8.13.2013

A Glimpse of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea

The name Equatorial Guinea conjures up a gamut of images. These images include the negative, such as oil wealth, corruption and dictatorship - as well as the positive, including tropical jungles, scenic beaches and beautiful volcanic vistas. The running of this coastal Central African country has been a family business for decades. Teodoro Obiang, President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979, overthrew his dictatorial uncle in a military coup and has ruled since - never ceasing to treat the country as his personal wealthy playground.

While much of the country suffers in poverty, President Obiang has his hands firmly grasped around the country's bank accounts and treats them as his own. It's no surprise that President Obiang's is often considered to be among the wealthiest African dictators with an estimated personal wealth of $600 million.

It's ironic that for being third largest oil exporter in Africa, Equatorial Guinea ranks dismally low on all human development indicators as a result of the endemic corruption that plagues the country's central government. If Equatorial Guinea's 700,000 are sitting above incomprehensible oil wealth, then where is that money going? It is this irony that Tutu Alicante explores and exposes with his international advocacy organization for transparency in Equatorial Guinea - EG Justice

Yet despite all the faults, failures, and dysfunctions of the central government, the lives of average citizens of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea's capital, continue to play out as they always have against the backdrop of Obiang's rule. Despite the corruption, despotism, and poverty, life marches on in a form of silent resistance that is unique in and of itself.  

I stumbled upon the short video below by Marc Michel when looking up information on EG given that I'm somewhat tempted to visit now that I'll be living right next door in Cameroon. The video, while short, serves as a glimpse into everyday life in Malabo. What I love about it is that despite the evident juxtapositions of wealth and poverty, the beauty and distinctiveness of average life in Malabo manages to emerge. 

 

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