Late in 1976, the French Ministry of State for the Interior banned distribution of a book by Jean-Paul Alata, Prison d’Afrique (Editions du Seuil); the action was taken on the basis of a law of July 29, 1881 that authorizes the government to regulate the distribution of “works of foreign origin that are written in the French language and published abroad and in France.” This law, which had lapsed, was revived in 1939 by a decree-law aiming to prevent the introduction of Nazi writings into France. Alata’s book is not the first to suffer from an aberrant application of what was in principle an anti-Nazi decree.
The present ban, which was brought about by pressure from Sekou Toure, affects a work that strains Franco-Guinean relations. (Jean-Paul Alata is French by birth; subsequently, he opted for Guinean citizenship; in 1975, French authorities, claiming that legally he was a French national, secured his release from prison in Guinea; since his return to France, he has resumed the status of French citizen.) Alata’s book is an account of what befell him in Guinea: a personal friend of President for Lire of the Republic of Guinea Sekou Toure and a well-placed Guinean political figure, A lata found himself one of the numerous Guineans who were tortured in the Borio camp on the sole decision of an autocratic President.
The passages from Alata’s book published here describe a torture scene, collective madness...
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