Spanish Guinea (Spanish: Guinea Española) was the name for a set of insular and continental territories controlled by Spain from 1844 to 1968 in the Gulf of Guinea and on the Bight of Bonny, in Central Africa. It gained independence in 1968 and is known as Equatorial Guinea.
Spanish Territories on the Gulf of Guinea
Territorios españoles en Golfo de Guinea (Spanish)
Location of Spanish Guinea in central Africa.
|Status||Union of Spanish colonies (1858-1926)|
Colony of Spain (1926-1956)
Province of Spain (1956-1968)
|Head of State|
|Isabella II (first)|
|Caudillo Francisco Franco (last)|
|Carlos Chacon y Michelina|
|Víctor Suances Díaz del Río|
|11 March 1778|
• Spanish take possession of Fernado Poo. Administered as part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
• Spanish evacuate Fernado Poo
• Spanish sovereignty reasserted over Fernando Poo
• Protectorate established on Rio Muni
• Administrative union of the various colonies
|12 October 1968|
|Today part of||Equatorial Guinea|
Restoration of the Spanish presence (1843-1900)Edit
To secure the rights of Spain, the expedition of Juan José Lerena y Barry was sent, who in March 1843 hoisted the Spanish flag in Port Clarence (Malabo), renaming it Santa Isabel and receiving the formal submission of several local chiefs, establishing the administrative life of the colony, which he named "Spanish Territories of the Gulf of Guinea", and leaving as governor the British John Beecroft (who, in 1851, would depart from Santa Isabel for the reduction of Lagos, thus marking the first British incursion in Nigeria having previously been appointed British Consul in Benin and Biafra). Also the Benga kingdom of the island of Corisco and the Cabo San Juan area established a protectorate agreement with Spain in 1843 as a result of an arrangement between Juan José Lerena and Barry with the Benga king, Bonkoro I, who died in 1846. Previously, in 1836 the Spanish navigator José de Moros had already visited the island of Annobón, ruled by King Pedro Pomba, reaffirming Spanish sovereignty over the island. Finally, in 1844 the United Kingdom abandoned its claims on the island of Fernando Po in favor of Spanish sovereignty.
Due to the terrible epidemics that devastated the area, Spain still did not commit to developing the colony through financial subsidies for the arrival of settlers, which is why it would still take another decade to carry out this direct control. The capital, Santa Isabel, was already more dynamic and the Protestant religious missions were having great success. Both elements helped change Spain's attitude, in addition to the internal reasons already mentioned. For this reason, on September 13, 1845, the Royal Order was made public by which Queen Elizabeth II authorized the transfer to the region of all free blacks and mulattoes in Cuba.who voluntarily wished it, believing that black people had a greater resistance to tropical diseases. On June 20, 1861, the Royal Order was published, converting the island of Fernando Poo into a Spanish prison; In October of the same year, the Royal Order was issued by which, since emancipated blacks from Cuba do not volunteer to immigrate to Guinea, it is provided that, if volunteers do not present themselves, the shipment, without their consent, of two hundred and sixty blacks Cubans, who will later be joined by political reprisals. The following year, in 1862, an outbreak of yellow feverIt ended the lives of a large part of the white settlers who had settled on the island. Even so, throughout the last third of the 19th century the number of plantations established by private citizens would continue to grow.
Santa Isabel (current Malabo), circa 1857, in El Museo Universal .
During the British period, these brought to Bioko some two thousand freed slaves and Sierra Leoneans, who would end up establishing their own plantations and forming a black Creole elite that would dominate the island society together with the Europeans: the Fernandinos . After the departure of the British, limited immigration from West Africa and the West Indies had continued.. For this reason, throughout the nineteenth century most of Fernando Poo's plantations were for the most part in the hands of this Creole elite. A number of freed Angolan slaves, Portuguese-African Creoles, and immigrants from Nigeria and Liberia also began to settle in the colony, where they quickly became part of Fernandina society. The ethnic mix was also added several hundred Afro-Cuban, two hundred and eighteen Rebel Philippine (of which only ninety four survive) and several dozen Spanish intellectuals and politicians deported to Fernando Poo for political reasons and other crimes, in addition to a small number of volunteer settlers. There was also a constant immigration of runaway slaves and fortune seekers from the neighboring Portuguese islands of São Tomé and Príncipe .
In 1870 the living conditions of the whites on the island improved thanks to the recommendation that they move to live in the highlands, and by 1884 a good part of the little colonial administration and the large plantations had been transplanted to the Basilé peak . hundreds of meters above sea level. Henry Morton Stanley called Fernando Poo " a jewel that Spain does not polish " for refusing to apply more aggressive colonization policies. Despite the greater chances of survival for Europeans on the island, Mary Kingsley , who spent time on the island, described it as " an uncomfortable form of execution " for the Spanish sent there. .
A freedman from the West Indies transferred to Sierra Leone named William Pratt was the first to establish a cocoa plantation in Fernando Poo, thus sowing the seeds of the economic future of the colony. At the end of the 19th century, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Fernandino landowners began to develop large cocoa plantations. With the indigenous Bubi population decimated by disease and forced labor to which they resisted, the economy became dependent on imported agricultural workers.
Map of Fernando Poo in 1897.
During these years, Spanish power gradually established itself among the natives as well, often with bad consequences. From 1855 there was a hectic time of internal struggles in the Benga society of Corisco and Cabo San Juan over the issue of local leadership caused by Spanish influence, struggles that ended in 1858 with the arrival of the first Spanish governor, Carlos de Chacón and Michelena , who appointed Lieutenant governor of Corisco to Munga I , faced Bonkoro II . Between 1859 and 1875 there was a Spanish garrison on the island, which would later be transferred to the island of Elobey Chico . It would not be until 1906 that the Bengal kingdoms of Corisco and Cabo San Juanthey would reunify during the reign of Santiago Uganda after multiple civil wars between the supporters of the Spanish and their detractors. Within this same policy of interventionism in 1864, Governor Ayllón appointed the local chief Bodumba as king of Elobey Grande .
Meanwhile, in Bioko the native Bubis, who had historically managed to keep foreigners out and safeguard themselves from slavery and exploitation at the hands of Europe, were increasingly under pressure from the Spanish administration and plantation owners. Madabita (approx. 1842-1860) and Sepoko (1860-1874 / 1875) will be the main local leaders in this period of increasing Spanish intervention. Finally, in the second half of the s. In the 19th century, all the Bubi clans were unified under King Moka (1875-1899) as a defense measure against colonialism, a situation that would not last long due to the growing Spanish colonial interventionism. During the period 1887-1897, several Spanish representatives established relations with King Moka of Bioko. They will be followed by Sas Ebuera (1899-1904) and Malabo(1904-1937), this last king being imprisoned by the Spanish authorities in 1937, dying that same year and thus ending the monarchy, which since his accession to the throne in 1904 had had a merely symbolic role and subordinate to the Spanish authorities .
In turn, the continental region of the Gulf of Biafra will be widely explored by explorers such as Manuel de Iradier and Bulfy , who, in charge of two expeditions (in 1875 and 1884), will have the mission of ending the uprisings of several town-states. fang and ensure its submission with the aim of establishing a Spanish presence in equatorial Africa , which will lay the foundations that will eventually give rise to the Río Muni colony , although at the moment Spain will not ratify the protection agreements signed by Iradier with the local chiefs by establishing a stable presence in the region.
Early 20th century (1900-1926)Edit
Spain had not taken measures to occupy the large area of the Gulf of Biafra that corresponded to it according to the Treaties of El Pardo and San Ildefonso, and, instead, France had gradually colonized the areas claimed by Spain. Madrid had not reinforced the explorations of men like Manuel Iradier, who had signed protection treaties with tribal chiefs of vast territories in Cameroon and Gabon, leaving most of these lands without an effective occupation according to the terms stipulated in the Berlin Conference of 1885. The subsequent events in Cuba and the Philippines and the outbreak of war with the United States in 1898, distracted the Spanish government from the colonial enterprise at a critical moment. The meager support for the annexation of territories in continental Africa was due exclusively to public opinion and the need for labor for Fernando Poo's plantations. During the last third of the 19th century and since 1885, the towns on the Equatoguinean continental coast that signed treaties with Spain were under its protectorate, and in 1900 the area under Spanish control would be officially unified as a colony. Likewise, in 1903 the colony of Elobey, Annobón and Corisco would also be created.
The eventual 1900 Treaty of Paris defined and established precise boundaries on the borders between French and Spanish territories in Western Sahara and the Gulf of Guinea, leaving Spain with a tiny enclave centered around the Rio Muni of a mere 26,000 km² of the 300,000 it had initially claimed east to the Ubangui River. This small enclave was much smaller than the Spaniards had considered that belonged to them based on their rights and the Treaty of El Pardo. The humiliation of the Franco-Spanish negotiations, combined with the disaster of 98, led to the head of the Spanish negotiating delegation and governor of Río Muni, Pedro Gover y Tovar, committing suicide on the return trip to Spain on October 21, 1901. Iradier himself died in ignominy in 1911 and it would not be until decades later that his achievements would be taken into account by Spanish popular opinion when the city of Cogo was renamed Puerto Iradier in his honor.
According to the text of the 1900 Treaty, the territories exchanged with the delimitation established in the text would be transferred from administration on March 27, 1901, or earlier if possible. In this regard, the political-administrative structure of the colonial territories involved in the Treaty was theoretically sustained by the survival of traditional pre-Western structures rooted in the society of the time and based on clans:
Art. 9. - The two Contracting Powers mutually undertake to treat with benevolence those Heads who, having concluded Treaties with one of them, remain by virtue of this Agreement under the sovereignty of the other.
Agreement between Spain and FranceEdit
(Gazette March 30, 1901)
The early years of the 20th century saw a new generation of Spanish immigrants arrive in the colony. The land regulations passed in 1904-1905 favored the Spanish, and most of the large plantations created after that date were owned by Spanish settlers. All this put the Fernandinos on the defensive. At that time most of the plantations were still his, and although a handful of Fernandinos were Catholic and Spanish-speaking, approximately nine out of ten were still Protestant and English-speaking at the start of World War I, and one Pidgin of English was the language of the island, so they often showed their opposition to the control that the Spanish colonial administration intended to establish over the island and made Spain's colonizing task even more difficult. Sierra Leoneans had a particularly entrenched position as plantation owners, while the recruitment of braceros in present-day Côte d'Ivoire continued thanks to their good connections and continued contact with their families there, so they were not affected by the problem or from the constant shortage of labor. The Fernandinos proved to be good traders and intermediaries between the natives and the Europeans.
One cent stamp of the colony of Elobey, Annobón and Corisco (1907).
On the island of Bioko and the rest of the territories, the exploitation of its wealth began and a true colonial government was established. The great problem of the colony continued to be a chronic lack of manpower. The indigenous Bubi population, pushed into the interior of the island and decimated by alcoholism, forced labor, venereal diseases, smallpox and sleeping sickness, had always done everything possible not to work on the plantations. Working on their small cocoa farms gave them a considerably greater degree of autonomy and allowed them to have an income to survive without having to be exploited. Furthermore, the Bubis were protected from the demands of landowners since the late s. XIX for the Claretian missionary Spaniards, who had a great influence in the colony and who eventually organized the Bubis in small theocratic missions similar to the famous Jesuit reductions of the 17th-18th centuries in Paraguay and the Banda Oriental, in Spanish America, where the Jesuits worked similarly with the Guarani and other Amerindians.
Catholic penetration was reinforced by the armed resistance of the Bubi to the conscription of forced labor for the plantations. Among these, the rebellion of 1898 led by Sás-Ebuera, who formed nationalist and anti-colonialist militias, stands out. He was captured by the Spanish forces and his refusal to accept the authority of the colonial governor led him to go on a hunger strike, dying on July 3 , 1904. Also Malabo Lopelo Melaka (king between 1904 and 1937), son of Moka, began a moderate demand for his rights, with the last confrontation of the Bubis against the Spanish colonizers in 1910 in the San Carlos region, which began after the murder of the Spanish corporal León Rabadán and two indigenous policemen. In that event, some 1,500 Bubi died, including civilians and rebels. Immediately after the insurrection of 1910, the colonial forces put pressure on King Malabo to influence local chiefs and avoid further confrontations. Finally, in 1917 the Spanish disarmed the Bubi, leaving them totally dependent on the missionaries for viable protection.
To help elevate to the lack of manpower, a contract was signed with the Republic of Liberia in 1914, by which thousands of Liberian laborers were deported or transported to Spanish colonies. This greatly favored the large landowners, as it gave them easy access at low prices to the always scarce labor force, and the increasing exploration and colonization of Río Muni through the model of plantations and its much larger territory than Fernando's Poo but sparsely populated made the deal with Liberia even more beneficial for the settlers. In 1940 it was estimated that only 20% of local cocoa production came from land owned by Africans, and, in turn, of this 20% almost all the land was in the hands of Fernandinos, who had been displaced from their niche of power after the arrival of large numbers of Spaniards.
Since the Franco-German agreements of 1911 to solve the second crisis in Morocco, Río Muni had been totally surrounded by the German colony of Kamerún and not far from French Equatorial Africa. In those years the Spanish presence was almost purely testimonial, limited almost entirely to the coast and concentrated in the capital, Bata (founded in 1900 by the French as a trading post before the territory passed into Spanish hands by the Treaty of Paris and which in 1914 had a population of only a few dozen white settlers), the troops of the colonial guard barely numbered two hundred men and the mainland was inhabited by the still not yet subdued Fang tribes.
First World WarEdit
When the war broke out in 1914, when the fighting between the colonial troops began, there was fear on the part of the Spanish authorities that the conflict would spill over into Río Muni. To solve the problem, Governor Angel Barrera had four military posts installed (Mibonde, Mikomeseng , Mongomo and Ebibeyín) very simple (without radio stations or machine guns and with very few soldiers), but they were enough to show the symbolic limits of Spanish sovereignty and they fulfilled their function, avoiding the extension of the war to Continental Rio Muni. Later these bases became centers of commercial growth and from there attacks were launched against the Fang who resisted colonization. Although the integrity of the colony was feared due to the possibility that the fighting would cross the borders between the German and Spanish colonies, this did not happen. At that time Río Muni was beginning to be explored and Spanish control was slowly being imposed in the inland territories.
With the German defeat in Kamerun in February 1916, a contingent of about 1,000 Germans between soldiers and civilians and 46,000 indigenous people between Askaris soldiers, porters and the civilian population took refuge in Bata, creating serious accommodation and maintenance problems for the Spanish colonial authorities, as well as enormous difficulties in organizing their repatriation. The two hundred Spanish troops were overwhelmed, although the Germans surrendered (both personnel and their weapons) peacefully, so Governor Barrera decided to return 25,000 of the Cameroonians to the other side of the border, leaving some 27,000 refugees in his territory. Of the more than 25,000 people who remained in Guinea, between 800 and 1,000 were Germans (only half of them soldiers), 6,000 were askaris and the rest were service personnel (such as porters, mayordomos or interpreters) and civilians. Under pressure from France and the United Kingdom, who feared that the soldiers would rejoin the fight, half of the refugees (including all Europeans) were transferred to Fernando Poo, placing them in camps near Santa Isabel. About a thousand people died from the poor conditions in the refugee camps. During their stay in Fernando Poo, the native Cameroonians served to temporarily alleviate the labor shortage in the cocoa plantations.
In the end, on December 30, 1916, Spain sent an expeditionary company of the Marine Corps to take care of the German and Cameroonian refugees. The bulk of the Cameroonians returned to their country in 1917, although some remained to live on the island, while German civilians were transferred to the Iberian Peninsula and German officers remained in the Spanish colony until the war ended. During this period there are some clashes with the local Fang population of the mainland, such as those that led to the punishment expedition of Río Muni in 1918 , or those produced by forced labor imposed by LieutenantJulián Ayala Larrazábal.
Toward the end of the 19th century Spanish, Portuguese, German and Fernandino planters started developing large cacao plantations on the island of Fernando Po. With the indigenous Bubi population decimated by disease and forced labour, the island's economy came to depend on imported agricultural contract workers.
A labour treaty was signed with the Republic of Liberia in 1914; the transport of up to 15,000 workers by sea was orchestrated by the German Woermann-Linie, the major shipping company. In 1930 an International Labour Organization (ILO) commission discovered that Liberian contract workers had ‘‘been recruited under conditions of criminal compulsion scarcely distinguishable from slave raiding and slave trading’’. The government prohibited recruiting of Liberian workers for Spanish Guinea.
The persisting labour shortage in the cacao, coffee and logging industries led to a booming trade in illegal canoe-based smuggling of Igbo and Ibibio workers from the Eastern Provinces of Nigeria. The number of clandestine contract workers on the island of Fernando Po grew to 20,000 in 1942. A labour treaty was signed with the British Crown in the same year. This led to a continuous stream of Nigerian workers going to Spanish Guinea. By 1968 at the time of independence, almost 100,000 ethnic Nigerians were living and working in Spanish Guinea.
Colony of Spanish GuineaEdit
Between 1926 and 1959, the Crown united Bioko and Río Muni as the "colony of Spanish Guinea". The economy was based on the exploitation of the commodity crops of cacao and coffee, produced at large plantations, in addition to logging concessions. Owners of these companies hired mostly immigrant contract labour from Liberia, Nigeria, and Cameroon. Spain mounted military campaigns in the 1920s to subdue the indigenous Fang people, as Liberia was trying to reduce recruiting of its workers. The Crown established garrisons of the Colonial Guard throughout the enclave by 1926, and the whole colony was considered 'pacified' by 1929.
Río Muni had a small population, officially put at a little over 100,000 in the 1930s. Its people could easily escape over the borders into Cameroon or Gabon. Moreover, the timber companies needed growing amounts of labour, and the spread of coffee cultivation offered an alternative means of paying taxes.
The island of Fernando Po continued to suffer from labour shortages. The French only briefly permitted recruitment in Cameroon. Planters began to recruit Igbo labourers, who were smuggled in canoes from Calabar, Nigeria. Fernando Po was developed after the Second World War as one of Africa's most productive agricultural areas.
On December 15, 1963, the Spanish Government submitted to referendum among the population of these two provinces a draft Bases on Autonomy, which was approved overwhelmingly. Consequently, these territories were endowed with self government, officially adopting the name of Equatorial Guinea, with organs common to the entire territory (General Assembly, Governing Council, and Commissioner General) and organizations specific to each province. Although the commissioner was still appointed by the Spanish government and retained broad powers, the General Assembly had considerable initiative in formulating legislation. Its first and only president was Bonifacio Ondó Edu. The General Assembly was chaired by Enrique Gori from 1964 until June 1965, when he ceded the position to Federico Ngomo.
In November of 1965 , the Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly approved a draft resolution calling on Spain to set the earliest possible date to grant independence to Equatorial Guinea. In December of 1966 the Spanish Council of Ministers agreed to prepare the Constitutional Conference. In October 1967, the Conference was inaugurated, chaired by Fernando María Castiella, Spain’s Foreign Minister; with Ngomo leading the Guinean delegation.
The post-war political history of Spanish Guinea had three fairly distinct phases. From 1956 to 1959, it had the status of a "province", having been raised from a "colony". From 1960 to 1968, Spain tried a system of partial decolonisation to keep the province within the Spanish territorial system, which failed due to continued anti-colonial activity by Guineans. On 12 October 1968, Spain conceded the independence of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Francisco Macías Nguema was elected as president.
Before 1908, Spanish Guinea was defended by elements of the Guardia Civil, Marine Infantry and Customs Guards. However, In 1908 all of these agencies were combined to create the Colonial Guard of Spanish Guinea. They performed military, law enforcement and customs duties. In 1968 the Guard was transformed into the new Equato- Guinean army.
The population of the Colony of Spanish Guinea was stratified (before slavery was abolished). The system was somewhat similar to the one operating in the French, English and Portuguese colonies in the rest of Africa:
- Peninsulares — White Spanish population, whose immigration was regulated by the Spanish government.
- Emancipados — Black African population, assimilated into the Peninsulares' culture via Spanish Catholic educations. Some were descended from freed Cuban slaves, repatriated to Africa after emancipation and abolition of slavery by the Spanish Royal Orders of 13 September 1845 (voluntary), and of 20 June 1861 (deported). The latter group included mestizos (indigenous-European) and mulattoes (African-European), mixed-race descendants who had been acknowledged by a white Peninsular father.
- Fernandinos — Creole peoples, multi-ethnic or multi-race populations, often speaking the local Pidgin English of Spanish Guinea's island of Fernando Po (now known as Bioko).
- "Individuals of colour" under patronage — included the majority of the indigenous Black African people, and those mestizos−mulattoes who were not acknowledged by white fathers and were being deported from the Americas. Of the indigenous ethnic groups in Guinea, most were Bubi and Bantu peoples such as the Fang of Rio Muni.
- Others — primarily Nigerian, Cameroonian, Han Chinese, and Indian peoples who were hired as contract laborers under types of indentures.
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