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Category Archive for 'Guinea'

Author Tierno Monenembo recreates the story of Aime Olivier de Sanderval, an almost forgotten Frenchman who followed a childhood dream by going to remote Africa in 1879, describing Olivier’s experiences in Guinea just before it became an unwilling colony of France. Olivier was not representing the government when he arrived in Guinea and did not believe in colonization in the traditional sense. An explorer with an almost mystical sense of destiny, he wanted to build a railroad from the beautiful hill country in the center of the country to the coast so that he could create trading posts and ultimately claim for himself the plateau of Fouta Djallon, “a land of rushing water and fruit, pure milk and wise men! The land that quenches your thirst.” The realities of tribal Guinea, with its internecine wars, its completely different cultures, and its total connection to the land intrude immediately upon his arrival, however. Naively, he tries to befriend the various groups and the leaders that he meets as he travels from the coast to central Guinea, but he has no conception of the long, historical rivalries among groups, of their experiences with previous white visitors, or of their ways of governing.

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