We will now travel a bit West off the coast of Africa to São Tomé, a small island. We will be looking at the São Tomé 20,000 Dobras p67e 2013 banknote. This is a very colorful note featuring the São Tomé Oriole (Bird), Rei (King) Amador, and the city of Santo Antonio.
I knew nothing about São Tomé when I started researching this note, so I figured many of you might not know much about it either. I was surprised to learn that they speak Portuguese there as the primary language as it was discovered by the Portuguese around 1470. Once discovered, the Portuguese brought slaves there to start sugar plantations. They did well at first and were the world’s main producer of sugar at one time, but were soon outdone by the Brazilians who sold a higher quality sugar. The slaves began escaping to the mountains and joined together with a people group called the Angolars. It is unclear how the Angolars originally came to be in São Tomé – some stories say they were shipwrecked, or slaves who evaded their owners, or that they had immigrated there before the Portuguese arrived. However they got there, the history is clear that on July 9, 1595 they joined forces with the slaves who had escaped from the Portuguese and fought a battle under the leadership of Rei Amador (a self-proclaimed King and “liberator of all the black people”). The Angolars ruled the island of São Tomé until Rei Amador was captured by the Portuguese in January 1596, sent to prison, and later executed. Despite the brevity of his rule, Rei Amador is still remembered as a national hero, likely why he was featured on this banknote (which I should mention is currently our featured note and you can get it for a limited time at a special price!)
Today the population of São Tomé consists mainly of Farros (Portuguese for Free Men”) who are descendants of the Portuguese settlers and the slaves they brought to São Tomé with them. There is still a population of Angolar people as well as Cape Verdeans. They continue to be an agricultural people as the climate and soil make the island ideal for growing products like Cacao, Coffee, Copra (fruit of the coconut), and Palm Oil. There is much more that could be said, but in the interest of keeping this brief perhaps we’ll revisit São Tomé in a future blog-ette (see all notes from São Tomé)!
Country: Sao Tome (Saint Thomas & Prince)
Denomination: 20,000 Dobras
Pick #: 67e
Depictions: Rei Amador; Sao Tome Oriole (Bird); Crest; Beach scene in Santo Antonio
Note Size: 5 1/2″ x 2 1/2 “
Watermark: Rei Amador