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The Funána Revolt in 1990s Cabo Verde

In 1997, an "earthquake shook [Cabo Verde]," as a national newspaper wrote, when a group of youths calling themselves Ferro Gaita "dared to make a disc based on the gaita, ferrinho and bass guitar."

Vik Sohonie, founder of Ostinato Records, tells us the background on his latest compilation release, Pour Me A Grog: The Funána Revolt in 1990s Cabo Verde.

In the 1950s, a few young men, known as Badius, embarked on a nearly 2,500-mile (4000 km) journey from the northern rural interior of Cabo Verde's Santiago Island to the island of São Tomé off the Atlantic coast of central Africa. Incredibly, they made the arduous journey not to earn a better living or send money back home—but to simply buy an accordion, locally known as a gaita. They would work years in harsh conditions to earn enough to buy the instrument and a few more years to buy a ticket back to Santiago.

Returning home, they slowly formed an elite class of self-taught gaita players who achieved a status similar to the griots of West Africa: venerated: wise elderly men archiving Badiu history in their diatonic button accordions. The gaita became the maximum expression of Badiu identity, one defined over centuries by a persistent culture of revolt and rebellion against domination and injustice. In a land lacking electricity, the acoustic instrument is king.

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Interview
Photo: OJOZ. Courtesy of Mayra Andrade.

Mayra Andrade Is Pushing Cape Verdean Music Forward

We talk to the singer about her latest album, Manga, which offers a fresh pop take on Cape Verdean sounds.

Mayra Andrade is something of a musical mermaid. Now living in Lisbon, the Cape Verdean pop singer firmly plants one half of herself in her mother island while the other swims into sounds from beyond. Her fifth and most recent album, Manga, released in February, is a fresh take on old styles.

Andrade has always lovingly trespassed the stodgy borders of traditional Cape Verdean music. Manga takes it further, hitting up the ranks of West African pop and Lisbon's Afro-Portuguese dance music for inspiration. It's gorgeous and minimal, sing-able and danceable for any body. Manga also reminds Cape Verde of something that it – and the wider world—sometimes forgets: that it's an African country interwoven with its neighbors.

Cape Verde's traditional music is global, but its pop music rarely reaches outside the Lusophone world. Mayra Andrade, sharpening her country's cutting edge, should be counted as one of the best pop artists in West Africa, not just Cape Verde. As she says, her latest album Manga is speaking to her fans like nothing else in her 19-year career. The recent video for her song "Pull Up," shot in Paris and Dakar, features dance crews whose brazen moves mirror the message: "Let me be free to be what I really am."

Andrade spoke with OkayAfrica at the Atlantic Music Expo in Praia, Cape Verde, the day before her first homecoming concert for Manga.

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Op-Ed

100 Women Letter From the Editor

OkayAfrica's Editor in Chief Rachel Hislop tells us what 100 Women 2019 means to her.

Every time I reflect on my career in journalism, a memory close enough to touch reappears. The feel of the smooth glossy paper under my index finger while I sat, legs folded, on the iron-burned carpet in the Brooklyn bedroom I shared with my sister is still palpable. I would run my finger down the magazine mastheads, reading every name and corresponding title as I tried to imagine what their jobs entailed. This was long before we had access to content in a digital space. There wasn't a quick place for me to explore the world that existed within the binds of a magazine, so I assumed this space was out of reach.

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Music

How the Cape Verde Islands Gave Us an Alternate History of Electronic Music

The story of how emigration from the Cape Verde Islands to Europe gave us an alternate history of the electronic music that's captured hearts across the world.

Vik Sohonie, founder of Ostinato Records, gives us the background on his upcoming compilation 'Synthesize Soul: Astro-Atlantic Hypnotica from the Cape Verde Islands 1973-1988,' available for pre-order now.

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