São Tomé e Príncipe: A trip to Paradise in the Gulf of Guinea

It is very common for holidaying Nigerians to travel to Europe and America seeking Disneylands and all that. Not a bad idea though. Beaches in Spain and Madeira, Disneyland to see fairy tale castles, comic characters, Europe to see historic sites, and many more. To some, it is a status symbol to have been to these places and they flaunt photographs and memorabilia of their trips.

However, many are missing the serene and beautiful Island country of Sao Tome e Principe!

The African Eden, Reside in Peace

According to Wikipedia, São Tomé and Príncipe, officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Africa. It consists of two islands: São Tomé and Príncipe, located about 140 kilometres (87 mi) apart and about 250 and 225 kilometres (155 and 140 mi), respectively, off the northwestern coast of Gabon. Both islands are part of an extinct volcanic mountain range. São Tomé, the sizable southern island, is situated just north of the equator. It was named in honour of Saint Thomas by Portuguese explorers who happened to arrive at the island on his feast day.

São Tomé and Príncipe is the second-smallest African country in terms of population (the Seychelles being the smallest). It is the smallest country in the world that is not a former British overseas territory, a former United States trusteeship, or one of the European microstates. It is also the smallest Portuguese-speaking country.

With newly found oil wealth potential, this paradise of an island with pristine beaches and beautiful coconut palms, is set to upgrade its infrastructure and facilities to befit its heavenly location.

Sharing a joint offshore oil development area with Nigeria, the island nation hosted a delegation of Nigerian businesspeople in 2007 to discuss the potentials of the JDZ which includes other aspects of entrepreneurship; fishing, banking, shipping, tourism and hospitality, technology transfer and training opportunities for its citizens. Most of us had never been to this island and hope to have a nice time out there. And what a time of our lives we had! Both nations are fully committed to maintaining, renewing and further strengthening the mutual respect, friendship and co-operation between their two countries, as well as promoting constructive
neighbourly co-operation; believing that the establishment of joint arrangements to permit the exploration for and exploitation of petroleum and other resources in the Area will further augment the range of contact and co-operation between the Governments of the two countries and benefit the development of contacts between their peoples.

Map of the Joint Development Zone (JDZ)

Captains of industry or their equally eminent representatives boarded a Boeing 737 Jet from the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport in Abuja. Within one hour and fifteen minutes, we touched down on a very short runway in Sao Tome, the most prominent of the islands and the capital city. The arrival lounge was so tiny and old-fashioned that we were a trifle taken aback about what to expect in this famed paradise in the Gulf of Guinea. After all the immigration and customs formalities, pre-designated buses took the delegation to their various hotel accommodations. What we saw on our way to our albeit temporary abodes will linger on in our memories for a lifetime. Beautiful scenes of nature almost untouched by overpopulation, peaceful streets and natural healing breeze. Good for therapy especially for those who need a change from the hustle and bustle of the average Nigerian city. Even though Portuguese was the official language, the people of Sao Tome and Principe spoke a smattering of English. We could do with that as the only language the whole world understands after Babel is oneness of being. We all hunger, thirst, and experience same emotions no matter the linguistic differences.

Pestana Resorts

Everyone refreshed and were treated to sumptuous buffets all three days we were on this peaceful island. The Pestana holiday resort was the venue for the summit and what a magnificent view we had of God’s creation. A lot of networking took place while the visitors enquired from the locales about other things that may bring them back visiting apart from tourism and oil and gas.

The blogger (right), Sao Tome e Principe Ambassador to Nigeria (middle) and Mr Oyegunle GM of Leadway Assurance (left)

There was a lot of networking as expected. The potentials for this wonderful island country is obviously enormous. However, the authorities must expand their airports to achieve any meaningful development. It is too small for comfort. Lighter aircraft with less passenger capacity are more suitable for trips to heaven in the Gulf of Guinea for now!

3 comments

  1. A beautiful and insightful piece. I ernestly hope that the courrpt and decietful among us don’t find their way there to pollute the island and cause disaffection between our peoples.

  2. I have heard about sao tome & principe for a long time, i would like to know about its opporunity and travelling plans i.e how to secure a visa and the rest.

    Will be happy to hear from you.

    Tony Kalu

    • Thanks Tony, the Embassy is in Abuja and you may also visit the Nigerian Tourism Development Council also in Abuja for details. We have a joint development Association: NIGERIA-SAO TOME JOINT DEV AREA; also in Abuja. Visa is given on Arrival, and there are weekly flights which return tickets cost about 90k in naira last 2 years. My regards

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