The Island of Fernando Po is indeed a special island in the Atlantic ocean yet many people dont know about this island - its history and its present crisis. As usual and always on wakanda.ng, we have outline the island in a simple way for you to read. its another classic.
Fernando Po is a strategically important island off the coast of West Africa. It's ideal position had made the island highly sought after by various European navies including the Dutch, Portugese, Spanish and also the British. Unfortunately, it's ideal strategic position was still very much in the highly diseased equatorial zone that had earnt West Africa the nickname of 'White Man's Grave'. Therefore many of the settlement attempts ended in failure. In fact the Spanish abandoned the colony in 1827.
The vacant strategic location of the island came to the attention of the Royal Navy who were engaged very actively in an anti-slave trading campaign. West Africa was the obvious source of many slave bound for the Americas. The Slave trade in the British Empire was abolished in 1807 and in fact slavery itself would be abolished throughout the Empire in 1832. The Royal Navy had its work cut out for itself in policing this policy along the West African coast. There were a myriad of river deltas and coves for slavers to hide or to gather their human cargoes. Fernando Po would be the ideal base for Royal Navy patrols to resupply and interdict slavers from.
The British used the port on the North coast as their main base of operations. It was renamed Port Clarence in honour of the Duke of Clarence who became William IV. The base was never a popular destination for British sailors as disease was still a major problem. However the population of the island did increase substantially due mainly to numbers of freed slaves. This was often the first port of call for Royal Navy ships after they had confiscated slaves from illegal slavers. Many, but not all, of the slaves remained on the island and set up a new life for themselves.
The success in reviving the colony meant that the Spanish were keen to have a second look at their colony. From 1844, they stated their intention to resume control of the islands but it would take another decade before they formally did so. One other factor in the return of the Spanish was the success of protestant missionaries in gaining converts on the island. Needless to say, Catholic Spain felt that their own missionaries should be doing the converting and lobbied hard for the British lease to be revoked. This was done in 1855.
The Island of Fernando Po
The island of Fernando Po became inhabited by people from the Bubi
ethnic group around 1000 BCE, and they spoke a Bantu Language. They
lived there undisturbed until 1472, when Portuguese explorer Fernão do
Pó discovered the island. Portugal grew sugarcane and other cash crops
on the island to sell to mainland Europe. In the 1600's, both Portugal
and the Dutch traded slaves from mainland Africa, using trading bases on
the island as collection and distribution centers for slaves. While the
slave trade strengthened, the Bubi people began moving further and
further inland order to stay a safe distance away from Europeans and not
get captured. In 1778, Portugal ceded Fernando Po to Spain, and Spain
combined the island and the Guinea coast to form the country of
Equatorial Guinea, which is still intact today.
From 1827 to 1843 the British leased bases at ports along the coast of Fernando Po, liberating thousands of slaves. However, the British lease was revoked in 1855, and Spain took over completely. They did little to support the indigenous people of the island. Little was heard of the island until the early 1920's, when an altercation with Liberia brought it to international importance.
The immigration of former slaves from the U.S. to Liberia during the Fernando Po crisis led to the separation of young men from their families, a loss of human rights, and the use of forced labor on the people indigenous to Liberia.
The Use of Forced Labor in Fernando Po
During the Fernando Po
Crisis, Liberia provided laborers to Spain, France, and England. The
laborers worked for these European countries in Fernando Po. The
Americo-Liberian government would received about 6 to 8 British Pounds
for each head sent to Fernando Po. The reason Liberia provided labor was
because it was going bankrupt, and they needed a source of income,
which came in the form of native labor.
of boys and young men were taken by the Liberian government to work on
Fernando Po. The young males got paid only one British Pound per month,
or the equivalent of about $1.50 in US dollars. Yet it cost about two
Pounds per month to afford their food rations and to travel to and from
the island. Therefore, the labor, although not officially slavery, was
the equivalent because the men worked against their will, and the
workers ended up losing money because of expenses.
During the investigation of the Fernando Po Crisis, a journalist interviewed Liberian Laborers for evidence of labor abuse. The laborers said they were put to work from 6 a.m until 11 a.m, got a break, and put back to work from 1 p.m until 6 p.m. This 10 hour workday in scorching heat was unjust and dangerous to their health. Their living conditions were harsh as well; the journalist described their sleeping quarters as "fifty boys being packed close together on beds of cocoa staves and banana leaves."
Liberia and Fernando Po Today
Fernando Po is very
different from today. Most of its land is tropical rainforest, much of
which was once sugar or cocoa plantains. Malabo is its capital. Also,
its major exports are now gases, such as methane, and oil, instead of
sugar and cocoa.
Still, the majority of people living in Fernando Po are of Bantu origin. The most common languages are Spanish, Portuguese, and French, and the most practiced religion is Christianity. The country is officially a multiparty democracy with elections, and the current president of Equatorial Guinea (Fernando Po is now part of Equatorial Guinea) is Teodoro Obiang Nguema. He shows little tolerance for opposition; the presidency is considered a sham because Obiang has ruled for three decades already, and acts as if he is dictator of the country.
Liberia is considered a failed project by most developed countries, as the democracy initially put in place never held for more than a few years at a time. The Fernando Crisis Po is simply a symbol of the troubles that Liberia has had throughout its time as an independent country. In the early 2000's, a transitional government put in place by the United Nations took over and reinstituted the democracy, and has recently left the Liberian government on its own. So far, the democracy has held, and currently even has a female president by the name of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Liberia recently has taken strides into modernization, but the country still feels the effects of its civil wars of the 1900's, as 85% of the population lives under the poverty line.
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