Guinea coup: Ecowas must not defend the indefensible

Sunday September 19 2021
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Harold Acemah

By Harold Acemah

Guinea has been in the news lately because of a military coup, which took place two weeks ago. When I saw the breaking news on Al Jazeera about that daring event, I remembered a popular 1960s Ghanaian highlife tune by ET Mensah whose lyrics extol Ghana, Guinea and Mali as “the nucleus of the great union” namely, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) founded in 1963, and the African Union founded in 1999.

The leaders of the three African countries were Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure and Modibo Keita respectively.

When OAU was established in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1963, the first secretary general was a distinguished son of Guinea, Diallo Telli. I had the pleasure and privilege to meet and interact with Telli in 1971 and 1972 during my tour of duty as a diplomat at the Embassy of Uganda, Addis Ababa.

Telli was an elegant, eloquent and flamboyant man who reminded me of Kwame Nkrumah, who played a leading role in the establishment of  the OAU. Nkrumah’s book, Africa Must Unite, published in 1963 on the eve of the founding of OAU, is the blueprint of a continental “United States of Africa” which, I believe, will materialise one day.

Like Ghana in Anglophone Africa, Guinea is a pioneer, pacesetter and trailblazer in Francophone Africa. Nkrumah and Sekou Toure were comrades-in-arms in the heroic struggle of Africans for human dignity, self-determination and independence. When Black American political activist Stokely Carmichael decided to relocate and return to mother Africa from the USA, where his ancestors were forcibly taken as slaves, he dropped his mzungu name and adopted an African name, Kwame Toure. What a great name, Kwame Toure.

In Eastern and Southern Africa, the equivalent of the three West African leaders was Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Apolo Milton Obote of Uganda and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia. These three great African leaders, wise men and pan-Africanists formed a radical and revolutionary group called, “the Mulungushi Club” which spearheaded a relentless struggle against colonialism, racism, racial discrimination and apartheid in the 1960s and 1970s which struggle yielded resounding success.


The above named giants of Africa have since 1970s and 1980s been replaced by a new breed comprising of intellectual dwarfs, conmen, fraudsters, opportunists and self-condemned men who masquerade as presidents in many African countries. Africans deserve a lot better than dubious, incompetent and self-centred leaders who are pathological liars.

On September 5, Col Mamady Doumbouya, commander of Guinea’s Special Forces, announced that the army had deposed 83-year-old Alpha Conde who, like many African leaders, overstayed his welcome and was clinging tenaciously onto power by hook and crook against the expressed will of the overwhelming majority of the gallant people of Guinea.

Col Doumbouya told Guineans and the world that soldiers had seized power because they wanted to end rampant corruption, violations of human rights, impunity and economic mismanagement. Instead of condemning the patriotic soldiers of Guinea who got rid of a callous and corrupt dictator, Ecowas and AU should condemn and punish lawless and worthless African leaders who have amended national constitutions to remove term limits to enable them cling onto power indefinitely.

Ecowas and AU must not defend the indefensible and stop acting like a trade union for corrupt, decadent, mediocre and reactionary African leaders who have done enormous damage to the cause of the African revolution.

Mr Acemah is a political scientist and retired career diplomat.

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