IT WOULD BE an understatement describing the death of 11 military officers of the Republic of Guinea a "big loss" to the people and Government of that country. The historic selflessness and superb military gallantry ingrained in the bones of the Guinean military as it has demonstrated over the years in the Sub region and beyond goes beyond a "big loss" to Guinea alone. Indeed, the plane crash of February 11, 2013 and its fatalities claiming nearly a dozen top brass of the army of Guinea is an epitome of the colossal human sacrifices characteristic of the Republic of Guinea Armed Forces since its formation in 1958. The trail of the bloods shed by Guinean soldiers has come afar and crisscrossed regions and peoples in search of peace, justice and freedom.
PERHAPS THE HUMAN-FACE nature of the Guinea army is shaped by both national and international circumstances that immediately predated its formation. Guineans were docked in trenches and valleys in defense of colonial master France as their country was being granted independence under the hail of revolutionary resistance of colonial subjugation. The army was, and still remain, an offshoot of resistance movements, movements allergic to bigotry, oligarchy and suppression. It is such an ancestral underpinning that later formed the generic impulses that drive the country's "Gendarmeries" and "Republic Guards" not only successfully ward off internal and external insurrections but also to support international resistance against unwarranted conquest and anti-stability adventures.
FOR ITS IMMEDIATE neighbors—Sierra Leone and Liberia—the Guinean military machinery spurred its redemptive claws at the lives and blood of its men and women. It can be recalled that in March 1971 elements of the Guinean military were deployed to Freetown in Sierra Leone after the Sierra Leonean President, Siaka Stevens, appeared losing control of his military. Two Guinean MiGs made a low flyover of Freetown and Toure placed the Guinean military on alert 'because of the serious troubles affecting the fraternal peoples of Sierra Leone.' In Liberia's recent history, hundreds of Guinean soldiers joined forces with other West Africans that spent nearly ten years protecting Liberian civilians from the onslaught of their armed brothers and sisters. Military experts say the Guinean army put up the bravest fight during that period; many killed in action or disfigured permanently.
THUS, WHEN 11 coffins are flown out of Liberia anytime from now and land on the soil of the Republic of Guinea with the lifeless bodies of top military personnel, it would not be the first in the last sixteen years. It would rather be a continuation of a sad but inter-nationalistic undertaking to which that country's munificence has driven it for a long time now. Sure, families and friends of the deceased—the Government and people of Guinea—are wailing. They have lost a useful batch of people. And they have all reasons to mourn and grin their teeth in pain.
BUT WHAT IS certain—and what Liberians on whose soil friendly Guineans have once again died in such a painful way—are saying is this: Those who died in the Charlesville plane accident on their way to celebrate with Liberians on February 11 did not, and will not, die in vain. The cause for which they died, the restoration of Liberia from the filth of civil conflict to the glorious height of prosperity will come to fruition. And when the history of the country's struggle is written, it would not be complete without mention of those 11 Guinean soldiers who, like their countrymen before them, laid down their lives so that Liberia's peace, security and prosperity will thrive. They have lived the true meaning of the creed of the Guinean military—to defend, protect and promote the peace and happiness of mankind. The bloods that they shed is noble. The cause is just. Liberia is deeply indebted.