"THE NDOWE PEOPLE POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER AND THE STOCKHOLM SYNDROME."
By: Enenge A’Bodjedi, M.D.
July 13, 2012
The Ndowe are a coastal African people whose ancestral land for the last 700 years has extended over three West Central African countries: Cameroun, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. Prior to settling along the Atlantic Ocean, the ancestral Ndowe lived in the following regions:
(1) Itàbba ji-a ZIRE (THE VALLEY OF THE GREAT RIVER, otherwise known as THE NILE VALLEY).
(2) Ityòppe ji-a Mayôngó (THE GATHERING OF THE RACES, otherwise known as ETHIOPIA).
(3) Etìma e-a Mazìzi (THE DANGEROUS LAKE, otherwise known as LAKE VICTORIA).
(4) Janjjé ji-a Matyìta (THE MYSTERIOUS SPLENDOR, otherwise known as SUDAN).
(5) Ikùmé-Mbôngó (THE GATHERING OF THE MULTITUDES). It was in Ikùmé Mbôngó that three Ndowe linguistic groups assembled: THE BONGWE, THE BOUMBA, and the BONDONGO. The BONGWE NDOWE ethnic groups include the Kombe, Bobenda, Moma, Iyasa, Bweko, and One. The BOUMBA NDOWE ethnic groups include the Benga, Bapuku, Banoko, Batanga, Duwala, and Bakota. The BONDONGO NDOWE ethnic groups include the Balengi, Mbiko, Mpongwe, Mityogo, Bavili, Bakongo, Bangala, Mongo, and Mbundu.
(6) Ubèngi (Otherwise known as the UBANGI RIVER).
(7) Dipongo ji-a ZIRE (Otherwise known as the KONGO RIVER).
(8) Malôngó (Otherwise known as the GABON ESTUARY in Gabon).
(9) Mùnne (Otherwise known as the MUNI ESTUARY in Equatorial Guinea).
(10) Edibba E-asaÿÿa nà Enànga (Otherwise known as the SANAGA RIVER in Cameroun).
(11) Lokònjje la-a Mombànga (Otherwise known as the LOKONJE RIVER in Cameroun).
(12) Etémbbó (Otherwise known as the CAMPO RIVER which separates Cameroun and Equatorial Guinea). During the 1600s, three famous Ndowe patriarchs ruled the coastal Ndowe ancestral lands between the Etembo and Mune Rivers (that is, in Equatorial Guinea):
(1) Ngômbbi yà Pòto of the Boboko clan of Bapuku ruled on BONDÈLO (Mount Bondelo), near the modern Ndowe city of Bata, Equatorial Guinea.
(2) Ulàgo mu-a Ebuka of the Gabenge clan of Benga ruled in Mbimmo yà Ulàgo, located on the south bank of the Èyyo (Benito) RIVER. The name Mbimmo was transformed over time to the modern Ndowe town of MBINNI, Equatorial Guinea.
(3) Ekèla e-a Mbèngo of the Gabenge clan of Benga ruled in Ukongollo mu-a Unìmba, near the modern Ndowe town of KÒGO, Equatorial Guinea. From 1842 to 1890, with the help of American Presbyterian missionaries, the Ndowe People established the coastal UNITED STATES OF THE NDOWE between BANÔKÓ (Kribi, Cameroun) and MPONGGWÉ (Libreville, Gabon), to end the clandestine and illegal Atlantic Slave Trade still being conducted Spain and Portugal, and supported by the Almighty American Dollar. When the European imperialists decided to carve up the continent of Africa during the Berlin Conference of 1885, for their economic exploitation, the Ndowe People were separated in the different colonial territories: Kamerun (Germany), Spanish Guinea (Spain), Gabon (France), French Congo (France), and the Kongo Free State (Belgium).
The Independence Movement in Spanish Guinea was led by King Ikìmo ji-a Ikìmo (ca.1845 – June 9, 1960) of the Gabenge clan of Benga, who was otherwise known as King Ugandda or Tàtta Bombàndo by his Ndowe subjects. King Ugandda, a Presbyterian, was the most famous Ndowe leader to challenge traditional Ndowe beliefs concerning ethnic superiority and inferiority during the colonial era. He urged the coastal Ndowe to abandon their belief in being superior to the Fang and other ethnic groups living in the African interior. The rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism in Europe, and the subsequent tragedy of the Holocaust, prompted Tàtta Bombàndo to challenge the historic distinctions between the coastal ndowe and interior African people. Conversations with Jews in the colony of Spanish Guinea, who had fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, further convinced this Ndowe king to reject deeply rooted notions of Fang inferiority and Ndowe superiority. The famous Hispano- Ndowe Conference between King Ugandda and Governor Faustino Ruiz Gonzalez took place in 1950. The Benga monarch sailed from his royal village of Lêmbbwé, on Mànji (Corisco) Island, to the coastal town of Bata in the Province of Rio Muni, to discuss independence for Spanish Guineawith the Spanish colonial governor. King Ugandda also went to Bata to demand the release of his jailed subordinate Ndowe kings. Because of increasing protest from the Ndowe elite for freedom in Spanish Guinea, the Spanish colonial officials rounded up all of King Ugandda’s subordinate Ndowe kings and prime ministers in 1948 and jailed them. Among those Ndowe leaders jailed for thirty months, starting in 1948, were:
1) King Ivìnna ji-a Otaÿa- Venga of the Bobonga clan of Kombbé;
2) King Masòko ma-a Bènjjé of the Ebòngasômé clan of Kombbé;
3) King Jombbe ji-a Njùmba of the Bò-Molondda clan of Bobènda; and
4) Prime Minister Ngôndé yà Epota of the Ukàti clan of Benga.
While in their jail cells, these Ndowe political prisoners irritated their Spanish Roman Catholic jailers by singing American Presbyterian hymns such as «Onward Christian Soldiers.» The Spanish prison guards mocked these Ndowe leaders by shouting at them, «President Truman and his Presbyterians don’t give a damn about their black monkeys in Harlem and oher slums in America. Do you stupid black monkeys here in the jungles of Africa really believe that they give a damn about you?» At the 1950 Hispano-Ndowe Conference, Gov. Faustino Ruiz Gonzalez said to King Uganda, «Spain is willing to grant independence to your Benga people, the keepers of Western civilization here in Spanish Guinea, as well as to the other Playeros (coastal Ndowe people) between Rio Campo (Etembo River) and Rio Muni (Mune River), but not to the savage Pamues (Fang) in the bush.»
King Ugandda refused this offer from Spain by saying, «It was your white forefathers who came to my black forefathers’ land and called them heartless heathens and cannibals who lacked compassion for their fellow human being. The American Presbyterian missionaries taught us Ndowe, one hundred years ago, that we are supposed to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. How can we Ndowe accept independence from Spain while our Panghwe (Fang) brothers and sisters in the interior remain colonized and oppressed by your people? I do not want apartheid dividing my Ndowe and Panghwe subjects here in Spanish Guinea. » «Fine.., » began Ruiz Gonzalez. «If you want the Pamues (Fang) to receive their independence at the same time as your Playeros (Ndowe), then so be it. However, EVEN THOUGH A MONKEY WEARS SILK, HE IS STILL A MONKEY! You and your Playeros (Ndowe) will see for yourselves how the savage Pamues (Fang) will destroy this prosperous country. Your Pamue (Fang) brothers in the bush will mistreat your Playeros (Ndowe people) worse than any white man ever did. When those savage and cannibal Pamues (Fang) from the jungles of Rio Muni start killing and cannibalizing your Ndowe people, your wonderful, God-fearing and Jesus-loving racist white Presbyterians, and the United States government, will do nothing to stop the ethnic cleansing.»
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and the Stockholm Syndrome among the Ndowe in Equatorial Guinea can be traced back to February 27, 1969, the onset of the Fang peasant revolution, when President Masie me Nguema (Francisco Macias Nguema Biyogo) of the Esangi clan of Fang ordered on State Radio, «Kill the white man and rape the women! You have the right to pillage and plunder! The death penalty to anyone who helps the white man! We are at war against Spanish imperialism. The lumbermen are our enemies! » (www.angelfire.com/sk/guineaecuatorial/bima.htm)
Under the Fang dictatorship of Masie me Nguema from 1968 to 1979, the population of Equatorial Guinea was reduced from about 300,000 to 100,000. Some 100,000 Equatorial Guineans from the country’s five ethnic groups (Ambo, Bisio, Bube, Ndowe, Fang), as well as from the Kriyo (Creole) community, were viciously murdered. Another 100,000 Equatorial Guinean refugees flooded the neighboring African countries of Gabon, Cameroun, and Nigeria. As of 2012, there are more than 225,000 Equatorial Guinean exiles who cannot return to their homeland and register their ancestral lands because the Republic of Equatorial Guinea has been converted into the ‘private property’ of the Esangi clan of Fang that has ruled since Independence Day, October 12, 1968.
The ancestral land of the Ndowe people in Equatorial Guinea was, and continues to be, militarily occupied by the Fang. Ndowe families were capriciously expelled from their lands, had their properties confiscated, and their villages and towns burned to the ground. After March 5, 1969 in IKÙMÉ- MBÔNGÓ, the coastal Ndowe Ancestral Land in Equatorial Guinea, the Fang invaders and colonizers from the interior inflicted all kinds of physical and mental abuse on the Ndowe: Rapes, Beatings, Mutilations, and Murder. Ndowe men, women and children were forced to witness the execution of their loved ones without shedding a tear. They were also forbidden to conduct funeral services for their murdered loved ones, since many times the corpses simply «disappeared. » This and other forms of psychological trauma and intimidation over 44 years, has led to the development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and/or the Stockholm Syndrome among some Ndowe survivors in Equatorial Guinea.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Autocratic governments and dictatorships often give rise to several psychiatric conditions in members of a subjugated ethnic group. Among the Ndowe people in the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, who have endured 44 years of oppression and subjugation by the ruling Fang ethnic group, two psychiatric conditions noted among them are:
1) Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and
2) The Stockholm Syndrome.
In Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present:
(I) The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.
(II) The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Note: In children, this may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior. The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in one (or more) of the following ways:
(1) Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. Note: In young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the trauma are expressed.
(2) Recurrent distressing dreams of the event. Note: In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizing content.
(3) Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur on awakening or when intoxicated). Note: In young children, traumaspecific re-enactment may occur.
(4) Intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
(5) Physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
(1) Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations associated with the trauma.
(2) Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma.
(3) Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma.
(4) Markedly diminishing interest or participation in significant activities.
(5) Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others.
(6) Restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)
(7) Sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span).
Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by two (or more) of the following:
(1) Difficulty falling or staying asleep.
(2) Irritability or outbursts of anger.
(3) Difficulty concentrating.
(5) Exaggerated startle response.
The duration of the disturbance, symptoms, is more than one month. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. "After 44 years of violent tyrannical rule under the Esangi clan of Fang, many Ndowe have suffered, and continue to suffer, from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder "
The Stockholm Syndrome
The Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational given the danger or risk endured by the victims, who mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.
The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, Sweden in which bank employees were held hostage from August 23 to August 28, 1973. The term «Stockholm Syndrome» was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, who helped the police during the robbery. It was originally defined by psychiatrist Frank Ochberg to help the management of hostage situations.
On August 23, 1973 two machine- gun carrying criminals entered a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. Blasting their guns, one prison escapee named Jan-Erik Olsson announced to the terrified bank employees «The party has just begun!» The two bank robbers held four hostages, three women and one man, for the next 131 hours. The hostages were strapped with dynamite and held in a bank vault until finally rescued on August 28, 1973. After their rescue, the hostages exhibited a shocking attitude considering they were threatened, abused, and feared for their lives for over five days. In their media interviews, they supported their captors and actually feared law enforcement personnel who came to their rescue. The Kreditbanken hostages had begun to feel the captors were actually protecting them from the police. One woman later became engaged to one of the criminals and another developed a legal defense fund to aid in their criminal defense fees. Evidently, the Stockholm hostages had «bonded » emotionally with their captors. The emotional «bonding» with captors in hostage situations, such as the «Stockholm Syndrome», was a familiar story in psychology. It was recognized many years before 1973 and was found in studies of other hostage, prisoner, or abusive situations such as:
(1) Abused children
(2) Battered/Abused Women
(3) Prisoners of War
(4) Cult Members
(5) Incest Victims
(6) Criminal Hostage Situations
(7) Concentration Camp Prisoners
(8) Controlling / Intimidating Relationships
Bonding emotionally with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation. The «Stockholm Syndrome» is often encouraged in crime situations as it improves the chances for survival of the hostages. Hostages experiencing «Stockholm Syndrome» will not be very cooperative during rescue or criminal prosecution. Local law enforcement personnel have long recognized this syndrome with battered women who fail to press charges, bail their battering husband/boyfriend out of jail, and even physically attack police officers when they arrive to rescue them from a violent assault. The components of «Stockholm Syndrome» relate to abusive and controlling relationships. Once the syndrome is understood, it’s easier to understand why victims support, love, and even defend their abusers and controllers. Every syndrome has symptoms or behaviors and Stockholm Syndrome is no exception. The symptoms or behaviours of the Stockholm Syndrome include:
(1) Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/ controller.
(2) Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities trying to rescue/ support them or win their release.
(3) Support of the abuser’s reasons and behaviors.
(4) Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim.
(5) Supportive behaviours by the victim, at times helping the abuser.
(6) Inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in their release or detachment.
Stockholm Syndrome does not occur in every hostage or abusive situation, because the length of time one is exposed to abuse/control and other factors are involved. Four situations or conditions are present that serve as a foundation for the development of Stockholm Syndrome. These four situations can be found in hostage, severe abuse, and abusive relationships:
(1) The presence of a perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser would carry out the threat.
(2) The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim.
(3) Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser.
(4) The perceived inability to escape the situation.
The Ndowe People in Equatorial Guinea have been indoctrinated over 44 years, since gaining independence on October 12, 1968, that the criminal and antisocial members of the ruling Esangi clan of Fang, and their fellow Fang, can directly threaten their lives. The Fang history of violence towards the Ndowe in Equatorial Guinea leads members of the Ndowe community to believe that the Fang captor/ controller will carry out the threat of ethnic cleansing in a direct manner if the Ndowe people fail to comply with Fang demands. The Fang abusers assure their Ndowe captors in Equatorial Guinea that only Ndowe cooperation with the ruling corrupt Esangi clan of Fang will keep the Ndowe and their loved ones safe in the Fang Republic of Equatorial Guinea.
The Fang abusers/controllers of the Ndowe in the Fang Republic of Equatorial Guinea offer subtle threats to their Ndowe captors, remind them that the Ndowe People in Equatorial Guinea have paid dearly in the country since independence, for not following the wishes of the ruling Fang. Victims of violence and aggression in the Fang Republic of Equatorial Guinea since March 5, 1969, has prompted the Ndowe People to assert its right to self-determination before the United Nations in IKÙMÉ- MBÔNGÓ, the Ndowe Ancestral land in the present-day Fang Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Intense therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and the Stockholm Syndrome is the next step towards healing for some Ndowe victims in the Fang Republic of Equatorial Guinea.