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Brief History About Cape Verde

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The Republic of Cape Verde, often known as Cabo Verde in Portuguese, is a country composed of several islands.

It is located close to the west coast of Africa in the North Atlantic Ocean. There are currently a little over 500,000 people living on the islands.

The islands were given the name “Gorgades” by the authors in honour of the mythical creatures (Gorgons) they believed lived there (and were slain by Perseus).

In addition, they said that the Carthaginian navigator Hanno the Navigator killed two female “Gorillai” on the islands and brought their skins back to Carthage.

Cape Verde’s history is both ordinary and unique for its location. During the Spanish-Portuguese Inquisition, the islands served as a location for the transatlantic slave trade, an exile for political prisoners of Portugal, and a haven for Jews and other victims of religious persecution for three centuries.

But even in the 19th century, slaves in North and South America enjoyed radically different lifestyles from those in Cape Verde, where families were formed by “free” people and slaves who coexisted amicably and naturally.

Being at the crossroads of Europe, America, and the Indian Ocean, Cape Verde can now look back on a great accomplishment, the emergence of a wholly new Creole culture and language, which resulted from the mingling of quite various ethnic groupings.

The Creole people played a pioneering role in Africa’s apparently endless struggle for liberation from colonial rule.

Additionally, they took on the role of intellectual fathers for one of the region’s few pluralistic yet stable institutions and one of the most modern constitutions.

The Portuguese found and conquered the uninhabited islands in the 15th century; as a result, Cape Verde developed into a major slave trading hub as well as a crucial coaling and resupply stop for whaling and transatlantic ships.

A one-party system was formed and upheld until multi-party elections were held in 1990 following independence in 1975 and a preliminary interest in unification with Guinea-Bissau.

One of the most stable democratic administrations in Africa is still found in Cape Verde. Droughts that occurred frequently in the second part of the 20th century led to substantial suffering and significant emigration.

As a result, there are more foreigners living in Cape Verde than residents. Most people from Cape Verde have ancestry from both Africa and Portugal.

The discovery of Cape Verde

The Portuguese, who discovered Cape Verde, described the islands as “totally deserted” upon their arrival in 1456.

In any case, there is still no proof of human existence prior to the discovery. Since Islamic traders controlled the Trans-Saharan trade of gold and slaves to the north and salt to the south, the Portuguese sought to establish new trade routes, merchandise, and geographic expertise.

By imposing hefty customs duties, the Turks controlled the overland route along the Mediterranean for the trade of fabrics and spices with India.

The objective was to find a fresh, Christian-controlled route to gold, slaves, and spices in India and West Africa.

The Portuguese expedition’s first leader, Henry the Seafarer (1394–1460), acted as a trailblazer. In 1415, he took control of Ceuta; in 1418, Madeira; and in 1431, the Azores.

To assist him in achieving this, Henry the Seafarer enlisted captains from other nations, including Spaniards and Italians.

As a result, on July 25, 1456, while following Henry’s instructions and sailing to the Gambia River, Venetian sailor Aloisio Cadamosto saw the island group.

However, because Cadamosto failed to meet Henry’s requirements for a “finding”, the discovery was formally credited to the Genoese António da Noli, who was also given a commission by Henry, in 1460.

Prince Ferdinand of Portugal oversaw the trips after Henry’s passing and dispatched the sailor Diego Afonso to Cape Verde for additional research.

For each date of discovery, Afonso gave the islands a saint’s name: So Nicolau on December 6, Santa Luzia on December 13, Santo António on January 17, and So Vicente on January 22, 1462.

The first colony was founded at Santiago in 1461, making it the first foreign colony of Europe in sub-Saharan Africa.

This was swiftly followed by the colonisation of Maio as a shepherd’s community, of Fogo as a colonial town’s habitation, of Boa Vista as a new home for lepers, and of Brava.

In 1472, the people of Santiago were granted the ability to own slaves. In Santiago, there were still 160 inhabitants and 30 slaves in 1510, but by 1580, there were already 14,000 slaves and 2,000 free people.

Also read: History of Ghana

Criminals, homeless people, and prostitutes were sent to Santiago from the settlement’s founding until 1974.

As a result, Tarrafal saw the construction of a detention camp in 1949. For a century, Ribeira Grande—later known as Cidade Velha—served as the most significant slave trade harbour when Portugal obtained the exclusive right to the slave trade on the coast from Senegambia to Guinea in 1466.

As additional supplies for the ships, cane sugar, rum, cotton, meat from the cattle in Maio, and other agricultural products were also produced and exported.

In 1580, the Dutch, French, and British buccaneers attacked Cape Verde, while the Spaniards took over Portugal.

Because of the wars in Europe and the subsequent decline in trade, the economic condition on the islands steadily grew worse. The colonial authority relocated to Praia in 1614 due to an increase in pirate raids and Ribeira Grande’s poor geographic location.

However, the economic crisis persisted into the 18th century, and as a result, a prolonged drought in 1773 led to the deaths of over half the island’s inhabitants.

End Of the Colonial Period

In 1790, the islands started to slowly recover. Slave trade was outlawed in the northern hemisphere in 1815 during the Napoleonic Wars, and England was granted permission to trade with Brazil and Portugal.

On So Nicolao, for the first time, Brazilian coffee was grown, settlers arrived on So Vicente, Praia’s streets and city squares were constructed, and the island of Sal now had salt production.

Slavery was ultimately outlawed on Cape Verde in 1878 following a slave uprising in 1853 that was violently put down.

Since then, the area has been cultivated using the sharecropping system, which is still common in Cape Verdean agriculture.

The export of salt, bananas, coffee, fish, and purified nuts did not, however, result in the anticipated financial success.

The islands’ distant location resulted in high export costs, a deterioration in the already scarce natural resources, a lack of water supplies, and Portugal’s lack of land investments throughout its rule.

Cape Verde’s coffee production completely ceased in 1900 as a result of a sharp decline in global coffee prices. In response to growing domestic pressure, Prime Minister Salazar established his autocratic government in Lisbon in 1932 and designated Cape Verde an overseas province in 1951.

However, the colonial status was only formally dissolved. Massive demonstrations against Portugal’s continued colonial policies led to the Cape Verdeans’ eventual acquisition of all Portuguese civil rights and improved educational opportunities in 1961.

In 1958, a new drought crisis began. In the interim, Caetano took up Salazar’s position in Lisbon and helped the islands by supporting development strategies that lessened the effects of the drought.

Amlcar Cabral, who established the PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and the Cape Verdes) in Guinea-Bissau in 1956, was primarily responsible for this due to his pressure. Between 1650 and 1878, Cape Verde had already been in charge of governing Guinea-Bissau, and the two nations were also connected by their use of the Creole language and culture.

Amlcar Cabral was assassinated in 1973 after Portugal made numerous attempts to infiltrate the PAICV via the PIDE, a subset of its secret police, and to thwart the alliance between Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. It is still unknown who committed the murder.

The Carnation Revolution in Portugal in 1974 put an end to the dictatorship. The Cape Verdean military, however, continued to dominate the island. A provisional PAIGC government led by Pedro Pires and Aristides Pereira was decided upon in December of the same year.

The first national election for representatives of the people was held in June 1975, and 92% of the votes confirmed the PAIGC as a party of unity and the holder of every mandate in the people’s assembly.

Independence

On July 5, 1975, the República of Cabo Verde proclaimed its independence. As secretary-general of the PAIGC, Aristides Pereira was elected as the organisation’s first president.

Pedro Pires was named Prime Minister. On September 5, 1980, the first constitution was approved. The PAIGC was established on January 20, 1981, as the new governing party of the PAICV (African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde).

The newly attained independence presented the government with challenging tasks: The state coffers were empty, the nation was once again suffering from a devastating drought, and the unemployment rate had increased to 60% as a result of the loss of positions in the colonial administration.

But it was feasible to gradually restore the nation with the help of development aid organizations. Social stability and tranquilly characterize the country of Cape Verde’s current political environment.

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