Cocoa is the largest export of Sao Tome & Principe. An ancient, and unique brand of Cocoa plants survives on the fields of Claudio Corallo, and local producer of ecological chocolate. These plants is what Corallo was after, when he first came to Sao Tome over 30 years ago.
An Italian by nationality, an agriculturist by trade, the man discovered a unique and ancient variety of cocoa on the islands. Brought back from South America on the other side of the ocean back in the 1800s.
This cocoa, flavored with history, is what many call the world’s best.
After 13 years of producing coffee and cocoa in Sao Tome, Claudio Corallo acknowledges that he must have been crazy to invest in a country without conditions and infrastructure.
Today, even the Prime Minister, Tomé Vera Cruz (as of 2007, current PM is Rafael Branco – ed), admits that Sao Tome lost these 30 years after the independence.
This year the PM believes Sao Tome will have extra help from the International Monetary Fund, with a debt cancelation amounting to $380 millions.
When the Prime Minister says that we must start from scratch, he refers for example to the energy issue. Both the capital, and the country, often have to endure power cuts – the lack of electricity is a constant daily problem. At night Energy Officials in their Jeep try to stretch the little energy that exists
Now sitting in the Jeep, I’m reminded of Helio, the unemployed painter in the neighborhood of Madrede
us, with whom I’d talked days earlier.
What’s Your Dream?
By 11 at night, the city is dark and silent. The avenues and the marginal sleep early, and only rare figures break the night. Along the coastal road and the Hotel Miramar, the main hotel in the city, in the dark of the night, a strange blue light glows, someone is sitting on a low wall. A single light in the darkness.
The strange light of the marginal is the notebook of Mário, a young man who hangs out on the wireless Wi-Fi network from the hotel, travelling for hours to other worlds on the net.
Mário tells me afterwards, that his mother is an engineer at United Nations, and that’s the only way she managed to buy hm the laptop. Now his dream is going to college in Portugal.
João Morais is a Portuguese journalist since 1989, with 15 years of experience as a radio reporter, now working as an Editor for TVI Television. This story was first published on Jan 19, 2007 on TSF – Radio. For the Portuguese radio version listen here.