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Cape Verde - Culture

Cape Verde Culture

The vestiges of Portuguese culture are much more evident than those of African culture, although this is less true on São Tiago Island, which has a significant number of people of African ancestry. Most people in Cape Verde are creole; about a quarter are of African descent.

Portuguese is the official language. People also speak Crioulo, an Africanised Creole Portuguese. For its tiny size, Cape Verde has produced a wealth of literature. The works written prior to independence focused on liberation and were mainly in Crioulo. Postindependence, the themes expanded to include the mass emigration from the islands by the 'Americanos' (those Cape Verdeans who've gone to the Americas) and racial discrimination. Some writers, such as Kaoberdiano Dambara, continue to write in Crioulo, while others, such as Onésimo Silveira, write in Portuguese, the dominant literary tongue.

Cape Verde is home to a variety of musical styles. One of the most popular is the foot-stomping funana, a dance beat popular in Praia and other cities and towns; morna, the national songform, typically slow, moody and in a minor key; and coladeira, a fast-moving, fluffy style of dance music. The country's best-known musician is Cesaria Evora, the 'barefoot diva', who sings in the traditional Cabo styles.

Cape Verdean food is basically Portuguese, but some dishes are unique to the islands. One of the most unusual and delicious is pastel com diablo dentro (pastry with the devil inside) - a mix of fresh tuna, onions and tomatoes, wrapped in a pastry blended from boiled potatoes and corn flour, deep fried and served hot. Soups are also popular. One of the most common is coldo de peixe (fish stew), which is loaded with vegetables and spices and thickened with manioc flour. Other specialities include bananas enroladas (bananas wrapped in pastry and deep fried) and manga de conserva (an unsweetened chutney-like concoction).

About 80% of the people are Roman Catholic. At the time of independence in 1975, the Church was the single largest landowner in the country. Subsequent land reform has reduced these holdings, but the Church remains powerful in the country.

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