Welcome to the US Embassy event celebrating Independence Day! We are honored to be here today. I arrived a few weeks ago, accompanied by my husband Adam, our two sons Charlie (aged four) and Ellie (aged two) and my mother. We have been treated by all with great kindness and I am learning quickly and firsthand the spirit of morabeza that characterizes Cape Verde and its people.
Although this is my first time living in Cabo Verde, it is not my first experience working in West Africa. My first tour as a diplomat was in Senegal. As I look out tonight, I feel right at home here by the ocean. I am already loving the amazing fresh fish here and enjoying drinking Bissap and Calabaceria again. Charlie and Ellie are thrilled to be able to go to the beach. They are especially excited about seeing sea turtles. As you can tell, my family and I love nature. We plan on exploring as many islands as possible– going scuba diving here in Santiago, to climb the volcano in Fogo, hike on Santo Antão, go fishing with our dads and much more.
It astounding how in so little time our connections to Cabo Verde and her people have grown. That is the nature of the relationship between our two nations. One of deep connection and great possibility.It is an honor to begin my time in Praia as we mark 200 years of friendship and relations between the United States and Cabo Verde. In December 1818, the first U.S. consulate in sub-Saharan Africa opened in Cabo Verde. The fact that the first North American diplomat in sub-Saharan Africa was posted on Cabo Verdean soil demonstrates the strategic importance of this region and our relationship. Tonight we celebrate our nation’s independence as well as the 200 years of historic ties with Cabo Verde as a testament to the strong and enduring bond between our two nations.
It is an honor to begin my time in Praia as we mark 200 years of friendship and relations between the United States and Cabo Verde. In December 1818, the first U.S. consulate in sub-Saharan Africa opened in Cabo Verde. The fact that the first North American diplomat in sub-Saharan Africa was posted on Cabo Verdean soil demonstrates the strategic importance of this region and our relationship. Tonight we celebrate our nation’s independence as well as the 200 years of historic ties with Cabo Verde as a testament to the strong and enduring bond between our two nations.
Indeed, our longstanding friendship dates back as early as the 1740s when U.S. whaling ships began recruiting crews from the islands of Brava and Fogo. Cabo Verdean seamen eventually purchased and operated most of the whaling fleet in New Bedford, Massachusetts and converted many vessels into cargo and passenger ships that regularly sailed between Cabo Verde and ports in New England. Now the state of Massachusetts, as well as neighboring Rhode Island, host the largest Cape Verdean Diaspora in the world.
Interestingly enough, my ancestors also immigrated to New England. The first Porters in my line arrived in Massachusetts in 1640 and settled as farmers and laborers in MA, RI, and CT. I would not be surprised if they encountered Cabo Verdean whalers and settlers. This is the story of America. And of Cabo Verde. Our nations are built on the efforts of our foremothers and forefathers—conquering the seas, creating vibrant communities, and seizing opportunities to better their lives.
For more than 200 years we have celebrated a rich shared history; one marked by a mutual commitment to democratic values, maritime security, free trade, and economic prosperity. In the years ahead, the U.S. Embassy looks forward to continue to support the Government of Cabo Verde’s effort to increase economic trade. Our Economic Team stands ready to help those companies who want to take advantage of exporting products through AGOA. I personally look forward to meeting the remarkable recipient of our Ambassador’s self-help fund – famers, community leaders, and small-scale business owners –to see more of this great country and to spread this program to new communities. We are also eager to help more of Cabo Verde’s talented young people learn English and seek opportunities to study in the United States though our EducationUSA office. I am excited about how much history and culture there is to learn and how much work we can accomplish, together.
Tonight we hope to honor the past and look toward the future by showing a taste of the way that American and Cabo Verdeans cultures have influences each other across music, art, and public service.
Looking back, we are honored to have photographer Ron Barboza provide a sneak preview of his exhibit “With the Wind at our Backs.” The exhibit will feature original photographs and archival images chronicling the history of Cabo Verdeans in New England, including Cabo Verdean-American veterans who served in U.S. wars dating as far back as the American Revolution. As someone who comes from a long line of military veterans — At least 3 of my forefathers also fought in the revolution war – I have learned the importance of family, service, contributing your talents and energies for your country in whatever way you can. These themes are echoed through the incredible works we have on display this evening.
As we look to the future, we welcome jazz artist Bobby Ricketts, who in addition to being an amazing saxophonist, is a leading American scholar on creative thinking, entrepreneurship, and freedom of expression. Bobby’s music and his philosophy on innovation exemplifies the best of what the United States has to offer. As Bobby and local artists like Zerui Depina share the stage tonight, I hope we see an example of mutual respect, admiration of culture, and partnership that symbolizes the relationship between our two nations.
Finally, we thank the Secretary of State for his remarks this evening. Your presence here this evening speaks to the importance of our economic ties in the past, present, and future. In particular, I would like to express our gratitude to the Secretary and the team at the Central Bank of Cabo Verde for the tremendous work they have done to capture our 200 years of historic relations through the newly minted 200 escudos U.S.-Cabo Verde bicentennial commemorative coin. This coin represents a physical embodiment of the real and solid ties between our two countries. Its circulation will allow Cabo Verdeans and Americans to keep a little piece of this storied history in our pockets for years to come. We appreciate the partnership this project represents, and I can say with certainty that we look forward to working with Cabo Verde to increase peace and prosperity for both our nations.
With this note, I invite your Excellency the Secretary of State for Finance, Gilberto Barros, to the stage.
Here’s to 200 years of friendship and counting.
“Djuntu nós é mas forti!” (Together we are stronger)