European colonialists brought the slave trade to the Guinea coast in the sixteenth century, but Guinea's colonial period began with French military penetration into the area in the mid-nineteenth century. The French defeated the armies of Samori Touré, Mansa (or Emperor) of the Ouassoulou state and leader of Malinké descent, in 1898.
France negotiated Guinea's present boundaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the British for Sierra Leone, the Portuguese for Guinea-Bissau and Liberia. Under the French, the country formed the Territory of Guinea which was part of French West Africa, administered by a governor general resident in Dakar. Lieutenant governors administered the individual colonies, including Guinea.
Guinea was until recently considered to be off limits to tourists because of political unrest and hassle from the police. There’s recently been trouble in Conakry city, where the police shot a number of protesters. I visited the mountains of Guinea but it seems I’m deluded in thinking I’m glad I’m sticking to the rural areas. These are the subject of various infractions and uprisings because of political protests, just after I leave the country, and these are now considered to be the riskiest parts of the country to visit.
Guinea-Bissau was a poor country, but the border post at Guinea-Conakry is even more undeveloped. It’s a series of thatched round huts and an even worse, very bumpy track. Guinea has rich reserves of iron ore, gold, bauxite and other minerals and has Guinea has the highest per capita income on the continent of Africa. Despite more than half of the population lives below the poverty line, with around 20 percent in extreme poverty. Here there is a huge disparity between rural and urban areas, Ebola took its toll on the economy and there is rampant corruption.
‘Boris Johnson,’ beams the immigration official. ‘Brexit good’. I feel it prudent not to argue. I got my visa in London. It’s a pretty straightforward affair and only took a few days
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