If there was one word I would use to describe Guillermina Mekuy, it would be ‘determined’.
As an author, ex-minister, publisher and all-round entrepreneur, Guillermina has cultivated her brand which ultimately celebrates womanhood and is something that was instilled in her while growing up in Madrid, Spain.
“My parents always advised me and taught me to be independent, self-sufficient, and a fighter,” says Guillermina.
“They told me that with effort and dedication, I could achieve anything I set my mind to and that I would never stop learning from the lessons that life, day by day, imparts to us.”
Guillermina was born in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. As the largest city in the country, Malabo is known for its port and old city filled with colonial-era buildings like the Presidential Palace and the Palace of Justice of Malabo.
“My favourite thing about living in Malabo were the landscapes and the cultural wealth,” she recalls.
As the daughter of Luis Mba Ndong Andeme, an Equatoguinean diplomat, and Esperanza Obono Nve Nchama, a catechist, education was something that was prioritised throughout Guillermina’s life.
As the family moved to Madrid, Spain, Guillermina continued to prosper and at the age of 17, she wrote her first novel El Llanto De La Perra (The Cry Of The Bitch) – a move which marked the start of her glittering literary career.
“My first novel is the result of my dreams and a desire to transmit a story so that it is known,” she says. El Llanto De La Perra tells the story of a young woman from high society in an African country discovering her identity.
During this time, Guillermina was studying at university and in 2006 she graduated in Law and Political Science from the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain.
The trajectory of Guillermina’s career is something to behold. She published her second title Las Tres Virgins De Santo Tomás (The Three Virgins Of Santo Tomás) in 2008 – a story following the path of three sisters born in Equatorial Guinea who move to Spain and are enrolled in Catholic schools to “correct” their behaviour.
This was followed by her third novel in 2011, Tres Almas Para Un Corazón (Three Souls For One Heart) – a story of three female protagonists from different walks of life who fall in love with the same man.
Each of these novels continued to show the author’s literary prowess and creativity, but also, a new wave of contemporary Equatorial Guinean writers living in Spain with strong ties to their African roots.
“The highlights of my literary career is the ability to continue exciting my readers and being able to share some of the realities we face every day,” she says.
While Guillermina got her big break in literature, her career continued to evolve as she made her way into politics.
“For me, moving from literature to politics wasn’t a transition, it was a compatibility of functions,” she states.
“I continue to write and politics was for me the best way to represent and work for my country.”
In 2008, Guillermina returned to Equatorial Guinea where she assumed the position of General Director of Libraries and Museums.
In 2009, she became the Secretary of State for Culture and in 2012 she took office as Minister of the Department of Culture and Tourism of the Presidency of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea – becoming the first woman to hold this position.
“To be the first woman to assume that position was a feeling of immense pride and satisfaction in working for the country,” she says.
“Without a doubt, one of the proudest elements of taking on that position was to increase culture offerings in Equatorial Guinean society and have the entire population benefit from it.
“Also, it was key to represent the country in international forums and to expose the cultural and social richness of the country.”
To return to her home country and take on this prestigious role represents one of the many spaces the 38-year-old has occupied over the years – from literature, politics and now cosmetics.
“I am currently launching Clementyne Cosmetics, my cosmetics brand,” she reveals. “The reception to it has been quite good. The outlook is positive and the international expansion of the brand is definitely a reality.”
In addition to Clementyne Cosmetics, the entrepreneur continues to push forward with publishing, after launching Editorial MK in 2016 – a platform which promotes the work of new female writers.
Within all aspects of Guillermina’s work, the desire to empower and uplift women remains at the forefront.
“The empowerment of women is already a reality and a necessity,” she says.
Over the years, Guillermina has launched various initiatives, including the Mekuy Cultural House to support women and girls in the city of Evinayong, Equatorial Guinea.
“I have spent years in the business field and sharing the need to empower women for the development of important roles,” she adds.
Guillermina’s work over the years is an example of Black women occupying various spaces across literature, politics and more and the need to highlight those who are in these places and who do exist.
“Everything we do as Black women represents us all. We are the reflection of future generations and the strong positioning of Black women in the international political, social and economic panorama is a reality.
“I would encourage other women to follow and continue pursuing their dreams.”