share and we see where things are going. With the local tax, it is a more nebulous affair. There is a lot of talk and a lot of eager eyes are looking for the [tax] income. And those eyes are not local, like the name of the tax says. That itself is not local – it

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comes from over there [indicating the general direction of Conakry] and it is intended for the people from there. Therefore it is politics. And that has no place in my home. That is why I pay the market fee and not the local tax. We have freedom now, so we can have our homes free of politics. (Interview, Forécariah, 15 November 2006) Spatial references and timing are important in this argumentation for and against fiscal intervention. Nana Touré explained that under the current regime, politics could be kept at bay and not allowed entry into people’s homes, not even in the form of taxes designed by the central government. By contrast, market fees appear more legitimate and not political but a simple necessity to keep the market functioning as a whole. Nana Touré clearly prioritizes direct local involvement over some abstract project where it is difficult to follow the money. At the same time, she did not object to a certain (acceptable) level of embezzlement of funds that may be taking place from time to time within the market women’s association as well as the market authorities themselves. Observing duties within the local context and opposing things that came from ‘elsewhere’, particularly from the national capital, appears to be relevant not only for Nana Touré but for many others in Forécariah as well. Tax is translated into Susu as duuti, a reference to English as an important source of loan words. Duuti entails traces of colonial and post-colonial forced labour, something owed to official authority which already obviously existed in different forms before colonization. Nevertheless, duuti has come to signal the intrusion of power, or ‘the political’ as Nana Touré puts it, into the homes and lives of Guineans. Taxes and fees may adapt over time: while the pre-colonial powers required labour, rice and wood, colonial power changed over time to demand money and labour. This to some extent changed ‘back to rice’ during the socialist regime, as the elder Tarawalli recalled. Today, tax has to be collected in the form of money again, based on the adult members of the family. The so-called ‘local development tax’ is the only tax effectively collected in parts of rural Guinea. In 2007, GNF 5,000 (about US$ 0.50) had to be paid per person between the ages of 18 and 60. In 2017, this reached GNF 10,000. Usually the heads of each family are required to pay for all the members of their family. As the collection is led by the chef du quartier or district chief (sub-division of the sub-prefecture), people know each other personally and can negotiate their payments. Nevertheless, tax collection is commonly identified as an intrusion into the family home. As Nana Touré explained: ‘We have freedom now, so we can have our homes free of politics!’; just like with the end of the First Republic and the advent of this ‘freedom’, expectations emerged of having no ‘political’ infringement into people’s private lives. Not paying local development tax – or paying less thereof – does, however, fall under Nana Touré’s sense of duty, of keeping her family and home free of politics.

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Perspectives recorded in hamlets around Forécariah town support this notion. The state is experienced in terms of strong interventions and infringements, whether in the form of policemen who come to arrest people or tax collectors who come with the district chief to collect the yearly tax. This consequently represents politics that comes from the outside to infringe upon people’s lives and homes. For services, however, which people feel they are entitled to as citizens, they are the ones who have to go to the offices, medical centres or schools at the sub-prefecture and prefecture levels. A farmer from Saourou commented on this rather cynically: If we only had to go to Farmoreah [sub-prefecture centre] to get what we need, that would be good. But no, they come to us and bother us. They only come and take, never come and give. They want tax, then they want votes, then they want men to do some manual work for NGO [projects] and say it is our duty as Guineans . . . We would be happy if we could just go there when we needed something, which is rare as they do not really do anything for us . . . We could pay taxes, but why should we? If we need something then we don’t get it. If they need something they take it. (Interview, Saourou, 2 December 2006) While who ‘they’ are was never specified in the interview, it is commonly used to indicate le pouvoir or the referential political authority. Again, this expresses the perspective that taxes are seen as an infringement on people and that state services are not available in return. Linking public service delivery and tax avoidance shows that people are highly aware of the ideological interconnections between state services and citizens’ tax payments. As the interview excerpt shows, some even wish to oppose state incursions without denying citizenship rights or duties. It is these citizenship rights and duties that were assumed not to be well known in the ‘Development Pole’ project discussed in the previous chapter. While the situation for the Saourou farmer appears quite clear, elected councillors and elders receive training initiated by the prefect and a NGO. The point of view conveyed encourages people to be good citizens by contributing to development and thus paying taxes as part of their belonging to the state. Outside the workshop, elders and indeed people elsewhere react with great hesitation as experience shows them that the revenue would most likely be channelled towards other goals. During the months after the strike, when change was high on the agenda of public discussions, many comments were made about the value of citizenship and the way to start living up to its meaning: by paying taxes. Discussions usually ended with laughter, with people accusing each other of not paying their full dues or not paying at all. The same people contemplate the normative value of tax payment as citizens’ contribution to the central state. It is, however, exactly the

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link to the central state that constitutes the problem in tax payment. People associate la politique with that aspect of the state. Insisting on the localized version of governance in form of elected councils, as the health minister and the prefect wish to emphasize in their respective arenas, does not make people more inclined to pay, even if they see themselves as good citizens or aim to behave as such. For students of institutions, connections between taxes and politics could not be clearer. Schumpeter, a classic source on taxation and European states, clarifies: ‘Taxes not only helped to create the state. They helped to form it. The tax system was the organ the development of which entailed the other organs . . . The tax brings money and calculating spirit . . . and thus becomes a formative factor in the very organism which has developed it’ (Schumpeter 1991: 108). Taxes form part of the nation-state’s administrative system. At the same time they are direct interventions into people’s lives on the part of the state, making the ‘fiscal subject’ indeed an ambiguous one, as Roitman (2005) pointed out. Taxes are also part of the citizens’ link to the state, even if they refuse to pay them. As shown in the discussions in Forécariah, even the idea of taxes is linked directly to citizenship and belonging to a state as an abstract entity imposing them on its citizens. In this sense, citizens are enacting Scott’s notion of high modernity (Scott 1998) in their discussions of taxes and their daily negotiations of tax payment and what it means to be a good citizen.

Performing Youth and Perturbing Gerontocracy Young people, in many parts of the world, do not represent a group constituted by age but by social characteristics. While individuals may be over eighteen and therefore regarded as legally adult, they do not necessarily attain social adulthood until much later. Social adulthood is often associated with marriage, parenthood and a degree of economic independence, as well as connections to important elders in the community (Cruise O’Brien 1996; Murphy 1980; Nyerges 1997).3 In Forécariah’s political arena, young women and men are largely invisible, often even if they are over forty and have their own households and nuclear families, but do not have economic or personalized network capital they could use to establish themselves in the arena. The complex definition of ‘youth’ can be clarified using two local examples. Barry, an economically successful, self-employed man of about forty-six years with two wives and twelve children is a member of this vast group. Don Mik Touré, on the other hand, in his fifties with two wives and eleven children, and economically fully dependent on his successful younger brothers in Conakry, is not considered to be part of this category. He has the advantage of being descended from the local landlord family, and is thus both a first-comer and a representative of his larger family’s interests. Barry is an ethnic Peul and a latecomer as he migrated to Forécariah in his twenties. For him to participate in the

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larger political arena, the ‘youth’ remains the only access point because he will remain a social ‘youth’ his entire life, even though he has an arena where he was a ‘relative elder’: upon his arrival in town some twenty years ago he sponsored ‘younger brothers’ to follow him and trade with Futa Jalon and Basse Côte, considerably enlarging the Peul community in Forécariah as well as the number of traders in the area in the process. With their endogamous marriage preferences (Furth 2005; N’Diade 1999), the local Peul community grew considerably as wives and younger siblings followed from Futa Jalon, making Barry a prominent figure among them. It is there that he draws personal satisfaction from the respect he feels is appropriately given to him, as a namesake and therefore descendant of one of the theocratic Futa ruling families. Barry bases his entitlement to full participation in the political arena, instead of being a marginal figure, on this family background. He can employ joking relationships in a very skilful manner and thereby insinuate his ancestry, adding to his claim to be regarded as a social ‘adult’ in the political arena. A chance to participate in the political arena presented itself after the national strikes of 2007, in an atmosphere in which change was debated widely.

National Youth Forum in Forécariah Several months after the national strikes in early 2007, emissaries of Conakry-based initiatives travelled throughout Guinea to create networks of ­prefecture-based associations. Members were recruited from professional groups, unions and human rights’ groups. In July 2007, two young men arrived in Forécariah to create a ‘youth antenna’, a gathering of youth who could represent that section of the population with local state representatives and at the same time form a base of correspondents and cooperation partners for future projects. Locally, it was not transparent or well understood how and why a particular group of people started this initiative and what their legitimacy was to claim to represent the nation’s youth vis-à-vis the government and foreign parties. The two introduced themselves enthusiastically nonetheless and soon had an audience ready to listen to them. They introduced themselves as university graduates who experienced the national strikes with their friends in Conakry and were struck by the realization that civil society, taking part in the negotiations after the January strike, did not have a real youth wing: Old people represent us there, us the young who are the majority of the population and the future of the country. We don’t have a voice in the discussions over the future of the country – yet it is us dying for change on the streets. This has to change. If we really want change, the youth has to take part . . . This is a historical moment, we are the majority, we have the energy and we are not yet sullied by politics! (Forécariah, 18 July 2007)

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Upon hearing this passionate proposal, doubtful voices emerged from the audience: why were they the ones who came to Forécariah and not local students known in town? Taken aback, the elder explained plainly that they spoke Susu and could thus cover the coastal region, as it was vital to address people in their mother tongue. Still others would be travelling to other regions of the country where they speak the languages. He quickly added that he did not want to give the impression of regionalism, as they had envisioned a true countrywide campaign to ensure full national youth backing for the Conakry group to help propel it to the negotiation tables of civil society, unions and political parties. They in turn would no longer be able to use the youth only to swell their ranks for demonstrations but would have to take them seriously. These meetings were held in the municipal hall and not in the youth house that, for decades, was considered the ‘natural home’ for young people’s activities. Being located in a newer part of town, just at the edge of Fataco 2 and Tatagui 2 (see Map 1.1), the youth house did not seem particularly attractive to the organizers. It is removed from the political space of the town and prefecture, which is concentrated at the colonial centre. Once a special claim has been made in a performance ritual, it has to be performed again there to reaffirm the ‘correct spatiality’ and make a mark on the ‘political geography’ (Pina-Cabral 1986). By locating the meeting in the municipal hall at the administrative centre of town, the organizers proclaimed their intention to participate in political life as adults. The youth centre is today used as a venue for (rare) entertainment events and still bears the name that it did during the First Republic. It was therefore deemed inappropriate for the intended purpose of the meeting. Other possible gathering places included the town’s two cinemas, which in fact rarely showed movies but instead had achieved a political branding through the hosting of events. One had hosted a meeting of the president’s party (PUP) and the other had been a venue for the trade union gatherings that take place sporadically. A third, albeit theoretical, option would have been the prefecture itself, yet it was considered too close to the president (with the prefect being his direct representative) and also too close to the top-down political practices that were characteristic for the Second Republic. While the municipality was clearly the junior partner to the prefecture in town, it nevertheless symbolized popular participation in politics through elections. This was indeed the aim of the youth meetings: claiming political participation and enabling the youth to be legitimately represented.

An Imam and a Sultan By holding the meeting of the prefectural youth ‘antenna’ in the town hall, this countrywide activity was firmly planted in the political landscape of Forécariah. This localization became even stronger when, on the second day, Imam Touré attended the meeting. He was then the third imam of the main mosque and a nephew of town elder To Almamy. Around forty years old, he was also the

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youngest imam in the area. People commented that he was someone who actually took his vocation as a communal leader seriously as opposed to the young men of his descent who merely enjoyed their privileges but did not accept the political responsibility they were supposed to have. He was said to have had a wild youth in Conakry before coming back and repenting. After a (religious) cleansing ceremony he studied the Quran to become an imam and also a sultan, a religious leader and moral watchdog of the community. In Forécariah this used to be symbolized by the wearing of a green turban.4 Today this headwear is not fashionable for daily use but can be seen during tabaski and similar festivities celebrated in town. Imam Touré usually wears a green or green-embroidered prayer cap. While on the first day the meeting was attended by people who had heard about it by word-of-mouth or radio trottoir, on the second day Imam Touré dismissed some of the people present by questioning them: ‘What is your interest here? Are you sure this is what you should be doing?’ Tension filled the room and some rather vocal participants from the previous day walked out. Organizers and emissaries did not oppose or say anything but followed Imam Touré’s proceedings very closely. Some people were allowed to stay, while others left after Imam Touré’s investigation. With his mere presence and later interventions, Imam Touré clearly pulled a meeting intended for national networking firmly back into the context of local politics, performing a moral and historical authority that is characteristic to the locale and understood by all participants. As introduced in the second chapter above, the Tourés, as the founding family, as landlords and as guarantors of the Islamic faith, are a highly prominent family in the local arena. Islam was also used as an instrument for modernization following independence and has therefore been closely tied to the First Republic. Even today, although Guinea is officially a secular republic, Islam remains the government-supported religion. This support is extended through stipends to imams, channelled through a ministry-level secretariat of Islamic affairs. Within the context of the national strikes of 2006 and 2007, but even during earlier turbulent times, imams were suspected of having been co-opted by the government to impart messages of calm and faith in higher (spiritual and secular) authorities. Similar to many other countries, friday prayers were used to pray for the president’s recovery when his ailing health became public on various occasions in 2006. Just the same, the prefect of Forécariah paid all the imams of the prefecture’s main mosques during January 2007 to avert a popular uprising and asked people to have faith in the negotiations taking place in the capital (Forécariah, 5 February 2007). While this strategy was deplored by some, others acknowledged particular imams as being on the payroll of ‘the authorities’. Imams throughout the whole country, including Imam Touré in Forécariah, came to be seen not just as religious leaders but as government representatives since the inception of the independent state

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of Guinea – and therefore not potential allies of a youth claiming its voice in an atmosphere of political change. In the short-lived spirit of socio-political change, however, claiming political space for the youth was seen as vital for Guinea’s future. The very person and performance of Imam Touré introduced Morianais notions of authority into this new body, as well as the legacy of imams to be representatives of the post-independent state in Guinea. While Imam Touré was not formally elected to a position of the prefectural youth association, he nevertheless, by his mere presence, presided over the nominations and elections of youth representatives and brought old notions of authority into this presumably new political body. However, in the very same instance, he also reintroduced the concept of the sultan into this new context. As the grandson of possibly the last known sultan in Forécariah, he linked the idea of youth as a political actor back to its historic (religious) origins, something that could enable this ambitious political body to find a stable place in the local arena. With the presence of Imam Touré, the youth meeting as a whole attained a polyvalent character as references from different political eras were brought together, signifying multiple meanings at a critical moment for potential political change. By sending Imam Touré to the meeting, the community elders fulfilled their responsibility of presenting their version of the local arena, while not pressing for their individual place in it.

Generic Youth? Internal Differentiations of Sex and Class In the above description, the youth are treated as a homogenous entity. This becomes particularly evident when regarding the treatment of women. While the general discourse on youth after the strike addressed questions of participation in politics, questions of gender were evaded. The situation of women in Guinea and their role in politics were not discussed much. This at first glance seemed surprising as one of the two leading persons on the side of the trade unions is a woman. Hadja Rabiatou Séra Diallo became an international heroine when she led national demonstrations and was later president of the interim parliament from 2010 to 2013. In Forécariah, the arrest of Hadja Diallo in early 2007 brought about memories of women’s strikes against economic policy during the First Republic – the so-called bread strikes of 1977 – and of mothers’ demonstrations after the killing of hundreds of high school students in the June 2006 strikes, all emphasizing the power women could achieve once involved in politics. These historic episodes remain in the collective mind just as NGOs are calling for equal rights and equal participation for women. Thus, when no women were present for the first day of the prefectural youth meeting, the requirement to involve women was introduced. The following day two women were present, although they openly commented that they had to be persuaded to

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come and attend. When elections were announced for key positions, both had to be persuaded again to be candidates. Trying to resist their candidacy, they commented that they did not have the experience, time or intention to fulfil their potential obligations. They were the only candidates for the positions (women’s and family affairs) and so were elected, thus satisfying the idea of women’s participation in politics and helping to create change through the performance of political youth. The national youth forum was clearly aiming at contemporary discourses of civic rights and responsibilities, the language of civil society, development NGOs and young university-educated elite. While a few participants in Forécariah actually had a university education or were working with NGOs, most could not boast of such backgrounds. Some were teachers, taxi drivers or occasional workers, living off extended family incomes. Introducing a women’s quota reveals how NGO-literate the group of young people was. Having women in their ranks was not merely a requirement to be fulfilled but also an act of modernity: the atmosphere of change after the national strikes was expected to propel development, rights and the advent of modernity. Part of this would be the greater visibility and participation of women – even if they were hesitant to take on that task. Notions of modernity present during the discussions also addressed the state. While the primary question dealt with the general visibility of young people in politics, the real issue addressed the state: who would and should have access to it after the envisioned democratic transition? Older generations and established political bodies had been discredited and something new was being called for. While the demand for something new from within the country’s youth was not novel, their vocabulary and performance certainly were. The words, procedures of elections, ideas of political representation and legitimacy were attuned with those international debates that had filtered through NGO workshops and radio debates, while notions of youth as an engine for change were not yet widely accepted among the Guinean public. As Straker emphasized in his study on the Forest Region, the observation of and engagement with these diverse discourses will shape communities’ futures as the youth engages and makes sense of them in their own ways (Straker 2007: 316).

Local Productions of the State In the space of the political, people have the opportunity to make some sense of that elusive presence, the state, not least as a source of social hope and social disappointment. (Spencer 2007: 95) People in Forécariah performed the state – and the nation – at various occasions during the turbulent years of 2006 and 2007, a period that was filled with

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violence and public insecurity, but which was just a precursor for the political upheavals that would follow the death of Lansana Conté in December 2008 – a period now remembered to have been filled with even more insecurity and the fear of military intervention. In various contexts, people relate to the political context that, due to its abstract character, ‘grants them space’ to perform their realities, understandings and visions of the state and nation, of power relations and of citizenship. The stage for this performance may be set by past experiences. Memories of first-comers, migration, colonial rule and independence are relevant to the formation of this stage, as are vocabulary and identity concepts that have lingered from the First Republic and contemporary international discourses on democracy and citizenship. The events presented above can be regarded as performances on stages, practices that are both part of everyday life and yet in the process of becoming something extraordinary. Therefore, their reference systems strongly ‘intersect temporarily and borrow from each other’ (Strauss and Cruise O’Brien 2007: 3). It is these intersections and borrowings that firmly ground performances in the local context. While references may be used that insinuate national, regional or global origins, the stage and its historic context are always local. It is this combination that enables people to make links and situate themselves into a national context or isolate Forécariah from it by emphasizing locality and, implicitly, marginality. As other ethnographies have shown (Lowenhaupt Tsing 1993; Piot 1999), notions of the global and local become enmeshed when we consider the politics enacted in the local arena. Local does not only refer to geography but also whether external ideas and notions link up with people who happen to be in one particular place. In this chapter, questions of integration and distancing from the state have been discussed. The first part addressed a particular professional group, that of the public servants, and their ties to the state and nation over time and during a particular moment of crisis. The fact that fonctionnaires in Forécariah performed the state with reference to a professional past while contesting the government at the same time reveals how difficult it actually is to grasp the state’s ‘elusive presence’ (Spencer 2007: 95). At the same time, their performances reveal the power of imagination and memory in the practice of state, which can indeed be turned against a government which is supposedly the main manifestation of the state. The public servants’ part in state performance is contrasted with that of other people who perform citizenship by discussing taxes and the participation of youth. As they are all in Forécariah, their collective performances of the state recreate it based on different phases of history that are part of individual and collective memory. As debates over citizenship, taxes and a national youth network reveal, the state has become a site of moral demands and aspirations for the future. This brings the state into the local arena as much as it projects it onto the national

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level. In the capital, these demands and aspirations are projected against le pouvoir – the powers that be, embodied by the national government, the army and the public service. It is these projections and demands that integrate the actors in Forécariah into the larger Guinean state while also maintaining their self-perception as marginal, revealing their ‘quite effective agency’ (Ortner 1997). While Morianais are part of the state by embodying it, they also portray themselves as distant from it, as opposed to it, as not accepting it in the current form they find it in. They refuse citizenship of that state, but demand citizenship of a different one, or, in other words: ‘Marginals stand outside the state by tying themselves to it; they constitute the state locally by fleeing from it. As culturally “different” subjects they can never be citizens; as culturally different “subjects” they can never escape citizenship’ (Lowenhaupt Tsing 1993: 26). National strikes as manifestations of discord between the state idea and actual state, not unlike the hopeful enactment of change by youth associations, are powerful reminders that people may have been living under certain circumstances but they do know that they want a change and fashion this from past memories and information gathered from various sources. These strikes may not lead to actual or fundamental changes, as has become evident in the events since 2007. The more pertinent point here is that change does not necessarily aim to bring about something new. The discourses presented here show that the past is an important source for claims for the future that passes through complex identity work on the part of all the actors involved. This identity work is linked to the locality and its complex history which includes as a key element the notion of marginality. In the events above, Moria and its population seem to be oscillating between a central point at the heart of the state and its remote margins, depending on the situation and the concerned people’s sense-making processes. This self-defined marginality serves as a shield against over-stretching state agents that sometimes nevertheless manage to directly intervene in the locale, trying to bring people back, closer to the centre of state power.

Notes 1. The prefect himself was absent. The news that there would soon be new governors and prefects in Guinea found him in the middle of a study trip to the United States, sponsored by an international NGO. He was still travelling when the ministerial visit occurred. 2. See also Foucault (1991), Lewis and Mosse (2006) and Rottenburg (2009). 3. For an in-depth discussion of circumstantial youth, see King (2010) on youth associations in Freetown and Philipps (2013) on youth gangs in Conakry. Engeler (2012) presents an in-depth case study on youth and state-making in the Forest Region of Guinea. 4. Oral tradition and archival material (APF) report that prominent members of the founding family became ‘sultans’ after turning to a pious life. Almamy Babara, Imam Touré’s

Citizenship at the Margins  189 grandfather, for example donned the title of ‘sultan’ and forged a fellowship among young people in Forécariah, which supported him throughout his period as town chief. In the French colonial files this period is described as troublesome and the chief as ‘arrogant and problematic’. Almamy Babara’s public support made him immune to the French attempts to demote him.


Conclusion Liberties at the Margins Playing the Game

Let us recall To Almamy’s opening words on the Morianais: ‘We were the centre of regional politics and commerce . . . now we are marginal . . . Being marginal means we are powerless and we do not have influence on the state’. His exemplary claim of the Morianais being marginal has been the starting point to investigate identity and integration strategies in contemporary Guinean society. Marginality speaks to the people’s collective self-representation and their referencing of regional history. This representation as marginal has been revealed as highly strategic. It is a rhetorical process, an act of self-preservation in the light of the Guinean state’s manifold advances into the rural settings and towards a population that has for a long time been neglected. The performance of marginality is the key to understanding how local elites relate to the outside and how this fundamental relationship constitutes the local arena that other contemporary actors find themselves in. It is a highly flexible setting in which identities as political strategies can be spun, attacked, manifested and foregrounded. This is sometimes so elegantly and joyfully done that it could be called a game. Memories of historic migration processes, colonization and the foundation of the independent Republic of Guinea constitute the social landscape of Forécariah and form integral parts of the regional identity as well as the inter-ethnic relationships in the region. Recent governance reforms and national strikes have been discussed in light of the identification processes as citizens, as political actors and as members of a historically grown regional identity. Oral tradition interweaves ethnic Malinké heritage, conservative Islam and landlord status to form a regional identity of Morianais that was restricted from the outset to descendants of particular families, while serving, however, as an integrative

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identity for newcomers and mediating local interethnic relations and the contemporary negotiations of the landlord-stranger status. To be Morianais does not run counter to today’s ethnic identification as Susu and national identification as Guinean, but adds a particular historically localized dimension. This can be employed in times of crisis, as attested by events transmitted by oral tradition and employed as a rhetorical figure in contemporary cases of national and regional conflict, separating Forécariah from its wider surroundings by employing the historically evolved social landscape. In exploring the social landscape of Forécariah as a political arena, ideas of continuity and change in the realm of a government-led democratic decentralization programme have been analysed. In a local spin-off, the prefecture initiated a development project, regrouping the CRDs into ‘development poles’. Taking older governance institutions in rural Guinea into consideration, actors negotiate changes and accommodate the new elements introduced in the process of decentralization and particularly in the context of the development poles. NGO staff and government representatives have embarked on business activities and produced a new ‘project society’ which offers new forms of legitimacy for local elders, elected councillors and political entrepreneurs who gain recognition and economic benefits through workshopping. Village elders appropriate changing arguments of legitimacy and navigate their way through institutional pluralism by creatively combining institutions and connecting them with oral tradition, which grants authority to certain actors. A second theme of the decentralization complex is popular participation. Transported into the local arena by international discourses of development and democratization, participation itself is a matter for debate with regard to language choices during meetings and in other forms, such as the value of elections in general or direct representation of districts in CRD councils. On a different level, (self-)development has been based on popular participation and solidarity. The latter is supposedly generated in the ‘development pole’ project by historic cohesion and shared history – neglecting the fact that it is exactly this history that provides for internal hierarchies and handed-down conflicts. While a previous regional identity might facilitate cooperation in some poles, in Moria the very same history and associated hierarchies inhibit it. These processes of government reform show how participation doctrines lead to an intricate integration of the population into the state – a population that in many contexts perceives itself as marginal. Performances of state in everyday life, by public servants or at moments of national-level political crisis, shed a different light on these integration processes. The situation of the public servants highlighted the fact that people indeed share biographies and thereby histories with the state. In this particular case it is the professional connection that gives this group a particular relationship to and a sense of responsibility for the Guinean nation-state. Furthermore, citizens as

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taxpayers and young people as future political entrepreneurs also make references to a shared biography, the strongest constituting moment of which is the First Republic. Historic, pre-colonial protagonists pushed for change in the name of the youth and socialist notions of popular mobilization to ‘perform community’ for potentially resourceful outsiders. These performances were analysed in their contemporary context of hoping for change and with references to the state, as they were employed during these moments. As most of these references stem from the independence period and the First Republic, it is this period that is constitutive of the people’s understanding of state – an idealized notion that can mobilize people as a revolutionary nation, and which can be performed in opposition to the current government. Thus, during the 2007 national strike, older notions of the state were being performed in a contemporary context and in a non-synchronous fashion. While institutional elements and memories of the First Republic help to constitute the local arena, the strikes culminated in moments when explicit and tangible change was being demanded, pitching population groups against their respective elites. During the strikes, people were not only performing their historic vision of a better state in opposition to the contemporary ailing one, but in the hopeful atmosphere following these events they also performed ‘their’ vision of the state in opposition to the local elites, who resisted change in order to perpetuate their own power – processes that took place precisely at the margins of the state, where identities of landlords, first-comers and elders can be played out differently than in localities of the centre.

Integration through Marginality The descendants of (pre-)colonial chiefs have negotiated interventions, such as the democratic decentralization programme, that aim to alter power relations by integrating the politically highly charged concept of modernization into the logics of landlord-stranger relations. These are perpetuated in everyday life and are therefore legitimate by dint of the intricate interdependencies of ethnic identities to the inclusion of religious identities, constituting implicit social hierarchies. The local history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries lays the foundations here for legitimate avenues for the negotiation of access to power in the local arena. Deciding who can perform spirit expulsions is just as relevant as the realignment of CRD and district borders during the establishment of self-governing bodies or the correctly traced ancestry of newly elected councillors and the town mayor. By emphasizing their historical-turned-regional identity of being Morianais, actors manage to perpetuate localized social relations and balances of power over time. It is a process of self-marginalization that has taken place in response to many outside influences and efforts to preserve privileges amongst local elites. At the same time, it enabled a strategic denial of responsibility for the lack of economic

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prosperity, based on references to past riches whose sources had been anchored in regional trade and later destroyed by outside forces: first the French colonial and then the centralized Guinean state in its varying forms of territorial administration, economic and political interventions. Some of these could be incorporated or accommodated, while others were averted. This discourse of marginality thus involves turning against some of the outside influences and retreating into the social landscape of Moria. At the same time, it is this symbolic retreat that also allows for the integration into the state, making the social space of Moria oscillate between the central government and the marginal position at the border. Contemporary rural elites managed to challenge recent history by appropriating the process of democratic decentralization for themselves. After having perpetuated their leadership positions throughout the period of French colonial rule, these families were exposed to demystification campaigns in the 1950s and the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. Nevertheless, they kept their landlord titles and other leadership positions in the Guinean countryside. Although democratic decentralization is intended to open local self-governance to the general public, these actors managed to appropriate it for themselves. Merged with notions of direct representation inherited from the socialist era, elders-turned-councillors dominate rural self-governing bodies today. Debates on legitimate decision-­ making processes reveal how different notions of legitimacy are discussed in order to establish and maintain the authority of councillors and elders. These instances show how, through their actions in the local arena, actors perpetuate the legitimacy of oral tradition. In the process, they create authenticity in their social world and construct the landscape they inhabit. Such action, as known from performance studies, must be repeated in order to attain common recognition and become authoritative. Once this has been achieved, any activity employing similar notions will reify the authenticity of the authority implied in the performance and the very actors themselves. This speaks of an intricate interplay between oral tradition and contemporary authority, between structures of the local arena and actors’ agency, which shows how social relations and thus institutions can be transported throughout time and adjusted to new circumstances. Other, non-local elites such as NGO staff, government representatives and public servants also participate in the local arena. They perform the state in the local arena with reference to their respective institutions’ pasts. Their references are very different, as are the spaces they invoke. Creating these historical links, these actors help to create the state in its very particular local version. NGO staff and government representatives employ the vocabulary of international discourse on democratic governance and participate in top-down decision-making practices that link the local arena directly to the state. In their efforts to promote local self-development in the form of development poles, these actors merge ideas of a socialist-inspired modernizing state with contemporary notions of

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self-development. In an extension of the First Republic, government representatives as well as public servants (and NGOs) have been gaining legitimacy today by embarking on the establishment of a developmentalist state. They can thus employ figurations in the sense of power relations that have been long-standing and have therefore turned into resources for power themselves. History is employed in another way to gain legitimacy: identifying the historic delimitations of pre-colonial principalities and colonial cantons within the social landscape of Forécariah prefecture, these actors insinuate democratic decentralization to enable the solidarity and thus the spirit of development among the rural population. Material from this project presented in chapter three shows how it is quickly drawn into the local arena in ways other than those anticipated. Particular language use at workshops and the problematization of regional history in various contexts reveal how elected councillors and NGO staff members make sense of democratic decentralization at large, incorporating it into the social landscape of Forécariah. With these practices, the state has become much more present in the social landscape than was previously the case. Before, governance had been attributed to central government offices in Conakry and by extension to their representatives at the prefectural and sub-prefectural levels. Participating in governance brings the state as an idea and as an abstract notion of political organization much closer to the local arena and therefore closer to the social landscape the different actors in Forécariah inhabit. Historical elements from previous political systems are established parts of the local arena and have become figurations, thus presenting resources to negotiate access to power chances themselves. It is within this context that new actors and legitimacies can be integrated. These may include elected councillors who are not village elders, just as new public servants who are village-based. They are the new ‘men in the middle’ who have not (yet) been fully integrated into the social landscape but already participate in performing figurations, in this case the modernizing-turned-developmentalist state.

The Game: Perpetuating Continuities through Change This perspective on the Guinean state is not the only one possible. Throughout the different chapters the state is shown not as a cohesive and unitary agent but rather in manifold manifestations and actions that employ national, but also regional and local references. Many events portrayed here took place in a particular atmosphere of hope for change: change in the political system that would ideally improve everyday life for the wider population. Chapters five and six emphasize the fact that public servants and other groups have used the post-­ independence period of the 1960s and 1970s as a reference for their identity, their political performances and in opposition to the contemporary government.

Conclusion  195

The idealized version of the First Republic, with its socialist connotations, is directly linked to the mass mobilization of the Guinean population, an idea of the nation-state that depends on popular participation – albeit under different terms. The repeated mobilization of the Guinean population shows how they can perform the state in a non-synchronous fashion, as a memory of the past and a claim for the future. Within the context of the events debated above, it remains questionable how long being Morianais can provide a particular identity that can mediate conflict and tensions both internally and externally. As discussed at length, the historic Moria could protect the population of Forécariah from outside dangers. While the peaceful course of the 2007 strikes was locally interpreted in this light, it remains unclear how powerful this protection is in the face of increasing socio-economic and political tensions that play out in contemporary Guinea. The direct exposure to the Ebola virus and the ensuing intense outside interventions proved the area to be vulnerable in its infrastructural neglect and feeling of remoteness that should provide protection from harm. Hundreds of Morianais had to pay the price. Few profited from the ensuing NGO economy, gaining access to the coveted temporary jobs that the intervention offered locally. The military character of this intervention reinforces the local perception of a briefly engaged, violent and intrusive state that mostly does not bother its citizens, but at the same time does not give them a framework to improve their lives – a distant state most of the time. Heeding Nandy’s warning about intriguing processes of constructing continuity through historicization, it has become obvious that hope for change and the certainty that ‘There is no going back!’ have disappeared from public discourse – both in Forécariah and in Guinea. Looking back today, interlocutors emphasize their naïveté instead of disappointment considering how little ‘change’ actually followed the strike periods, under the military regime and later civilian rule of President Alpha Condé. Whether or not any change was effectuated in the local arena or at the national level will have to be seen in the coming years, just as whether the memories of these events will become part of oral tradition or fade into a broader picture of continuity. Returning to questions posed in the introduction, the self-representation of the Morianais as being marginal, together with the observation of their integration into the Guinean state in its broader, historic sense, has served as an abbreviation for various processes of (political) identification throughout the various chapters. Different expressions have been employed to describe these processes, such as the appropriation of the state in the local arena, the transformation of official rhetoric into oral (historic) continuities, and the integration of new actors into the landscape of Forécariah. The aforementioned retreat into the localized landscape is, at the same time, an instance of integration into the wider political landscape. By objecting to the central government, actors in the local arena

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recognize these state-related activities. Even with non-synchronous performances of state, these actors actually integrate themselves further into the Guinean nation-state while tying their identities to the margins of the state. All these conceptions foreground the ‘quite effective’ agency of local actors. Therefore, the overall strategy of self-marginalization cannot only be understood as acts of resistance or compliance but gives space to a creative imagination and performance of identities. These are rife with influences from national and international origins, but do not fundamentally change the local dynamics of intertwined historical, regional, ethnic, religious and national identities. They can thrive in the margins.


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A Abu-Lughod, Lila, 2, 158 agency, 14, 62, 72, 98–99, 105, 106, 116, 188, 193, 196 alkalies, 41–42, 45 almamies, 41–42, 45, 83, 148 Anderson, Benedict, 142–43 Arcin, André, 36, 37, 63, 65 Aretxaga, Begoña, 4, 146 autochthony, 52, 63–80, 90, 97, 130 authoritarianism, 10, 23 B Baga, 64, 66, 69, 70, 87 Bakhtin, Mikhail, 34, 62–63, 144, 153 Barth, Fredrik, 15, 59–60, 62 Basse Côte, 11, 12, 23, 35, 45, 60, 63, 65, 66, 86, 87, 182 belonging regional belonging, 59, 60, 63–66, 81, 112, 166, 180, 181 Benna, 27, 36, 70, 81, 107, 109 Berliner, David, 52, 60, 74 Bloc Africain de Guinée (BAG), 44–45, 148–49 boundaries, 15, 22–23, 41–43, 59–60, 62–63, 71–72, 78, 106, 107, 109, 123–24, 129, 130, 139, 152

C Camara, Dadis (President), 18–19, 54 canton, 41–42, 44, 46, 64, 103, 105, 109, 148, 194 cercle, 26, 41–42, 101, 109 Cercle de Forécariah, 40, 41, 42, 44, 46, 66 change, changement, 8–14, 18, 21–22, 32, 39, 41–43, 63, 93, 94–96, 101–106, 111, 133–39, 146–47, 149–52, 160–61, 165–66, 169–70, 173, 177, 182, 185–86, 191–92, 194–96 chieftaincy, 7, 43–44, 46, 97, 98, 148–49 citizenship, 2, 18, 22, 78, 94, 112, 119, 127, 141, 143–45, 173–89 socialist citizen, 7 colonialism, 1, 5, 8, 10, 65, 67, 138 colonial rule (french), 1, 5, 39, 43, 45, 94, 98, 106, 148, 187, 193 decolonization, 155 Communauté rurale (CR), 91n8 Communauté rurale de développement (CRD), 78–79, 102–104, 107, 109–11, 115–18, 119–20, 129–36, 191 Communes urbaines (CU), 102–103, 130 community, moral, 10, 117–18, 136 Condé, Alpha (President), 19, 76, 167, 195

214  Index Confédération nationale des travailleurs de Guinée (CNTG), 160 conflict, 10–13, 34, 45–46, 57, 61, 81, 86, 103, 104, 131–33, 164, 191, 195 Conseil administratif préfectoral (CAP), 107, 115–16, 118, 121, 137 constructivism, 14, 70–71, 104, 107, 110, 128, 137, 143–44, 168–69, 171, 195 Conté, Lansana (President), 8–10, 18–19, 46, 48–50, 58, 75, 77, 84, 96, 122, 142–43, 149, 158, 166–68, 184, 187 corruption, 3, 10, 18, 50, 106, 112, 122, 125, 155, 160, 164 councillors, 22, 46, 65, 93, 96, 99, 103, 105, 110, 112–14, 117, 119–32, 134–39, 145, 168, 180, 191–94 credit scheme (women’s), 86–87 D decentralization, 2, 4, 21–22, 80, 93–101, 103–104, 106–14, 117–18, 119–20, 123, 125–28, 130, 132, 135–39, 175, 191, 192–94 deconcentration, 94, 97, 98, 103. See also decentralization democratization, 4, 10, 96, 98–99, 112, 191 demystification, 6–7, 10, 104, 193 descent, 35, 59, 69, 78, 82, 104, 124, 184 development, 2, 4–5, 8, 11, 20–23, 30, 37, 40, 59, 72, 79, 86, 94–100, 103, 107–11, 114, 115–18, 119–20, 122–23, 125–27, 129, 137, 139, 143–46, 159, 163, 173–81, 186, 191, 193–94 developmentalism, 23, 42, 194 dictatorship, 4, 151 discourse, 2, 4, 7, 12–15, 18, 21, 22, 31, 42, 55, 60, 89, 93–96, 99, 102, 109, 111–12, 153, 160, 163–70, 185–88, 191, 193, 195 E Ebola, 11, 20, 43, 54, 57nn6–7, 92, 128, 154, 195 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), 20 economy, 9–10, 19–20, 48, 87, 157–58, 195 plantation economy, 39, 40, 45, 47–48, 151

eid al-adha, 72, 73–74, 159. See also tabaski Elias, Norbert, 95, 107, 130, 144 elite(s), 1–3, 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, 17, 23, 32, 37, 41, 43, 45, 47, 51, 60–61, 86, 92, 98, 110–13, 154, 138, 161, 171, 186, 190, 192–93 entrepreneurs, 13, 60, 122–27, 138, 139, 144, 191–92 Eriksen, Thomas Hylland, 63, 71 ethnicity, 2, 21, 57, 59–60, 63–65, 68, 71, 82, 86, 89, 158 ethnic conflict, 11 ethnic group(s), 6–7, 11–13, 18, 37, 46, 58–60, 63, 65–67, 69, 81–86, 89, 155 ethnic militias, 18 ethnicization, 58, 86 exclusion, 13 F Ferguson, James, 3, 10, 13–14, 88, 99–100, 121, 139, 145 figuration(s), 95, 107, 130, 138, 144, 194 firstcomer, 89 First Republic, 27, 68, 101, 113, 124, 126, 157, 163, 165–66, 168, 179, 183–85, 187, 192, 194, 195 Fokwang, Jude, 2, 176 fonctionnaires, 147, 155–56, 160–66, 168–71, 187 forum-shopping, 130–36 Freetown, 25, 31, 37–38, 76, 88 Futa Jalon, 11, 25–26, 31, 34, 36–38, 40, 45, 76, 182 G governance, 4, 15, 42, 93, 94–106, 110, 111–14, 118, 119, 124–25, 131, 135, 137–39, 146, 151, 153, 167, 178, 181, 190–91, 193–94 Gramsci, Antonio, 98, 171 Guinée Forestière, 11, 41, 82 Gupta, Akhil, 3, 71, 100, 121, 139, 145, 178 H Haute Guinée, 11, 12, 34–37, 47, 82–83, 86, 91n11 hegemony, 14, 171

Index  215 hierarchy, hierarchies, 4, 13, 17, 93–94, 100–102, 115–17, 131, 137, 145, 166, 191, 192 history, 1–3, 14, 17, 21–23, 29, 30–32, 34, 36, 47, 51, 52, 58–59, 62, 63, 66, 68, 70, 80, 82, 87–89, 93, 95, 97, 105, 107, 109, 117, 130, 133, 137, 139, 146, 147, 150–52, 156, 187, 188, 190, 191, 192–94 hometown association, 86–87 Højbjerg, Christian, 5, 6, 34, 74, 89 Houis, Maurice, 64, 66, 70 I identity ethnic, 13, 21, 62, 64–66, 71 local, 14. See also Morianais political, 14, 21 regional, 21, 23, 57n6, 88, 190–91, 192 identification, 13, 21, 31, 53, 57, 58–90, 141, 143, 160, 169–70, 190–91, 195 independence, 4–7, 10, 16, 22–23, 23n1, 26–27, 29, 43, 45–47, 65, 74–75, 81, 84, 97, 101, 105, 109, 111, 134, 138, 143, 145, 146, 149, 151, 152, 153–55, 166, 169, 170–71, 181, 184, 187, 192, 194 initiation societies, 6, 31, 69. See also solidarity integration, 7, 13, 17, 21–23, 43–57, 59–60, 63–64, 71, 80, 81–90, 92–93, 98, 100, 101, 106, 118, 125, 139, 143, 154–55, 158, 187, 190, 191, 192–95 Islam, 6, 13, 34–36, 69, 72–77, 79, 184, 190 Islamization, 29, 35–36, 74 J jihad, 36, 52 joking relationships, 13, 60, 81, 82–85, 144, 182 sanakouya, 13, 83–84, 85, 144 K Keita, Soundiata, 77 Soundiata epic, 34 Konaté, Sékouba (President), 19

L landlords, 17, 29, 32, 41, 45, 66, 78, 81, 85, 104, 117, 131, 134–36, 138, 184, 192. See also strangers landlord-stranger relationships, 13, 30, 59, 85, 94, 117, 155, 192 landscape, 5, 29–35, 48, 128, historical landscape, 14, 21, 51–57, 70, 89–90, 95 social landscape, 22, 30–32, 37, 39, 41, 42, 45–46, 51–53, 55, 88–89, 93, 95, 133, 138, 149, 190–91, 193–95 latecomers, 133. See also newcomer legitimate rule, 2, 22, 66, 72, 77–80, 93, 94, 110–11, 117, 129–30, 137–38 l’état, 153, 167. See also state le peuple, 23n1, 152–53, 164–65, 169. See also nation le pouvoir, 153, 162–66, 168–71, 180, 188. See also power libertinage, 10, 51, 112, 135, 138 liberation, 4, 7, 40, 59 M McGovern, Mike, 5–7, 9, 11, 41–42, 59, 92, 100, 141, 152–53, 160, 167–68, 171 Mali, 4, 7, 77, 79, 83–84, 104, 113 Malinké, 6, 11, 16, 29, 38, 46, 47–48, 63–65, 81, 83–84, 113, 155, 190 Malinké-Mori, 34, 36–37, 41, 50, 65–66, 79, 90 Mande, 35–38, 47, 60, 64, 77, 83–84 greater Mande complex, 13. See also Keita, Soundiata Mandenyi, 36, 57n3, 63–66, 68, 70, 91n6 marginality, 2–3, 88–90, 171, 188, 192–93 marginalization, 1, 13–14, 17, 39, 57 self-marginalization, 14, 17, 171, 192, 196 Médecins sans frontières (MSF), 54 memory, memories, 3, 8–10, 14, 23, 26, 31–32, 59, 70, 87–88, 90, 126, 141–42, 145–47, 151, 165, 170, 185, 187–88, 190, 192, 195

216  Index migration, 12–13, 21, 29, 34–36, 40, 47, 52, 58, 70, 130, 155, 187, 190 mining, 5, 19–20, 30, 54, 66, 78–80, 130–32, 142, 159 extractive industries, 5, 11 iron ore, 11, 78–79, 91n11 Mmeni, 36–37, 60, 63–72, 79–81, 158 modernity, 6, 10, 110, 124, 129, 139, 181, 186 modernization, 4–6, 8, 50, 74, 184, 192 Moria (south-western Guinea), 1, 13, 20, 21, 29–43, 45–46, 48, 50–51, 53, 55, 60–61, 64–65, 72, 74, 77–80, 88, 89, 93, 101, 107, 109, 117, 145–50, 188, 191, 193, 195 Morianais, 1, 13–14, 20–21, 36, 40, 43, 47–48, 50, 53, 60–61, 63–64, 69–72, 77, 81, 83, 87–90, 185, 188, 190–92, 195 Moyen Guinée, 86, 104 mystification, 6. See also demystification N nation, 3, 7, 9, 22, 43, 46, 67, 72, 81–87, 101, 142–43, 145, 152–53, 157, 160, 163–68, 171, 173, 182, 186–87, 192. See also le peuple nation-building, 3, 6, 74, 84, 104 nation-state, 2–3, 54, 59, 84, 94, 101, 104, 143–44, 147, 166, 171, 181, 191, 195–96 natural regions, 11 neo-liberalism, 8–10, 178 networks, 18, 31–32, 35–43, 45–46, 57, 59, 82, 87, 123, 126–27, 130, 164, 181–82, 187 newcomers, 16, 89, 117, 132, 133, 155, 191. See also latecomer non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 22, 55, 93–96, 99–101, 105, 107, 110–14, 118, 119–30, 137–39, 178, 180, 185–86, 191, 193–95 O other (significant), 66–72 internal other, 6 Organization of African Union (OAU), 59

P Pan-Africanism, 7 participation, 22, 37, 94, 97–99, 110–11, 114, 117–18, 119, 125–27, 129, 132, 135, 137, 139, 143, 153, 161, 166, 168, 182–83, 185–87, 191, 195 Parti démocratique de Guinée (PDG), 43–50, 65, 101, 126, 135, 148–49, 152, 155 Parti de l’unité et du progrès (PUP), 49, 58, 149, 156, 183 performance(s), 34, 62, 66, 68, 70, 84, 89, 118, 137, 141, 166, 170–71, 176–77, 183, 186–87, 190, 193, 194 of the state, 2, 22, 63, 92, 100, 115–16, 141, 143–45, 147, 185, 187, 191–92, 196 periphery, 13, 21 Person, Yves, 35–38, 51 Peul (or Fullah), 6, 11, 16, 23n2, 27, 29, 36, 64–65, 73, 81, 82–85, 89, 151, 181–82, ‘complot peul’, 59, 84 Piot, Charles, 5, 8, 187 place, 1–23, 29–35, 38, 50, 64, 70, 72, 74, 75, 82, 86, 133, 155, 163 post-colonialism, 8, 10 post-colony, 4 post-socialism, 4, 8, 10 Pouvoir révolutionnaire local (PRL), 102, 126, 152 power, 2–3, 6–7, 11, 13–14, 16–17, 22, 29, 32, 35, 38–44, 46, 48–55, 59, 72, 74, 75, 81, 87–90, 92–118, 124, 129, 136–40, 141, 144–45, 149, 153, 158–59, 161, 163–64, 168–69, 171, 177, 179, 185, 187–88, 192. See also le pouvoir relations, 5, 14, 31, 39, 43–45, 99, 156, 170–71, 187, 192, 194 symbolic, 31 Programme de développement local en Guinée (PDLG), 107, 109 R Radio-Télévision Guinée (RTG), 120 Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA), 44, 101, 148

Index  217 regime, 6–15, 22, 27, 29, 44–45, 47–48, 50, 59, 65, 68, 70, 104–106, 129, 170, 176, 179 discursive regime, 153 military regime, 195 relations, 94, 99, 117, 130–31, 133, 144, 156, 160, 164, 171, 187, 192–94 interethnic, 81–82, 191 landlord-stranger relations, 13, 85, 117, 155, 192 patron-client, 164 religion, 2, 6, 13, 21, 36–37, 57, 59, 72, 74, 184 traditional beliefs, 13 Republic First Republic, 27, 68, 101–102, 113, 124, 126, 157, 163, 165–66, 168, 179, 183–85, 187, 192, 194–95 Second Republic, 8, 48, 101–102, 158, 183 resistance, 4, 20, 45, 48, 98, 101, 146, 158, 171, 196 resources, 5, 13–14, 21, 31–32, 69, 81, 87, 89, 103, 106–107, 123, 128, 156, 164, 169, 194 Revolutionary United Front (RUF), 53 Rey, Pascal, 96, 102–104 Ribot, Jesse, 98–99, 118, 126 ritual(s), 35, 54, 62–63, 69, 72, 77, 79–80, 86, 89, 110–11, 144, 183 Rivière, Claude, 6, 35, 37, 41, 44, 64, 70, 152, 154–55, 171n2 S sanakouya, 13, 83–85, 144. See also Keita, Soundiata Sarró, Ramon, 6–7, 14, 60, 66, 69, 74, 85 savage slot, 6 Schmidt, Elizabeth, 5, 41–42, 44, 65, 84, 101, 148 Skinner, David, 36–38, 42, 65, 72 sedimentation, 105–106 Sierra Leone, 18, 26, 37, 40, 43, 48, 51, 53–54, 61, 64, 66, 69, 72, 74, 79, 111, 158 Sierra Leone-Guinea plain, 32, 38, 43

slavery, 39–40, 82 slaves, 38, 40, 78, 82–83 socialism, 4, 8–10, 23 African socialism, 5 post-socialism, 4, 5, 8, 10 solidarity, 104, 107, 109–10, 117, 191, 194. See also initiation society Spencer, Jonathan, 144, 147, 186–87 state, 1–8, 10–11, 13, 21–23, 27, 29, 36, 44, 48, 51–53, 57, 62, 74–75, 88, 92–93, 98–101, 110, 113, 118, 121, 124, 138–40, 141–47, 151–53, 155–71, 173, 175, 177–78, 180–81, 184–88, 190–95. See also l’état African state, 3–5, 19, 92, 145 state building, 42, 146, 152–157, 169–70, 188n3 strangers, 26, 29–30, 41, 45, 54, 66, 78, 80, 86, 117, 128, 133–36, 154, 166. See also landlords strike (national), 11, 18, 22, 51–53, 89, 101, 122, 127, 141, 143, 145–46, 151, 154, 160–70, 173, 176, 182, 184, 186, 188, 190, 192 Suret-Canal, Jean, 40, 43–45, 154 Susu, 6, 11, 16, 29, 36, 38, 48–49, 60, 63–72, 78–79, 81, 83–85, 87, 90, 112–18, 132, 137, 155, 158, 165–66, 179, 183, 191 Susuization, 60, 66 T tabaski, 72–73, 77, 89, 159, 184. See also eid al-adha tax, taxes, 40–42, 44, 48, 69, 96, 101, 103, 109, 115–17, 119–20, 130, 143–44, 153, 157–58, 173, 175, 177–81, 186–87 terroir, 78 Timbou, 32, 34–35, 39–40, 75–77, 83, 88 trade, 5, 12, 26–27, 29, 31, 35–41, 43, 45, 53, 54, 59, 65, 72, 74, 81, 85, 182, 193 slave trade, 36, 39 trade union, 43, 122, 126–27, 160–61, 163, 166, 183, 185 tradition, 34, 37, 54, 62, 88, 113

218  Index oral tradition, 2, 14–15, 21–22, 32, 34–35, 42, 63–80, 88, 93, 133, 137, 144, 190–91, 193, 195 transparency, 100, 122, 140n1 Trouillot, Michel-Rolph, 6, 142 Touré, Himi, 47 Touré, Samory, 51, 57n5, 149 Touré, Sékou (President), 4, 6, 8–9, 45–48, 59, 67, 84, 96, 101, 152–53, 167–68 U UNDP, 11, 176 UNICEF, 174–75 Union syndicale des travailleurs de Guinée (USTG), 160 urbanization, 12, 30 V Vansina, Jan, 32, 34, 35

Verdery, Katherine, 9 violence, 4, 10, 16, 34, 44–45, 58–60, 84–86, 89, 148, 151, 157, 161, 164–65, 168, 187 W war, 3, 7, 8, 11, 31, 34, 59, 90, 97, 99, 101, 171 civil war, 9, 11, 34, 53, 159, 166, 171, 176 Cold War, 7, 8, 97 World War I, 42 World War II, 44, 90n2, 101 Weber, Max, 4, 104–105, 146 Y youth, 27, 53, 68, 69, 141, 143–45, 148, 166, 173–76, 181–88, 192 social youth, 12