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In 2009, I spent 3 months in Sao Tome and Principe, one of the poorest countries in the world. For many years, during colonial times and soon after, Sao Tomé was among the world's leading cocoa producers. At the beginning of the 20th century, it came to dominate the international market, producing 50 thousand tons per year. The production system was based on large plantations, called "roças", and on labour (considered by many to be forced labour) supplied by workers from another Portuguese colonies, especially Cape Verde. Portuguese writer Miguel de Souza Tavares' main book, “Equator”, is inspired by those plantations. After independence, the plantations were nationalized and gradually lost their productivity. In 2009, most had gone bankrupt. What was left of them were abandoned buildings and destroyed machines, huge carcasses slowly cannibalized by the population, who sold their spoils in pieces: first the furniture, then window frames, glasses, stairs, tiles, bricks, floors, beams and finally the remaining stones. That was the situation I found and which inspired me to photograph and produce a book and an exhibition. In 2010, the book was launched by the Alexandre de Gusmão Foundation. One year later, the exhibition went to São Tomé and Cape Verde. Download the book here.

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