Think Boston’s Independence Day celebrations are just for Americans? Think again.
Hundreds of Cape Verdean descent gathered at the North Stage of Boston’s City Hall Plaza on July 4th to celebrate Cape Verdean’s independence.
Vendors surrounded the plaza, selling native crafts, sterling silver jewelry, semi-precious stones, vibrant long dresses, and American and Cape Verdean flags. Attendees danced as hip hop DJs, rappers, singers, and bands took to the stage. Crowd favorites were Zouk and Funaná rhythms, which are musical staples of the Caribbean. Children got their faces painted by a colorful clown, while hungry revelers feasted on traditional Cape Verdean dishes like cachupinha, or corn with beans, and carne gizado, otherwise known as stewed meat and vegetables.
Brendan Fernandes, 23, a Boston transplant originally from Fogo, Cape Verde, said the day was “perfecto, excellent – it was amazing.”
The event was part of Boston’s Harborfest and was sponsored by the Cape Verdean Community Unido, a non-profit group. The group funded the event itself, raising money through donations and grants from banks in Cape Verde. Performers and hosts volunteered their time.
Nina Brandáo, 28, was the main emcee. “I was nervous,” she said, “but I had a great time. My favorite part was being able to interact with the audience.”
This marked Boston’s 37th year hosting the Cape Verdean Independence Day celebration. It has become ingrained into Bostonian culture, and notable diplomats from Cape Verde flew down to attend. Boston Major Thomas Menino’s staff showed, as well as Fátima Veiga, Cape Verde’s U.S. Ambassador; Pedro Carvalho, of the U.S. Consulate of Cape Verde; and Fernanda Fernandes, Cape Verde’s Minister of Communities.
Campaigning hopeful for the Massachusetts senator’s seat, Elizabeth Warren, also made an appearance, mingling with the mass and shaking hands.
Keila Barros, 32, chairwoman of the Cape Verdean Independence Celebration Committee (CVICC) and a first generation Cape Verdean, was the festivities’ chief organizer. “There was a different crowd this year than last,” she said. “The folks that had been coming for many, many years, they weren’t here. There were a lot of new people. It was good.”
Cape Verdean gained independence from Portugal on July 5, 1975, but the committee chose to celebrate their countries’ independence on the same day as America’s.
Cape Verdean native Zimas Fontes, as 43-year-old sound engineer and hobby photographer, has been to Boston’s Cape Verdean Independence Day celebration for the past 10 years. “We do it the same day as the 4th of July, even though our independence is the 5th,” Fontes said, “so we can celebrate both together. We’re proud of both. People love this country.”