You may have heard of São Vicente’s thriving music scene, its vibrant nightlife and colourful music festivals. Guests are always pleasantly surprised of how present music is in the everyday life of Cape Verdeans and how beautiful and distinctive the islands’ traditional sounds are.
Although it is believed to have originated on the island of Boa Vista, Morna music spread quickly to São Vicente where the island’s cosmopolitanism and openness to foreign influences helped it flourish and enrich. A number of local musicians and composers turned it into a worldwide success, pinning Mindelo on the map as the spiritual home of Morna.
The style is said to have appeared on the islands sometime in the 18th century. It evolved and was enriched with time, becoming known and loved worldwide in the 1960s. Lyrics are usually in Cape Verdean Creole and the vocalist is often accompanied by a guitar, a violin, an accordion, a bass guitar, a piano and a cavaquinho – a Portuguese instrument, similar to a ukulele. It resembles Blues, but is more touching and emotional.
The local language, along with its history and influences, is also a very important aspect of discovering a new culture. Which is why we chose to give you a few tips about the language spoken in Cape Verde.
The official language of Cape Verde is Portuguese, and while English is spoken in hotels and in some restaurants, it’s Creole that is most commonly used as the locally spoken language. Creole is based on Portuguese with additions from several African and European languages.
There are many different forms of Creole in the world, with various linguistic origins, but Cape Verdean Creole is the oldest still-spoken Creole, and the most widely spoken Portuguese-based form. Although a small archipelago, each of the inhabited islands has developed a Creole dialect of its own. The São Vicente variant is the second most widely spoken Cape Verdean dialect, widely spread on the island but also among the Diaspora.
We believe the best way to travel is to combine a relaxing time with discovering the history and culture of the place you are visiting, to better understand its people and their habits. This is why we decided to dedicate our first blog post to the history of São Vicente, its colonial past and post-colonial development.
São Vicente was discovered and colonised by the Portuguese on the 22nd January, 1462 (Saint Vincent’s feastday). However it remained uninhabited throughout most of the era of the transatlantic slave-trade. In 1795 there was an attempt to occupy the island but without much success due to the lack of water.