Hijabi in Cape Verde

I have finally came out of a long blogger’s block and I cannot wait to share all the content I have planned to bombard you with. My only problem is finding the time to sit down properly sipping on ginger tea (because that’s how I like to write on my blog, by the way for a relaxing tea recipe, click here) and actually write a post.

This post will be a quick update on my travel to Cape Verde in 2017. It’s not going to be however, a traveling post, although I will share some photos, instead I will share with you my experience of going to Cape Verde for the first time with a hijab (scarf) on.

One of my biggest fears when I converted and especially when I decided to put on the hijab was the reaction of my family. Although, to some aspect my family embraced me with open arms, I still went through rough times trying to proof to my family that this was a valid decision and not just a phase. To some extent I was lucky because most of my family lived abroad, so I was able to be free to choose what I wanted to wear without any ridicule. However, I was not able to hide in my cave forever and I had to pack my bags and face my family abroad. In 2010, roughly 1 year of my conversion, I had to go and visit my family in Cape Verde and Portugal. I remember having anxiety on the days leading to the trip and not being able to sleep with doubts of whether or not I should take the hijab off. I knew that if I would go with the hijab, I would have to be an ambassador of Islam which I was still very much a newbie and lacked the confidence to back up my decision for my conversion. I didn’t want to take on a very important role when I was not fit for it at the time, so I decided to take it off. Having said that, I still kept my clothe very modest, wearing a scarf around me to cover my chest and never wore a “traditional” bathing suit to the beach.

One thing I noticed through my decision to take my hijab off, was that I was becoming less confident and unintentionally confirming to the people around me that my conversion was indeed just a phase. From there on something had to change in me, I knew that Islam is the faith that I wanted to practice, I believe in the aspect of being modest and having to wear the hijab but now I had to show it to others. I know that I will not be a scholar in the religion but at least I had to try my best to represent it through actions if I am not able to do it through words just yet.

The stepping stone towards confidence in my hijab happened when I had my children. I am no longer just responsible for myself and I have to try to be the best role model that I can for my children. That was the setting factor for me, I no longer cared for what other people thought of me, even if those people are my family but my main purpose is trying to set an example for my kids. Even if I fail in everything in life at least I want my kids to acquire courage, confidence, compassion and love from God that they witness from their mother growing up. I want them to know that despite having a mother whose family are not Muslim, that I never let that have an affect towards my decision. That whatever my kids set their minds towards that they can achieve it through resistance, resilience, passion and love. If you want to know what I think about my hijab, I wrote a post, click here.

Enough writing and lets get into the fun part which are the pictures. If you want to see photos from my previous trips to Cape Verde, click here, here and here.

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Fun fact: I grew up with this car, this is my grandparents car and it’s older than I am.
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This is in the Island of Sao Vicente, in a village called Calhau
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Typical fishing boats

 

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My happiest memories are in the arms of these two. How gorgeous are they, I’ve never seen anything like it.
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My heart belongs wherever there is water
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Island of Santiago, Praia
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Cape Verde is a prominent Christian country with a very few minority practicing Islam. Most Muslim in Cape Verde are from continental African countries and some are Cape Verde converts.

 

 

 

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Colors of Cape Verde

Anyone that has been to Cape Verde or knows a Cape Verdean can testify that the culture is full of life and color. The people are care-free, stress-less and are always smiling and joking around.

The next pictures will paint perfectly the fruitful nature of Cape Verde.

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Tarrafal, Santiago Island
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Food Market in Praia, Santiago Island. This lady saw me taking pictures and asked me to take a photo of her. Off course I could not resist!
Kids playing at the beach in "Cidade Velha" Satiago Island.
Kids playing at the beach in “Cidade Velha” Satiago Island.

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These kids aggressively took the grapes I was offering out of my lands. They were asking for money at first but they became very content upon receiving sweet grapes.
These kids aggressively took the grapes I was offering out of my lands. They were asking for money at first but they became very content upon receiving sweet grapes.

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My cute cousin celebrating the Carnaval at her school
My cute cousin celebrating the Carnaval at her school
My two grandmother's, they've known each other their entire lives.
My two grandmother’s, they’ve known each other their entire lives.
At last a beautiful sunset in the island of Sao Vicente
At last a beautiful sunset in the island of Sao Vicente

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them and if one day you are in Cape Verde say hello two my grandmothers for me =).

Old City “Cidade Velha”

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Praia is the new capital of Cape Verde. The capital is located in Santiago, the biggest of the 10 islands of Cape Verde. Santiago Island is where the history is most ignited with the suffering diaspora of slavery. Portuguese colonists captured West Africans to be served as slaves and brought them mainly to the inhabited island of Santiago. Although Cape Verde is situated in the Atlantic Ocean off the West Coast of Africa, one can argue that the distance and the Cape Verdean “creolization” have set itself apart from the rest of the continent. However, this argument can be dismissed in the island of Santiago.  The culture of the island has deep West African influence. The creole dialect “badiu” spoken by Santiago natives has many reflections of West African languages.  In the streets you will find people dressed with colorful and rich textile patterns. The strong rays of the sun are penetrated into the skin of the people. One would forget that Santiago is an island but instead a city in one of the West African countries.

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During my vacation to Cape Verde in 2012, I visited for the first time the old city of Santiago, “Cidade Velha”. In the middle of the old city plaza, venders were selling their goods to tourist next to the oldest monument that symbolizes the slavery era in Cape Verde.

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My family decided to dine at a very urban restaurant where each piece of food on the plate could be tasted individually.

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While I waited for my plate to be served, I decided to browse around the area.  I soon stumped upon a group of boys playing soccer in the black sand, contrasting with the clear water of the ocean. There were other boys playing around fishing boats that as soon as they saw a light skin girl with a fancy camera immediately captured my attention by showing their best smiles and heroic-like poses. Their smiles ignited more light than the sun and their eyes were more beautiful than a majestic sunset.

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422853_3439695357474_1092390122_nAfter eating we ventured around the “old city” and climbed our way up to an old Portuguese church.

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Ruins on the way to the church
Picture taken from inside of the church looking outside.
Picture taken from inside of the church looking outside.

We also visited a war site surround by brick walls and cannons that the Portuguese would fight the pirates off the island.

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Santiago is not just where the capital of Cape Verde is situated, it is also the soul our culture and traditions. Although each island offers uniqueness and originality to the country; it is in Santiago that our history began. The suffering of the slaves have influenced our language, food, music, dance and even our flamboyant personality. The Portuguese colonist also played apart of our language and culture but they also brought life and innovation to the island. Creolization began with the thirst of the Portuguese pursue for a prosper world and the suffering and tears of the slaves. The fusion between both of the habitats ignited the spirit of Cape Verde. Eventually the natives of the island that had the fusion between the Portuguese charisma to conquer the world and the African ambition for freedom  began to be identified as “Creolos” and with this new identification came the beginning of Cape Verdean Independence.