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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Guinea [Conakry] and its [no] connection with Guinea Pig


Marine Insurance is most interesting and a off-beat reference on a consignment destined for a place triggered some interesting thoughts ! We often hear of a metaphor for a subject of scientific experimentation, or any experiment or test in modern times ~ it is a negative connotation of something being used rather unwillingly becoming the subject matter of experimentation.

It is a small somewhat cute looking animal ~ known as Guinea pig.

The guinea pig (Cavia porcellus), also called the cavy, is a species of rodent belonging to the family Caviidae and the genus Cavia. Despite their common name, these animals are not in the pig family, nor are they from Guinea. They originated in the Andes, and earlier studies based on biochemistry and hybridization suggested they are domesticated descendants of a closely related species of cavy. The guinea pig plays an important role in the folk culture of many Indigenous South American groups,  not only  as a food source, but also in folk medicine. In Western societies, the guinea pig has enjoyed widespread popularity as a household pet. Organizations devoted to competitive breeding of guinea pigs have been formed worldwide.

On the other side, biological experimentation on guinea pigs has been carried out since the 17th century. The animals were frequently used as a model organism in the 19th and 20th centuries, resulting in the epithet "guinea pig" for a test subject, but have since been largely replaced by other rodents such as mice and rats. They are still used in research, primarily as models for human medical conditions such as juvenile diabetes, tuberculosis, scurvy, and pregnancy complications.

They have had presence on space too as Guinea pigs have been launched into orbital space-flight several times, first by the USSR on the Sputnik 9 biosatellite of March 9, 1961 – with a successful recovery.

Now searching for a bit of Geography - Guinea, (formerly known as French Guinea) is today one of Africa's poorest countries. It's sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its nearby neighbor Guinea-BissauGuinea,  officially the Republic of Guinea is a country in West Africa.  Forming a crescent as it curves from its western border on the Atlantic Ocean toward the east and the south, it shares borders with Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire.

Conakry is Guinea's capital, largest city, and economic centre. Other major cities in the country include Kankan, Nzérékoré, Kindia,Labe, Guéckédou, Mamou and Boke. Guinea's 10 million people belong to twenty-four ethnic groups. The largest and most prominent groups are the Fula, Mandingo, and Susu.  Guinea's economy is largely dependent on agriculture and mineral production. It is the world's second largest producer of bauxite, and has rich deposits of diamonds and gold. Conakry  is also a  port city on the Atlantic Ocean.  According to a legend, the name of the city comes from the fusion of the name "Cona", a wine producer of the Baga people, and the word "nakiri", which means in Sosso the other bank or side.

Interestingly, in the General elections last year the main opposition withdrew  protesting  the government's administration of the election procedure.  The ruling party had selected a South African company, Waymark, to draw up the list of registered voters. The elections have been delayed for many years and the  National Assembly of Guinea, the country's legislative body, has not met since 2008 when it was dissolved after the military coup in December. Elections have been postponed many times since 2007 and, most recently, were scheduled for 8 July 2012.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th Feb 2013.

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