In Largo da Misericórdia the first public distribution system of the city was installed. In 1793, the Chafariz da Misericórdia was finished, built by Joaquim Pinto de Oliveira, known as Tebas: a black enslaved man, born in Santos, who came to the city with the man who was considered his owner. In the late 1870s, he got his manumission at great cost. Joaquim is currently recognized with merit by the Union of Architects of São Paulo.
He worked on the façades of the Cathedral of the See, The Chapel of the Third Order of Carmo, and the Church of the Monastery of St. Benedict, as well as works in Itu. At the time, Sao Paulo was practically entirely built with rammed earth and he had many skills in building with stones.
The fountain, which stood in front of the Church of Mercy, became a meeting place for enslaved people. Because it was also a place where they could have romantic encounters, there were complaints from the neighborhood that they caused “stirs”.
An essential book to get to know the life of Joaquim Pinto de Oliveira is “Tebas, um negro arquiteto na São Paulo escravocrata”, organized by Abilio Ferreira. In 2020, Joaquin was depicted on a statue in the city, designed and developed by the plastic artist Lumumba Afroindígena and by the architect Francine Moura.
In 2021, Coletivo Cartografia Negra published the text “Pelo direito a um legado na cidade” (For the Right to a Legacy in the City), for the program “Monumentos, história e debate”, of some Sesc São Paulo units, in which they bring up those stories and information mentioned here. Artist Gê Viana elaborated some plastic works to accompany the text, one of them is this celebration of Tebas statue.
* Updated text, the original one is published in the Caderno de Campo do Coletivo Cartografia Negra