The question of national identity in Equatorial Guinea.
The newly independent states of Africa came into being at a time when the
ideology of nationalism was universally dominant. The ruling elites,
presiding over long-term economic and political decay and searching for
legitimacy to preserve their power, set about nation-building through the
development of various discourses, the indoctrination of schoolchildren,
anthems and flag waving. The focus of this thesis is on a number of these
discourses particular to Equatorial Guinea, the only Spanish-speaking state
in sub-Saharan Africa.
Four main themes are identified: firstly, the Hispanic inheritance has been
important in the building of a national cultural identity; secondly, the
likelihood of the various ethnic groups 'bonding in adversity', as a result of
living through the tyranny of Macias Nguema, is explored as are the more
recent commemorations of his overthrow; thirdly, those 'on the move' such
as the large Equatoguinean diaspora and other travelling groups in the
colony and independent state are shown to assist the national project and
fourthly, a 'myth' of Bantu unity has been proposed which claims that all the
ethnic groups of the state have a common origin. A national identity is being
assembled, like a collage or assemblage, out of diverse materials.
Finally, it is argued that the appearance of banal, everyday nationalism in
written texts in Equatorial Guinea indicates that a sense of national identity
may have emerged. Although the small size of the country may have assisted
here this does indicate that it is possible for the state in Africa to construct a
nation starting from a multi-ethnic base. There are considerable
disintegrative forces working on the sub-Saharan states but the evidence
presented here suggests a more optimistic outlook for the survival of these
states in the next century.