Saturday, October 16, 2010

Equatorial Guinea Celebrates National Independence Day for First Time on Island of Annóbon

Annobonese Celebrate Equatorial Guinean Independence Day!

President Obiang Inaugurates New Airport and Trade Port on the Island

For the first time, the people of Equatorial Guinea (Republica de Guinea Ecuatorial) celebrated the country’s Anniversary of Independence on the small, remote island of Annóbon. President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and First Lady Constancia Mangue de Obiang joined hundreds of Equatoguineans, government officials, diplomats, business leaders, and international organizations who traveled to the island for the three day event and the official opening of a new modern airport and port facility.

The opening ceremony of the 42nd Independence Day Celebration took place in the city of San Antonio de Pale, on the tarmac of the newly constructed airport of Annobón. Following speeches from various government officials and business leaders, President Obiang addressed the audience and extended congratulations to the whole nation on its independence.

In his speech, the President took stock of the history of Annobón, reiterating that the island "was the most affected by the colonial system and that it had been completely neglected, with very little communication, and had no port or airport…. For the first time, Annobón is hosting a large contingent of the nation, in commemoration of our national independence, and today it becomes the capital of Equatorial Guinea, thanks to modern urban infrastructure of the capital of Pale, its magnificent new airport and its port facility."

President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo wanted to make clear that the large investment being undertaken on the island was not for short-term profitability, but for the future: "These works are not based on economic returns, but based on the economic demand to end the criticism that Annobón is a deserted island. From now on, we also have to promote social activities to attract tourists.”

The President also referred to those and many fellow Africans "who still think that Africa's development can only come from the hands of foreigners" and made clear his opinion that: "Equatorial Guinea, by itself, can reach the level of other countries…. This year, many African states celebrate the 50th anniversary of independence, and we stand with them. However, independence is not only the absence foreign rule. Independence means being able to meet the needs of the people. And this must always be the aim of our future."

To applause, President Obiang concluded his remarks and expressed hope that "when Equatorial Guinea reaches it’s 50th anniversary of independence, the country will reach an outstanding level, and be an emerging state."

Following his speech, President Obiang accompanied by the First Lady and honored guests toured the new terminal and port to witness the completion of the projects.

Among attendees of the National Independence Day celebration, Prime Minister Ignacio Milam Tang, Minister of State for Agriculture and Forestry, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, Minister of Infrastructure and Public Works, Marcelino Oyono Ntutumu, and those of Health and Social Welfare, Justice, and Information, Culture and Tourism were present. Additionally, the ambassadors of France and Spain and embassy representatives of Cuba, Morocco, Venezuela, Gabon, Chad, and China, along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representative, Leo Heileman, and foreign companies operating in the country attended the festivities.