The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every three years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.


São João Baptista is part of the Cape Verdean celebrations known as festas de romária (pilgrimage feasts). The celebration of São João Baptista, the birthday of Saint John the Baptist, takes place in Rotterdam on the Saturday before or after June 24. During the celebration, people also ask for protection for the sailors, peace, fertility on the land and in the home. The celebration of São João Baptista starts with the collection of the statue of Saint John the Baptist in the Sint Victor Church in Waddinxveen. The collection of the statue refers to the ritual in Cape Verde, where the statue of the saint is also fetched from the highlands, after which it passes all the villages before being brought to its final destination, the parish. On Saturday morning the statue is rigged by a local florist. At the Sociedade Cultural Caboverdiana the tambores and the navio, a miniature ship, are prepared and decorated. At noon the religious celebration starts with a church service in honour of the birthday of Saint John the Baptist. The celebration is in Portuguese/Cape Verdean Creole as well as in Dutch.

After the service a procession takes place in which the statue is carried to the Heemraadsplein. The procession is attended by the churchgoers, the drummers, the chosen one carrying the nave, but also by those who for one reason or another could not attend mass. A traditional Kola San Jon dance is also performed. Arriving at the square, the statue is placed on an altar, after which the cultural activities begin on the square. Visitors can become acquainted with Cape Verdean culture through activities for young and old, culinary specialities, performances from home and abroad, exhibitions and storytellers.

At 5 p.m. the stage programme starts, which is mainly aimed at the younger generation.


Working group São João Baptista Rotterdam (SJBR) organises the celebration in cooperation with the Stichting Bruggenbouwers (Bridgebuilders Foundation), which acts as coordinator in the recruitment of subsidies and sponsorship, among other things.

The celebration is kept alive by a cooperation between various (Cape Verdean) foundations in Rotterdam, religious parties and volunteers and, of course, by the Cape Verdean community and the veterans who are the heart and soul of this feast.

The Cape Verdean community from Rotterdam and surroundings is increasingly supplemented by groups from Zaandam, Belgium, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom.


The Cape Verdean community in Rotterdam has been celebrating the birthday of Saint John the Baptist on the initiative of old sailors since the 1970s. During the first years the celebration took place at different locations each year, but in the eighties the celebration got more structure and the choice for the Heemraadsplein was made. The square was traditionally a regular meeting place for the first Cape Verdean sailors, who settled in Rotterdam at the end of the 1950s. Later on the square was renamed the Pracinha d' Quebrôd (the penniless square), the name that had been used for years by the Cape Verdean community.

Despite all kinds of changes, several Cape Verdean foundations continued to endeavour for the continuation of the São João Baptista celebration and since 2011 the São João Baptista celebration has been organised by the São João Baptista Rotterdam (SJBR) working group in cooperation with other Cape Verdean organisations and parties involved. The SJBR working group consists of volunteers from the second generation of Cape Verdeans in the Netherlands who want to continue the tradition.

The arrival of the second generation in the organisation has brought several new developments. First of all, the Christian character of the celebration has been revived. Since 2011, active efforts have been made to the commemoration of the origins of the celebration by, among other things, the collection of the statue in Waddinxveen. This activity reminds the older generation of the customs in Cape Verde, while it teaches the new generation about centuries-old Cape Verdean traditions. In addition, the procession from the cathedral to the square has been added with all its important elements, such as the Kola San Jon, the presence of the tambores, the manoeuvring of the navio and, since recent years, the carrying of harvest baskets to announce the rainy season. The programming on the square has changed as well in recent years. For a long time the event mainly attracted Rotterdammers with roots in the windward regions of Cape Verde. Offering a diverse stage programme has made the audience within the community more varied. In addition, the activities are more focused on different target groups, to ensure that not only the Cape Verdean community, but a diverse audience feels invited to get acquainted with the event.



  • Organising workshops, lectures, and cultural evenings leading up to the celebration in June.
  • The use of social media to better reach the younger target group.
  • In order to bundle the fragmented knowledge, interviews will be held as well as discussions with the first generations about previous celebrations, possibly with a request for old material (photos, videos, newspaper articles).
  • Further cooperation with other cultures/religions/organisations celebrating St. John's: as has been done before, for example with the Waldorf school, parish of Our Lady and the church in Waddinxveen.
  • Starting discussions with the municipality for a structural form of (financial) support.
  • Searching for alternative forms of financing in the private sector, for example with organisations with a large Cape Verdean workforce (the port, facilities, care), with the honorary consul for the maintenance of our navio (shipyard) and from Cape Verde (such as the positive promotion of Cape Verde in countries where the diaspora is present).


Sao Joao Rotterdam