The story of Jeronimo is a fictional piece that takes one back to life in Cape Verde in the mid-1950’s. The story is a depiction of the common struggles associated with life and journey to distant lands in search of a better life. A story that is so common amongst many Cape Verdean’s who have immigrated and have hustled their way to success despite their humble beginnings.

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8 Reasons To Be A Proud Cape Verdean

We know that Cape Verdeans across the globe have a lot of pride in their culture and history, so we sought out to compile a list of “8 Reasons To Be A Proud Cape Verdean.”

1. Music

You can never listen to enough Cape Verdean music. It’s such a big part of our culture and one of our biggest contributions to the world. Some of our most notable musicians include: Cesaria Evora, Bana, Mika Mendes, Gil Semedo, and Mayra Andrade. We thank them for blessing us with the songs and stories that have consistently made us proud, and given us the chance  to share our pride with people who know nothing about the islands. Genres include morna, coladeira, zouk, funana, kizomba and batuque. Our music is filled with longing, love, history and soul and allow us to celebrate the unique people we are, every single day.

2. Passada

We all know the feeling of going to the club, or some family party and the excitement that comes with knowing that you’re going to be able to perfect your passada moves on the dance floor. We just can’t help it – the one-two step to the tune of your favorite Nelson Freitas song just takes over you. The dance floor is always LIT and sweating out your newly blow-dried hair is a guarantee. No doubt, you are always ready to teach your non-Cape Verdean friends how to move their hips the way you do, because we know there’s so much beauty in this form of art, and no other dance can ever compare.

3. Our Traditional Foods

Two of the most popular traditional Cape Verdean foods are catchupa and pastel. Cachupa is a stew that typically consists of hominy, beans, fish or meat and is considered Cape Verde’s national dish. Every household adds it owns flare of ingredients and spices. A personal favorite variation is catchupa refogado (or refried), especially with a fried egg on top, drizzled with olive oil straight from the motherland.  As for pastel, the flaky tuna-filled fried dough, you never know you were craving it until you see the aluminum filled “panela” from across the room, and 5 minutes later you realize you’ve eaten 17 of them and your diet is ruined. But it was worth it!

4. Our Sense of Community & Family

Whether you’re from Dorchester, Providence, New Bedford or southern California, the sense of community among Cape Verdeans is undeniable. Cape Verdeans are committed to each other, and it shows in big and small ways. Our school and church communities are some of the strongest and most involved. This is also evident through the fact that 20% of Cape Verde’s GDP is from remittances (a transfer of money by a foreigner to an individual in his or her home country). We’re accustomed to watching our mothers fill “bidons” to send back home to those who don’t have the means. This level of generosity is a result of and reinforced by our deep feeling of connectedness to each other, to the close-knit families near to us, and to those across oceans who never stop singing our praises.

5. Our Drive to Succeed

We truly belief that as a people, Cape Verdeans possess an undeniable drive to succeed. Some of our biggest inspirations are people we grew up with on the block, who have navigated the tough streets of our cities, graduated from some of the best institutions in the country and through hard work, are making a name for themselves in and outside of our community. Some have taken more nontraditional paths and have accomplished some impressive things, but one theme is clear – hard work is in our DNA and we’re always eager for the next opportunity to better ourselves. We expect to see an increasing number of role models continue to represent us over the next few years, and we can’t wait to give them a shout out.

6. Development of the Country

Since it gained independence in 1975, Cape Verde has been a relatively stable democracy, with development metrics such as the Human Development Index (life expectancy, education, infant mortality, income per capita), being among the highest in all of Africa. Due to its successes in combatting the country’s poverty levels and continuous growth in GDP year over year, in 2008 Cape Verde graduated from Least Developed Country to Middle Income Country (established by the World Trade Organization). Despite its lack of natural resources, Cape Verde is paving the way in areas such renewable energy, which can be attributed to wind farms that were built in 2011 that now supply 25% of the country’s electricity, with a target of 100% by 2020 (Learn more). We hope to see continued investment in sectors including, but not limited to education, technology, and tourism, but so far, we are proud of the model the Cape Verde serves for other developing nations in Africa and beyond. Read more about Cape Verde’s history and development here.

7. Relative Freedom of Its People

Cape Verde’s “Freedom In the World” rating, which measures the degree of civil liberties and political rights is the highest possible (1/1), ranking higher than all of the other 53 African countries, sharing first place with 48 other countries globally. Cape Verde also ranks #1 in Africa for “Freedom of the Press.” This is HUGE considering the level of oppression and lack of civil liberties people still experience in too many parts of the world. Cape Verdeans living in the country have the right to exercise free speech, to vote in democratic elections, the right to equal treatment under the law, right to a fair trial, and freedom of religion (to name a few) – all things we shouldn’t take for granted and should definitely celebrate.

8. Beauty in Diversity

As a whole, there’s no denying that Cape Verdeans are some of the most beautiful people on this planet. A big part of that can be attributed to the diversity of its people – we can find every skin and eye color, every hair texture, a variety of accents and traditions on each and every island of the country, as well as in every city around the globe where we have a presence. The origins of our diversity go way back to the widespread miscegenation that occurred during colonial rule that has resulted in 57% of genes in today’s Cape Verdean population coming from Africa and 43% from Europe. This level of diversity not only has created an entire population of people with enviable physical beauty but also makes its cultural traditions that much more interesting and special.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the list, which is by no means exhaustive, of the “8 Reasons to Be A Proud Cape Verdean. We welcome your comments and don’t forget to share & subscribe!

4 of The Most Distinguished People From Cape Verde

Despite a population of only half a million, Cape Verde has produced more than a few distinguished people from its island shores over the years. From writers, poets, musicians, to athletes, there are too many to fit into one article, so we’ve narrowed it down to 4. Within their chosen fields, these illustrious Cape Verdeans have stood out from the rest. Their achievements fan out from the close-knit tether of the islands, reaching all parts of the globe. Below are 4 of the most distinguished people from Cape Verde, whom the world has plenty to thank for their contributions.

1. Eugénio Tavares – Poet & Composer

Eugenio Tavares on a 2000 escudos note from Cabo Verde

Eugenio Tavares on a 2000 escudos note from Cape Verde

The first on the list of 4 most distinguished people from Cape Verde is Eugénio Tavares, who was born on the island of Brava to Portuguese parents in 1867. One of the earliest composers to be published in Cape Verde, he is credited with developing the Cape Verdean form of song and dance, morna. This style of song has its lyrics written in the native Kriolu, a kind of creolized Portuguese with a bit of African stirred in. The music can be likened most to the Brazilian samba, which mixed with Portuguese and African rhythms. A typical morna band will contain foremost guitars, which are strummed in a manner known as mãozada. Morna bands vary and can also contain solo instruments, such as a violin, clarinet or trumpet. There is also usually a percussion section populated with shakers and bongos. The morna is the national music of Cape Verde, but today its rhythms are heard worldwide.

Si ka badu, ka ta biradu – if you don’t leave, you won’t return-Eugénio Tavares

Tavares brushed off traditional melancholy themes associated with the national morna. Instead, he infused his songs with more serious if not romantic ideas. He wrote about the overpowering grief of love, not only between people but for the homeland too. He once tried to get himself educated in the USA, but returned home disillusioned and yearning for his native country.

Tavares was also an acclaimed poet and drew from Cape Verdean folklore for much of his material. He would write poetry both in Kriolu as well as classical Portuguese. His works include Cancao ao Mar (Song of the Sea), Amor Que Salva (The Love That Saves) and Mornas: Cantigas Crioulas (Mornas: Creole Songs). The latter is probably his most famous work and was published after his death. Like his music, Tavares chose expressive, romantic themes for his poetry.

Eugénio Tavares died on the island he was born, Brava, on January 6th, 1932, aged 62. On May 11th, 2017, Cape Verde commemorated the 150th anniversary of his birth.

2. Marcelino Manuel da Graça – Celebrity Preacher

Also originating from Brava Island was one of the first showman preachers of the modern age. Marcelino Manuel da Graça was born on January 25, 1881, one of nine children. In his preaching days he also went by the name, Charles Manuel ‘Sweet Daddy’ Grace, often shortened to Daddy Grace.

In the early 1900s, the da Graça family moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts. Marcelina took on a few odd jobs, the last of which was railway cook. But cooking on trains wasn’t how he imagined his life to pan out. Perhaps God had spoken to him about his true calling because in 1919 he started referring to himself as Bishop Charles Manuel Grace. After saving $39, he used it to found the United House Of Prayer in Wareham, Massachusetts in 1921. Other branches followed over the years in Charlotte, North Carolina and Newark, New Jersey.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Bishop Grace trekked across America, preaching his brand of Christian evangelism. He even ventured into the segregated South.

One of his more controversial tenets was that God only spoke to one man at a time. He referenced the Bible, pointing to Noah, Moses, and Jesus as examples.

If you sin against God, Grace can save you, but if you sin against Grace, God cannot save you.-Marcelino Manuel da Graça

Wearing brash suits and jewelry, and his hair long, Bishop Grace cut a very theatrical figure. He even grew his fingernails two inches long and painted them red, white and blue. His act is believed to have influenced James Brown’s stage performance.

Grace didn’t refrain from calling himself a faith healer and was allegedly believed to have said that the only path to salvation was through him. He would baptize hundreds of frenzied followers at a time with a fire hose, charging a dollar each for the experience.

God was certainly kind to Bishop Grace financially. He became a very wealthy preacher not only through his church but by putting his name on products from toothpaste to face powders to cookies. His real estate portfolio included 42 mansions filled with works of art. He was not averse to being chauffeured around in Cadillacs either.

The United House of Prayer continued after Bishop Grace’s death in 1960, surviving the civil rights movements of that decade. Today, according to their official website, there are 145 United House of Prayer churches in the USA alone. During his heyday, Bishop Grace was able to muster 3 million followers; today there are estimated to be no more than 50,000.

3. Cesària Évora – Singer

Ceasaria Evora during a performance.

Ceasaria Evora during a performance.

Dubbed the ‘Barefoot Diva’ because of her penchant for performing without shoes, Cesària Évora was born in Mindelo, Sao Vicente in 1941. Her father was a violinist who died when Évora was seven. Her mother, a cook, unable to raise all six children, sent her daughter to the local orphanage. Here the young Évora got her first taste of singing in the orphanage choir. When she became a teenager she would sing in the local taverns for a couple of drinks, always while holding a cigarette. Évora’s chain-smoking would later lead to health problems.

In the 1960s she took to singing on Portuguese cruise ships which would stop at Mindelo. Her specialty was to sing the native morna ballads in its Kriolu vernacular. These songs would tell of love and loss, poverty and slavery, all of which are strong Cape Verdean themes. Her voice was husky and rich in contralto, which helped emphasize a typical Cape Verdean sense of longing, or sodade, in her mornas. It has often been likened to the voice of Billie Holliday, of whom Évora was a big fan.

Her reputation soon gained momentum and she was invited to sing for Cape Verdean radio. But unable to make a living out of singing, Évora abandoned her music career in the 1970s. She did return to record on an anthology of Cape Verdean singers in Lisbon in 1985. This led to a chance break in 1988 when Cape Verdean producer, José da Silva, listened to her contribution and asked her to record an album in Paris. ‘La Diva aux Pieds Nus’, which blended morna with pop, sparked her international success.

Cesària Évora recorded and toured extensively throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Her concerts sold out in Lisbon and Paris, and she would later expand her itinerary to the rest of Europe and the Americas.

After her first two albums, Évora would return to a more traditional morna sound. She also added Cuban and Brazilian songs to her repertory. Her 2003 album, ‘Voz d’Amor’ won a Grammy for best contemporary world music album.

Évora went on to become one of Africa’s most internationally successful artists. Part of her act was to get the band to play an instrumental while she drank a cognac and smoked a cigarette. But she was no prima donna, always remembering her poor upbringing, despite achieving great wealth. She sang barefoot because her mother could not afford to buy her shoes as a child.

May God always keep us this way in peace, love and affection.-Cesaria Evora

In 2009, she became the first Cape Verdean to be made a knight of the French Legion of Honour. Her native country also recognized her by putting her image on both a stamp and a 2000 Escudos banknote. An airport in Cape Verde is named after her and also displays her statue.

Cesària Évora worked hard, recording albums every couple of years, with lengthy tours between. In 2005 her health started to decline. She suffered a heart attack in 2010, but kept on performing – and smoking right up until three months before her death in 2011 as a result of respiratory failure. In recognition of her contribution to world music, the Cape Verdean government declared two days of national mourning after her death.

4. Henrique Teixeira de Sousa – Doctor & Writer

Henrique Teixeira de Sousa depicted on a 200 Cabo Verdean escudos note.

Henrique Teixeira de Sousa depicted on a 200 Cape Verdean escudos note.

Although he trained as a medical doctor, Henrique Teixeira de Sousa is remembered best as one of Cape Verde’s foremost literary authors. He wrote four novels, as well as several short stories and essays.

Henrique was born on September 6th, 1919 on the volcanic island of Fogo. His father plied the seas between Brava Island and Fogo, eventually settling on Fogo and marrying Henrique’s mother.

At 17, while still at school, Henrique published his first short story. Titled, ‘The Rain Is Our Governor’, and written in Crioulo, it’s regarded as a thinly veiled protest against the Portuguese colonial rule of the time.

Shortly after, Henrique went on to study medicine in Portugal, graduating with a medical degree in 1945. After an initial stint practicing in East Timor, Indonesia, he returned as a doctor to his native island of Fogo in 1950. Later he would practice medicine in Sao Vicente, where he also became mayor of Mindelo in the 1960s.

Henrique Teixeira de Sousa worked conscientiously as a doctor, but he was also a gifted writer and devoted himself to this passion too. He finished writing his first novel, ‘Isle of Contention’, on the eve of the overthrow of the colonial regime. By then Teixeira de Sousa was already an immigrant in Lisbon, where he would remain until his death in 2006. This debut novel dealt with the gradual decline of Cape Verde’s European landed gentry. His second novel, ‘Captain of Sea and Land’, published in 1984, addressed Cape Verdeans’ deep association with the sea.

Teixeira de Sousa reversed a traditional theme of escaping the archipelago’s economic adversities in his third novel. The Xaguate Hotel, published in 1988, dealt with emigrants returning home to Cape Verde. His last novel, Djunga, published a year later, is often regarded as the great Cape Verdean novel, set after independence from colonial rule.

To this day Henrique Teixeira de Sousa remains one of Cape Verdes’ greatest literary icons. He is read throughout the Portuguese-speaking world.

We hope you enjoyed reading of our chosen 4 of most distinguished people from Cape Verde. Don’t forget to comment, share & subscribe!

Visiting the Island of Fogo, Cape Verde

Fogo, which means fire, is the southernmost island of Cape Verde, settled in between the islands of Santiago and Brava. The island of Fogo is basically a conical and active volcano which rises above the sea to a towering peak of almost 10,000 feet. Fogo is home to the highest peak of the archipelago, called Pico do Fogo (Peak of Fogo). This high peak along with its other mountainous characteristics makes Fogo the most geographically dominant Island in all of Cape Verde. On clear days, neighboring islands of Santiago and Brava along with other relatively remote islands such Sao Nicolau can witness a silhouette of Fogo and on some occasions, Fogo’s peak can be seen to be levitating in the skies. Its volcanic properties have had many effects on the local life. The islands favorite wine is produced from vines grown inside the volcanic craters of the mountains. Despite the soil being rich and highly fertile to support life, the local people frequently move due to the nature of the volcanic mountains, as well as lack of overall resources and opportunities.

Fogo was first discovered by Portuguese explorers in 1456, but it took an additional four years for them to fully discover the island in its entirety. Upon its discovery, the island was named after Saint Philip (Sao Filipe). However after observing volcanic activity on the island, it was renamed to Fogo sometime around the major eruption of 1680. The largest eruption is estimated to have occurred approximately 70,000 years ago and was likely the cause of a 500 foot mega-tsunami that resulted in massive truck-sized boulder deposits on the island of Santiago. After renaming the island to Fogo, Sao Filipe came to be known as its capital. Sao Filipe is the island’s main municipality where approximately 20,000 of Fogo’s 40,000 population live. In addition to Sao Filipe, Fogo consists of two additional municipalities which are named Mosteiros and Santa Catarina do Fogo. The three municipalities are divided into 31 civil parishes (freguesia) altogether which are further subdivided into smaller towns and villages, each serving a distinct and unique experience to tourists and visitors.

Click here to learn more about the history and culture of Cape Verde

A visit to Fogo will most likely convince you with no doubt that it is the most visually mesmerizing of all Cape Verde islands as it serves as a resort for any hiker who can brave the journey to get closer to nature. Despite its incredible scenic atmosphere, it remains pristine largely to the fact that relatively few tourists end up visiting the island compared to the other islands. Currently, the most popular way to get to Fogo is by airplane.

Once you are on the island, private and shared taxi (aluguers) are available to take you around the islands. Shared aluguers are preferred and provide a more economical way of getting around the island. Guides are also available to show you the best routes and to help you plan activities that are unique to the island.

Trekking and Hiking

Although Fogo can accommodate many activities, it is well known for providing an attractive landscape for hikers. Fogo actually offers various types of terrain that can appeal to all levels of hikers. The most popular hiking destination is located in Fogo’s Natural Park in Cha Das Caldeiras. Curious adventurers can decide to explore mind-captivating lava tubes or wander around the lunar-like landscape and imagine walking on the craters of the moon. Regardless of hiking experience, however, it is recommended that all hikers seek guidance from local tour guides if they wish to hike up towards the volcano’s crater or the summit of Pico de Fogo. Those willing to commit to this hike should be prepared for a physically demanding journey as the steep climb can take up to four hours and if not planned accordingly with the timing of the sunrise will have to deal with the intense heat from the sun. Contrary to the time it takes to climb however, it usually takes less than 30 minutes to descend.

Vineyards in Cha Das Calderas and wine tasting

In addition to the volcanic moonscape that Cha Das Caldeiras offers its tourists, it is also home to a 140-year tradition of winemaking, where grapes are locally harvested from the fertile grounds of the volcanic craters for production of various types of chemically-free wine, such as the traditional Manecon. Although the recent eruption of November 2014 destroyed the village of Cha Das Caldeiras entirely, some vineyards remained intact and the winemaking tradition, although threatened and halted by the eruption, still remains today and the proud inhabitants who were forced to evacuate their homes are determined to rebuild their life and village in Cha Das Caldeiras. So while you are in Fogo, you won’t want to miss visiting the vineyards and sampling its homemade wine.

Swimming

Do not let the vastly rugged terrain of Fogo fool you – Fogo is home to some exotic beaches that have their characteristics determined by its volcanic properties. The sandy beaches of Fogo are uniquely the color black due to volcanic eruptions. The non-sandy beaches such as the Salina beach or Ponta Da Salina, which is equivalent to a large but natural swimming pool that is surrounded by cliffs, can also provide an immersing swimming experience that will be one for the books.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about things to do and sites to see in Fogo, Cape Verde. We welcome you to share your thoughts and experiences with us and be a featured guest on our blog!