Touré, Ahmed Sékou


Touré, Ahmed Sékou
(1922–1984)
   Touré was the first president of independent Guinea and a committed trade unionist. Leaving school before reaching his teenage years, Touré developed a deep knowledge of Marxism through his interaction with trade unionists and French and African politicians, and studious reading. In 1941 he began work as a low-ranking civil servant in the post office, and within four years had organized its members into Guinea’s first trade union. For 12 years between 1942 and 1954 Touré was leader of his local branch of the French Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), and having been dismissed from his post office position attended its Paris Congress, which quickly confirmed for him the validity of his Marxist convictions.
   In 1947 Touré was a key figure in the inception of the Parti Démocratique de Guinée (PDG), and in 1953 he emerged as a dominant voice on the Guinean left as a result of the 73-day general strike that successfully obtained the governmental adoption of a Labor Code. Touré, in 1955, was elected mayor of Conakry, and became a member of the French parliament in 1956. His charisma and political aptitude helped him strengthen his grip on the PDG in this period, and in 1958 he was at the forefront of the campaign to say no to Charles de Gaulle’s referendum on colonial constitutional reforms. This allowed Touré to lead Guinea to independence from France, and to emerge as the uncontested leader of party and state.
   The capricious nature of Touré’s many theoretical standpoints makes assessing his brand of Marxism troublesome. Initially he took an orthodox Marxist approach, but in the youthful years of independence his rejection of the primacy of class forces was closer to “African Socialism,” and chiefly grew from a desire to protect the unity of the burgeoning state. In 1964 he gravitated back toward an orthodox position, reintroducing the concept of the class enemy, and three years later demanded that the PDG be organized as a vanguard party. Touré on some occasions replicated Stalinist organization, and on others Maoist. Toward the end of his rule, references to Marxism were less audible, and Touré became increasingly dictatorial. His chief legacy to Marxism was the application of MarxistLeninist concepts to an African framework, though he is best remembered as the inspiration behind Guinean independence, and yet the instigator of numerous disastrous economic programs, and the master of the political about face.
   See also Afro-marxism.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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  • Touré, (Ahmed) Sékou — born Jan. 9, 1922, Faranah, French Guinea died March 26, 1984, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. First president of Guinea (1958–84) and a leading African politician. Touré, who claimed to be descended from Samory, helped lead Guinea s campaign for… …   Universalium

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