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Zona Libertada: The neighborhood that led

the way to Cape Verde's Independence

The history of Cape Verde

Cape Verde has a history of colonization by the Portugese, together with countries like Angola, Mozambique and Guinee. After the 'discovery' of the islands, attributed to Diogo Gomes in 1456, the Portugese soon started to set up the Atlantic slave trade. The islands, due to their strategic location, were of great importance.

Cidade Velha, on the island of Santiago, is the oldest settlement that the Portugese built on the Cape Verde islands, and one of the oldest permanent settlements built by European colonizers in the tropics.

It was first named Ribeira Grande back in 1462. During the Atlantic slave trade it became the most important cities for the Portugese.

Amilcar Cabral painted by Vadjix for Sonvela Arte

The small island of São Vicente was the last of all habited Cape Verde islands to be permanently populated. It was a place that people mainly used as a transit point when traveling through the islands until a coal shipping company was founded by Englishmen in the port of Mindelo.

Ribeira Bote, back then a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city is one of the spots in town where the new population, mainly coming from the islands of Santo Antão and São Nicolau went to live.

Ribeira Bote Neighborhood

Times were very difficult under the Portugese regime. With the fight against colonization led by Amilcar Cabral the situation was about to change, something that the Portugese were not happy with.

On september the 23rd, a group of Portugese soldiers were on a rampage in Mindelo. When the people in Ribeira Bote heard what was happening, and also heard that the group of soldiers were headed to the neighborhood, they made a decision and came up with a plan.

First, they started to barricade the entrances to the neighborhood. They turned off all the street lights to confuse the soldiers. They armed themselves with molotov cocktails and rocks.

The Portugese soldiers were taken by surprise by this 'attack in self defense'.

People like Tinaia, Futchce and Ti Pedro became heroes and are still remembered to this day for their heroïc fight of that night.

The neighborhood of Ribeira Bote has since then carried the name of 'Zona Libertada' (Free Neighborhood). Many people believe that this night went on to speed up the process of Independence for Cape Verde. This important part of history is celebrated yearly with the MornaJazz festival. Each year different activities are organized throughout September to celebrate a night that changed Cape Verde forever.

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