Remembering Loved Ones…

Genealogy isn’t only about discovering forgotten ancestors.

It’s also about remembering and preserving the life stories of people you’ve known your whole life.

The absolute hardest thing I have ever had to do is to put an “end date” to a loved one’s profile in my family tree. It seems so finite and almost cruel to summarize a human being with just two dates. It took almost a year for me to open my FamilyTree program and add my step-father’s death date. I remember thinking “What now? That’s it?”. What about the 66 years in between? Was this all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren were going to ever know about him? I wrote a post about him after his death as a way to personalize his profile on my family tree. That was in 2011.

On January 30, 2017, my Titia Stella died. (I wish I could stop crying because it makes it so much harder to see the keys). Her breast cancer had metastasized into Paraneoplastic Syndrome and took over her whole body. She was 70 years old but, for at least the last 20 years, she was only 49 🙂. She was the first daughter of Raimundo F. and Rosa R. Lima, mother to Charles, William Jr., and my late cousin, Stephen, grandmother to Kayla, Jordan and Aaron, and great-grandmother to Tayla.

To me, she was Titia Strella (Star in Portuguese). You couldn’t help but smile with her no matter how you were feeling before. She made it her mission to make everyone feel happy and loved. I truly believe that when God made her, He took a bit of the sun’s warmth and the brilliance of the moon and stars to create her. When you saw her or even heard someone say her name you couldn’t help but smile. She was the embodiment of a true Christian. Whether it was visiting someone who was sick or in jail, providing a place to stay for anyone who needed it, or simply lending an ear to listen to your problems to which she would respond “Oh Honey! It’s gonna be OK”.

Her fashion sense was second to none 😋 and she always had some interesting stories to tell. It was a treat to hear her tell the story af opening a bank account with $25 to buy a house. Or the dream she had of a Portuguese-speaking black dog who told her that she should move to Brockton from Wareham. She wasn’t afraid to wear white shoes to Thanksgiving dinner and I can’t recall anyone having a bad word to say about her.

She loved her sons, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She loved her brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews and cousins. And we all felt it.

She always said that I was her favorite niece… she apparently said that to my cousins as well. So a few days before she passed away, as the family was gathering to say their goodbyes, me and my cousins, Michelle and Sindy (the other supposed favorite nieces😏) decided to get to the bottom of this … just which one of us was her favorite?!? She couldn’t move or speak at that point so we gathered around her bed and whispered in her ears to give us a little signal to let us know who it was. In the middle of the smiles and tears, I felt the faintest squeeze of my hand…. and then she gave each of us a smile.

“Questions I’ve always had but never knew… or thought… I could ask” Series. 

(If you don’t want to get mad you may not want to continue reading) 1. Why do we refer to our Kriolu language as “Portuguese dialect”? Or a mixture of Portuguese and African?&nbsp…

Source: “Questions I’ve always had but never knew… or thought… I could ask” Series. 

Why do we still refer to our language as a “Portuguese dialect”???? 

(If you don’t want to get mad you may not want to continue reading)

Why do we refer to our Kriolu language as “Portuguese dialect”? Or a mixture of Portuguese and African?

Both terms are factually incorrect. A dialect infers mutual intelligibility. Portuguese and Kriolu are not. Secondly, Portuguese is a language and Africa is a continent! “African” is not a language… it’s crazy that I even have to make this distinction! It’s a continent…!!!!

Most Cape Verdeans understand Portuguese because it’s taught in the schools and is the language of business and commerce. It’s a second language for them. Unless Kriolu is being taught in Portuguese classrooms somewhere that I’m not aware of, it’s a safe bet that Portuguese aren’t referring to our language as a dialect of their own, as they would the Portuguese spoken in the Azores, Madeira or Brazil.

As a matter of fact, we only have to read historical texts, that they wrote in their own words, to see depictions of Kriolu speakers as dumb and uneducated. They ridiculed our ancestors and the way they spoke! It was a “nonsense” language. They NEVER attempted to identify it as a “dialect” of their language. We, Kriolu speakers, are the only ones making this argument. They don’t claim it so why are we holding on to an idea that only perpetuates colonization of our minds and identity.

Why do we insist on calling the language that embodies our “Caboverdeanidade” something IT IS NOT!?!?!

Even if we hold on to the false narrative that we speak a “dialect”, why can’t it be a dialect of Wolof, Fula or Serer? Those were the mother tongues of the majority of the blacks that set foot on the islands as enslaved captives.

So much has been done to erase our black history and ignore the contributions that our ancestors made. Can we really continue to ignore that they made significant contributions to the language we use to identify ourselves?

Kriolu is not a dialect but a “Creole language”. It basically means that vocabulary from various contributing languages were combined with a grammatical set of rules that some believe we are all born with (Bickerton). In our case, the grammatical system is primarily based on the Mande language and other West-Atlantic languages, according to Dr Marlyse Baptista, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Michigan and Cape Verdean American. This (very simple) definition implies and demands that there is more than just Portuguese contributions (or Spanish, Italian, etc for that matter) in Kriolu.

I am very sure that Blacks weren’t a literal “silent” majority in Cabo Verde to the extent that their native tongues were not an integral part in the creation of Kriolu. To ignore this fact is to perpetuate an already egregious insult to our ancestors. They deserve to be remembered just as much as we remember AND celebrate our European ancestors.

What we speak is a LANGUAGE… it is NOT a dialect, nor a slang and definitely not some nonsense jargon.

I understand the legacy of colonization is to blame, I just don’t agree with perpetuating my own colonization.

When I speak the language of my ancestors, I honor them.

N ta papia Kriolu, e bo?

The Ancestors Are Smiling

Soooooo….

When I’m not doing genealogy, I’m a Speech Pathologist. A few months back I had a conversation with a patient and her family about genealogy and started helping them with their family tree. I traced them back to a former slave named Charlotte who bought a bunch of land after Emancipation and the civil war. The family still lives on this land today.

Part of this research traced back to a place called Piscataway.

While trying to find my way to a new patient’s home the other day, my gps brings me down a wrong road and guess where I find myself???? … The historic village of Piscataway!!! So I figure “What the hay” and drive up one of the plantation looking driveways and knock on the door.

A sweet looking lady answers the door and after I tell her what I was researching, she invites me in! Then she gets on the phone with the president of their small historical association and has me speak to the person so I can find the plantation where Charlotte once lived. And would you believe she knew exactly where it was!!!!

After I get off the phone, the sweet homeowner apologizes for not having offered me anything to drink. She says she had just gotten home from the hospital after suffering a stroke and her memory isn’t so good. I point to my scrubs and tell her that I’m a speech therapist and I see patients like her in their homes and that I will be there next week for her first session.

I always knew speech therapy and genealogy went together perfectly! 😊

The Essence of Caboverdeanidade: The thing that makes us who we are is difficult to put into words so our ancestors put it to music

The morna is synonymous with the concept of Caboverdeanidade. The melancholic melodies and lyrics full of sodade has captured the essence of our culture for at least two centuries. Some might describe the Morna as a musical form that expresses the sadness and isolation of our people but I’ve never perceived it that way.

The Morna is about “Sodade” which is defined as a “nostalgic longing to be near again to something or someone that is distant, or that has been loved and then lost”. But it also about “the love that remains”. For me, Morna is exactly that. One of my favorites, “Nos Morna” by Ildo Lobo, says the Morna is the “inspiration of our poets, the princess of our serenades, on a quiet moonlit night, under the window of your love, and the quiet cry of my violin”. Cabo Verde without Morna would be “a land with sun, without heat, a bride without lace, victory without glory”.

The Morna is truly who and what we are.

The love for the country and culture of our ancestors is ingrained in my DNA. That love has remained and been passed down through generations of Cape Verdeans in Cabo Verde and throughout the diaspora, alike. The melancholic tunes immediately triggers the same reaction in me today as it probably did in my ancestors in the 1860’s when the oldest known morna, Brada Maria – Composed by Jose Bernardo Alfama and lyrics added later by Eugenio Tavares, was penned.

Our cousin, António Germano Lima, professor at the University of Cabo Verde, has written that the origin of the Morna is the “Lundum”, music of the Bantu people that spread from Angola to most of West Africa. It is believed it that was brought to Cape Verde by enslaved Africans to the island Boa Vista.

The Lundum has been preserved in Boa Vista and is traditionally heard during wedding festivities as the bride groom dance for the first time as a couple.

Lundum do Cabo Verde by Karin Mensah

Musicologists point out the connection and relationship of the music of Cape Verde and Brazil, especially as it pertains to Lundum. Today, it is taught and celebrated among descendants of enslaved Africans in Bahia, the northern part of Brazil.
Lundum em Belem do Para

The essence of our Caboverdeanidade, the thing that makes us who we are, is difficult to put in words so our ancestors put it to music.

Enjoy!

This is why I love genealogy and history…

Some time ago, I posted a picture on FaceBook entitled “Retrato de Duas Mulheres” which features two very striking women and got a lot of attention. Most asked who these women were. At the time I had no idea. I was mostly focused on what I’ve come to call the “Lima Nose”. These women had the same nose as my great grandmother, Joanna, and her family member, Padre Manuel Antonio de Brito Lima.

Duas Mulheres
Duas Mulheres – Boa Vista, 1926
f5b79-majana
My Great Grandmother, Joana Fortes Lima Gomes – Born in 1876 in Rabil, Boa Vista

Many people reposted this picture and it finally got to a woman in Boa Vista, Joana Lima Ramos​, who identified the two as Maria Barbara and Nha Luci! When I inquired, she was, in fact, referring to Maria Barba, a very well known singer from the island of Boa Vista who, at the height of her career, performed at the Exposiçao Colonial do Porto in 1934 in Portugal. ExpoColonial1934001

The only picture I had ever seen of this woman was a fuzzy image that didn’t show her remarkable features. She was young when she married and had her first child in 1930. The picture I posted was from 1926!

Maria Barba
Maria Barba

Maria Barba was born in 1910 in Boa Vista and died in 1974. Musicians made famous a song called “Maria Barba” about this very same woman. I grew up hearing this song and I am honored to get a closer glimpse of this woman from the island of my Lima ancestors.

“Maria Barba” sung by Bana

LYRICS
Maria Barba, canta mais uma Morna (Para despedida do Sr. Tenente Serra ) 2x

S’nhôr Tenente, ‘m câ pôdê cantá más

‘m ti ta bai nhâ camin pâ Manga

Pâ matança di gafanhôt

Oh, Sr. Tenente, oli cóbe d’plícia

Djál bem bscóme

Ai, s’um ca bai, el tâ mandam’

Prese pâ Porte, oi, oi,…

Quem é o chefe desta povoação ) Porque Maria Barba tu não vais ainda )2x

Nôs cóbe-chef ê Nhô Tôc d’Chuc Canóche

Amim’ ti ta bai nhâ camin pâ Manga

Nhâ mãe ê fráca, nhâ pai ê môrte

Amim’‘m câ tem q’êm raspondê pa mim,oi,oi

Maria Barba, canta mais uma Morna

Porque eu falarei com o vosso cabo-chefe

Maria Barba, canta mais uma Morna

Se tu fores presa, responderei por ti

Saúde, Sr. Tenente, saúde Sr. Inginher

Um muito obrigada de Maria Barba

Oh S’nhôr Ten. Serra ora bocê bai pâ Lisboa

Ai câ bocê squêcê di nôs, oi, oi, …

Maria Barba não me esquecerei de vocês.

I Think I Found Alberto!!!

In my previous post, Bibi Had A Secret, I mentioned that I hadn’t been able to find and “Alberto” in vital records from Brava… Until now!!!!

I think I found Alberto!!!! 

 
This Alberto was born in 1896 in Ponta Achada, Sao Joao Baptista to Fernando Vieira Martins and Virginia d’Andrade Martins. His paternal grandparents were Boaventura Martins and Palmira de Abreu Vieira Martins and his maternal grandparents were Jose Lourenco d’Andrade and Rosa Pires, natives of the parish of Sao Nicolao, Lisbon. 

It may be a long shot but this is the first record I have come across for an Alberto. Hmmmm!

My real name is…

A few years ago, I was interviewed by a reporter from a Cape Verdean radio show. He asked me who I was and who my family was. Before I could filter what came out of my mouth, I said, I’m Nanie de Ramizi de Rosinha de Nha Maria Rosinha de Cham de Souza! In one breath, I had given him 5 generations of my family history in Cham de Sousa, Nossa Senhora do Monte, Brava. While I’m sure he would have been satisfied with my first and last name, I merely answered the question as I have heard many Cape Verdeans respond to the same question growing up in Massachusetts.

We joke about the fact the most Cape Verdeans don’t know each other’s official names. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have sat down to interview a family member and was given names like “Ma Lina Nha Sena”, “Lota de Nha Tansha”, “Genio Culung” and “Genia de Neka”. My own grandmother went by Matitita. I have cousins named Maria Lora, Maria Fidjinha, Maria Meninha and Maria Bia who are all “Maria” and are identified by their mothers, Laura, Virginia (Fidjinha), Meninha, and Bia. Then there’s Mane Bia, Mane Candia and Mane Creola, all family members named Manuel whose mothers were Bia, Candida, and … Well, I have no idea who “Creola” was, lol! Try finding these people in vital records where everyone is literally named Maria, Gertrudes, Manuel, Jose and Joao… Well, It might just be easier finding that needle in a haystack!

Naming conventions or naming traditions in Cape Verde can be a little tricky to navigate. Like many Portuguese “rules”, a first son may be named after the father’s father and the first daughter named after the mother’s mother. More often than not names were recycled in almost every generation! Middle names were often used by both men and women to identify which branch of the family they belonged. In my Coelho tree, Jose was the middle name given to all the sons and daughters of Jose Coelho. Not be confused with children of his brother Joao who also used the middle name Joao and sometimes Jose. Maria is also a common middle name for men, ie, Jose Maria Feijoo. There’s also the mysterious changing middle name. Marcelino Antonio Coelho was also Marcelino Jose Coelho.

The key is to understand how nicknames are used. When I tell people that I am Nanie de Jose de Sevala de Nha Nuka de Nha Tila de Nho Mane Valentina… lol… what I’m actually saying is that I’m the daughter of Jose, son of Sevala who was the daughter of Nha Nuka (Anna) who was the daughter of Nha Tila (Matilda), daughter of Manuel, son of Valentina. As you can see, the use of nicknames go from the fairly understandable.. Mane is short for Manuel to the inexplicable, Nuka for Anna. But when you see these patterns, the job of figuring of which “Manuel” you’re looking for in genealogy records becomes easier when you know that he was the son of Valentina. In my case, I had been looking for a Manuel dos Santos born around 1830 and knew I had the right one when I found a Manuel, son of Antonio dos Santos and Valentina de Burgo.

I think this is one tradition we should continue. People do refer to my children as “Nia de Nanie de Ramizi” or “Tyson de Nanie de Ramizi”. It will help later generations trace their trees much easier. Knowing that my Great-grandmother was known as Maria Rosinha made it easier to find records for her mother, Rosa.

So my real name is… Nanie de Ramizi de Rosinha de Nha Maria Rosinha de Cham de Sousa … AND… Nanie de Jose de Sevala de Nha Nuka de Ma Tila de Nho Mane Valentina… It’s also Nanie de Jose de Popinho de Nho Djedje de Relva. But you can call me Anna, Nanie or even the Creola Genealogist 😊

What’s your real name???

In Their Own Words

Ask anyone who has spent many hours painstakingly sifting through baptism, marriage and obituary records and they will tell you that it is a labor of love. We will admit that its tedious at best but it’s completely worth it to find the one gem in a sea of minutiae of awful handwriting and abbreviations that make no sense. And when the awful handwriting and nonsensical abbreviations are in a different language… well you might begin to understand why we may not always want to just give away what we worked so hard to find.

I recently found a marriage record for my great-great-great-great-great grandparents, Manuel da Lomba and Dorothea de Burgo, who were married on April 4, 1816 in the Sao Joao Baptista in Brava. Manuel’s parents were Antonio da Lomba and Rosa Rodrigues and Dorothea’s were Nicolao de Burgo and Maria de Andrade Gilmete. From this record, I now had the names of MY great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents! Its such a great feeling to be able to go back one more generation.

But when you really think about it, I had just found the names of the great x6 grandparents for thousands of people. These people don’t just belong to me. No matter how much I would like to believe that my tree only belongs to me because I am the one doing the research, the reality is that it belongs to all the descendants of these people. I don’t own my ancestors.

It’s this idea that makes me share my research and my ancestors with others. I hope that what I’ve been able to uncover will inspire others to expand this tree or work on their own. The best feeling is being contacted by someone who has found one of my blog posts and tells me that they are a descendant of that person and they want to know more about the family and the culture. Helping people connect with their Cape Verdean roots is just as gratifying as finding the names of an elusive ancestor.

But most importantly, these are stories about our ancestors in their own words through records that date back to the early 1800’s. We have been accustomed to other people telling us about who and what WE are. So with this in mind, I will continue to “share” my ancestors and I will tell their stories in hopes of creating a new narrative of what it means to be a Cape Verdean in their own words.

Cape Verde, Catholic Church Records, 1787-1957 

About five years ago, I became a volunteer at the local Family History Center at the Mormon Church located in Annapolis, MD.

YES, you read it correctly, I spent many Saturday mornings and occasional evenings during the week at a Mormon Church just so I could get direct access to genealogical records! When I first learned the Mormon Church had archived Church records for each of the islands in Cape Verde and the only place I could see them was at the Center I did what any logical genealogist would do to get unfettered access.

I spent countless hours ordering then scanning each record for the islands of Brava, Fogo and Boa Vista. I felt like the luckiest person in the world armed with quite a few flash drives painstakingly filled with baptism, marriage and obituary records of my ancestors. Life was good. But now it’s gotten better!

Had I known that one day ALL of the records would be available online I could have saved some money and spent my Saturday’s doing something a bit more exciting. Now anyone can have access to these vital records though the Family Search website available through the Mormon church.

Once you have been able to determine who and when your ancestor came to America, their immigration and/or naturalization records should include native island and sometime town name. It may also include parent names and the name of a relative who still lived in CV at the time of their migration to the United States.

The search feature on the FamilySearch page is only useful for records from Santiago at this time. To view the records for all the islands, scroll to the bottom of the page to the link “Browse through 105, 781 images”. Don’t let the number scare you! The records are sorted by island, parish and then date ranges.

Cape Verde Church Records, 1787-1957

ENJOY!