Ages ago, when a young, collegiate Fly Brother was interning on Capitol Hill in DC (we’re talking at the turn of the century), I was asked by one of the other interns if I was Cape Verdean. Cape Who? She was from Boston and told me I looked Cape Verdean, and I was like, “Whatever the hell that is, I’m not it!”
During that semester, I ended up meeting another intern from Massachusetts, one José dos Anjos, who had a crazy-ass last name that we all kept trying to pronounce the Spanish way: “dos AN-hos.” None of us had a clue that his name was Portuguese, and he was barely any help to us as he always introduced himself as “ho-ZAY.”
Almost ten years on, I can pronounce his name properly, am well-versed on the history of the Cape Verdean community in New England, and have been to three of the ten islands that make up the archipelago floating a few hundred miles west of that tip of Africa with the same name, Cape Verde.
And José (pronounced “zho-ZEH,” though we call him Zezito) has since become an emerging authority on Cape Verdean familial histories both in the States and on the islands. He started tracing the genealogies of his friends and family, which has turned into a major project that has even rattled the nerves of folk wanting to keep illegitimate births under wraps.
Yesterday, he was featured in his hometown newspaper and I was inspired to write this little missive in honor of a good friend who’s shown me every nook and cranny of Southeastern Mass with his rack of cousins, rode-out with me to my university homecoming and Calle Ocho in Miami, and with characteristic patience, still remained my friend after I yelled at his ass for almost making us miss our boat between Santo Antão and São Vicente cuz he was trying to holla at some chick he’d never see again (never going to forget that one; we had to climb through the cargo hold since they had already raised the gangplank).
Yes, Zezito, you will one day be US Ambassador to Cape Verde (or Cape Verdean Ambassador to the US, since you hold dual citizenship, right? One a them).