Whether in a lilting melody of a Cesária Évora tune or in a poem by Brava’s lyrical bard Eugénio Tavares, one of the most prominent flavors of the Cape Verdean experience is morabeza – the particular hospitality of the isles. It is a word that is hard to define but is evident as soon as you touch down in the airport.
You’ll find it in the smiles of youths on their way to tilling their families’ corn and bean fields during the rainy season.
You’ll find it in the hands of an elderly woman as she gives you her blessing.
And you’ll find it in the shrieks of laughter of a crew of kids as they wave to you while playing soccer on a dusty pitch.
It comes in pure, concentrated form in the calls from perfect strangers for you to txiga (“come in!”) and fill up on freshly cooked katxupa.
It is a kindness wrought from centuries of hardship and isolation – from the very sodade (“nostalgia” or “longing”) that has heavily crafted the national psyche. What’s more, morabeza is gratitude for all the joys we bring each other, whether we be friends, lovers, family, or perhaps somewhere on the way towards one or more of the above.