A language of Equatorial Guinea

Alternate Names
Boumba, Ndowe

4,000 in Equatorial Guinea (2017 S. Smith), decreasing. 500 on Corisco Island. No monolinguals. Ethnic population: 4,500 (2017 S. Smith). Total users in all countries: 5,500.


Litoral province: Corisco Island, Rio Muni.

Language Status

6b (Threatened).


None known. Related to Batanga [bnm].

Language Use

On Corisco, all domains. Some young people, all adults. Away from Corisco island, used more by older generation, fewer youth. Positive attitudes. Most also use Spanish [spa]. Also use French [fra], due to trade with Gabon.

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: Only a few dozen read Benga (Scripture). All Ndowe groups use Benga hymnal. Literacy rate in L2: Almost 100%. Literature. Grammar. NT: 1895.


Latin script [Latn], used since 1863.

Other Comments

Traditionally coastal fishermen. All the Benga and Batanga [bnm] consider themselves ‘Boumba’ (those who use ‘mba’ to refer to ourselves), and together with additional groups are ‘Ndowe’ (the beach peoples). Christian, traditional religion.

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