Citizens, there are very few countries left on planet Earth that have not yet been graced by the Sagacious One – YOUR TFD! – in some way, shape, or form when it comes to highlighting one of their marquee recipes – sadly, Equatorial Guinea has been overlooked and this must be fixed at once! While not a well-known country outside of its region, it is the home of a simple yet delicious dessert recipe known as akwadu and today I shall share its provenance as well as the background of this small country!
Equatorial Guinea (Spanish: Guinea Ecuatorial; French: Guinée équatoriale; Portuguese: Guiné Equatorial), officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea (Spanish: República de Guinea Ecuatorial, French: République de Guinée équatoriale, Portuguese: República da Guiné Equatorial), is a country located on the west coast of Central Africa, with an area of 28,000 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi).
Formerly the colony of Spanish Guinea, its post-independence name evokes its location near both the Equator and the Gulf of Guinea. Equatorial Guinea is the only sovereign African state in which Spanish is an official language. As of 2015, the country had an estimated population of 1,222,245.
Equatorial Guinea lies between latitudes 4°N and 2°S, and longitudes 5° and 12°E. Despite its name, no part of the country’s territory lies on the equator—it is in the northern hemisphere, except for the insular Annobón Province, which is about 155 km (96 mi) south of the equator. Given its geography, banana and coconut are both plentiful and as such are key ingredients of akwadu.
Equatorial Guinea consists of two parts, an insular and a mainland region. The insular region consists of the islands of Bioko (formerly Fernando Pó) in the Gulf of Guinea and Annobón, a small volcanic island which is the only part of the country south of the equator. Bioko Island is the northernmost part of Equatorial Guinea and is the site of the country’s capital, Malabo.
The Portuguese-speaking island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe is located between Bioko and Annobón. The mainland region, Río Muni, is bordered by Cameroon on the north and Gabon on the south and east. It is the location of Bata, Equatorial Guinea’s largest city, and Ciudad de la Paz, the country’s planned future capital. Rio Muni also includes several small offshore islands, such as Corisco, Elobey Grande, and Elobey Chico. The country is a member of the African Union, Francophonie, OPEC and the CPLP.
For years, the official languages were Spanish (the local variant is Equatoguinean Spanish) and French. Portuguese was also adopted as an official language in 2010. Spanish has been an official language since 1844. It is still the language of education and administration. 67.6% of Equatorial Guineans can speak it, especially those living in the capital, Malabo. French was only made official in order to join the Francophonie and it is not locally spoken, except in some border towns.
Aboriginal languages are recognized as integral parts of the “national culture” (Constitutional Law No. 1/1998 January 21). Indigenous languages include Fang, Bube, Benga, Ndowe, Balengue, Bujeba, Bissio, Gumu, Igbo, Pichinglis, Fa d’Ambô and the nearly extinct Baseke. Most African ethnic groups speak Bantu languages.
Due to historical and cultural ties, in 2010 the legislature amended article four of the Constitution of Equatorial Guinea, to establish Portuguese as an official language of the Republic. This was an effort by the government to improve its communications, trade, and bilateral relations with Portuguese-speaking countries. It also recognizes long historical ties with Portugal, and with Portuguese-speaking peoples of Brazil, São Tomé and Principe, and Cape Verde.
Since the mid-1990s, Equatorial Guinea has become one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest oil producers. It is subsequently the richest country per capita in Africa, and its gross domestic product (GDP) adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita ranks 43rd in the world; however, the wealth is distributed extremely unevenly, with few people benefiting from the oil riches. The national dishes are succotash and akwadu.
Akwadu is the most popular breakfast in the country, and while simple it makes for a truly delicious dessert for the rest of the world (or enjoy it for breakfast – I certainly would!). Akwadu can be made with either plantains or bananas, but I strongly prefer it with banana. For this recipe, you really want to use coconut ‘chips’ as opposed to finely-shredded coconut – I like this brand. My version of the recipe calls for using coconut sugar, to both amp up the coconut flavor and for its low glycemic index. You can buy it here. Lastly, I call for a mix of cinnamon and nutmeg, where the original recipe was cinnamon only.
Citizens, Equatorial Guinea deserves it’s moment in the gastronomic limelight just as much as any other country – I hope you will enjoy this akwadu recipe from the country and share it with your loved ones accordingly! It would make a wonderful dessert after a delicious Cameroonian curry!
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