Cape Verdean Culture

Esperança (new CD)
Cape Verde Experience
Cape Verdean violinist created a unique style
Cape Verdean Vocals

By Alcides da Graca

53 Porter St. Taunton, MA 02780

Home (508) 823-2796 --- School (508) 997-4511


One young man of nineteen years of age went to visit his sister the day before the trip and gave her his picture as a memory keepsake. His words to her, upon handing over the picture, were: "I brought you this picture because we're going to die on Matilde. Remember me." With tears in his eyes, he embraced his sister, who also had tears in her eyes, and asked her to pray for their souls. Fifty six brave men died trying to reach the shores of New Bedford, Massachusetts to begin a better life where opportunities were plentiful.

World War 11 had a serious impact on the lives of Cape Verdeans who were waiting for an opportunity to return to the United States. Ships were not taking chances on the mined waters of the Atlantic. The shortage of food on the islands, because of the severe drought, the lack of medication and doctors and little to no contact with the United States forced drastic and sad decisions to travel on small run down ships such as Matilde.

Most of the Packet Ships were reconditioned ships from the schooner days that were bought by Cape Verdeans and put into the Atlantic Route(United States-Cape Verde and back). These ships braved the storms and the high seas to take food, clothing and other goods to Cape Verde Islands. Some of the ships were built in Cape Verde. The Island of Brava was prominent in this venture. In the village of Furna, where there was a seaport, "Porto Di Furna", ship building was a big business. Prominent in this trade were talented men such as Nho Mano Di Nha Queta and Nho Zuric Vitorino. The shipyard belonged to Nho Mano De Nha Queta who would build ships for prominent Bravenses such as Antonio Martins(Nho Totoi Nha Tui) and Nho Pepe Di Lem. Most of the ships were small but a few such as Marlene were large enough to make trips to the United States.

During the Packet Era ships such as Ernestina, The Madalan, Johnny Manta, Maria Sony and Lucy Evelyn were successful in bringing to America Cape Verdeans, their Robeca and Viola(violin and guitar) and bits and pieces of their rich culture.

After the Packet Ship Era, Cape Verdeans continued to come to the United States in large numbers. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 allowed for easier entry into the United States if an immediate relative(father, brother, sister, mother, son, daughter or wife) had been an American citizen. Thousands of Cape Verdeans had become citizens and continued in large numbers to become naturalized citizens. The date of naturalization was important because it meant that the children of these citizens then had an opportunity to take advantage of the immigration laws and petition to leave Cape Verde to come to the United States as sons or daughters of U. S. citizens. People with United States passports could travel directly from Sao Vicente, Cape Verde to New Bedford Harbor as well as to other ports such as New York. Packet ships continued to make trips to the United States and Cape Verde when the Passenger-Liners began to take Cape Verdeans to Lisbon, Portugal

Comments and Reflections


Mr. Alcides DaGraca has, through the preparation and publication of his book Cape Verdean Culture: An Interactive/Cooperative Approach provided both educators and casual readers with an intelligent, readable, and well-researched analysis of the history of Cape Verdeans in this area, their way of life abroad, and of the significant impact of their talents and culture in the New World.

Well-illustrated with attractive color photographs and a wealth of anecdotal material, the book, which is aimed at young people and primarily intended for school use, provides the educator with information on a wide range of Cape Verdean cultural topics: from music to literature, history to arts and crafts and even games...all presented within the context of a most interesting teaching strategy and philosophy: namely, that one of the best ways to learn about a people is to immerse oneself in activities which duplicate the lifestyles and traditions of the people who are being studied.

Mr. DaGraca even includes native recipes in the mix of truly hands-on participatory projects which are bound to serve as effective and memorable experiences for any young (or older) or out of a school setting. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes his or her life enriched by a greater familiarity with a little-known, but fascinating people who have contributed so generously to all of our lives since the Colonial Period of our nation.

C. A. Robinson Department Chair: English New Bedford Public Schools New Bedford, Massachusetts

Alcides DaGraca, New Bedford High School teacher, has written a book entitled, Cape Verdean Culture - An Interactive/Cooperative Approach. This 47 page booklet discusses the culture, its people, its tradition and its folklore. In addition, it gives a personal look at the lifestyle of the people, the kinds of games the children play and the instructions to go along with them. It also takes a look at the various items the women create, i.e., a variety of handcrafts and cultural dishes along with their instructions.

This descriptive synopsis is a wealth of usable information about a culture rich in tradition. It is the first of its kind to really capture the simple essence of this West African country.

Michelle Rosa Media Specialist, New Bedford High School, New Bedford, MA

Mr. Da Graca's book, Cape Verdean Culture, is both interesting and entertaining. Its varied format covers both historical and cultural aspects of the Cape Verdean peoples through personal reminiscences and detailed information regarding games, menus, and arts and crafts. The text appeals to both genders and all age groups and includes a glossary to assist in understanding the language. The use of the interactive/cooperative approach should be of particular interest to teachers. There is something for everyone in this book. The reader is sure to find Mr. Da Graca's work an enlightening and enjoyable experience.

Lynn Galuska Special Ed. Teacher New Bedford High School

October 25, 1995 Mr. Alcides daGraca 53 Porter Street Taunton, MA 02780 Dear Mr. daGraca: I Just completed reading your book entitled, "Cape Verdean Culture, an Interactive/Cooperative Approach". I had to write to you to let you know how much I enjoyed reading this book and to say that it is about time someone wrote this type of a book!

Your book encourages cultural education amongst the community which I feel is so necessary especially in light of the fact that the entire country is so culturally diverse. having had lived in a few states, in addition to California, that have all been culturally diverse, I have noticed the problems that unfortunately exists between the different groups because of the lack of cultural education. I have often thought that if the schools were to promote studying and appreciating other cultures (without losing your own in the process) that our youth would grow up respecting and appreciating other people's cultures and there would not be as much division as there presently exists. I believe that starting with our young people is the key and they in turn will grow into adulthood with these principles and pass that on from generation to generation. Your book show that this is possible . I like the fact that you didn't just state that this is your opinion but you showed that from having put it to work with your own students that this concept can and does work. I think that this book would be very effective at the grade school, high school as well as college levels. It promotes a project for the students that allows them to use their imagination, promotes creativity, and gets them out in the community interacting. Even for those who are a part of the particular cultural group being explored at the time, it would be wonderful experience promoting a sense of pride in who they are and their roots.

I also found you book delightful from another perspective. I was born on the island of Brava, Cape Verde, and I am now and American citizen. Although I came to the United States when I was young I have very fond memories. Your book took me back to my immigration days. I enjoyed the stories that other Cape Verdean Americans shared with you regarding their immigration to the U.S. also. The information on the immigration was lacking since I came over when I was very young. I learned a great deal. I have tried to keep in touch with my culture and informed and you book was extremely helpful in this regard.

Thank you for the recipes! Some of my favorite foods that I enjoyed both on the islands and while growing up in the U.S. were amongst the ones in your book. It has been some time since I have attempted to make some of the dishes on my own and had forgotten what some of the ingredients were. Thanks to your book, now I can enjoy these wonderful, delicious and nostalgic meals and treats!

It was also a delight to have some of the childhood games brought back to memory by your book. Once again, thank you ever so much for having written this book, and I hope there are more books on your agenda for the future for I will read each and every one. Please place me on your mailing lest. I hope that this book finds its way to more people here in California for there is a good concentration of Cape Verdeans in this State. I also feel that the school system can benefit from this book as well especially with a big concentration of Latin Americans, Koreans and other cultural groups that make up the state.

Cordially, Edith Shemwell


Note: This page is continuously under development, comments and suggestions should be addressed last updated 12/13/02