The culture of Cape Verde reflects its mixed African and Portuguese roots.
Above all, pottery and weaving products are manufactured on Cape Verde. But you can also find paintings (by Manuel Figueira, Barros-Gizzi and Maria-Luisa Queirós, for example), crocheted blankets, which is a tradition from Portugal, woodworking, batik, embroidery and woven baskets (balai). The woven tapestries in the traditional colours of white, indigo blue and black are also very common. The panos, square cloths that are used as pieces of clothing, are dyed in indigo blue. Above all, the art of pottery can be found on Maio, Santiago, Sal Boa Vista and São Vicente. Large water containers (potes), sculptures and vases are made here.
Cape Verde is known internationally for morna, a form of folk music usually sung in the Cape Verdean Creole, accompanied by clarinet, violin, guitar and cavaquinho. The islands also boast funaná, coladeira, batuque and zouk music.
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Corn is the staple food of Cape Verde. The national dish, cachupa, is a stew of hominy, beans, and whatever meat or vegetables may be available. Other common foods include rice, beans, fish, potatoes, and manioc. A traditional breakfast is cuscus, a steamed cornbread, eaten with honey and milk or coffee. Cape Verdeans generally eat a large lunch in the mid-afternoon and a small, late dinner. Grog, or sugar cane liquor, is manufactured on the islands and is a popular drink, particularly among the men.
Although Portuguese is the official language and the language that is used in schools, most Cape Verdeans speak Cape Verdean Creole, which is a blend of Portuguese and African Languages. At present, Crioulo is being formalised as a written language, with the aim of it becoming an official language of Cape Verde along with Portuguese. Though there are some disagreements, since there is considerable variation between the Islands – especially between the Creole of Mindelo (the cultural Capital) and Santiago (the administrative Capital).
Among the literary forms of the Cape Verde Islands, poetry plays a significant role. This may be because the censorship of the Portuguese rulers was very strict and allegoric images represented the only feasible way for expressing the true feelings of the artist.
The 1950s saw the development of the Africanidade movement, which was distinguished by a much more direct political discourse that led to some of its members – including Ovídio Martins – being punished with torture as a result. Amilcar Cabral also supported the intellectual contents of this movement.
Many of the islands combine old colonial architecture with the new cinderblock structures that are sprouting up to house the burgeoning population. The traditional houses that dot the countryside are stone structures with thatched or tiled roofs.
Although Cape Verdeans enjoy a variety of sports, football (soccer) is perhaps the most popular. Matches are played at all levels of society, from pickup street games with improvised balls, fields, and nets to interscholastic rivalries and competitions between the Sotavento and Barlavento islands. Interest in basketball is growing. Long-distance running, swimming, and the traditional African board game of ouri are popular pastimes. Windsurfing, fishing, cycling, golfing, hiking, mountain climbing, horseback riding, and scuba diving are common resort activities. In their various diaspora communities, many Cape Verdeans have distinguished themselves in sports and athletic achievements, especially in football, boxing, and baseball.
Cape Verde holidays are a unique opportunity to experience a fascinating blend of Portuguese and African culture.