Journal of Cape Verdean Studies


Shining a spotlight on the Cape Verde Islands illuminates the rich diversity of theatre of the African diaspora and places its unique crioulo identity and creole identities in general, center stage. This article focuses on the post-independence theatre movement in Cape Verde where the re-Africanization theories of Amílcar Cabral (assassinated PAIGC leader in Cape Verde’s liberation struggle) shaped national identity and guided the pioneering work of theatre troupe Korda Kaoberdi (Wake up, Cape Verde). Under the dynamic leadership of Francisco Gomes Fragoso, a medical doctor who adopted the artistic name of Kwame Kondé, the troupe Korda Kaoberdi sought to create “a genuinely Cape Verdean and authentically African theatre.” Armed with the tenets of Cabral’s political theory, Fragoso reclaimed performance traditions that had been suppressed during Portuguese colonialism in order to train actors as combatants in cultural warfare. In doing so, Fragoso positioned the fledgling theatre artists of Korda Kaoberdi alongside the freedom fighters, asserting as Cabral did that culture is a weapon and sign of liberation. The author offers first-ever reconstructions of their historical productions based on archival research, Fragoso’s own writings, festival participant-observations, and personal interviews.