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Anticolonial Nationalism in French West Africa: What Made Guinea Unique?

Elizabeth Schmidt
African Studies Review
Vol. 52, No. 2, Guinea-Bissau Today (Sep., 2009), pp. 1-34
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20638906
Page Count: 34
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Anticolonial Nationalism in French West Africa: What Made Guinea Unique?
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Abstract

In a 1958 constitutional referendum, Guinea was the only French territory to reject continued colonial subordination in favor of immediate independence. Why did Guinea alone reject the constitution that laid the foundations for France's Fifth Republic? What factors stimulated political parties in other territories to accept the prolongation of French tutelage, even as activists elsewhere on the continent were agitating for independence? Focusing on the eight territories of French West Africa, this article argues that the Guinean branch of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain, which led the campaign for the "no" vote, differed from other dominant parties in French West Africa in several important ways. These differences, along with the relative power of the colonial chieftaincy, contributed to Guinea's unique stance in the 1958 referendum.

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