Abdouraman Keita (AUGUST 1948 - JUNE 6,1974)

Abdouraman Keita did not live long. He was born to Soumaoro and Bounturabi Keita in rural Niagassola, Guinea during the height of the rainy season. His parents were muslim, like the majority of his ethnic group (Maninke), and he was the third of five siblings. His family was comprised of miners because they lived in one of the dustiest section of Siguiri prefecture.

Baby Abdouraman with mother Bounturabi and siblings Nnami and Daouda. Shown with mother's older sister Kassory (Right).

Keita was a small child--smaller than he should've been. After the revolution and subsequent independence of Guinea from the french in 1958, his unremarkable size opened opportunities up for him. He was allowed to partake in new government education initiatives and stay in school longer due to being too small to help in the mines. During that time period, he was a mischievous child, known for joking during prayer and dancing in the masjid when his father wasn't watching. He would often fight with his older siblings, Daouda and Nnami, over getting water from the communal well, hand-washing family laundry in the Gbessia stream and helping their aunt in her compound next door. Despite all of his antics, he was a smart child and loved by his family.

Abdouraman (middle) and his younger sisters Mariama and Ngawa.

Life came for Abdouraman when he hit his growth spurt in the cinquième year of his education. In the essay Mbe Jela Saayiu, Abdouraman (eng: See You Soon, Abdouraman) Salif Diabaté of Gamel Abdel Nasser University cites puberty as the beginning of Keita's problems. According to documents in Les Archives Médicales de la République de Guinée, Keita grew about 16 cm, roughly 6.5 inches, within one year. Within a year and a half, he stood at 1.8 m, roughly 6'2". He stopped western education, much to his teacher's dismay, and went to work in the mines. The mines posed a steep learning curve but he worked quickly and came to enjoy his job. By the time he turned seventeen, he had moved from bauxite mines to gold mines and the speed at which he worked became known all throughout Niagassola. He became a strong contributor to his immediate and extended family's income. He also became an important resource to his mining neighbors and community at large according to Diabaté.

Abdouraman(middle) with older siblings Nnami(right) and Daouda(left).

In one of his controversial journals recently donated by his older nieces, Abdouraman Keita confessed that he came to a monumental discovery about himself in the middle of the Fajr prayer on his 18th birthday in 1966. He was attracted to both men and women. To be fair, the translation is lacking--in his journal he likened his realization to mining, it was always there but he just happened to find it now. There was anguish in the entry: "I am scared. I can tell no one of this, not even Daouda and Nnami"(Keita). However, a few days later, he changed his mind and even braved telling his aforementioned siblings. He wrote hopeful words in the next entry, "kairo sill maŋ jaŋ faa" meaning "the road of peace isn't too far" along with a Bembeya Jazz National song that had just came out.

His siblings were devout muslims but, like the rest of his family, ultimately protective and loving of Abdouraman. They advised him not to tell anyone else. He met his life partner during the height of the Harmattan in 1970. A miner had passed out due to the dryness of the air (a common occurrence) but Abdouraman insisted on bring the older man to the clinic. While at the hospital, he met nurse Mohamed Kaporo Touré. He writes, "I saw him and it was like my maman told me... rainy season lightning struck my chest,"(Keita). They introduced each other to their families as best friends and only Abdouraman's siblings knew better. They dated as much as a closeted gay couple could and got married on Keita's birthday in 1972. They both moved out of their family homes and went to live in Siguiri, a big city also known for mining, because it'd be easier to live together. Abdouraman's skills were welcome and Mohamed readily found work in Siguiri's L'Hôpital Prefectural.

A photo found in Abdouraman's later waterlogged journal

Abdouraman and Mohamed were almost outed in 1974 but they were spared because of Mohamed's family connections. After this event, both of them became more vigilant. "This event caused Keita to stop journaling and to recede into a cocoon comprised of him and his husband," Diabaté writes. Six months later, tragedy struck in a Siguiri mine that collapsed in on itself. Abdouraman was the only one who had dealt with a mine near collapse before in Niagassola. Sources say that he took one look at the sudden large cracks and water creeping into their workspace and warned those above him to leave immediately. Thirty people were saved because of his warning but he was ultimately too far down to survive. After his passing, his family was given his money and those that survived rounded up funds, sousi, and gave a large sum of money and other supplies to his family. Salif Diabaté himself was the son of one of the men that survived. After his husband passed, Mohamed Toure moved across the Guinea/Mali border to Bamako but kept ties with Abdouraman's siblings Daouda and Nnami.

After he passed, many of his and Mohamed's family members named their sons after him.

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