Guinea is a western African co…
Guinea is a western African country, situated on the Atlantic coast. It is surrounded by countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. The country is home to one of the country’s preeminent ethnic groups, the Susu, and to many smaller groups, such as the Baga, Landoma, Lele, and Mikiforé. Natural resources are plentiful in Guinea, the country has a large portion of the world’s bauxite reserves and significant amounts of iron, gold, and diamonds. Nonetheless, the economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture. Guinea was a part of French West Africa, the French colony until it gained independence in 1958.
After independence, the West African country was successively ruled by Sékou Touré (1958–84) and later by Lansana Conté (1984–2008). Lansana Conté declared power through a military coup in 1984 and ruled until 2008. During the 1990s Guinea sheltered several hundred thousand civil war refugees from neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone, and conflicts between those countries and Guinea have continued to flare up over the refugee population. After the death of Conté, a military junta took control of the country and suspended the constitution that had been adopted in 1991. The national capital of Conakry lies on Tumbo Island and spreads up the Camayenne (Kaloum) Peninsula; it is the country’s main port. Like most African countries, there are more than thirty languages are spoken, and eight are designated as official national languages: Bassari, Guerzé, Kissi, Koniagui, Maninka, Peul, Susu, and Toma. In the 1960s, President Touré wanted to promote African cultures and languages and abolished the use of French.
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Schoolchildren started to be taught in local languages. President Conté reversed this policy and restored French as the official language in 1985. Many people, especially men, speak more than one language. In Conakry, Susu is most commonly spoken on the streets and in the marketplaces, although in certain sectors Peul is more common. Elsewhere, Maninka is the preferred language of commerce. French is used in schools and in high governmental and business circles. It is easy to learn about a country and its people from the internet, but the question is, is the information online accurate enough to know about the country and its people.
With the information gathered on the background and geography of Guinea, I would interview a citizen of Guinea to learn more about the country and its people: culture, language, food and their regular lifestyle in general. The interview would also provide a depth insight of life in Guinea and America from the same person but different perspectives. As an individual from Ghana, West Africa, I will go ahead and say that, the way of life of the Guineans would not be that different from that of Ghanaians and the subject may provide a similar experience as me. Most foreigners would think children in Guinea would not have anything better to do on a regular day (going to school), but according to my subject, going to school is part of the everyday life of a Guinean child. Even though there are not enough schools or sometimes schools are closed due to insufficient funds to pay the teachers, children still try to be productive. According to my subject, schools are often closed because the government does not have enough money to pay most of the teachers. Most of these school closures are caused by teacher strikes.
As a person who had lived in an African country like Guinea before, I know a few things about strikes. Most strikes that occurs in African countries are mainly in like two fields; health and education. In the case of my subject, it is education. The strikes in education are usually at the lower levels; elementary school, junior high and sometimes high school. Teachers get tired of waiting for the government to pay them for months and sometimes when the government decides to pay them, the government fails to pay them in full. Similar situation in the health field and that is mostly junior doctors and nurses. In Ghana, the government sometimes fail to pay nurses and new doctors.
The situation lowers the morale of children and young adults who are planning on going to these fields. Those fields are supposed to be one of the most prestigious fields in the country but due to their treatment by the government, fewer people are getting interested in those fields and when they do, they look towards different countries in Europe or elsewhere. I believe that is why my subject prefers the American education system to that of her home country. Also, she mostly emphasized on how technology plays a major role in the American education. According to her, there are no laptops or ipads in schools in Guinea, but in America “there are laptops, ipads and other technologies to help with school works.” Through the interview, you are able to understand the education system in the subject’s home country and also most of the countries in Africa. What is a family like in America? Hollywood and most American politicians try to portray a family as a big aspect of the American ‘culture,’ but in this modern American, a family cannot be considered as a big aspect of the American ‘culture?’ Since the introduction of the automobile to American society, a family has not been a big aspect of the American culture.
When the automobile was first introduced to America it promoted a sense of freedom and liberty to the individuals. It gave many people the ability to escape the household and into the social world. As the automobile increased in popularity people began to engage more in social events and family outings became increasingly rare. Family unity was constantly decreasing while social lives thrived and women escaped the household chores. People, mostly men stayed on the road more than they did with their families. Instead of having regular dinners, a family also began to depend on fast food restaurants for dinners. Sitting at the dinner table and having dinner with the family used to be a big thing in the American society but now that is not.
When I asked my subject about her family life back in her home country compared to right now, she took a deep breath and told me how much her family life in her country was completely different right now. According to her, back in Guinea, she often spent time with her family; playing games after dinner, talking about how their day went and stuff. But it is different here because her parents are always working and even taking overtime so they could pay their monthly bills. As for her siblings, her older sister does not visit much because of her work schedule makes it difficult for routine family visits. Also, because of after-school activities while in high school, she usually missed family dinner and family meetings. As an immigrant with parents whose American Dream is to just work and be able to provide for the family, I actually understand my subjects situation about her family life in the U.S.
because that is how my family life is right now. I remember when I was on the track and field team in high school, most of my events were on the weekends and for two years of being on the team my parents never came to my events. I honestly was not mad at them, I understood the situation. Based on my subject’s account on family and my personal account, I will say a family is a huge part of most African countries’ culture. I mean back home, some family live in their family house and even if they decide to not live in the family house, they get a place that is close to their family members. I personally grew up in a family house that consisted of both my father’s parents, my uncle and his wife and a lot of cousins. I have an uncle, his wife, their children and an aunt living here but I barely see or talk to them due to their busy schedules.
While interviewing my subject, she reflected on a situation of her father’s friend who got sick and died. According to her, her father’s friend had no family member in the U.S and when he got sick, he did not want anyone visiting him at the hospital to witness his condition. When he kicked the bucket, they hospital had to cremate his body because there was no family member to claim his body. Reflecting on this account, every immigrant who has family here should be grateful for the existence of their family in this country because it can be indeed tough living in a foreign country without knowing anyone. In today’s American society, it is very difficult to believe family is a huge aspect of American culture due to the influence of technological advancement and work. During the interview process, I took a detour to discuss the college life on Gettysburg campus, particularly how race is playing a major role on campus.
To understand how race is playing a role on campus, I asked my subject if she had experienced any kind of discrimination or sort. She answered me by telling me about an incident she was involved in a while back. According to her, she was at a social event on campus when a white guy pushed her from behind and just walked past her without saying sorry or anything to her. I do not know if this can be classified as racism or a discrimination, but just a guy who had no manners or just completely abandoned his manners at that moment. I am saying this because my subject later revealed to me that he later apologized for his action but that was after she had slapped him on his back as a reaction to his poor manners. Do I blame her for thinking his act was racial or discriminatory? Not at all, we are living on a campus that the majority of the students here are predominately white. The population on campus might be less diverse but I will not consider that as the major problem because the major problem will be the manners and the kind of the environment some of these students were grown.
I will say eighty percent of these students here went to prep schools or attended schools that had lesser diversity compared to the college. This may have exposed them to much lesser diversity in their various high schools, while now they have a problem around people from other races now that they in a college that has to accept students from different races to meet their diversity quota. As an individual from a different part of the world with a totally different culture, I could not conclude the interview without asking her about what race is like or was like in Guinea. The first thing she said was “I didn’t know anything like this until I got to this country.” I consider her statement to be true because when you look at the subject of race, it is an American thing. I think Americans have a thing for labels, which ends creating division amongst each other. This is what we are witnessing with race in America, it is creating division amongst its citizens and preventing the growth of the country.
Race is playing a huge role in the American society and this role is not a positive one but a negative one. Guinea is one of the many French-speaking countries in West Africa. The country is culturally diverse with many different languages spoken amongst its citizens. It is easy to learn about a country online but it is totally different when you are actually learning from an individual from that country. Through the interview, I was able to get inside scoop about the country. I was able to obtain knowledge about the country’s education system. Also with information gained from my subject, I was able to understand family value between two countries–Guinea and U.
S.A. Between the two countries, the U.S has lost its family values due to technological advancement and spending too much time at work. Family values in America are not the same as it was during the earlier centuries. While family values are on the decline in America, through my subject, I understood that family values are still a strong part of the Guinean society. Also with these two countries, I was able to understand race from two perspectives like how race is not part of the Guinean society but a huge part of the American’s.
Overall, the interview provided a depth insight of life in Guinea and America from the same person but different perspective.