The Lusosphere: São Tomé and Príncipe


Let's rewind a bit...

1471: The Island of São Tomé is discovered on the 21st of December (St. Thomas' Day).
1472: The Santo Antão Island is discovered on the 17th of January (St. Anthony's Day).

Both Islands were discovered by João de Santarém and Pedro Escobar.



1493: The first successful settlement in São Tomé, established by Álvaro Caminha, to whom the land was granted by the crown.
1500: Príncipe is settled.
1502: Santo Antão Island sees its name changed into Príncipe Island ((Príncipe = Prince), in honour of the Prince of Portugal (to whom the duties of the sugar crop - generated by the Island - were paid).

The settlement of these islands was very difficult, for people were not attracted to them; so the initial settlers were the "unwanted" of Portugal, mostly the Jewish people.
The settlers started growing sugar there, for the volcanic soil of the region was extremely suitable for agriculture. This enterprise was labour-intensive, so the Portuguese began importing large numbers of slaves from the mainland. These Islands became Africa's top exporter of sugar.

1522: São Tomé is taken over and managed by the Portuguese crown.
1573: Príncipe is controlled and managed by the Portuguese crown.

Next 100 years: Sugar cultivation declines (since it began to be grown in other colonies in the western hemisphere, which hurt the business of the islands. Plus the large slave population was difficult to control). In the 17th century São Tomé became a transit point for ships involved in the slave trade.
In the 19th century, two new crops are introduced: coffee and cocoa. This new crop industry gave birth to the "roças" (extensive plantations) owned either by Portuguese companies or absent landlords. In these plantations abuse against the African farm workers was very common.

1908: São Tomé becomes the world's largest producer of cocoa.
During the first decade of the 20th century, it was exposed (on an international level) the fact that Angolan contract workers were being subjected to forced labour under unhuman working conditions.

1953: an outbreak of riots, in which hundreds of African workers were killed in a clash with the Portuguese rulers. This was known as the "Batepá Massacre" (whose anniversary is officially observed by the government).
In this decade, the MLSTP was born (Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe).

1975: on the 12th of July, São Tomé and Príncipe achieved its independence. Its first president was MLSTP's Secretary General Manuel Pinto da Costa.



Demographics

Total population: +/- 137,500 in São Tomé; 6,000 in Príncipe.
They all descend from various ethinic groups that have migrated to the islands since 1485:

Mestiços (mulattoes): descendants of Portuguese colonist and African slaves brought from Benin, Gabon and Congo.
Angolares: descendants of Angolan slaves.
Forros: descendants of freed slaves.
Serviçais: contract laborers from Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde, living temporarily in the Islands.
Tongas: children of serviçais born in the Islands.
Europeans: mainly Portuguese.
Asians: mainly Chinese and Macanese people (of mixed Portuguese and Chinese ancestry from Macau).

Language

The official language is the Portuguese (spoken by 95% of the population).
However there are three other spoken languages in the country (Portuguese-based creoles): Forro (85%), Angolar (3%) and Principense (0.1%).
French is also taught in schools (since the country is a member of Francophonie).

Music

The main genres of this country are: Ússua (ball dance where women wear traditional costumes and men wear straw hats plus an embroidered towel around their wrist to wipe off the sweat); Dêxa (rooted in Angola, with scornful lyrics); Puita (drum-based, extremely erotic and sexual); D'Jambi (similar to Puita, but played in healing rituals); and Bligá (a mix of dance and game).
However, there is also a genre called Tchiloli - a musical dance performance that tells a dramatic story.

Since it is spring time, we shall begin by visualising Puita, interpreted by Camilo Domingos. Enjoy!

Comments

  1. The music has a very Caribean flavore (althought it's probably just the reverse. :)

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  2. Hi Max,

    Fascinating history. As a child I used to get sugar cane from the supermarket and suck the juice. It really wasn't sweet, just like a normal fruit, but very interesting taste.

    It's interesting that without slaves, industries may have not been as profitable. We owe a debt of gratitude to slaves across the world, without their pain and suffering, we would not have as many benefits.

    In fact all of the commodities such as coffee, cocoa, rice, corn, wheat, etc. come from a long line of labor pains.

    Ooh, the music is so tropical. I feel the drums all the way through my Soul. Happy music. Happy, happy music.

    Thanks for sharing this tropical gem with us.

    Tropical Cheers.

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  3. The music had a definite calypso beat to it and very easy to move to, at least in my mind.

    Also, an interesting history. Maybe you should have been a history teacher.....never too late.

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  4. Hi Max! A bit of trivia for you but I think it’s important enough (very) to bring it up here.

    In relation to cocoa and slavery, it’s claimed, “Thousands of children have been trafficked into cocoa farms in Cote D'Ivoire” to harvest the product.

    In order to stop this rot, some chocolate companies, Cadbury for example, have entered into "an argreement to abandon their reliance on the use of cocoa produced through trafficked and exploitative forms of child labour" and to “finance the rehabilitation, reintegration and education of children who have been exploited on cocoa farms.”

    I had no idea child labour was being used and thank heavens they’re doing something about it.

    Take Care,
    Peter

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  5. Hey D!

    :D

    "The music has a very Caribean flavore (althought it's probably just the reverse. :)"

    You are right: it is the reverse. And yes, it does have some similarities :)!

    D, thank you so much for having dropped by :D!

    Cheers

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  6. Hi Lady A :D!

    "Fascinating history. As a child I used to get sugar cane from the supermarket and suck the juice. It really wasn't sweet, just like a normal fruit, but very interesting taste."

    It is indeed. Oh, I love sugar cane! The ones from my birth country are really sweet Mmmm; but the ones grown here are not that sweet - but taste good.

    "It's interesting that without slaves, industries may have not been as profitable. We owe a debt of gratitude to slaves across the world, without their pain and suffering, we would not have as many benefits."

    So true, girl! The western world owes a lot to slaves - and they should publicly recognise that simple fact. Britain was being pressed to apologise to their former slaves...I don't know how it all ended.

    "In fact all of the commodities such as coffee, cocoa, rice, corn, wheat, etc. come from a long line of labor pains."

    Indeed...

    "Ooh, the music is so tropical. I feel the drums all the way through my Soul. Happy music. Happy, happy music."

    It is happy music, isn't it :D? This was the first song I heard from São Tomé and Príncipe in 2000 - I remember loving it and dancing it a lot (of course I don't know how to dance Puita, but I made one up lol).

    "Thanks for sharing this tropical gem with us."

    You are welcome, Lady A! :D

    A, thank you so much for your comment: it transmits good vibes :D!

    Tropical Music Cheers

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  7. Hey Mel :D!

    "The music had a definite calypso beat to it and very easy to move to, at least in my mind."

    It does! LOL "at least in my mind" LOL LOL Mel, you kill me...
    I know you told us that you don't dance in public...but one day you will - just for me and Alexys LOL...

    "Also, an interesting history. Maybe you should have been a history teacher.....never too late."

    Thanks! What? A teacher, me? Nooooo....unfortunately I do not have the patience a teacher needs to have. I do know my limits...

    Mel, thanks for your delightful comment! You always manage to put a smile on my face :D!

    Cheers

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  8. Hi Peter :D!

    "A bit of trivia for you but I think it’s important enough (very) to bring it up here."

    Shoot...

    "In relation to cocoa and slavery, it’s claimed, “Thousands of children have been trafficked into cocoa farms in Cote D'Ivoire” to harvest the product."

    I am not the least surprised, Pete *nodding*....

    "In order to stop this rot, some chocolate companies, Cadbury for example, have entered into "an argreement to abandon their reliance on the use of cocoa produced through trafficked and exploitative forms of child labour" and to “finance the rehabilitation, reintegration and education of children who have been exploited on cocoa farms.”"

    One of the reasons why I only eat Cadbury!
    Did you know that Cadbury was associated to a cocoa farm in São Tomé and Príncipe (until the beginning of the 20th century)? But since the farm was forcing and, thus mistreating, their contracted workers they dropped their association and moved on to other cocoa producing countries...
    Like I said, I always loved Cadbury...

    "I had no idea child labour was being used and thank heavens they’re doing something about it."

    Oh yes! The same goes for diamonds (and gems)...they used child labour in Liberia (for example - and in many cases, kidnapped children) to explore the mines *nodding*. Poor kids...I abhor this neo-slavery (or any kind of slavery)! We should know better!

    Peter, once again, you have complemented this article in such a magnificent fashion: thank you! :D

    Cheers

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  9. Hi Max,

    I was surprised to learn that our people were the first settlers on an Island in Africa: fantastic!!
    The abhorrent behaviour against the black people explains why, still today, they hate to work on the fields *nodidng*.

    Thank you for the article!

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  10. Hi Max!

    São Tomé & Príncipe is the place to be.

    The Jewish people were sent there for they were unwanted in Portugal (simply because of their religion and culture).
    Those dark moments are still hanging over the Portuguese history for, as a nation, they never apologised.
    Vicious and irrational behaviour against others is a never ending story. The Circulus Ciceronis was wondering if the outcast Jewish people would have taken part of the continued unhuman treatment against the black people: it would have been ironic; wouldn't it?

    The Puita could only be danced in Africa: it is highly sexually charged - the 15th/16th century clergymen must have been outraged by such celebration.
    The one that is good is the stout one and her mulatto.

    Max, thank you!

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  11. Max & Mel,

    "A teacher, me? Nooooo....unfortunately I do not have the patience a teacher needs to have. I do know my limits..."

    ROFL. ROFL. ROFL. ROFL.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hello Dux :D!

    "I was surprised to learn that our people were the first settlers on an Island in Africa: fantastic!!"

    I was surprised when I read it too. Who would have thought?

    "The abhorrent behaviour against the black people explains why, still today, they hate to work on the fields *nodidng*."

    Did you hear that in the fascist era, the Portuguese used to order the workers to empty the sea? They'd chain the workers' ankles, give them buckets; order them to go to the sea, fill up the given containers, walk up the sand to the farms, empty the buckets and then repeat the operation the whole day (this was considered a corrective measure for those who refused to work under unhuman conditions) *nodding*. So, yeah...they pretty much hate to work on the fields still today.

    "Thank you for the article!"

    You are most welcome, Dux!

    Dux Probus, thank you ever so much for your comment; it was a delight hearing from you :D!

    Cheers

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  13. Hi Circulus Ciceronis :D!

    "São Tomé & Príncipe is the place to be."

    Oh yeah! Their weather conditions are superb: 30ºC in the day, 28ºC in the night....delicious!!

    "The Jewish people were sent there for they were unwanted in Portugal (simply because of their religion and culture)."

    You know it!

    "Those dark moments are still hanging over the Portuguese history for, as a nation, they never apologised."

    No, they haven't - and they should be ashamed of themselves. But I have an advice for the Portuguese Jewish community: be prouder, stop hiding.
    Anyway, the day will come when Portugal will emulate Spain and retract itself...

    "Vicious and irrational behaviour against others is a never ending story. The Circulus Ciceronis was wondering if the outcast Jewish people would have taken part of the continued unhuman treatment against the black people: it would have been ironic; wouldn't it?"

    I read that the Jewish people, in São Tomé, married the black slaves; however, I am sure that there were some who followed the Portuguese example, because there is always a black sheep in all communities, n'est-ce pas?
    But answering your question: yes, it would be ironic that a people who has been persecuted for so many centuries; and enslaved so many times, would in fact mistreat others and enslave them.

    "The Puita could only be danced in Africa: it is highly sexually charged - the 15th/16th century clergymen must have been outraged by such celebration. The one that is good is the stout one and her mulatto."

    LOL true. You know, as I visualised the video I thought the same thing "Oh boy, the church must have looked at this and declared that it was the devil's dance!" LOL *nodding*.
    LOL oh yeah....that stout girl can dance! And the mulatto had to be the sassier LOL *nodding*. You know what they say in Mozambique "Os mulatos são uns safados" (mulattoes are sassy) LOL LOL...

    "Max, thank you!"

    Thank YOU!

    Circulus Ciceronis, thank you so much for your outstanding input! As always, I loved it :D!

    Cheers

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  14. Alexys & Mel,

    "ROFL. ROFL. ROFL. ROFL."

    LOL LOL LOL it is good to hear you laughing, girl LOL....

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow, not surprised the settling was difficult, considering these two islands are really lost in the middle of nowhere!

    My boss' husband is from there, so I did a bit of research when I met him because I had never heard of the place before. Must be beautiful...

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  16. Hey Zhu :D!

    "Wow, not surprised the settling was difficult, considering these two islands are really lost in the middle of nowhere!"

    LOL LOL...well, not quite lost...

    "My boss' husband is from there, so I did a bit of research when I met him because I had never heard of the place before. Must be beautiful..."

    Is he :D? It is a nice place!! And the temperatures there are awesome! I wish I could live there...

    Zhu, ma cherie, thank you so much for your comment; it is always a pleasure :D!

    Cheers

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  17. Hey Max, thanks for nice history lesson. So: '1908: São Tomé becomes the world's largest producer of cocoa' - this is something would interest me lol. I need that chocolate to coat my cookies, lol.......Thanks again, for excellent post and the video. Anna :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. You offer your readers fascinating details about countries that might otherwise remain off their radar. Your interest in painting socio-cultural pictures invites readers to take a closer look at their beliefs and understandings of the world. Reasons exist why people think as they do. You kindly offer opportunities for people to awaken to values emerging from inner self.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hey Anna :D!

    "Hey Max, thanks for nice history lesson. So: '1908: São Tomé becomes the world's largest producer of cocoa' - this is something would interest me lol. I need that chocolate to coat my cookies, lol.......Thanks again, for excellent post and the video."

    LOL LOL LOL girl, you are on a baking roll! Excellent! :D
    Don't mention it, my dear friend :D! It is my pleasure to share stuff with you!

    Thank you a million for having dropped by, Anna; you know I love it when you do! :D

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Liara :D!

    "You offer your readers fascinating details about countries that might otherwise remain off their radar."

    I try to give back what I receive in the blogosphere: the love for culture :D.

    "Your interest in painting socio-cultural pictures invites readers to take a closer look at their beliefs and understandings of the world. Reasons exist why people think as they do. You kindly offer opportunities for people to awaken to values emerging from inner self."

    Oh my God...you read me like a book *bowing*! Aaah, Liara...what a compliment, thank you! :)

    Liara, thank you a million for your kind words...you nearly made me blush :)!
    You read people like books, girl.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  21. Max, that deep pink hue in the air around you suggests love is in the air. You have kind and generous intentions and this shows in your choices to send positive vibrations. Universal law reveals what goes around comes around:)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Max:

    Where were you when I was in college?

    Happy trails.

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  23. (Off topic)

    Hi, Max. Thanks for dropping by. I’m so so busy even school is over. Jeff is attending his basketball class twice a week and we spend half a day in each meeting. The coach gives ‘assignments’ and I have to monitor Jeff with his drills. Add the laundry that I have to finish before Dario arrives on the 27th (I have to re-wash his clothes which has been in the closet for 10months so it smells fresh again). Aaarrrgghh! Nevertheless, I’m happy doing things with Jeff even though I don’t like sports, and I’m excited that my husband is coming home again ;o)

    Have a wonderful weekend, my friend! ;o)

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  24. Very interesting again Max, as usual I focus on the music, very cool video, interesting sexual innuendos, I am trying to figure out the symbolism of what the male is doing after the act when he falls away, does it mean sleep time? lol.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Liara,

    "Max, that deep pink hue in the air around you suggests love is in the air. You have kind and generous intentions and this shows in your choices to send positive vibrations. Universal law reveals what goes around comes around:)"

    LOL that is because I am in love! Thank you so much for your kind words, Liara; I appreciate it *bowing*!
    True :)!

    Cheers

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  26. Hey Swu :D!

    LOL my dear friend, you are so kind: thank you *bowing*!

    Now, I will be full of myself for a few days ;)!

    Thanks for having dropped by, Swu :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hey Abelle :D!

    It is my pleasure to visit your site!!
    Phew...you have been busy, indeed! Oh, Dario is coming home: you must be super happy :D!!

    I am happy for you, darling! :o)

    Thank you, and thanks for having dropped by: have a great week!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hey Bob :D!

    "Very interesting again Max, as usual I focus on the music, very cool video, interesting sexual innuendos,"

    I am glad you liked it, Lord of the Astropics! :D

    "I am trying to figure out the symbolism of what the male is doing after the act when he falls away, does it mean sleep time? lol."

    LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL...perhaps it means that he is worn out: the girl is too much for him...I don't know! LOL *nodding*...
    But I like your theory though...lol..

    Bob, thanks for having dropped by...you rock, man!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hello:

    I saw your web-blog. I think it is excellent. Iam from Cuba, but I live in USA. I would like to changes links. I have 2 blogs...

    www.pasajedeportivo.blogspot.com

    http://del-verde-caiman.nireblog.com

    I hope you respond soon

    RAFAEL.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hello Rafael :D!

    Welcome!!

    Thanks, I am glad you liked it :D!

    Let me check your blogs out: thanks for the links and for having dropped by!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete

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