Spanish Guinea. In the rush to leave Spain turned it over to a witch doctor

This is kind of a rough one. The colonial system was horrible with slavery work arounds to try to keep cocoa plantations staffed after slavery was banned. Then independence when things got worse and 40 percent of the population was killed and 70 percent of those remaining fled the elected President who was a drug addled psychopath. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

There was a big change in the aesthetics of the colonies stamps after World War II. Out were the portraits of Spanish leaders and in were National Geographic style representations of the native population. As we discussed recently with a Franco era stamp from Spain. It was the opposite in Spain where the stamp issues were increasingly traditional. For this reason, I think the stamps were clearly signaling independence was coming.

The stamp today is issue B25, a 5+5 Centimos stamp issued by the Colony of Spanish Guinea on July 1st, 1953. This was part of a four stamp issue celebrating local musicians. Two of the four stamps had surcharges with the funds  going toward charity benefiting the indigenous people. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents in it’s mint condition.

Spanish Guinea was awarded to Spain after a treaty with Portugal. It was very small consisting of the port of Rio Muni and the offshore island of Fernando Po. It was administered originally out of Buenas Aires in South America and then the post and island separately until they were combined administratively as Spanish Guinea in 1926. Fernando Po contained large cocoa plantations that required much labor. Britain had banned slavery and their navy policed the trade. Work arounds were accomplished by contracting with Liberia  to send contract labour but the League of Nations put a halt to it and recruiting workers from British Cameroun and Nigeria also did not go well. It seems that all over the world these large plantations can’t work without slave labour. Well then good riddance.

Spain did the usual things in arraigning for independence by assisting with a constitution  and arrainging elections. In 1968 independence occurred and Francisco Macias Nguema was elected after a runoff. His opponent went into exile for a short period  and was killed upon his return. This was only a taste of what was to come. In 1971 he modified the constitution banning other political parties and allowing him to rule by decree. He changed his title to Unique Miracle and the national motto to “There is no other God than Macias Nguema.” He ordered all person and place names Africanized and banned non African medicine. In 1975, he had 150 of his opponants shot at a soccer stadium while the loudspeakers played the Mary Hopkins song “Those were the days”. Naturally there was a rush to leave the country so the Unique Miracle banned boats and had the one road out mined. His rule ended when he started killing those in his own family. Naturally everything was fixed when Nguema was overthrown and tried and shot. A new start was needed and so his nephew took over.

The lesson seems to be, stay away from shit holes. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

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