By Brian Fraga
NEW BEDFORD – This city’s everlasting connection to Cabo Verde is on colorful display this weekend.
The State Pier was a mini-convention center Saturday, with hundreds of people milling about perusing dozens of craft vendors selling Cape Verdean goods or enjoying the island nation’s rich culinary treats in a makeshift food court.
Cape Verde’s distinctive musical heritage was also a drawing attraction, with traditional and contemporary bands performing on an outside stage, with New Bedford Harbor in the background.
“It’s fabulous. This has actually exceeded my expectations,” said Scott Lima, a member of the organizing committee of the Hello Cabo Verde Expo 2011.
The first-year event is intended to stimulate American investment and tourism in Cape Verde. Organizers also hope to highlight the cultural and economic links between the archipelago and New Bedford.
“A lot of Cape Verdeans who immigrated here or were born here have never gone back or visited Cape Verde. Hopefully, this weekend establishes a link between our communities,” Lima said.
William do Carmo, a local businessman of Cape Verdean descent who has long been active in civic affairs, said that many people, himself included, had not previously known about the investment opportunities in Cape Verde.
“This is exciting. We need these type of events here,” he said.
Fatima Veiga, the Cape Verdean ambassador to the United States, traveled from Washington on Friday to praise the contributions of the Cape Verdean diaspora throughout the country.
On Saturday, Cape Verdean presidential candidate Manuel Inocencio Sousa visited the expo, giving interviews with local cable public access outlets, greeting potential voters and their relatives, and touring the city’s waterfront.
“New Bedford is a beautiful city,” Sousa told The Standard-Times.
Speaking in Portuguese, Sousa said: “I have heard of New Bedford since I was a little boy. It’s a city that over there you hear so much about, the name sticks in your mind.”
Ward 4 City Councilor Bruce Duarte said the weekend event was helping to “combine both our cultures in a way that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.”
Dr. Patricia Andrade, a member of the organizing committee, said she believed this weekend is the beginning of an annual event.
“It’s nothing short of phenomenal to walk and see the use of this space to promote Cape Verde, its people and its culture,” said Andrade, who explained the committee’s success in drawing hundreds of visitors to the waterfront.
“Cape Verdeans have a way of getting the word out to each other. It’s a people network,” Andrade said.
May 29, 2011 12:00 AM
By Brian Fraga