His name is Donato Ndongo Bidyogoi Makina and his country is Guinea Ecuatorial, a small Spanish-speaking nation along the west coast of Africa.

During May, Ndongo has been touring the United States trying to trump up interest in the culture, art and heritage of his homeland.Like most Spanish-speaking nations, Guinea Ecuatorial is 99 percent Catholic ("Though our religious services tend to be a bit more lively than Catholic services in other countries," says Ndongo through a smile).

Guinea is also more than a playground for wealthy Spaniards.

"We have a deep and rich cultural heritage," Ndongo says. He knows. He's the editor of "Africa 2000," a spry little Guinea literary review.

The magazine, all in Spanish, features poems, short stories and non-fiction by the country's writers. The recent issue has three poems by C. Nsue Otongo, one of the national poets.

Your stride is also my stride, he writes of his home, and the two of us go along blazing trails / You by sea, me by way of the jungle / hurrying home again to you.

One problem on Ndongo's American tour is most of the promotional material for the small country has yet to be translated into English. So Ndongo has gone state to state finding Spanish-speakers who can help him get the word out.

Guinea has only 372,000 inhabitants and has been independent only since 1968, but it has fast become a refuge and place of pride for many Africans. It boasts museums, cultural centers, theaters, libraries, literary prizes, arts grants and a dedicated cultural ministry.

Ndongo himself has put together an anthology of Guinean poetry and is currently associate director of one of the cultural centers.

One of the mistakes outsiders make, he says, is equating his little country with the Moors and the North African Arabic influence on Spain. He explains that Guinea is black Africa - a neighbor of Nigeria - and one of the most unusual countries in the world; a country that loves literature and art like no other.

All it takes is a few minutes with Ndongo to become a believer.