Archive for the ‘Cape Verde’ Category


April 28, 2013

I admit to having been neglecting Yoff Tales. This has three reasons. One: it’s busy. There were (and are) major and ongoing events in Guinea, here in Senegal, in Guinea Bissau, around Gambia and that’s for starters. Two: I’m working on some really large projects, long stories, a book and major blog entries (believe it or not…). And three: being a freelancer correspondent comes with freedoms and major financial constraints (as in: hanging by my fingernails above a canyon from the beginning of the year until about, well, now, really…), which means that the blog, regrettably, takes a back seat when the rent is due.

It WILL continue though, I have grown rather attached to it and I notice some of you have too. Bear with me and in the meantime here’s the view form the Ildo Lobo Cultural Centre in Praia, the Cape Verdian capital. Ildo Lobo died a few years ago but was in every respect the equal of Cesária Evora. Listen to his “Nós Morna”, “Inconditional” and “Intelectual” albums. All wonderful and even better: all still available.

The big blue and white building in the pic is the Auditório Nacional and that lovely pink building opposite has a very nice restaurant where I sent my mails from. I was staying in a equally nice place right next door (the white facade partly hidden by the Auditório).

The big statue in the foreground is Amilcar Cabral, the father of the Cabe Verde and Guinea Bissau liberation movement in the 1960s and 70s, a poet and writer too. He is looking straight at a brand new office block where you will find the very modern national mobile phone company with the red and blue logo. Would the revolution have gone differently if we all had mobile phones forty years ago?


Views from the hill

April 24, 2012

This has not been a very active and/or productive month and that’s because I was hiding. Here:

This is what you see when you sit on an uphill terrace in the city that was home to Cesaria Evora. In the early evening, the view looks like this…

In the foreground, the street leading to downtown Mindelo, because that’s where we are. In the background, a French frigate. I was told that during the Senegalese elections a French warship was spotted around Cabo Verde. Some folks never seem to learn. Still, you have to wait until…

…before the music comes out. It was in the bars and taverns downtown that Cesaria Evora was singing to sailors. She also performed on Portuguese cruise ships before the rest of the world discovered the twin magic of her voice and Cape Verdian music.

Today, you’ll come across the good, the mediocre and the embarrassing in all shapes and sizes. I was subjected to some seriously off-key morna in a restaurant but in this very same town you only have to walk down the street and run into Tcheka and Lura, two of the best voices Cabo Verde has to offer. They may play somewhere tonight – but then again, they may not. Beer and grogue, a lethal local distilled drink, widely available. Good food too.

I’ll be back here, staying in the superb Solar Windelo for the view, flying to the capital Praia for the excellent Kriol Jazz Festival (more about that at some other point), and taking the boat out to Santo Antão, the next island, for some spectacular mountain walking. If only to sweat out the grogue

Outside the airport, which is named after her, there’s a statue of Cesaria Evora, in her characteristic, almost nonchalant pose, holding a microphone. I took my imaginary hat off and bowed. I didn’t think she’d mind…