Talking about history in Guinea is still awkward; it sometimes even creates a sense of unease. It is as if the interests of the powerful would be disrupted, or old family secrets revealed after being kept protected for decades. Guinean archives are fragmentary. Some are in the possession of private individuals, lying neglected at the bottom of drawers from which there is a reluctance to bring them out. The very existence of traces of the past is the stuff of rumour: someone says so-and-so has some photos, someone else has some old letters or the transcripts of interrogations. Guinean memories themselves seem fragmented, made up of separate pieces which are beginning to disappear since they have not been fitted back into the original jigsaw. This book is a contribution to the assembly of the jigsaw puzzle of Guinean history, a joint effort which encourages us to probe further than the fault lines of the 20th century. Guinean, French and American authors have collaborated to piece together elements of the history of political violence in Guinea. These authors come from a wide range of backgrounds: they are academics, human rights activists (FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights, OGDH – Guinean Organization for the Defence of Human Rights), journalists (Radio France International – RFI), and they bring complementary points of view to this research. Their texts are illustrated by the works of the Indian photographer Mahesh Shantarem of Agence VU and the graphics of the Congolese cartoonist KHP. It is plural account which proves one thing at least: that when the silence is broken and memories are no longer shut away but shared, it becomes possible to write this history down.
The contributors to “Collective Memory” are Mouctar Bah, Maladho Siddy Baldé, Aliou Barry, Mohamed Saliou Camara, Anne Cantener, Laurent Correau, Safiatou Diallo, Vincent Foucher, Florent Geel, Florence Morice, Martin Mourre, Coralie Pierret, Antonin Rabecq, Olivier Rogez, Elizabeth Schmidt, Romain Tiquet, Carol Valade.
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Translated from the French by Fay Guerry.