Those who follow African news will know that Guinea just barely survived a nearly complete economic and social collapse. From January to March of 2007— we watched, with growing apprehension, as a courageous citizenry risked their lives to publicly strike against hyperinflation and government corruption. Children holding signs “we are willing to die for change” in front of armed soldiers reminded us of previous brave movements for civil rights and national independence. Sadly, many of these innocents, including those I knew, were killed in the fracas.
For many years, Guinea was one of the only “stable” nations in a sea of countries at war (Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Liberia, etc.). Guinea is now teetering on the edge of chaos as this tiny land copes with a flood of refugees from war-torn neighbors, and increasing hunger and disease.
One 50-kilo bag of rice is now worth half the monthly salary of a typical Guinean, and inflation and fuel prices are skyrocketing. A public outcry at soaring rice costs has led to government crack-downs.
In 2006, the U.N. issued a call for immediate action to the international community to help stem the crisis, but conditions only worsened.
At last, with a positive new leader, President Condé, there is a renewed sense of hope.