Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pouring Out Sorrows

Little known. Little understood. Little read. 

Little known islands. Little understood Cape Verdean. Little read? I guess Américo C. Araújo's book 'Little Known. The European Side of Cape Verde Islands' (2000) is not read by many. It took me some transpiration to get a copy of this book to Europe.

The book has (at least) four storylines.

Little understood. According to Araújo there are two misconceptions on the people of the Cabo Verde Islands. First, that Cape Verdean ('Cabo-verdiano') designates a race. For them Cabo Verde is not biological or racial (whose children are black, white and mostly in between) but a culture of all the people living on the Cabo Verde Islands. They are aware that their ancestors all came from different backgrounds in the outside world. "Cape Verde may be racially pluralistic, but culturally she is and has always been one" [1]. Second, all the whites are descendants of political or criminal exiles ('degredados'). According to Araújo this is for the biggest part nonsense because most whites came to the islands to administer the place or to do commerce. "It certainly wasn't to 'degredados' or 'lançados' that the King [of Portugal] would bestow the honor of overseeing his interests" [2]. 

Golden days. The writer looks back to his childhood on the islands Brava and Fogo with great pleasure and being proud on his family background. "My early childhood in Brava is very special to me. I well remember, when I was four or five, in the early evening hours, as the days begin to cool, the evening fog would rise up the mountain, enveloping the sleepy villa of Nova Sintra in a cool mist, while far off in the distance the church bells would be tolling, calling the faithful to prayer."
His mother was a European Cape Verdean of Portuguese and Jewish ancestry. In 1958 his father died of TB at the age of forty-seven. Américo was thirteen years old. In 1960 his mother went to work in the "sweat-shops" in New Bedford (U.S.A) after being "called" by her oldest son Rafael.  A year later Américo went to America. Where he got educated and became a teacher of Romance Languages [3]. 

Litte status. Being born in one of the colonies of Portugal is bad for someone his career. Admiral Carlos Reis (1852-1910) was born on Brava and found death in Lisbon. He was not to be the first president of Portugal! Eliminated because he was born in a colony and could not be allowed to ascend to the presidency [4].

Capo Verdean poets and poems. Américo gives the background of five important poets coming from the Cabo Verde Islands: Eugénio Tavares (1867-1930), João José Nunes (1885-1965), Sérgio Bonucci Frusoni (1901 - ?), Jorge Vera Cruz Barbosa (1902-1971) and Jorge Pedro Barbosa (?-?). And a couple of poems of each of them. The poem I liked best is 'O Baile' from J.V.C. Barbosa - translation from Cape Verdean Crioulo into English is from Araújo [5]:

1. Page 4, 14, 33,180 and 189
2. Page 158-160
3. Page 42 and 58
4. Page 160-169
5. Page 142

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