Posts tagged ‘equatorial guinea’


Chop My Money Multimedia

by anekdotales

Chop My Money- Sipopo Resort in Equatorial Guinea from William Sands on Vimeo.


“Meet the Journalist” video on my recent work in Equatorial Guinea

by anekdotales

Showcase for the Oil Curse- William Sands from William Sands on Vimeo.

Equatorial Guinea is a small, rich country in West-Central Africa. Thanks to oil, Equatorial Guinea enjoyed one of the fastest economic growth rates in the world during the 1990s and 2000s. Critics, however, say that Teodoro Obiang, Equatorial Guinea’s president for the past 32 years, has spent billions of dollars of the country’s oil profits on showpiece projects that do little to improve the lives of ordinary citizens. In early 2012 Equatorial Guinea hosts the Africa Cup of Nations, the continent’s premier football championship. This, according to critics, is yet another example of how the Obiang government tries to legitimize itself through large international events, often at the expense of the general population.

Since its independence from Spain in 1968, Equatorial Guinea has been ruled with an iron fist by two successive dictatorships. Due to the country’s distant location, small size, and severe restrictions on journalists, relatively few on-the-ground reports have been filed in the Western media. All television and radio stations are state-controlled. But the Cup of Nations tourney presents an opportunity for a more in-depth exploration of the everyday reality in this African petrol-state. Photographer William Sands looks at wealth and poverty in a country cursed by an abundance of natural resources.


A Portrait of Education in Equatorial Guinea

by anekdotales

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A Portrait of Education in Equatorial Guinea

William Sands for the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting

Far too few resources have been invested in Equatorial Guinea’s national education system.  For a country with a per capita GDP of $30,000, conditions in Equato-Guinean schools should be significantly better than they are. Of the regime’s national budget in 2009 only 1.97% was spent on education.  As a result many of the country’s schools are overpopulated and understaffed, there are few education materials and many teachers complain of not being paid and the lack of any institutional support.  It is estimated that less than 65% of enrolled primary school students attend classes, which often results in students being forced to repeat grades.  This coupled with the fact that many students enter the education system late, means that an estimated 83% of the student population is overage for their given grade.


Killing Me Softly- Portrait of the Opposition in Equatorial Guinea (slideshow I did for the Pulitzer Center)

by anekdotales

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Published February 15, 2012


Marcial Abaga Barril is one of the few opposition activists in Equatorial Guinea. As member of CPDS (Convergencia Para la Democracia Social), the only legitimate national opposition party, Barril has been arbitrarily detained and tortured on several occasions. He joined the opposition after the regime murdered his father, and says that at first he was consumed by a desire for revenge. That desire guided his struggle for many years, but today he says he believes in justice and looks toward building a new democratic Equatorial Guinea. He hopes that maybe his grandchildren can live better lives than his.

Even after having been tortured Barril shows little fear of the regime. He speaks loudly and seems at a total disregard for his surroundings whether he’s in a taxi, on his porch, or walking home.

“What can they do to me now? They’ve tortured me, they’ve broken into my home. Now the only thing left is to kill me, because they know I won’t be quiet. I won’t stop,” he says.

Barril says he’s been given a slow death sentence. Blacklisted by the regime, he lives in a state of constant instability. He is forced to feed his family with the pay from one odd job to the next, and its obvious he fears for the future of his children. With no real work, Barril spends the majority of his time with friends and family, on the phone organizing, or moving from one CPDS gathering to the next.

Instability and unemployment are the regime’s best weapons against the opposition and, as Barril laments, leave no opportunity for the creation of a real democratic process in Equatorial Guinea. But, he quickly laughs off the enormous challenge of his mission and smiles at the hand he’s been dealt. For Barril and other members of the opposition, their best weapons against the regime are their sincerity and conviction.

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