On March 2, the president of Guinea-Bissau, Joao Bernardo Vieira, was killed by soldiers of his own country. This was a tit-for-tat attack – just a few hours earlier, the President was supposedly responsible for a bombing that killed the chief of the army.
The President and the army have fought for power in Guinea-Bissau for a long time. Vieira had been the President for 22 of the past 29 years, but there had been many attempts to remove him, and there was an attack on his life just four months ago!
Guinea-Bissau was ruled by Portugal until the country got its independence in 1974. Since then, there has been a lot of political unrest in the country, including a one year civil war that caused much destruction.
Guinea-Bissau is one of the biggest exporters of cashew nuts. A popular musical instrument is the Kora – a string instrument made out of dried calabash. A calabash is a gourd that is used in many countries for various things: as food, as a musical instrument, and as a bowl or a cup or a water jug or a food container. In Nigeria, it’s even used as a helmet by motorcyclists!
Frederick Forsyth, author of many thriller books where governments are toppled and presidents are killed, was in Guinea-Bissau to research his next book the day President Vieira was killed. Even he couldn’t have imagined that the truth might be so close to his fiction!