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Cape Verde: Cape Verde Art / Culture Profile 2012






Cape Verde Art / Culture Profile 2012

The Cape Verdeans were born of west European colonialism and African slavery. Most likely the islands were used by African and Arab fishing folk and sailors as seasonal bases and as safe ports and provisioning points. They were not discovered and claimed until 1460 when Antonio di Noli and Diogo Gomes assumed control over the Windward Islands (Sotavento) in the name of King Alfonso V of Portugal. Two years later, Diogo Alfonso sighted the Leeward Islands (Barlavento). From then on settlers arrived from Algarve and the Madeira Islands and from the Iberian Peninsula. The largest numbers of these settlers were political exiles, adventurers, and criminals, as well as Portuguese administrators and clergy. The mixing of slaves with these settlers created Luso- (or Portuguese-) African and Afro-Portuguese ethnic groups such as Ladinos, mesticos, and tangomaus, on the one hand, and degredados, feitors, and lançados, on the other hand (see below for further discussion of terms).
Since its settlement in the fifteenth century, Cape Verde was closely linked with the region of Africa now called Guinea-Bissau. The slave-trade economy linked the islands with Africa, western Europe, and the New World in the sixteenth century. During the seventeenth century, slaving increased, although the role of Portuguese vessels declined. By the eighteenth century, whaling had become a crucial aspect of Cape Verdean development and often the only means of escape from drought and abject poverty for the men. This business created a link with New England, whose whaling industry was famous. Contact with New England provided opportunities for Cape Verdeans to settle in North America. Furthermore, American interests kept slaving alive. The "African Squadron" was created in the 1850s to prevent continued American involvement in West African slave trading.
In 1884-1885 the Berlin Congress confirmed the Territorial claims that separated Portuguese and French colonies. In 1870 Guinea-Bissau was separated from Cape Verde for the first time. This division gave Portugal greater administrative control over both regions. The abolition of the Portuguese monarchy in 1910 and the seizure of power by Fascists in 1926 changed little for the islanders. In 1963 Portugal claimed Cape Verde as an "overseas province." It was no longer a colony.
Cape Verdean literature

The Culture of Cape Verde features literatures including Claridade, Negrume and others and writers including Sergio Frusoni, Manuel Lopes, Ovídio Martins and more. The culture also has music proprieties including morna, funaná, coladera, tabanka and more. Cesária Évora, Tcheka and other Capeverdean singers throughout the world.

The culture of Cape Verde reflects its mixed African and Portuguese roots. It is well known for its diverse forms of music such as Morna and a wide variety of dances: the soft dance Morna, and its modernized version, passada, the Funaná - a sensual mixed African and Portuguese dance, the extreme sensuality of coladeira, and the Batuque dance. These are reflective of the diverse origins of Cape Verde's residents. The term "Criolo" is used to refer to residents as well as the culture of Cape Verde.

Cape Verdean literature

Cape Verdean literature is one of the richest of Lusitanian Africa.

  •  Poets: Frusoni Sergio (linked site is in Portuguese), Tavares Eugénio (linked site is in Portuguese), B.Léza, João Cleofas Martins, Luís Romano de Madeira Melo, Ovídio Martins, Barbosa Jorge, Fortes Corsino António, Baltasar Lopes (Osvaldo Alcântara), João Vário, Oswaldo Osório, Arménio Vieira, Vadinho Velhinho, José Luís Tavares, Carlos Baptista, etc.
  • Authors: Manuel Lopes, Henrique Teixeira de Sousa, Almeida Germano, Luís Romano de Madeira Melo, Germano de Almeida, Orlanda Amarílis, Jorge Vera Cruz Barbosa, Pedro Cardoso, Mário José Domingues, Daniel Filipe, Mário Alberto Fonseca de Almeida, Corsino António Fortes, Arnaldo Carlos de Vasconcelos França, António Aurélio Gonçalves, Aguinaldo Brito Fonseca, Ovídio de Sousa Martins, Osvaldo Osório, Dulce Almada Duarte, Manuel Veiga
Cape Verde is known internationally for morna, a form of folk music usually sung in the Cape Verdean Creole, accompanied by clarinet, violin, guitar and cavaquinho. The islands also feature native genres such as funaná, batuque coladeira and mazurka.


Cesária Évora is perhaps the best internationally-known practitioner of morna. She has achieved worldwide fame.
Cape Verde is known internationally for morna, a form of folk music usually sung in the Cape Verdean Creole, accompanied by clarinet, violin, guitar and cavaquinho. The islands also boast funaná and batuque music.

Cape Verde is an island archipelago that was uninhabited until the Portuguese arrived in 1462. The sailors brought with them African slaves, and the islands' population became mixed with elements of both races. Climate conditions made the islands inhospitable, and the Portuguese mostly ignored the inhabitants and the frequent droughts and famines that wracked the islands periodically. As a result, there are now more Cape Verdeans abroad than at home, and sizable communities exist in New England, Portugal, Wales, Senegal, Italy, France and the Netherlands.

Morna is by the most popular genre of Cape Verdean music, and it has produced an international superstar in Cesária Évora. Morna is a national song-style, like Argentinean tango, beloved by Cape Verdeans across the many islands of the country. It is related to Portuguese fado and its close cousin, Brazilian modinha. Lyrics are usually in Creole, and reflect highly-variable themes, including love and lust, patriotism and mourning.

Morna is believed to have originated on Boa Vista as a cheerful song-type. Eugénio Tavares was an influential songwriter of the period, and his songs are still extensively performed. Morna also spread to São Vicente, and composers like B. Leza and Manuel de Novas became popular. Solo vocalists are accompanied by a guitar, violin, bass guitar) and a piano. The cavaquinho (similar to a ukulele), a Portuguese instrument, is also common.

Aside from Évora, popular morna musicians include Ildo Lobo, Titinha, Celina Pereira, Bana, Djosinha, B. Leza, Travadinha, Sãozinha and Maria Alice.

Funaná is an accordion-based genre from Santiago. Prior to independence, funaná was denigrated by colonial authorities, who considered it African. Since independence, however, bands like Bulimundo adapted the music for pop audiences and Finaçon, who combined funaná and coladeira into a fusion called funacola.

In the 1930s, Morna evolved in a swifter form of music called coladeira. It is a more light-hearted and humorous genre, with sensual rhythms. Performers include Manuel de Novas, Frank Cavaquim, Djosa Marques and Os Tubarões.

Batuque is also popular in Cape Verde. Originally a woman's folk music, batuque is an improvised music with strong satirical or critical lyrics. In the 80's, Orlando Pantera has created the "new batuco" (neo-batuku), but he died in 2001 before to achieve his creative work. Performers and songwriters are Pantera, Vadú, Tcheka, Mayra Andrade, Lura, Zeca di nha Reinalda.

There are many Cape Verdeans living abroad, especially in the United States, where they are concentrated in California, Hawaii and throughout New England, especially Rhode Island and Boston. Many came on whaling ships in the 19th century. Their music included string bands like The B-29s, Notias, Augusto Abrio and the Cape Verdean Serenaders. There were also Cape Verdean big bands, including the Creole Vagabonds and the Don Verdi Orchestra. More modern musicians include zouk singer and Kora Award winner Suzanna Lubrano, Frank de Pina, Mendes Brothers (and their influential record label, MB Records), Saozinha, Creole Sextet and Rui Pina.