Troubled Islands

One of the main reasons I like African music is the huge variety of styles it consists of and the way they trace the history of the continent and all the outside influences. It is possible to see trade routes, the arrival of colonial powers, the gain of independence, and national crises in the music. This is particularly evident in Cape Verde, a small group of a dozen islands 350 miles off the coast of Senegal.

Cape Verde has a terrible past, with the islands being central in the transatlantic slave trade as a stopping off point on the way to the the New World. Tough economic times during and after independence from Portugal in 1990, meant that many of the population moved away and there is now more Cape Verdeans living abroad than on the islands.

There is a strong Latin sound to the music, with Morna, made world famous by Cesária Évora, and Coladeira the dominant styles. I first heard this wonderful music in a small Cape Verdean restaurant in a small back street in Lisbon, whilst eating Canja de Gahlinha (Spicy Chicken Stew). The music is extremely danceable but tinged with sadness.

My selection is from the giant (he was over 7ft) of Cape Verdean Morna, Bana. I have a chosen a Coladeira off an early eighties album. Try to get that piano hook out of your head!

Record Details:

Bana – Solidão (198?) – Monte Cara (DMC 111 135)

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