Guinea - Personal background

General Lansana Conté was born in the village of Wawa near Dubreka about 40 miles north of Conakry in 1934. His roots lie in the less privileged segment of both Guinean society and the Guinean army. Like Sékou Touré, the head of the Socialist Party state of the First Republic, his education was mainly experiential. Despite his Russian military training from the Cold War era, Conté espouses no particular ideology or doctrine, but he values hard work, loyalty, discipline, and traditional folk wisdom. He is taciturn, stays out of the limelight, and prefers spending time on his expansive farm near Dubreka. He officially has two wives, one of whom is a former Miss Guinea. Since becoming president, he has resided on the grounds of Camp Samory, in Kaloum near downtown Conakry, however recently his poor health confined him to an extended recuperation in his home village. Conté is Guinea's only active military general, and he holds an honorary doctorate degree from Central State University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has been a long-time chain-smoker and is thought to be ailing from a kidney disease related to diabetes.

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