The South Coasters have come in large numbers to support the annual Portuguese Seamen’s Food, Wine and Family Festival at the Estuary Hotel and Spa this past weekend.
The beginning of the festival and the celebration of Portuguese heritage is due to a day in July 1552, when a carrack (sailboat), named the Sao Joao, was wrecked off the coast near Port Edward.
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Twenty-one survivors managed to swim to shore and walk from the southern tip of KwaZulu-Natal in Mozambique in the hope of being rescued by passing ships.
In memory of the sailors who lost their lives that day, a special ceremony and monument unveiling took place at Splash Rock in Port Edward last Sunday.
Father Bernard Thiel opened the ceremony, Tony de Sousa from the Honorary Consulate of Portugal in Durban with Councilor Dave Watson then spoke about the history of Sao Joao.
Mr Watson said the ship was traveling from India to Portugal, carrying a cargo of pepper, porcelain, pearls, tapestries and other items, worth an estimated one million gold.
“There are countless fascinating stories of Portuguese pirates, smugglers and merchants who have visited our shores over the centuries to trade spices and jewelry, but the history of Sao Joao, in particular, has remained with us.” , he explained.
The monument was inaugurated by Manuel Fernandes Pereira, Ambassador of Portugal to South Africa, on June 30, 2002. The monument was rebuilt in 2018, thanks to the Ramos family from Port Edward.
The fantastic cultural event included Portuguese and Zulu dancers and singers, authentic Portuguese meals, numerous stalls, treasure hunts and artisans.
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