Discover The Tchiloli theatre São Tomé and Príncipe

The most original Santomean popular culture event is without a doubt its traditional plays, known as Tchiloli. Unique in Africa, it combines drama, dancing and music. It draws its origins from European medieval plays, recounting the feats of Charlemagne, brought to Sao Tome for the entertainment of the Portuguese settlers. The slaves copied them, adding all different types of the archipelago's traditional rites. Volunteer actors (men only) act, most of the time in the village squares. They keep their role, transmitted from generation to generation, all their life long. They wear frock coats, ornate with multicoloured ribbons, sequins, cocked hats, masks and white gloves. In between scenes, the actors dance to the music of the orchestra, which consists of flutes and percussion instruments. Access to the show is free and the public can take part. They ask, for example, that some scenes be re-played. For this reason, the show can go on for several hours!
The island of Principe also has its own traditional theatre (see picture opposite). It goes by the name of Auto de floripes and is held every year in mid-August. The actors, dressed in colourful costumes, bring the history of the fight between the Moors and the Christians back to life.

  • The Tchiloli theatre , São Tomé and Príncipe
    The Tchiloli theatre

    The colourful, lively, and light-hearted Tchiloli theatre is part of the island's folklore.

    © Consulat de Sao Tome
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination São Tomé and Príncipe

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