June 14, 2024
July 9, 2024

A tropical paradise surrounded by lush nature and emerald sea, being blessed to spend my Earthday (19th June) in Sao Tome. An island country of central Africa, located on the equator in the Gulf of Guinea. Only 1hr 40mins flight from Ghana. Motto: Unity, discipline, work

About Sao Tome

Consists of two main islands Sao Tome and Principe. The nearest country is Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Sao Tome means St Thomas. It is the Second smallest African sovereign state with a population of 221k with 90% of the country covered in forest. Many locals believe there were black indigenous people already habitat before the Portuguese came in 1493 in search of land to grow sugarcane. The local people were colonized by Portuguese, but gained independence on July 12th, 1975. It has been said to be one of the last countries to have enslaved Africans up to 1910 

Portuguese, Portuguese based creoles, Forro, Angolar and Principense are the 4 national languages. The local currency is Dobra (STN). Main economy is agriculture with exports in coffee and cocoa.

I went to a waterfall (named St Nicholas) towards the central highlands passed several villages. The 60 meter high waterfall is easy accessible by narrow paths, but in the middle of the rain forest. Surrounded by lush greenery, fresh air, fauna and birds. It was unfortunate that the main part of the stairway to get to the bottom of the waterfall had broken. I didn’t want to risk the climb, but was still able to take some lovely pictures and enjoy the views.

I poured libation to give thanks to the most high and guidance and protection from the Ancestors. Embraced and connected to higher self surrounded by Mami Wata. 

The country is know to be large producers of cocoa. So I treated self to a spa called chocotherapy at Sweet House Hotel. The spa consisted of being covered with melted chocolate followed by a massage. It was very relaxing as I breathed in the cocoa. 

Lunch was at a local spot in the south of the capital and in the evening had light snacks and indulge in 2 slices of cheesecake courtesy of Kanito (owner of Kanito hotel). 

It was my first time tasting bananas with red skin and a local fruit with white flesh inside –  taste delicious (cant remember the name). Breadfuit trees are everywhere. I wished I packed a few breadfruits in my suitcase, but I bought some breadfruit flour. It was common for household compounds to have at least one breadfruit and jackfruit tree. 

Massacre Memorial
I had an adventurous drive around the northern part of the country with a tour guide from banbenon tours, which costs 2086 Dobra (85 euros). The guide gave a historical account of the country which I learnt a lot.

The Batepa massacre happened on 3rd February 1953 were hundreds of native creoles known as Foros were killed by Portuguese landowners. The natives had rebelled against the government for being contract labourers that led to civil unrest. The governor blamed the ‘communist’ and ordered the military to arrest them. This turned into a bloodbath, resulting in the death of hundreds of Forros. They were beaten, killed in prison, and many bodies dumped into the sea. The aftermath led to the rise of the independent movement which is commemorated annually on 3rd February. We visited the monument that commemorates the Massacre which was erected in 2015 on the beach of Fernao Dias. We said a prayer before leaving the site. 

Also on another day whilst driving we came across erected boards which also was a landmark and remembrance for lives lost during the massacre. 

Visited Tamarindos beach, which was obvious filled with tamarind trees, free to pick, so sweet and delicious.

There were young boys selling carvings, which I purchased a mask for 200 Dobra. 

We took a really nice long ride along the coastline to santa caterina the only tunnel through a mountain in the country. 

Coffee plantation
Roca (aka plantation) monte (mountain) café is one of the oldest plantations of coffee producers situated in the centre of the island established in 1858 The factory is now derelict with remains of production. We were given a tour (coffee trail) of the coffee plantation by Anacleto Luis Fernandes a local tour guide who spoke about the history and production. 

At the reception area was a shop selling local produce were we sampled and purchased some cocoa rum. After the tour we chilled with some tea and coffee prepared by Mr Fernandes. 

Lack of tourism has taken an effect on the island and the museum and botanical gardens were closed early due to lack of visitors.

Not just an Island
Although the island has become a popular destination due to beautiful landscapes, tropical fruit, waterfalls, beaches, finest cocoa and peaceful. We must not forget the history and culture of what the people had to endure from the Portuguese during enslavement and colonial times. In my view it is evident a country were the Portuguese think they still rule and benefit highly – neo colonialism – as have own airline (Air Portugal), own hotels, main shops, cocoa production, plantation areas and use Euros. In the city centre and main areas the locals are the workers (cleaners, waiters, hotel porters, cooks, shop assistance) unless they own their own agribusiness, live in poor conditions especially at Monte Cafe, where family generations where enslaved and worked on the plantations. 

Village life
Many of the buildings were of colonial architecture. But there were also structures built out of wood on stilts. The villages were welcoming and pleased to see visitors from other African countries, sharing their stories, feelings and future hopes. The island is lush with tropical fruits and business opportunities especially in agriculture that can be done on the island to improve the lives of the local people. 

Cheers to another solar return and happy birthday to me. I am grateful for all the blessings that have come my way, family, sisterhood, friends and living best life.

Bless Sister E

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