Alexandra Reza

Alexandra Reza teaches comparative literature at Bristol.

In the late​ 1990s, according to the historian Stewart Lloyd-Jones, Lisbon ‘transformed out of all recognition’. For a long time it ‘resembled little more than a vast construction site’. In 1998, the year Lídia Jorge completed The Wind Whistling in the Cranes, the city hosted Expo ’98, which brought in eleven million visitors (Portugal’s population...

I write in Condé

Alexandra Reza, 12 May 2022

When Maryse Condé was ten, she stood up in front of the guests at her mother’s birthday party to recite a poem she had written. It was late April in Guadeloupe and the ice-cream maker had been churning for hours in preparation. There were bunches of roses everywhere. For weeks, Maryse had woken up early to work on her descriptions of her mother’s quick temper and changing...

From The Blog
17 September 2021

On 5 September, a group of soldiers led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya kidnapped Alpha Condé and took him to an undisclosed location. They had deposed him, they said, and dissolved the government. Later they released a video of Condé, slouched on a sofa, looking irritable. Soldiers in full uniform try to get him to say on camera that all is well. The ex-president looks at the camera. Is it the old oppositional spirit that flickers on his face, or just the arrogance of power? It is hard to tell. Condé stays silent, his feet up, shirt untucked, lips pursed.

From The Blog
3 November 2020

The electoral commission in Conakry announced on 25 October that the incumbent, Alpha Condé, had won a third term as president of Guinea. Earlier this year, he held a referendum on a change to the country’s constitution that would allow him to disregard a previous two-term limit. His critics have seen this as a constitutional coup d’état and at least fifty people have been killed by state security forces in the attendant protests. The internet and international calls were cut off without warning on the Friday and Saturday before the results were announced. Asked on French television last month if he was turning into the type of autocrat he had opposed as a younger man, Condé said no. It was ‘extraordinary’, he said, that he, of all people, who had fought for 45 years against repressive regimes, should be seen as an ‘anti-democratic dictator’. He avoided the question of whether this term would be his last.

From The Blog
24 January 2017

The consensus among the European tourists interviewed by the international press at Banjul airport last week was that their evacuation from Gambia was an overreaction. ‘We just think it’s overkill,’ a man in holiday clothes said confidently. ‘Nothing will actually happen, Mr Jammeh will go, he’s using it as a bargaining tool, and it will be done peacefully.’ He shrugged. A woman with sunburnt skin widened her eyes. ‘In the hotel, everything was OK,’ she said. It was only on the transfer to the airport that they had seen people were leaving. During the first weeks of January, as the outgoing president, Yahya Jammeh, refused to relinquish office, tens of thousands of Gambians left the country, bracing themselves for conflict. Regional troops gathered at the border.

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