Dorothy Odartey-Wellington’s research examines the literature that was published in the colonial press of Equatorial Guinea, the former Spanish colony which used to be known as Spanish Guinea with a view to producing an anthology of the primary sources as well as critical essays on the colonial literary culture and its socio-political climate.
She became aware of the need for this project while researching contemporary Equatorial Guinean writers currently living in exile in Spain. References to Equatorial Guinean colonial literature were limited to the two novels that were published by Africans, Cuando los combes luchaban (Leoncio Evita Enoy, 1953) and Una lanza por el Boabí (Daniel Jones Mathama, 1962), and to a number of narratives published by colonials. The paucity of accessible Equatorial Guinean colonial creative expression made it difficult to assess the impact of colonial writing and culture on the contemporary writers, some of whom began writing before independence.
The literature published in the colonial press provides the basis for this project because it is an abundant source of diverse creative expressions in colonial Africa. While the metropolitian governments and other colonial institutions obviously invested little in the book publishing industry in their colonies, they tended to invest in publishing newspapers, magazines, journals and bulletins that aided them in the colonizing process. Unlike books, these periodicals were more accessible to the average colonial and became increasing available to the Africans as well. These publications then, were the main avenues for the communication of literary expression in the colonies. This holds true for Equatorial Guinea whose colonial media contain a variety of genres of creative writing by both Spanish settlers and colonized Africans.
She plans to produce a critical anthology of representative colonial literature classified according to the origin of the writers as well as the genre of their works. These will also be grouped under essays in which she will examine the cultural and the socio-political climate of the following four significant periods into which the active colonization of Equatorial Guinea can be divided: 1858-1930: the colony under monarchical Spain; 1931-1936: republican Spain and the colony; 1936-1958: the colony under Franco’s dictatorship; 1959-1967: the colony as an overseas province of Spain.
This project addresses the existing gap in Equatorial Guinean literary history, providing a comprehensive study of its colonial literary output. It will expand the concept of colonial literature to include writing that was first published in the colonial print media. It will provide scholars of African or Hispanic literature with an accessible critical reference for their own research in colonial studies. From both an academic and a general point of view, this research will contribute to increasing knowledge in Equatorial Guinean literature which, at the moment, is relatively isolated compared to other African or Hispanic literatures.