Cape Verdeans - History and Cultural Relations



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.

Decolonization in Africa also generated an armed national liberation struggle in Cape Verde, led by the PAIGC, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. PAIGC was founded in 1956 in Guinea-Bissau, having its origins in an earlier clandestine group founded by Henri Labery and the nationalist leader and revolutionary philosopher Amilcar Cabrai. Military confrontations Between Portugal and PAIGC marked the 1960s, forcing the Portuguese government in 1971 and 1972 to revise the Portuguese constitution and to pass the Overseas Organic Law, thus giving Portugal's overseas provinces even more autonomy. Despite the assassination of Cabrai on 20 January 1973, the PAIGC under the leadership of Aristides Pereira formed a new state, which by October 1973 had received diplomatic recognition from countries around the globe. In April 1974, the Portuguese Armed Forces Movement successfully overthrew the Fascist regime and negotiated full independence. On 30 June 1975, a general election was held for representatives to the Cape Verdean People's National Assembly, an act that represented the independence of Cape Verde. The Republic of Cape Verde officially declared its independence on 5 July 1975, although maintaining a unity of state with Guinea-Bissau. In 1980, a coup d'etat split PAIGC and Divided the state into its geographically distinct parts. Cape Verde became an independent country, separate from Guinea-Bissau.


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