“Traveling to Equatorial Guinea always feels like a great movie.”
With film appearances such as the blockbuster Palm trees in the Snow, his tireless theatrical career and multiple television characters, such as the endearing Dayo in Spanish National TV series Dos Vidas, Malcolm Treviño-Sitté tells us why visiting Equatorial Guinea is like traveling on the big screen.
A few years ago, I was involved in a joint project with the Madrid Regional Government called Africa in the Libraries, together with a fellow actor of Equatorial Guinean origin, Primo José Mañana Nanabaha. During our library sessions something clicked in our heads. After our short theatre performances, the questions the students asked were almost always oriented to our background, and me saying that I am Afro-Vallecan (Vallecas is the largest working-class neighborhood in Madrid) would only have led to reiterated similar questions. We are from Equatorial Guinea, we answered, and then there was silence.
To break that uncomfortable silence, I would asked them: Do you know guys what the official language in Equatorial Guinea is? Yes, they answered, French, Portuguese, English… Although the winning answer was always Guinean.
Di man—as we refer to each other amongst friends in Malabo–, let’s explain it to them… And we would spend the rest of the session explaining that this Central African country was not only a former colony but also a former Spanish province and that, of course, the official language is Spanish, and we ended up inviting them to encourage their parents and relatives to visit Equatorial Guinea, the only country in Africa (in addition to the Western Sahara) where the language of Cervantes is spoken.
I am Malcolm Treviño-Sitté, graduated in Dramatic Art and professional actor for 23 years. My life has been a journey—life is always a journey—and traveling opens our minds and shakes our fears. And just like that there are beautiful places all over the world, well-known destinations promoted through tourism strategies, it is no less true that a perhaps less well-known Equatorial Guinea has nothing to envy. When I have the opportunity to visit my other country, I do it with pleasure, as many times as possible. Without a doubt, reconnecting with my roots is something I enjoy doing and I want to do more often in the near future.
The periods of my life when I have not been able to visit, I have been leaving marks of Equatorial Guinea in my work in film, theater and even in the television series in which I have participated; that helps me to claim the connection with my origins in my closest environment, in addition to the talks that I often submit to colleagues about walking around Bioko Island, speaking Spanish as if you were in any corner of Andalusia, but located in a neighborhood called Malabo Dos, or Los Angeles or in any of the rural towns on the island where the flora (and fauna) prevail. Feeling, and hearing, welcomed by Spanish speaking communities—always warm—is for a Spanish speaker both funny as moving.
Having said all this and selfishly speaking, I would like to express the real and immediate need to exploit the beauty that Equatorial Guinea has in video and film productions. The best tourism for a country is almost always fueled by its ability to tell stories, with its cinema for example, and exhibiting our country in images will enhance its appeal. It would be a great dream to transform the country, or at least part of it, into a great set, as other destinations have done, or to create a great film festival with a Spanish accent in Africa with some big stars as our guests. It would be nice to demonstrate that today in Equatorial Guinea it is possible to put together a film production like the ones already carried out in Latin America, where right now major platforms such as NETFLIX, among others, are betting heavily on filming great cinematographic works or producing great series.
What I would most like right now is to promote cultural tourism in my ‘other country. Everyone needs to consume culture, and this destination is a great mirror for the whole world to know what we Equatorial Guineans already know: that traveling to Equatorial Guinea always feels like a great movie.
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