No Fondness for Santa in Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea is one of the richest countries in Africa, but has spent the entirety of its post-colonial existence under the thumb of two crazed dictators. In a country that has been likened to a German concentration camp by being called "The Dachau of Africa", a few slights to the reputation of "Santa" are pretty insignificant, but odd and interesting none the less. 

Thomas Nast's "Merry Old Santa Claus"

Farewell Santa
Ruling through secret police and a cult-of-personality, Francisco Nguema (r.1968-1979) struck down all opposition and ended personal freedoms. While living a life of luxury (he had the entire treasury moved to his house) he drove his citizens into poverty and illiteracy. Of course, he rested the blame for their misfortunes on their colonial past and ordered everything with a Spanish name to be changed. This included his name, which was changed to Masie Nguema Biyogo Negue Ndong. In 1973, he also changed the name of the capital. Named Santa Isabel after the city's patron saint (Saint Elizabeth) to Malabo. In that same city two years later, the legacy of "Santa" has once again trampled upon.

Christmas Eve. 1975. 150 perceived political opponents were congregated at the Malabo soccer stadium. Mary Hopkin's "Those Were the Days" was playing. It should have been a night of family fun. Instead, numerous men emerged dressed as Santa Claus...and armed with guns. It was Nguema's soldiers and they opened fire; killing the attendees. Having victims listen to that song while in the throes of death, Nguema likely hoped to instill some twisted sense of irony. Having the murders performed by Santa as his final "present" to them was equally twisted. 

Christmas is a time for celebrating the birth of Jesus, spending time with loved ones, exchanging presents, and watching the awe-struck faces of children light up in the specter of it all. At least, that's the case for many people. However, it is understandable if there are some people in Equatorial Guinea that don't share the same fondness for jolly ole St. Nick.  

Thanks for reading. 

Persecution is also taking place in Myanmar. Most famously against the Rohingya, but also against other ethnic groups. Click here to read more.

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