The Brazilian journalist and researcher, Gláucia Nogueira, has released the book «The Cape Verdean Batuku – Historical-musical Journey» that marked the debut of Pedro Cardoso Library, has a publisher with such a rich literary work that, as if the name is any indication, takes us to a journey through time
since the origins and evolution of what is known as the oldest musical manifestation of Cabo Verde, with at least 300 years of existence.
The book was first released in Praia at an event with a packed room and graced by the creative presence and presentation of Princezito, one of the many artists featured in this wonderful work of investigation about this, more than a genre, musical manifestation that started with the slaves brought and passed through Cabo Verde and continued with the farmers exploited by the land owners through today where Batuku has, definitely, assumed as a legitimate musical manifestation of the Islands.
But before it got to the theatres of the cities, Batuku, according to Gláucia Nogueira in her book, has been through hundreds of years of persecution, seen as an inferior manifestation and offensive to Christian values, therefore being determined by the rulers of the time as something forbidden by law.
Fortunately, Batuku has resisted and, more than that has evolved and emerged by some of the names mentioned in the book by Gláucia Nogueira, such as Princezito and others of the present. Among those special references can be made of the genius of Orlando Pantera, to the originality of Tcheka, the irreverence of Gil Moreira or to the powerful voice of Lura or the sophistication of Mayra Andrade´s voice. Even the late Ildo Lobo has fallen to the charm of Batuku in his last album.
But many others came before the aforementioned which names are synonymous of Batuku such as Nha Nácia Gomi, Nha Bibinha Cabral, Nho Ntoni Denti D´Oru and others not as famous but equally important like Nha Gida Mendi, Tchim Tabari, Nha Balila or Nha Mita Pereira.
These are all real characters that give life to those 160 pages of the book whether through their live testimonies or through the study and analyses of the work of those who are no longer with us in body but are immortalized by their legacy.
The book, according to Gláucia Nogueira, in an exclusive interview to CaboVerdeOnline.com, is the result of her master dissertation on Heritage and Development for the University of Cabo Verde that was presented in 2011 and released now as a book.
But, as she recalls everything started with a sentence written 35 years ago by the late journalist Manuel Delgado, that she had read somewhere published in one of the journals of the time, that's stated that only with the Independence (1975) Batuku conquered the right to step on the country theatre's stages. That, because it was only than that cabo-verdeans won their right to write their own History. "It was after I came across with that statement of Delgado that I started to think and further my research on Batuku", Gláucia says.
Manuel Delgado´s sentence resumes what has been the history of Batuku that became also a symbol of resistance and sang testimonial of the challenges and suffering of cabo-verdeans of the time. Therefore the themes related to the life on the countryside, to the bitterness of the drought and the hell of the cyclical hunger as a result in times of a memory not so distant after all in the memories of cabo-verdeans. It is why is said that Batuku, much more than a musical genre, is a musical and cultural manifestation since it has testified in songs the History of one people as it is shown by Gláucia Nogueira.
Of the simple rhythms of the txabeta of old through the renovation of modern times, Batuku has, not only, resisted as it has evolved and "Batuku sta na moda" (Batuku is in fashion), just like in that Orlando Pantera song. This musical genre has managed to cross the borders of the countryside and those of the island of Santiago and reached the neighbor island of Maio, for instance, and even other islands and the Diaspora, especially between the communities of Santiago. It is nowadays appreciated and sang by cabo-verdeans everywhere. Today, just like Morna, Coladeira, the Funaná and other Cape Verdean rhythms, Batuku is presented as representative of the Islands.
"The dynamic of Batuku today is impressive! The youngsters want to learn it and no longer feel embarrassed about playing Batuku or being batukador or that their mom and dad or their siblings being batukadoris". Batuku is now often featured in TV and radio shows, etc., and the Batuku´s festivals are multiplying, especially in the island of Santiago where it has deeper roots, has Princezito stresses. In Santiago there are at least 200 organized Batuku groups and at least two at the island of Maio, according to this musician and researcher.
One of the themes discussed in Gláucia Nogueira´s book has to do with the evolution of Batuku and the new tendencies and instruments coming up in this musical movement. The author counters the argument that this "stylization" of Batuku may lead to the extinction or disfigurement of the genre. On the contrary, she believes that it is where the strength of Batuku resides, the ability to evolve and adapt to the changes in time, whether is by the insertion of new instruments and new tendencies or whether is because it continues to sing the actual themes of each time.
Therefore, today the songs are also about love, sex, the violence in the cities, the daily issues of politics and society in general which allowed it to surpass the borders of the countryside and to conquer its place amongst the musicians and fans of the cabo-verdean pop music and once more paying justice to Orlando Pantera´ s statement that indeed "Batuku sta na moda!"
An opinion shared by Princezito that ironizes that "it is the risk that disappeared because Batuku will never die!" Gláucia Nogueira remembers that the same thing has happened to Funaná with some "purists" were afraid that it would disappear when Katxás and «Bulimundu» started to experiment on Funaná with a different format. Not only Funaná prevailed has it opened up more space to the more traditional songwriters such as Kodé di Dona or Sema Lopi. This experience shows us that there will always be room for the tradition and innovation to coexist strengthening in one another.
As to Nogueira´s book, Princezito states that it is of extraordinary importance to a deeper knowledge of Batuku since "only those that do research on Batuku truly know a little of it" and unfortunately "there aren´t many of us". Most importantly, this title brings a historical and anthropological aspect making it an important document on this cabo-verdean popular manifestation.
Dona Fica, one of the elements of the Batuku group «Tradison di Tera», which has done a small presentation during the book releasing event at Praia, is also happy with this work. "It will help spread Batuku even further and make people see that Batuku has become something of value since it has earned a book about it", says this 50 year old lady that has been "playing" Batuku since her early childhood.
This work of research of 160 pages tells the evolution of Batuku throughout almost 300 years of the records of its existence, considering that being an oral tradition there aren´t many written information about it. From its repression at the quilombos to the fields of the landowners of then, to the banning of Batuku by the Colonial rulers through the first half of the XX century and the post-Independence, reaching the XXI century with the phenomenon of the "Pantera's generation" (a tribute to the artist influence in the spreading of Batuku through the cities), the reader will understand why, indeed, Batuku is a musical manifestation.
The author has no false pretense of answering all the questions about this particular theme, on the contrary she hopes to influence others to continue the research on Batuku and other cabo-verdean musical genres. But one thing is for sure, she has achieved a work that, from now on, will be declared a mandatory bibliography for whoever wants to learn more about this musical genre that represents part of our History and heritage as people and as a nation.
About the author
An investigator and author of other meaningful titles being «O Tempo de B.Leza – Documentos e Memórias» (2006) (The B.Leza days – Documents and Memories – from 2006) and «Notícias que Fazem a História – A Música de Cabo Verde pela Imprensa ao Longo do Século XX» (2007) (News that Make History – The Cape Verdean Music Through the Press throughout the XX Century – from 2007,. Gláucia Nogueira was born Brazilian in the city of Santo Anastácio, I the state of São Paulo. At the moment she has one more work, done since 2014, of investigation on the musical field called «Cabo Verde & a Música – Dicionário de Personagens" («Cabo Verde & the Music – Dictionary of figures») which is yet to be released.
Permanently residing in Praia since 2002, Gláucia is a graduate in Journalism for the Faculty of Social Communication Cásper Libero in Brazil; she has worked in several journals and magazines. She has lectured in the University of Cabo Verde (2012-13) and in the University of Santiago (2012).
She has also graduated in anthropology for the «Universidade Aberta» of Portugal. In 2011 she successfully defended her master thesis, in heritage and Development about Batuku for the University of Cabo Verde which resulted in the book mentioned here. This year she has initiated her PHD in Heritage of Portuguese Influence at the University of Coimbra (Portugal), which will be related to music also.
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