News Celebration of Independence Day in Annobon: the President inaugurates the airport and the island’s port The President and the First Lady, accompanied by an important delegation of members of the Government, and diplomatic representations and those from international institutions travelled to the Island of Annobon to celebrate there the National Independence Day. One of the first acts of the program was the inauguration of the large infrastructures that have changed the physiognomy and the future of the island.

14/10/2010

An impressive deployment of means was put into motion for the 42nd Anniversary of the country’s independence, in order to achieve a goal that up to a few months ago would have been completely impossible: to celebrate on the Island of Annobon the 42nd Anniversary of October 12, National Independence Day, with the most important guests, and with the acts and the festivities in keeping with the importance of the event.

The goal was complicated: it dealt with transferring to the Island –which up to a short time ago was an isolated territory, and practically cut off- the most relevant personalities of the countries and representatives of other States: the President and his wife, an important delegation of members of the Government, a large part of the Ambassadors and personnel from the Embassies present in Equatorial Guinea, and of course, the personnel necessary to make the event a reality: waiters, service of all types, media professionals, security, etc….

In order reach the goal, work began several days earlier: a contingent of airplanes, of the State company Ceiba and from other lines, as well as military planes and those of the Presidency, made continuous transfers of personnel to bring all those present. The only hotel of the Island welcomed a large part of the principal guests and was equipped with large marquees to house the buffet that all attended.

After several days of preparations, on the 10th in the afternoon, the representatives of the Government and of the different diplomatic corps and of international agencies began to arrive who went to the celebrations, among them, besides the President of the Nation and his wife, the Prime Minister, Ignacio Milam Tang; the Second Deputy Prime Minister in Charge of Political and Democracy Affairs, Demetrio Elo Ndong; various Ministers (among them, those of Agriculture, Justice, Health and Information) and different Vice Ministers; the Presidents of the People’s House of Representatives and of the Supreme Court, together with some representatives; the Secretary General of the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), along with other political parties of the opposition; the principal representatives of the Embassies in Equatorial Guinea (France, Spain, Cuba, Morocco, Venezuela, Gabon, Chad, China, etc). The Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Leo Heileman, along with members of other international institutions, managers of companies working in the country, etc., also attended.

On the afternoon of October 10, the celebrations began with the distribution of toys to the children of San Antonio de Palea, and with the election of the Miss Equatorial Guinea, which was carried out in the Meeting Room of the site, and in the midst of a multitudinous atmosphere. The decision of the panel, in which participated, among others, the sculptor Leandro Mbomio Nsue, could not be closer and more hard-fought. At the end, the three chosen from among the participants were Nerre Priscila Barila, representative of Bioko Norte, and Miss Equatorial Guinea; Virginia Nsang Biyogo, representative of Litoral, as First Runner-Up and Yolanda Riloha, representing Bioko Sur, as Second Runner-Up.

An airport designed for the 21st century

Another of the main goals for choosing the Island of Annobon as the place to hold these celebrations was to know, and make known to all the visitors, the work and projects of the new infrastructures and of other types that are changing the physiognomy of the island, and that for the first time, will contribute new tools to the small territory in order to construct a better future.

Among the work already finished stand out especially the new airport and the new port: two gigantic infrastructure projects with which it managed to end, finally, the state of isolation that has always characterized Annobon, an island, which up until a few months ago only had a small airport whose runway was not even one kilometer in length, which caused a situation of serious risk for all the airplanes that arrived there. This was the cause, for example, of the tragic accident in the year 2008 with several mortal victims. Without the new runway, the celebration of an event of such characteristics as the one carried out for this 42nd Anniversary of National Independence would have been completely unfeasible.

The inaugural act was carried out, precisely, on the very runways of the new airport, whose exterior image –with a very modern design- and its equipment make it practically the best terminal that Equatorial Guinea now has. Participating in the event were the Mayor of San Antonio de Palea, the capital, who thanked the Government as well as, very especially, the President of the Republic, H.E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, for the spectacular change that is transforming the city and the entire island: “It’s never too late to do well”, commented the Mayor, who added that Annobon had never experienced such development.

The mangers of the companies Somagec and General Work, in charge of some of the work carried out on the island, together with the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructures, Marcelino Oyono Ntutumu, also addressed the public to inform on the details of the finished projects and on those that are still to be begun. Among the first, the new port, which will permit complete trade with the area, with the docking of large-tonnage ships and passenger ferries, with an approximate cost of 100 million euros (done by Somagec). Or the new airport, with the extension of the former runway of about 600 meters, which was constructed on a dike that rests on the seabed (done by Somagec). Also, about to be inaugurated, are the first series of social housing that the Government wants to expand so that the inhabitants of the island can enjoy better housing that they have always had (done by General Work).

Marcelino Oyono recalled the past times of the colony, when Annobon was the destination used to send the dissidents and those banished by the justice system. He also referred to the first decades of the independence, when poverty and the poor state of the country condemned almost all the inhabitants of Annobon to isolation, who barely had any other expectation than fishing in small boats, with hardly any contact with the exterior, and who suffered serious pandemics and famines. Oyono informed that the desire of the Government was for the development of the country to reach the small island equally, or even more. Therefore, the Minister added that, from the construction of the first and small structures carried out a few years ago, to the current and up-coming projects that include the supply of drinking water, the construction of a police department and of new social housing, among others, the Government has made in Annobon an investment over 200 billion CFA francs.

“Content for the road taken”

After the speeches, the President himself addressed those present, in the first place, to send his best wishes to the entire nation for the national independence, a moment that signified the recovery of the rights and freedoms of all the Equatoguineans.

In his speech, the President also summed up the history of Annobon, reiterating that the island “was the most affected by the colonial system for the total abandonment to which it was subjected, cut off, without port or airport”.

“For the first time, Annobon houses a large concentration of the nation, for the commemoration of our national independence, becoming today the capital of Equatorial Guinea, thanks to the modern urban infrastructure of the city of Palea, to its magnificent airport and to its new port installations.”

H.E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo wished to make it clear that the great investment that was being made on the island did not look for short-term profitability, but rather for the future: “This work was not done based on economic profitability, but rather it is based on economic revindication, in order to end the criticism that Annobon is an abandoned island. From now on, it is also up to us to promote social activities in order to attract tourists and to create activities for them”, commented the Head of State in reference to the investment made on the island and its economic future.

The President also referred to those Africans and many fellow countrymen “who still think that the development of Africa can only come from foreigners”, and it left very clear his opinion contrary to this thesis: “We feel capable of having Equatorial Guinea reach the level that other countries of the world have.”

“In this year, many African States celebrate the 50th anniversary of their independence, something with which Equatorial Guinea feels fully identified. But independence not only is the absence of foreign control. Independence means being capable of satisfying the needs of the people. And this must always be the goal of our future.”

Finally, and among applause of those present who, despite the prevailing heat, followed the act until the end, the President made the wish that “when Equatorial Guinea celebrates the 50th anniversary of its independence, our country will have an outstanding level, and that we are an emerging country”.

“We are content for the road taken, and one of the results we can see today, on the island of Annobon”, finalized the Head of State before starting the tour to know personally all the details of the new terminal and of the new port, in company of his wife, and of the guests present in the act.

Text and Photos: N. B., Filiberto Nseme Nsue.

Equatorial Guinea’s Press and Information Office (D.G. Base Internet).