The Republic of Equatorial Guinea, the only officially hispanicized country in sub-Saharan Africa, has a total area of 10,820 square miles (slightly larger than the state of Maryland) and a population estimated to be 318,000 in 1974. 1 Since gaining its independence from Spain in 1968, Equatorial Guinea has largely slipped from the wider discussion of African affairs. The state, whose two major components are the mainland enclave of Rio Muni (10,039 square miles) and the island of Macias Nguema Biyogo (779 square miles), has only received limited outside discussion because of the supposedly repressive nature of the government of President Francisco Macias Nguema.
In the spring of 1975 exile sources reported the execution of over 300 people, including former members of the government. 2 Communication with the outside world is severely limited. It has been charged that those seeking refuge in the neighboring countries of Gabon and Cameroon are not safe but are kidnapped, returned, and executed. In early 1975, an exile group, the National Alliance for Restoration of Democracy in Equatorial Guinea, appealed in Geneva to international organizations to “denounce the atrocities committed by President Francisco Macias Nguema.” 3 In April of 1975, Martin Ennals, the Secretary-General of Amnesty International, urged the Equatorian president to “take all necessary steps to halt these atrocities which have a profound effect on international opinion.” He reiterated that more than 300 prominent Equatorians had been executed and that there are “continuing indications that basic human rights are consistently violated.”
What brought about this state of affairs in Equatorial Guinea (if the reports are to be believed)? Unfortunately, most of the news emanating from the republic is negative. Little attempt has been made to analyze the factors which have given rise to the repression intermittently mentioned in the outside press. Yet, Equatorial Guinea may very well be a prime illustration of the torturous attempt to build a nation within anomalous boundaries bequeathed by European imperialism.
The republic is a state in which terror has had a clearly integrative function. The terror does not represent a form of African “atavism, ” nor can its leaders be simplistically dismissed as “racist murderers.” Civil terror keeps in check the centrifugal forces which would otherwise dissolve the