The Organization of Trade Unions of West Africa (OTUWA) is mourning Comrade Rabiatou Serah Diallo, the Guinean labour leader it says has broken many glass ceilings in her country and international trade unionism. Diallo died June 28th, 2023 in Conakry, Guinea according to a condolence message to the Secretary General of the Confederation Generale Des Travailleurs de Guinee (CNTG) by Comrade John Odah, the Executive Secretary of OTUWA.
The tightly worded condolence letter is reproduced here:
Dear Brother Ahmadou,
Condolences on the Death of Comrade Rabiatou Serah Diallo
On behalf of the leadership and membership of the Organization of Trade Unions of West Africa (OTUWA), I write to commiserate with you, the working people of Guinea and the immediate family of Comrade Rabiatou Serah Diallo, on her demise on June 28, 2023 in Conakry.
As a number of the condolences have highlighted. Sister Rabiatou Diallo was one of the best-known figure from Guinea internationally haven broken many glass ceilings in her native country of Guinea. Active from the tender age of 19 in the CNTG, her election as Secretary General of Guinea’s foremost national center in 2000 in a male dominated movement opened the way for women in Guinea and around the African continent to dare to follow her path.
Many of us remember her as the ever-smiling Comrade from Guinea each time our paths crossed at international meetings. She made her mark on the Governing body of the ILO where she served as one of Africa’s representatives for several years. To say she was an internationalist is to say the obvious as she served as President of the women committee of the default ODSTA, and was first chair of the ITUC-Africa women’s committee.
It is apt to quote an excerpt from one of her colleagues in the international women movement, sister Gladys Branche, a former chairperson of ITUC global women committee and current chair of ITUC-Africa women committee thus: “A mother who cares about each and everyone regardless of language and country. A very generous woman who goes to every meeting with a suitcase full of gifts to share and will ask everyone to keep their dinner allowance because she has engaged family members to prepare food for all especially in countries where she has relations and will endeavour to make time to call all the rooms for people to come and have dinner in her room.”
Comrade Rabiatou Diallo gave courageous and fearless leadership to Guinean workers when she ascended the position of General Secretary of CNTG at the turn of the century. She will be remembered for leading Guinea workers in a general strike against cost-of-living crisis in 2006 and for the General strike against the autocratic rule of Lansana Conte the following year. Indeed, there is no way the history of pro-democracy struggle in our continent will be written without her been honourably mentioned, as she led the pro-democracy struggle in her country and went on to preside over the National Transitional Council from February 2010 for three years. This was the body that managed the transition to democratic rule in the absence of legislative authority, the latter haven been dissolved before Moussa Camara fled into exile.
Once accused of lightening fire in Guinea, her response which will continue to be a source of inspiration for generations of Guineans and Africans; went thus:
“I am a woman and the mother of six children and when I set the fire,
it is under the pot, to feed my children. But in Guinea, the pot is empty…
this is what is setting the country on fire”
At 74, Comrade Rabiatou Serah Diallo was a fighter for the working people of Guinea, Africa and the world. You have fought a good fight. Rest in peace as you go to meet Comrade Sekou Toure, your ancestors and your maker.
John E. Odah (Executive Secretary)