BUBI PEOPLE: EQUATORIAL GUINEA`S ANCIENT WARRIOR AND STEVEDORING PEOPLE THAT ABHORS SLAVERY AND RESISTED ITS IMPOSITION ON THEM
Linguistic studies suggest the Bubi were among the first Bantu tribes to leave their Nigerian/Cameroon-area homeland, maybe 5,000 years ago, and migrate southeast, settling on the coast of what is now southern Cameroon or northern Gabon. They finally arrived on the Atlantic beaches between the Batanga and the Ntem, or campo, rivers. They lived in this area for a lengthy amount of time and during this time they formed sub tribes.
According to legend when another tribe, more warring and more numerous, invaded the Bubi's beach homeland, forcing them into hard labor and slavery. They must have stared with longing across the water at those peaceful, mysterious peaks nearly 100 miles away that began to hold the promise of peace and freedom. The chiefs of the sub tribes decided that they needed to flee the country and cross the seas to a new land named Fernando Po, which is now Bioko Island.
The Bubi, as shore-dwelling, fishing people, probably had a canoe-engineering knowledge than most African people. But when a plan for escape began to develop, they knew it would take the largest trees of the mainland forest to make the strongest canoes for their bold, desperate plan -- which was to leave, not all at once, but by sub-tribes, under cover of darkness over a period of several months, and flee to that distant land.
The work on the canoes was done in secret. Supplies were gathered and loaded under the very noses of their captors. And the plan worked. The first tribe launched its boat after midnight, without discovery, and they rowed with palm leaf oars, in complete happiness and security, the story goes.
According to Antonio Anmeyei, the bubis had migrated here about 3,000 to 5,000 years before Portuguese explorer Fernando Po landed there in 1471. According to legend, all the migration was done within one year, primarily between mid-November and mid-March.
The sub-tribes settled in a rings of territoriality around the island, where they landed depending on wind, current, luck and when they arrived -- the last tribes getting some of the more steep, inhospitable inland terrain. (Which would provoke constant intra-tribal warfare as they sought to better their situation).
Those who ended up on the northeast side of the island, where the capital city of Malabo is now, had the easiest landing, thanks to the natural harbor. Others fought giant, craggy boulders and pounding surf to make their landings on the southern end, in the vicinity of Punta Santiago.
The names of small villages that today circle the island still preserve the memory of some of those tribes of origin -- the Baney, Batate, Baho, Bakake. The Biabba tribe, later the city was named Riabba, is considered the first to arrive. The last, and the most beleagured as they looked for room to settle, were the Batetes and Bokokos.
BY: Kweku Darko Ankrah