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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:They never finished their journey: the territorial limits of Fang ethnicity in Equatorial Guinea, 1930-1963
Author:Okenve, Enrique N.
Year:2014
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies (ISSN 0361-7882)
Volume:47
Issue:2
Pages:259-285
Language:English
Geographic terms:Equatorial Guinea
Cameroon
Gabon
Subjects:Fang
ethnicity
ethnic identity
colonial territories
boundaries
nationalism
Abstract:Territorial borders represented one of the most conspicuous symbols of colonial domination in Africa. They introduced a new concept, territoriality, which transformed Africans' self-perception, their sense of identity, in ways that few other European ideas managed to achieve. The paper analyses how in Equatorial Guinea, the peoples known today as Fang or Beti, a highly segmentary society prior to colonialism, were impacted by colonial rule and how their social identities developed. A group of mission-educated Fang from southern Cameroon reacted to colonial rule by reinforcing the role of their clan and restoring ties between split clans. In the process, they ignored the colonial territorial borders, marching and spreading their 'affirmation movement' (Elat-Ayong) into northern Gabon and northern Rio Mundi. By the 1950s, the movement contributed to the development of a cohesive Fang ethnicity. The paper further discusses the contribution of ethnicity to the development of Fang identity and its relationship with Equatoguinean nationalism to demonstrate that territoriality became a dominant feature. The Fang were able to transcend the territorial borders that set them apart, and develop a trans-border ethnic identity, and some Fang even contemplated the possibility of political union across the existing colonial borders. The author concludes by showing the development of modern Fang ethnicity and how it played a significant role in the radicalization of sectors of Equatoguinean nationalism by providing an alternative 'African' ideology. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]

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