Sunday, May 04, 2008

"Badiu with Cracked Feet, Sanpadjudu with Potato Bellies"

Ethnic conflict may be the story of many countries in Africa today, but this old saying is perhaps the extent of ethnic rivalry in Cape Verde. It compares the Badiu, who inhabit the southern islands, to their northern counterparts, the Sanpadjudu. Both are descended from the same mix of African tribes and Portuguese that settled the islands 500 years ago. They speak dialects of the same Creole, root for the same soccer teams, and vote for both political parties.
Yet there are notable differences. The quaint farmhouses, the lighter complexions, more lusophone Creole, and Portuguese-influenced morna of the north indicate the more “European” aspect of northern culture. In contrast, the darker complexions, more African Creole, and the thriving traditions of continental origin—from the raw beats of the batuk dance, to the intricate patterns of the pano de terra weaving—denote the vibrant African traditions still alive in the south.
It is said that Sanpadjudus look down on their southern counterparts as less “sophisticated”. Badius would counter that their culture is more authentically Cape Verdean, pointing out that singers from both regions usually choose to sing in Badiu Creole. ALUPEC, the current Creole alphabet, is modeled on the Badiu dialect.
These time-old stereotypes are rooted in the very origins of the names. Badiu most likely comes from the Portuguese word “vadiu” or “lazy”. It is said that the Badiu slaves ran away from their masters to farm their own plots along the steep ridges. When Portuguese masters would demand their labor, Badius would refuse. Their subsequent label “Badiu” persists as a proud symbol of defiance, even as their alleged “cracked feet” belie the truly formidable Badiu work ethnic (or lack of sophistication, as the Sanpaduju might say).
The origins of the word Sanpaduju are more obscure. Many think the term comes from the phrase “são pa’ ajuda”, “they are for helping.” This may refer to the Santiago-inhabitants who were convinced to emigrate northward, to populate and cultivate the Barlavento islands, which did not garner a sizeable population until centuries after the settlement of Santiago. Their “potato bellies”, according to Badiu lore, refer to the only crop that they managed to cultivate, despite their alleged laziness.
These stereotypes mostly serve as fuel for good-natured teasing. As Heavy H, a Sanpaduju rapper sings, “Sanpadjudu ku Badiu, nos tudo, nos e kul” (Badiu and Sanpaduju, all of us, we are cool”).


Blogger PretaMulatta said...

interesting. and factual. it happens here in the states with those of cape verdean descent.

everyone here looks with pained faces at those of us who dont straighten our hair. or those of us who love the sun & arent afraid to get darker than smoked cinnamon in the sun. even our cape verdean mothers warn us not to get 'too dark' when we're out in the summer sun...

slave ideals have carried over into every culture that has to do with the african, whether it's cape verde, la republica dominicana, brasil or cuba... sadly.

11:09 AM  
Blogger a.d. said...

Could you please explain to me the relation between "cracked feet" and laziness?

4:37 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home