Sao Joao Portuguese Monument

On the Port Edward beach, you can view the Sao Joao Portuguese Monument. The monument was erected on North Sand Bluff to commemorate the souls lost in 1552 when the Portuguese ship Sao Joao floundered and sank in the shallow waters off modern day Port Edward.

The Sao Joao was originally commissioned as a battle ship, but was eventually used as a trading ship. In 1552, Manuel de Sousa set sail from India to return to Portugal with his wife, Princess Leonora de Sousa, his two sons and 600 crew and slaves. The cargo consisted of porcelain, silks, cowry shells, spices and more. The Sao Joao encountered harsh storms on its journey around Africa and shipwrecked. Approximately 100 people died trying to get to shore, and of the remaining crew and slaves, who set off on foot to Mozambique, only 21 reached the destination. Manuel de Sousa, who led the survivors, and his family perished on the way.

The cargo washed ashore after the wreck with some items still being discovered on shore today.

Apart from the tragedy, the Sao Joao is significant as the vessel that was responsible for the first encounter between Europeans and southern Africans in recorded history.  

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