Verdeans: Merchant migrants

The Portuguese discovered Cape Verde in 1456 and brought slaves from adjacent West Africa to work on Portuguese plantations. As a result, many Cape Verdeans are “mulattoes”, having biracial origins. The Spanish word “mulato,” which, in turn, originates from the word “mula,” or mule—the offspring of a horse and a donkey. What’s new about History, the derogatory terms they used and may I add some still use today.

It was easy for me to feature an image of a beautiful Cape Verdian woman with her beautiful big smile and her bright lipstick, but there is so much more to her beauty, she works everyday serving tourists that come into her shop and only gets paid a wage if they buy the extra liqueur she markets as apart of her stock. Many women in Cape Verde are working women, usually providing for the family to survive.


“Please I can’t feed my child tonight help me it has been a tough day for me” cries this Senegalese woman selling little trinkets she made and pleads desperately, and the genuine heartfelt need for her to make money for her child is apparent. Sadly desisted by this tactic of selling, many westerners, although awkward find it easy to walk away or ignore such a plea.

Merchants from neighboring African countries come to sell their merchandise and many are marketing on the growing tourist industry in Boa Vista. This endless cycle of merchants and migrants that come and reshape the culture and landscape are all apart of the ever changing economy. We move where money moves, equally it was exciting to see a culture before the money hungry settlers (mostly Westerners) congest this beautifully vacant island.


“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…” – Prince Caspian.

C.S Lewis was right there, the small changes make a big difference in the end and my hope for Boa Vista, is that they will not loose sight of what a big difference there little island is making through its people.


Before the dirt rises: Land of Boa Vista

Cape Verde or Cabo verde as known to locals is just of West Africa. It consists of ten volcanic islands and is full of beautiful untouched land, it was said by a local “you came at a good time because 10 years from now this will all be filled up with buildings” and so the dirt will rise and the once beautiful flat lands of Cabo Verde will be tall, wide constructions of housing, shopping malls and souvenir stores.

The islands were uninhabited until discovered by the Portuguese in 1456, and for three centuries, the islands were a setting for the transatlantic slave trade, exile for political prisoners of Portugal and a place of refuge for Jews and other victims of religious persecution during the Spanish-Portuguese Inquisition.

Discovery period, slave trade and famine

The discovers of Cape Verde, the Portuguese, described the islands upon their arrival in 1456 as “completely uninhabited.” In any case, there is still no evidence of any human life before the descoberta.
The Portuguese intended to establish new trade routes and goods, as well as expanding their knowledge of geography since Islamic traders controlled the Trans-Saharan trade of gold and slaves to the north and salt to the south. The Turks dominated the overland route along the Mediterranean for the trade of spices and fabric with India, charging high customs duties. The goal was to discover a new, Christian-controlled access to gold, slaves and spices in West Africa and India.*

Walking past the deconstructed buildings and bright colourful homes with the glowing green, bright blue ocean shore peaking  between each side street, a thought ran through my mind ‘this will all change’ and although for a moment lost in my selfishness for wanting Boa Vista to be stuck in this time of transition, I saw the need of affection to its buildings and littered landscapes. Hearing the crashing waves roaring along the sandy shore I knew Boa Vista will always be a land of unexpected adventures for me and I hoped all who would see it would not just see the prospects of touristic value but will see it also for its peaceful beauty that vibrates all throughout the Island .