Cape Verdeans transform rough Lisbon neighbourhood

Cova da Moura
Cova da Moura

Long considered a no-go area by Lisbon residents, Cova da Moura is a warren of small streets where Cape Verdeans make up two-thirds of the 6,000 residents.

As the resident have begun to share their culture through Cape Verde-inspired music, food and street art, the previously run-down quarter is now attracting tourists.

“Sometimes the only thing people know about Cova da Moura is the negative side,” said Paulo Cabral, 36, who was born locally to Cape Verdean parents. “But that isn’t the whole truth.”

Cabral, who now organises tours around his local neighbourhood for tourists, jokingly refers to Cova da Moura as a more well-developed area of Cape Verde.

In the evening the location comes alive with traditional music, food and brightly coloured murals paying homage to anti-colonial heroes like Amilcar Cabral.

The end of Portuguese colonial rule was characterised by brutal conflict and independence struggles during the 1970s, as Prime Minister Antonio de Oliveira Salazar’s administration attempted to maintain the colonies well after their French or British counterparts.