Sao Tome and Principe
In the West, we live in a world filled with technologies and complexities aiming to simplify life. However, almost by definition they convolute and complicate. We also live in an age that has never been more connected, yet as humans we have never been so disconnected.
Most people have never heard of São Tomé & Príncipe and, in many ways, being in São Tomé is like stepping back in time. Mobile telephones are a luxury most people don’t need or want, and there certainly isn’t a television in the majority of people’s front room. Almost entirely cut off economically from the rest of the world, São Tomé feels a million miles away from the modern world we currently live in.
Having both African and European roots myself, I have always been fascinated by former colonies and São Tomé was of particular interest to me due to the fact that the islands were uninhabited by humans before being spotted by Portuguese explorers around 1470. This makes São Tomé one of the most recently populated countries in the World, mostly populated with slaves brought over from present-day Angola to work on the sugar, cocoa and coffee plantations.
In keeping with the country’s youth, more than 60% of the population of Africa‘s second smallest state is under the age of 25. The median age in São Tomé 18.4 years old, which makes it the 19th youngest country in the world, and the youngest country that hasn’t been embroiled in civil war or struck by famine.
“Os Meninos da Roça”, which translates as “The Kids from the Plantation”, is a series about the inhabitants of these quiet islands that grew up “poor” from a western perspective, yet they live a life desirous of nothing more than what they already have. Aiming to steer clear of the usual African stereotypes, for me it was a refreshing realisation that the best, but most elusive, luxury in life is the luxury of simplicity.