Did You Know......

Interesting facts about Cape Verde


...that the music of Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) Africa, with centuries of history behind it and with close connections to the Americas, is the last major African pop style to emerge on the world music scene.

...that the origin of the Baia das Gatas Music Festival held annually on Sao Vicente can be traced to a showing of the movie "Woodstock" in Mindelo in July of 1984. Vasco Martins, a well-known CapeVerdian musician and composer, and some of his friends saw the movie and shortly thereafter came up with the idea of putting on a major music festival in Cape Verde. Less then one month later the first festival took place. The festival now attracts upwards of 15,000 people and features musicians from Cape Verde and abroad.

... ...that Charles Darwin contemplated the writing of The Origins of the Species while in Cape Verde. Part of the first chapter of Darwin's "The Voyage of the Beagle" is devoted to his observations while in Cape Verde.

...that, geographically speaking, the Cape Verde Islands are not part of the African continent, since they lie some 200 miles beyond the African continental shelf.

...that Cape Verde was the site of some of the the negotiations between the African National Congress and the then South African Government in the years preceding the end of apartheid and the birth of the new South Africa.

...that the Cape Verde islands were uninhabited prior to their discovery in the 15th century.

...that Rebeira Grande (in Santiago), the original capital of Cape Verde, was the first European city in the tropics.

...that Cape Verdean Crioulo and the Creole language of Papiamento spoken in the Dutch West Indies are nearly mutually intelligible. The connection is through the 15-16th century Portuguese Creole which evolved as a commercial language in the Atlantic slave trade and became the first European/African creole language. Some scholars describe this creole as the "archtype" for all of the world's creole languages. Cape Verdean Kriolu is the first language to develop from this early Portuguese creole. The very word "papiamento" is derived from the verd "papia" = "to speak" in the Kriolu of Santiago and is derived from a West African language.

...that the volcano on Fogo burned almost continuously from 1500 AD to 1760 AD and served as a beacon to mariners.

...that Fogo means "fire"; that Brava means "wild"; that Sal means "salt"; that Maio means "May"; that Boa Vista means "Good View."

...that, historically, weaving in Cape Verde was done by the men. The women gathered, prepared and spun the cotton. At one time, the panos, or narrow cotton strips, woven in Cape Verde were considered superior in both weave and design to those of the mainland from where the art originated.

...that a popular expansion of the acronym for the Movement for Democracy (MPD), the governing party in Cape Verde, is "Mai, Pi, Deus", or "Mother, Father, God".

...that the United States Navy's Africa Squadron operated off the west coast of Africa during the early part of the 19th century, tasked largely with suppressing the activities of pirates persisting in the slave trade as well as protecting peaceful traders and Black American colonists in Liberia. The squadron, which was commanded by Commodore Matthew Perry between 1843 and 1845, spent much time in and around Cape Verde because the islands were largely free of malaria and other tropical diseases that plagued the mainland. The cemetery of Nossa Senhora da Piedade contains the remains of about twenty American sailors who succumbed to yellow fever contracted in the mainland.

...that Charles "Sweet Daddy" Grace, a native of Brava who emigrated to the United States at age 22, was one of the most charismatic of early twentieth century American evangelists, black or white. Bishop Grace's House of Prayer for All People had a nationwide membership of anywhere from 1,000,000-2,000,000 people.

...that Jews emigrated to Cape Verde as refugees from religious persecution in Iberia. Jewish-derived surnames can be found among the inhabitants of Santo Antao and Boa Vista. In Santo Antao, three Jewish cemeteries and the name of village of Sinagoga reflect their presence.

...that there are over 5,000 Cape Verdeans living in Rotterdam. Large Cape Verdean communities can also be found in Portugal, Spain, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, France, Scandinavia, Argentina, Brazil and Canada. The number of Cape Verdeans living in Cape Verde is estimated to be around 375,000. In the US, 300,000. The total in all other countries is about 350,000.

...that Ouri, an ancient African "store-and-capture" board game that originated in Egypt and is very popular in Cape Verde, is considered the forerunner of backgammon.

...that Amilcar Cabral, the father of the liberation movement that brought Cape Verde to independence, was an agronomist.

...that Cape Verde is considered to have almost ideal conditions for wind farms. An experimental facility has been built on the island of Sao Vicente.

...that the famines of 1941-43 and 1947-48 resulted in a combined loss of some 45,000 lives (Carreira).

...that the world famous aviators, Charles Lindbergh and his wife Ann Morrow Lindbergh, flying from what is now Morocco during an early circumnavigation of the North Atlantic, landed their specially designed and equipped Lockheed Sirius, the Tingmissartoq (Greenland Eskimo for "big flying bird"), in the harbor of Praia on November 27, 1933. After a stay of three days, they flew on to The Gambia and then on to South America.

...that there is a small community of Cape Verdean descendants living in Cardiff, a sea port, on the south coast of Wales in the United Kingdom. These are descendants of Cape Verdean merchant seamen who used to work on the vessels that brought tons of coal (and later oil) and other produce from South Wales to the Port of Mindelo (then called Porto Grande) when it was a fuel bunkering port between the beginning of this century and the 1970's.

A small group with about 50 members known as the "Cape Verdian Society" meets every first Sunday of the month in Cardiff. The Society makes annual charity donations for good causes in Cape Verde. One aim of the Society is to establish a town-twinning (geminacao) between Cardiff and Mindelo so that those interested can share their cultural and historical past and for the local county council to hopefully offer grants to Mindelense students to train in Cardiff.

Anyone interested to contact the Society should write to: Mr.Peter Delgado, Secretary, Cape Verdian Society, 53 Ty Mawr Avenue, Rumney Village, Cardiff, S.Wales, United Kingdom. Alternatively, send an e-mail to Jonathan Grepne on "101333.2641@compuserve.com" and I will forward your communication.

There is also now a Cape Verdean Honorary Consul in London. Contact: Dr.Stephen Gray, Honorary Consul for the Republic of Cape Verde, 48 Mount Street, London W1Y 5RE, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 171 493 4840 Fax: +44 171 493 4299


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Updated: Jan. 2, 1997