Equatorial Guinea is a small country on the west coast of Africa comprising the Rio Muni mainland. It is bordered by Cameroon to the north, Gabon to the south and east, and 5 volcanic offshore islands. Malabo, the capital is located on the north coast of Bioko Island and has a population of 187,000 inhabitants. It is the oldest city in the country with Spanish colonial architecture and is a hub for the country’s prosperous oil industry. Oyala is a planned city currently under construction, designed to replace Malabo as the capital. The planned city’s location which was chosen for its easy access and benign climate, is located in Wele-Nzas Province, near the town of Mengomeyen.
Since the mid-1990s, Equatorial Guinea has become one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest oil producers. It is the richest country per capita in Africa, and its GDP per capita ranks 69th in the world. However, the wealth is distributed very unevenly and few people have benefited from the oil riches. According to the UN less than half of the population has access to clean drinking water.
Equatorial Guinea is the only sovereign African state in which Spanish is an official language. The country gained independence in 1968 after 190 years of Spanish rule. Between 1968 and 1979, autocratic President Francisco Macias Nguema virtually destroyed all of the country’s political, economic, and social institutions before being deposed by his nephew Teodoro Obian Nguema Mbasogo in a coup. President Obiang has ruled since 1979 and was re-elected in 2016.
According to Trip Advisor, highlights for the visitor include Catedral de Santa Isabel in Malabo, Arena Blanca beach in Luba, Pico Basilé (the tallest mountain of Equatorial Guinea) and Mbini (a town in Rio Muni, lying at the mouth of the Benito River).
The cuisine of Equatorial Guinea is a blend of the cuisines of the native tribes along with Spanish influence. As the wealthiest nation in west Africa, its cuisine incorporates various meats include game. A few recipes I came across were chicken in peanut sauce with rice, meat or fish grilled with crushed pumpkin seeds served in leaves and Banana Coconut Bake. I opted to cook Guinea Fowl Paella which we enjoyed with my parents. It was very flavoursome although it was fairly time consuming boning the bird and making the stock.
Prep time: 30 minutes – 1 hr 30 minutes (depending on if you need to de-bone the guinea fowl!)
Cook time: 40 minutes
500g guinea fowl breast and leg meat, cut into 3 cm strips
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
650ml chicken stock or stock from the guinea fowl bones
200g long grain rice
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp pimenton or paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/8 tsp turmeric
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper, de-seeded and cut into strips
1/2 tin or 250 g cooked black beans
Heat the oil in a pan and cook the guinea fowl strips until they are almost done, then remove the meat and set aside
Fry the onion and garlic and cook until the onion has softened
Add the rice and fry for a few minutes before adding the stock, oregano, pimenton, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and turmeric
Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes
Add the tinned tomatoes, red pepper and beans
Stir, cover, and simmer for 5 more minutes, until the rice is tender
Add the meat, cook for a few minutes to heat the meat then serve