The small island country of Cape Verde is well known by its wonderful blend of African and Portuguese influenced music. Cape Verde is also a good example of diaspora. Located in the central Atlantic Ocean, Cape Verde was colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century. Originally an inhabited archipelago it was used by the Portuguese as key settlement in the Atlantic slave trade. The poor islands of Cape Verde became a melting pot between Africa and America. Cesária Évora, the “Queen of Morna”, is for sure the Cape Verdean most well known voice. But Cape Verde has much more to offer.
Abel Lima, a singer born in the island of Boa Vista, fled Cape Verde in the 1960s escaping the Portuguese military rule. He came back in the independence year joining Amilcar Cabral’s revolutionary African Party for Independence. He eventually settled in Paris where he recorded several albums. With “Les Sofas”, a truly diaspora band whose members came from Angola, Senegal, Cameroon, France and Guadeloupe, Abel Lima recorded the 1977 LP album “Nos Bida”, which has become a collector’s cult record. Many of the tracks are truly dancefloor classics, like “Corre Riba Corre Baixo”, featured below.
Les Sofas’s rich mixture of West African styles with jazz and Caribbean rhythms is extraordinary. Lima’s voice stands out with his characteristic strong anti-colonialist lyrics denouncing European complicity in the economic and social problems of Africa.