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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Legendary Cape Verdean Singer Cesária Évora Honored With Google Doodle

Today would have been the "Barefoot DIva's" 78th birthday.

Today's Google Doodle is a tribute to the late Cape Verdean icon Cesária Évora on what would have been her 78th birthday.

The doodle shows the renowned vocalist performing against a backdrop of a colorful coastal town, which depicts the city of Mindelo where she was born. The Google in Africa Twitter page, shared the artwork on their Twitter page, adding in fun facts about the singer and her many accomplishments.

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Photo by Ciku Kimeria

Who Are the Black-Painted Mandinga Warriors of São Vicente's Carnival?

We explore the fascinating history behind a curious carnival tradition in Sao Vicente, Cape Verde.

Tens of thousands of people gather in early March every year in the island of Sao Vicente for Carnival. As one of Cape Verde's 10 islands, its major claim to fame is as the home of the legendary singer Cesaria Evora who was known as "The Barefoot Diva" and almost always performed with a bottle of Cognac on stage and a cigarette in her hand. Though it is now the second largest island in the country in terms of population and the unrivaled capital of culture in the country, it was mostly uninhabited until the mid to late 19th century.

One of the most breathtaking sights from the Sao Vicente Carnival is that of The Mandingas. While they are a common sight throughout the festival, the day fully dedicated to them is the final day of Carnival known as The Mandinga Funeral/Carnival Funeral. The carnival funeral is an occasion for people to honor their black ancestors while also mourning the end of the festival. Greased completely in oil and tar, donning sisal skirts and carrying spears, they are a sight to behold as they transform themselves into Mandinga warriors. Everyone follows them from the relatively poor neighborhood of Ribeira Bote as they carry two black coffins with some in the crowd donning similar attire. The crowd chants, sings and dances while the Mandingas call out, "Harrrrrrryaa!" The parade through the streets lasts all day culminating in the sunset burial of the coffins in the ocean. The crowd is worked into a frenzy as the drums beat louder and a sort of orgiastic, other-worldly energy takes hold of the crowd. Some people jump into the ocean following the coffins.

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Travel
Photo by Antonio Thompson.

Travel Diary: Antonio Thompson Explores Cape Verde Off the Beaten Path

The artist and photographer booked a one-way ticket to his homeland to reconnect with his father and the Cape Verdean people.

In OkayAfrica's latest Travel Diary, we meet Cape Verdean-American photographer and artist Antonio Thompson as he reconnects with his homeland for the first time—and his father for the first time in over a decade.

Curiosity inspired my inaugural solo journey to Cape Verde, my father's homeland that I've long wanted to discover. Determined to master Kriolu, the native language comprised of traditional Portuguese and West African dialects, I purchased a one-way ticket, planning only to "get lost" here for a few months. Since arriving here, it's been a colorful, fun, disorienting, and rewarding experience—for a few reasons.

Over 13 years passed since I last saw my father, who moved from the United States to retire in a town just outside of Mindelo, Cape Verde's second-largest city. Because I also didn't grow up with him, I felt a sudden urge to connect and build a relationship while life still afforded us the chance. In the spirit of #adulting and healing, I'm glad I made that decision.

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