Once upon a time there were ‘Roças’
Once upon a time there was tons of coffee leaving Sao Tome and Principe in ships. And then, all of a sudden, everything ended. Once upon a time Sao Tome was a Portuguese colony, and then, harmoniously achieved its independence.
Independence is always a good thing. Everyone has the right to be free and not managed by some other country. And, as an outcome, while Sao Tome was conquering its independence, the Roças (places to work coffee and cocoa, first owned by Portuguese) were nationalized and divided. So, every single citizen had the right to have their piece of land.
Well, in paper, everything went well but, in real life, a huge problem was starting: many people owned a land very far from home and, as a result, they stopped working in coffee or cocoa, and started their lives doing something else.
Today, “Roças” are still many, but most of them are inactive and under degradation. Some people still live there: in the late Portuguese owner’s houses or their own. But, when you turn around, you can see that something very important happened there. Something that maybe will never happen again: a frantic and sprouting time. There were schools, hospitals, grocery stores, mechanics, carpenters, laundries, stalls, and many, many other things in each “Roça”. We could say that there was a city inside each one, as you had anything you needed there. (As a matter of fact, for example, “Roça Agostinho Neto” had a huge hospital at the end of its main road that’s still one of the most beautiful buildings that you can see in Sao Tome.)
For the ones that lived those times now it’s place for some nostalgia, as they’re watching the total break from past to the present. Yet, «life goes on», they say.
So, here it is: “Roça Monte Café” and “Roça Agostinho Neto”.
A photo gallery by Cátia Biscaia