The Republic of Guinea is a west African country, and one that tends to be overshadowed by other countries in the region. In this quiz, match the famous Guineans to the field in which they became famous: sport, the arts or politics.
A classification quiz
Estimated time: 4 mins.
* Drag / drop or click on the choices above to move them to the correct categories.
Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Naby Keďta
Naby Keďta is a footballer who plays as a central midfielder. He started out playing for his local club, Horaya, before moving to France at the age of twelve. There, he joined Istres' youth side, and entered the first team in 2013. He got his big break when he signed for RB Salzburg in 2014, before joining their sister team in Leipzig in 2016. Along with Senegalese Sadio Mané, Cameroonian Joel Matip and Egyptian Mohamed Salah, he was one of a key group of African players in Jürgen Klopp's 2019-20 title-winning Liverpool side, having signed for them in 2018. His brother Petit also trained at Liverpool's academy.
In 2021, Keďta was playing in a World Cup qualifier in Guinea against Morocco when a coup broke out and General Alpha Condé was overthrown, causing Guinea's borders to be closed. Both teams were temporarily stranded in the country. To the relief of many Liverpool fans, Keďta returned to England a few days later; the club had kept in touch with him throughout the coup to check that he was safe.
2. Mory Kanté
Mory Kanté was a musician whose signature hit was 'Yé Ké Yé Ké' (sometimes stylised as 'Yeke Yeke'); not only was it a smash hit in Africa, but it was also an international success, reaching Number 1 on the Dutch, Belgian, Finnish, Greek, Spanish and European charts in 1988. He also played the kora, a 22-string instrument which features heavily in West African music and is best described as a combination of a harp and a lute. A remix of the song entitled the 'Afro Acid Mix' was released in the UK, where it charted at Number 25. German techno duo Hardfloor also remixed 'Yé Ké Yé Ké' in 1994. The lyrics are in Mandinka and are adapted from a traditional song called 'Yekeke' which, according to Kanté, is sung by girls as a way of flirting.
Kanté came from a family of griots and was himself trained as a griot, when his family sent him to Mali to learn the kora and the relevant singing techniques. As a Muslim, he incorporated Islamic music into his own music. In 1971, he joined The Rail Band, who were influenced by Afro-Latin jazz and used both modern and traditional instruments. (Another original member was the Malian albino singer-songwriter Salif Keďta.) Kanté released his debut album, 'Courougnegne', in 1981. Both he and Keďta appeared on the 2014 charity single 'Africa Stop Ebola', along with other top African artists such as Amadou & Mariam, Ivorian reggae singer Tiken Jah Fakoly and Senegalese rapper Didier Awadi, to raise money for Médicins Sans Frontičres.
In his later years, Kanté suffered from various chronic illnesses, for which he received treatment in France, but the COVID pandemic of 2020 prevented him from travelling abroad and he died in May 2020, aged 70.
3. Hadja Idrissa Bah
Hadja Idrissa Bah is a women's and children's rights activist, who campaigns against female genital mutilation and teenage marriage, amongst other things. She studied Law at the Sorbonne. She was elected as a member of the Guinean Children's Parliament in 2012, aged thirteen, and at seventeen she was elected as its President. The Guinean Children's Parliament consists of 144 delegates, who represent the country's 33 prefectures, along with the five communes of Conakry. In March 2020, Bah was one of several women's rights activists from around the world who met with the French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss women's rights issues.
Bah is the founder of the Guinea Girl Leaders' Club, an organisation aimed at educating girls and women about teenage marriage, especially those who are considering marrying at a young age without being aware of the consequences; although the legal age for marriage in Guinea is eighteen, marriage laws are not enforced. Bah stated that Guinean parents often restrict their unmarried daughters' freedom, as they worry their daughters will bring shame on the family by flirting with boys and having sex outside marriage.
The group also campaigns against female genital mutilation, a procedure which Bah describes as 'amputation', which is often performed on girls during the school holidays in Guinea. According to a 2018 survey, 96% of Guinean women and girls had undergone female genital mutilation, with only Somalia having a higher rate. Volunteers in the group run an emergency helpline for victims and travel the country educating families about the risks of female genital mutilation.
4. Mamadi Diakite
Mamadi Diakite is a basketball player, although he started out playing football as a child, football being far more popular in Guinea than basketball. He switched to basketball because of his height (he is 6ft 9 inches tall), but because of a lack of opportunities in his homeland, he aspired to move to the US, with his family's support as they believed he would receive a better education there. With his sister's help, he displayed his basketball talents on Facebook and attracted the attention of Hassan Fofana, a fellow Guinean basketball player based in the US. Fofana helped Diakite to enrol at the Blue Ridge boarding school in St George, Virginia. At Blue Ridge, Mamadi Diane, another Guinean basketball player helped Diakite overcome the language barrier.
Diakite started out playing college basketball for Virginia Cavaliers, but extended his eligibility period in order to become accustomed to life in the US college basketball world. Although he was not selected in the 2020 draft, he signed for Milwaukee Bucks in November that year, before transferring to Lakeland Magic for contractual reasons in 2021. He briefly played for Oklahoma City Thunder in 2022.
5. Fodéba Keďta
Fodéba Keďta was a playwright, choreographer, musician and dancer who arranged 'Liberté', the Guinean national anthem. The melody came from a song by Korofo Moussa, a griot (the West African equivalent of a bard), in praise of Alpha Yaya Diallo, the King of Labé and a national hero in Guinea for his attempts to resist colonisation. Moussa improvised the song at a 1904 conference, and Keďta and Jean Cellier wrote new French lyrics for it in honour of Guinea's independence in 1958. He also wrote the narrative poem 'Aube Africaine' ('African Dawn'), inspired by the Thieroye Massacre in Senegal in 1944, when French soldiers executed West African soldiers who protested against poor conditions and being paid a lower pension than their French counterparts. His literary works were subsequently banned in French West Africa for their anti-colonial stance.
Keďta studied Law in Paris, where he founded a jazz band called Sud Jazz with guitarist Kanté Facély. He also founded Théâtre Africain, Africa's first professional theatre troupe who later became Guinea's national dance company, changing its name to Les Ballets Africains. They performed in France for the first time in 1952 and toured French West Africa in 1955. During that tour, he attracted the attention of Guinean President Ahmed Sékou Touré, who appointed him Minister of the Interior, and later Minister for Defence and Security. Unfortunately, Keita became a victim of the very system he participated in when he was arrested for supposed involvement in a plot and imprisoned at Camp Boiro, a notorious prison in which thousands of Touré's opponents were imprisoned, tortured and killed and, ironically, which he had helped design. Keďta was placed on the black diet, a deadly euphemism for denying prisoners food or water until they died of starvation. He was executed without trial by shooting in 1969.
6. Ahmed Sékou Touré
Ahmed Sékou Touré was a descendent of the Muslim cleric Samory Touré, the founder of the Wassoulou Empire, and the first President of Guinea. He assumed the position in 1958 after Guinea became independent from France. Two years later, he declared his party, the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG), to be the only legal party and ruled the country as a dictator until 1984, after being reelected multiple times due to a lack of opposition. Touré was a despot who had thousands of political opponents imprisoned, tortured and killed, many of whom were inmates at Camp Boiro.
After Touré's death, the military, led by Colonel Lansana Conté, overthrew the government and abolished the PDG. Conté subsequently had several of Touré's associates executed.
7. Fatmata Fofanah
Fatmata Fofanah is an Olympic athlete, specialising in the 100 metre hurdles. Although she was born in Sierra Leone, she grew up in Guinea before her family moved to the US, settling in New York. As a student, she ran with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. She represented Guinea at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and was the squad's flag bearer; however, she fell at the first hurdle and was unable to finish the race due to injury. She also competed in the 100 metre hurdles in the 2007 All-Africa Games in Algiers, Algeria, where she won the bronze medal, and the 2008 African Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she won gold.
Athleticism runs in the Fofanah family; her older brother Nabie Foday Fofanah is a sprinter and competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, as well as being the Guinean flag bearer. After retiring, he became a trainer in the USA and founded the Speed Doctor training programme.
8. Solomana Kante
Solomana Kante, aka Sulemaana Kantč, was a writer and educator, who created the N'Ko script for the Mandé languages of West Africa. Languages in this family include Mandinka (spoken in Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea and parts of Senegal and the Gambia), Bambara (spoken in Mali), Mende (spoken in Sierra Leone and Liberia), and Dioula (spoken in Mali, the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso). 'N'ko' means 'I say' in the Mandé languages. Kante experimented with various writing systems before finalising N'Ko in 1949; 14 April, the date on which it was believed to be finalised, was designated N'Ko Day. Kante wrote over a hundred books in the script on various subjects. As a Muslim, he also saw it as a means of strengthening Islam through writing; N'Ko copies of the Qu'ran have been published.
N'Ko, like Arabic, is read from right to left and has similar characters, and uses diacritics to mark tone and vowels (although unlike Arabic, they are always used in writing). Kante created N'Ko partly in response to claims that there were no indigenous African scripts, and partly to make writing Mandé languages easier. The Ajami system, which is also similar to Arabic and is used to write other African languages such as Pulaar (the language used by Senegalese musician Baaba Maal) or Yoruba, did not allow for the tones that are unique to Mandé languages.
9. Diallo Telli
Diallo Telli was a lawyer and a co-founder of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), and its Secretary General from 1964 to 1972. During the colonial era, he was Head of the Office of High Commissioner of French West Africa, a very prestigious position for an African at that time. Following Guinea's independence, Telli represented Guinea for the United Nations in the USA, and was also Guinea's ambassador to the US between 1959 and 1961. Although Telli supported Ahmed Sékou Touré and was accused of a lack of neutrality, Touré saw him as a potential threat.
Telli returned to Guinea in 1972 and was appointed Minister of Justice, passing a law that removed independence from the judiciary in 1973. Three years later, he was arrested and accused of plotting a Fulani coup, tortured and forced to sign a false confession. He died of starvation in Camp Boiro in 1977, after being put on the 'black diet'. Because of Telli's status as a well-respected diplomat, his disappearance and death increased awareness of the human rights abuses of Touré's regime.
10. Boubacar Traore
Boubacar Traore is a political activist turned Paralympic marathon runner. Originally a footballer, he studied Law in Guinea and while he was at university in Conakry, he was arrested for giving out information about an opposition group during the presidential elections. He was tortured and beaten so badly that his right leg was severely damaged, and later had to be amputated at the hip after developing gangrene. In 2002, he moved to the US and had to apply to the Community Service Society, which is supported by the 'New York Times' Neediest Cases Fund, for funding to pay his rent and get to medical appointments. He was also treated by the Bellevue/NYU Programme for Torture Survivors.
Traore strengthened his remaining leg by hopping up and down a set of steps in a Harlem playground, though he wears a prosthetic. He ran a five-mile race on crutches, finishing in 76 minutes, in 2003. In 2004, he carried the Olympic Flame to the United Nations complex as part of a relay, although he did not participate in the Olympics himself. He later ran several marathons, including the New York and Los Angeles Marathons, with the aid of his prosthetic leg.
11. Cheik Doukouré
Cheik Doukouré is a film director, whose most famous work is 'Le Ballon d'Or' ('The Golden Ball'), released in 1994. It tells the story of Bandian, aka 'Turbo', a twelve-year-old Guinean boy who wants to become a footballer but cannot afford a ball. A French doctor gives him a ball and after he runs away to Conakry, he is picked for the national team. He later moves to France to play football there.
Doukouré himself moved to France in 1964, where he studied Modern Literature at the Sorbonne. He has acted in various films, TV programmes and theatre plays, and wrote his first screenplay, 'Bako, L'Autre Rive' ('Bako, the Other Shore') in 1978. He founded a film production company, Bako Productions, in Guinea in 1993. In 2003, Doukouré won the award for Best Actor at FESPACO (the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou), a biennial film festival based in Burkina Faso, for his role in 'Paris Selon Moussa' ('Paris According to Moussa'), which he starred in, wrote and directed.
12. M'Balia Camara
M'Balia Camara was a Guinean independence activist from a working-class background, and an early member of Ahmed Sékou Touré's Democratic Party of Guinea, as well as the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA, or African Democratic Assembly). The latter was a socialist and pan-African party in French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa founded in Bamako, French Sudan (now the capital of Mali), which became the largest political party in French West Africa and played a key role in countries in the region becoming independent from France. Camara's husband Thierno was also a member of both parties, and she led the women's section of the DPG and a women's committee in her hometown of Tondon. She became a martyr for Guinean independence following her death in 1955 at the hands of Almamy David Sylla, a local chief and opponent of the RDA.
Sylla threatened to arrest Thierno Camara and eight others for not paying their taxes, even though they had actually paid their taxes to the district commander. Although the local people drove him away, Sylla returned with a cohort of armed colonial police. The locals pelted them with stones and a fight broke out, with the police attacking the crowd with tear gas. Sylla forced his way into the Camaras' house, where he found M'Balia Camara, who was heavily pregnant. He attacked her with his sabre, cutting her open, and although she was taken to hospital in Conakry, her baby was stillborn and Camara herself died a week later. Her funeral was attended by thousands of people and the market square in Conakry was named after her. At the funeral, Sékou Touré asked mourners to bring stones and deposit them in one place to show how much support there was for Camara's cause. In her honour, 9th February was named Guinean Women's Day.