The official language of Cape Verde is Portuguese, but in daily life most Cape Verdeans speak Creole (Crioulo). Creole is the African version of medieval Portuguese. Some words in Creole have no real equivalent in English. If Creole is not your mother tongue, it is difficult to know the true meaning of these often beautiful and expressive words. If you want to experience the Cape Verdean atmosphere better or if you would like to get in touch with the local population, here are some beautiful Cape Verde Creole words.
Morabeza is a Cape Verdean word that can not be translated literally. Morabeza stands for the hospitality and friendliness of the Cape Verdeans to others. Cape Verdeans welcome you with a radiant smile and with a natural calmness.
Cape Verdeans are very social, it is part of their culture and way of life. So they will regularly ask you if you are alright. On the more tourist-oriented islands such as Sal and Boavista in English: “everything all right?”. And on the other islands often in Creole: “tud dret?”.
Cachupa is the national dish of Cape Verde and can always be eaten. There are many ways to prepare cachupa and everyone is proud of their own variant of cachupa. The basis of Cachupa is a stew of beans, corn and cabbage. Fish or meat can also be added. Cachupa is delicious, nutritious and also cheap.
Grogue is the national drink of Cape Verde and is also called the ‘gold’ of Cape Verde. Grogue is a rum with an alcohol percentage of 40%. It is more than a drink, the tradition of producing and consuming the rum is deeply rooted in the Cape Verdean culture. The feeling is difficult to translate, but it is about sharing positivity, music and love. You have different types of Grogue and it also serves as the basis for Ponche, a sweet liqueur with lime and fruit.
The cuisine of Cape Verde is a mix of mainly African and Portuguese influences. Fish is often used in Cape Verdean cuisine. The fish is often caught the same day, so you cannot get this fresher. Food plays an important role in Cape Verde and is also a social affair. It is important for the host that the food tastes well for his guests. If you say that the food is “Sebim”, you mean that it was delicious. A compliment that the host can certainly appreciate!
How do you get cheap and fast from A to B?
An aluguere offers a solution. An aluguere is the characteristic way of transport on the Cape Verde islands. An aluguere is a minivan for 10 to 15 people and that runs a fixed route. The driver – often the owner of the aluguere – picks up different people along the route. Algueres do not leave at fixed departure times but only when there are enough people in the minivan. And do not be surprised if there fit more people in an aluguere than you would think.
Many Cape Verdeans play this strategic game. On benches in front of their house, on central squares or in cafés. Oril (or Ourinzeira) consists of a wooden trunk with 12 openings. Each player gets 24 balls (often green olives) that have to be placed in the openings and won. The game comes from the west coast of Africa (Senegal and Gambia) and was brought to Cape Verde by the slaves during Portuguese colonialism. If you walk through the streets, you will certainly see some men playing this game fanatically. Especially on the island of Sao Vicente.
This is a feeling of homesickness for your homeland, melancholy about going back and the longing for your family that lives elsewhere and that you do not often see. The concept of sodade arose after many families were separated in the 1950s by emigration to other countries. The feeling of sodade is often expressed in poems and music. The Cape Verdean and world-famous folk singer Cesária Évora was able to convey the feeling of Sodade very well.
Music plays a leading role in the life of the Cape Verdean. Wherever you are, you hear music everywhere. Cape Verde has different styles of music, of which the morna is one of the best known. It is also called the national music of Cape Verde. The morna is the anthem of the soul and is the African version of the fado. It is about the loss, farewell and return to the fatherland (the sodade as described before).
I’m on Sal right now and it is lovely and welcoming.
Great to hear! Enjoy your time!
Carleen Pina says
Thank you, I am planning to visit in the near future this was wonderful to view.
Thank you, I too have Cape Verdean blood and plan on taking a trip this summer for a wedding. My mother has gone once before. This was so helpful!!!
thanks for the tips! – I’m 1/2 capeverdean and 1/2 black american born here in the USA never been to Cape Verde – but I’m told that I still have some distant family members in Brava and Fogo. Would love to visit some day.
This was a really nice article. Thank you