Published: March 21st 2009December 26th 2008 Tuesday 23 December 2008 - The death of General Lansana Conté, the President of Guinea for the past 24 years, is announced on the radio. Wednesday 24 December 2008 - The military takes over Guinea. They celebrate by shooting into the air throughout the night.
What's PC Guinea without flipchart?
Julie & I made a poster to commemerate the occassion.
We were scheduled to go to Conakry for Christmas, but for safety reasons we stayed in Forecariah. We had a Christmas Eve party at the office. Most of the trainees were planning on spending the night there. This was good because around 9 PM gunfire was going off throughout the town. The military is celebrating that they’re in control of the country. The party continues amid gunshots, except now under cover of the overhang. The other volunteer training with me, Julie, and I sit apart from the others and contemplate what all of this means, for Guinea and for us. Insert from my journal that day:
I wasn’t scared of getting evacuated until I thought of the DSEE, and nothing happening with the school.
Mamadou Dian just called. He’s in Conakry. When I asked, “Ca va la-bas?” he said no. He said it was okay because the military hadn’t started
killing people yet. That scared me. I don’t know how the Guinean trainers are carrying on with their families in Conakry. It would drive me nuts. Thursday 25 December 2008
Around 2:30 AM the gunfire stops. Julie and I get a couple of guards to escort us and three trainees back to our house which is about 100 yards from the Peace Corps office. Almost as soon as we lock the door and get into bed, the shots continue, this time extremely close to the house. We try to sleep, with little success. We all get out of bed at 7 AM when someone starts shooting in our front yard. We all peek out the windows. There’s no one in the street (something that never happens.) However, little by little, our neighbors start opening their doors. We see a couple men walk up the street. Then some women. Finally around 8 AM there are children running in the road again. Together the five of us briskly walk back the office.
I can’t speak for the others, but Julie and I were greatly shaken by everything that had taken place. For us the world was changed. We were worried about everyone and everything. We were shocked then when Christmas day, things were more or less normal. Less people were out, but people were still at cafés, going to the market, letting their children play outside, etc. The only sign of something abnormal: the shell casings that littered the ground (which many trainees grabbed as souvenirs.)
The international community has condemned what as taken place here. You must know that everyone had postulated on what would happen when Conté died. It wasn’t even an open secret, it was a widely known fact that the military would take over. So the coup came as no surprise to anyone except outside reporters. But are Guineans really happen? That’s not for me to say. However I can say they are excited that something
happened. A change has occurred in a place where nothing has ever changed. Whether it’s progress or not remains to be seen. But the population is hopeful for a peaceful future that’ll finally lift them out of poverty.