While passing through the city of Julian, on Friday, September 8, he organized a solidarity evening for the benefitSolidarity Association Sao Tome and PrincipeHeaded by her mother, Hélène Lolum. In front of about forty people, he spoke at length about his new life in this former Portuguese colony, independent since 1975. He introduced his farming company, the vanilla culture he had created in the south of the country, his lodges and the tourism it generated. . .
I make 300 bottles of gin a month and create my own labels.
He arrived in 2004 to work for an NGO with international volunteer status, and began developing tourism activities, before turning to selling exotic products. “In 2012, we created Délice des Iles, a small company that sells jams, dried fruits and infusions. Then we found land in the south of the island to develop some spices: lemongrass, ginger and papaya.Bastian, who will be growing vanilla starting in 2015, describes it as “the largest exporter of organic vanilla.”
Full of projects, Bastian became a distiller of liqueurs and gin from palm wine. “I tried distilling palm wine in Sao Tome without knowing it existed in Central Africa. It is called Sudabe. It is the national drink of Benin and Togo. Only Sao Tome has not distilled it. So I am a pioneer in this field.” He explains.
Bastian now has five stills of different capacities, made with a column that allows spices to be added for flavour. He has been selling “Vim Pema Gin” since 2021. “I make 300 bottles a month and design my labels. I plan to look at the lifespan of the product, which is a long-term task.”
In addition to his production, he builds huts on the property he rents, allowing him to receive tourists, sell products and organize tasting workshops.
Bastien Lolom adapted so well that he was granted São Tomé citizenship. It must be said that on the island he met his partner, Delicia Maquingo, who works in an NGO and in local crafts. From this union, officially concluded in 2010 by Bastien’s parents (Hélène, MP in Jarnac, and Thierry, municipal councilor in Julian), two children were born, Flora (14 years old) and David (8 years old).
Today, Bastien Lalum has agricultural projects centered around sustainable development. “As a consultant, I work on climate change adaptation projects. When I return to Charente, I take the opportunity to organize conferences about my activities and about Sao Tome.”
From Charente to Sao Tome
Bastien Lelum was born in 1979 in Paris, and arrived in Charente with his parents at the age of six. After studying foreign languages (from the American continent) in La Rochelle, this travel enthusiast discovered ecotourism in Brazil, and then in Costa Rica, which led him to complete a master’s degree in ecotourism in Montpellier. “A forest engineering professor who had spent some time in Gabon and had contacts in Sao Tome encouraged me to send my CV. I spoke Portuguese and there was a volunteer NGO where it was possible to move abroad.”Bastian says. So he landed in the archipelago, working to protect sea turtles, and then the following year as a guide, watching whales and dolphins, and establishing tourist activities. Before opening up to agriculture and distillation.