Monomoy Students Visit Cape Verde

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Olá! On Tuesday afternoon, many MRHS students witnessed a very important slideshow about Cape Verdeans. The presentation was put on by the Harwich Historical Society (HHS), specifically Brenda Collins. It was her first time presenting, and although she appeared a bit nervous at times, she was clearly engaged and enthusiastic about her topic. Barbara Burgo and Albert Raneo, two Cape Verdeans, told us many things we would have never ever known about Cape Verde!

First off, Cape Verde is a series of small islands that are right off the coast of Africa. The islands compose an archipelago, which is a group of islands. nine out of ten of these islands are inhabited. Albert is not a native of Cape Verde; he was instead born in Harwich. However, he is so fluent in the language of Kriolu that native Cape Verdeans thought he was one of them. Albert’s grandparents came to New Bedford from Cape Verde due to the Portuguese colonial oppression in Cape Verde; that is, before Amilcar Cabral.

Amilcar Cabral helped Cape Verde rebel from the tyrannical forces of Portugal but never lived to see the result of his hard work. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, he rebelled against the Portuguese government, and he is likened to a combination of George Washington and Martin Luther King Jr. He was supported by the Soviet Union, being as he revolted against the fascist government of Portugal, who received military supplies from the US. As this was during the Cold War, the US did this only because Portugal was anti-communist, not because they supported fascists. The Soviets tried to make it look as if the US was secretly fascist, and that was their reason for supporting Portugal, although that is untrue.

Like Albert’s grandparents, many Cape Verdeans chose to migrate to New Bedford in the 1920s due to a fascist dictator at the time who established concentration camps across the islands. Many other Cape Verdeans, however, came here forcefully when they were brought to America as slaves. Cape Verdean slaves were spread across the world, from Africa to Japan to Florida, and even in Massachusetts, as we already know.  

Of those who came to Massachusetts, many ended up in the Cape Cod town of Harwich. So many, in fact, that the Harwich Historical Society does a presentation every year on the people, culture, and history of Cape Verde. The society invites local Cape Verdeans, such as Albert, to present their lives as Cape Verdean people. Students and staff appear to thoroughly enjoy this yearly presentation. One staff member of Monomoy High School, Lisa Forte-Doyle, had this to say, “I have always enjoyed their (the HHS’s) presentation over the years. I especially love Albert’s life stories.” Two of the MRHS students who attended the presentation had nothing but positivity toward it. Nikaya Cole said, “I think this presentation was a great example of how Monomoy can teach students about foreign culture,” and Damarr Beckford commented, “It was good, respectful, and Albert said something very important.  He did something like Rosa Parks. He did this by refusing to move to the back of the bus and going to jail, as Rosa did.”

Damarr was speaking of an experience Albert had when he was told to move to the back of the bus due to segregation of Black people at the time. As Damarr said, Albert refused to move and was thrown in jail, and luckily he was released shortly after. Albert battled segregation in a way of his own and won. He ran for a political spot in the town of Harwich and beat another (presumably caucasian) man with a final vote of 3 to 1. He accomplished great things in his life compared to other Cape Verdeans of the period, as over 60% did not make it past the 5th or 6th grade (at the time). He was semi-recently inducted into the HHS Hall of Fame with five other inductees. He came a long way from his roots and achieved a lot in his life.

All in all, the presentation was most excellent and the presenters were knowledgeable. We learned a lot of information about a place that many of us had not even heard of before and a good deal of facts about its people, culture, and its 550 year history. It went above and beyond all expectations and we will be sure to attend again next year.


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Monomoy Students Visit Cape Verde