Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Equatorial Guinea : Bubi

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 2008
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Equatorial Guinea : Bubi, 2008, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Bubi people, numbering perhaps 40,000, are indigenous to the island of Bioko, where they were once in the majority.

Historical context

Farmers and traders, Bubi resisted the grabbing of land and pressures to work on Spanish and Fernandino cocoa plantations. From the 1960s (with Spanish encouragement) some Bubi leaders sought separation of the island from mainland Equatorial Guinea. However, repression under the Nguema regimes led to the death and exile of many politically active Bubi, and for many more a period of forced labour on the island. By the 1980s Fang dominated the island numerically as well as politically. In 1993 Bubi radicals established the Movimiento de Autodeterminacion de la Isla de Bioko (MAIB) to protest against the total marginalisation of the Bubi people in government and the economy. Before independence there had been a Bubi party, the Union Bubi. MAIB was not a registered party and operated from exile and underground in Bioko. As prominent figures in a coalition of opposition parties, Bubi leaders called for a boycott of elections held in 1993 under unfair circumstances. Violent intimidation was the government's response.

In 1993, security force violence against civilians, and the banning of aid flights, created extreme distress. An early 1994 report by a UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights singled out Bubi and Annobon Islanders as victims of ethnic discrimination.

In 1998 the government arrested and charged with treason a group of 84 Bubis following an attack on a military barracks on Bioko. No evidence was presented, and Amnesty International reported that their likely offence was membership in an opposition party. All detainees were tortured. Of 64 convictions, all based on confessions through torture, fifteen of the prisoners were subsequently sentenced to death but had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

Current issues

In its 2006 Human Rights Report on Equatorial Guinea, the US State Department reported that, as in previous years, Bubi face continued intense harassment from the military. Bubi who refused to hand over harvests, money, or land, were prone to beatings and shootings. The Bubi continue to lack freedom of movement on their island homeland. In 2006, for the first time since independence, a new prime minister was appointed who was not a Bubi, ending the last symbolic (but empty) gesture against the otherwise total exclusion of Bubi in government.

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