Artist Vanessa Paulina forges cultural ties between the ABC and Cape Verde Islands

During a recent visit Arubian / Caribbean artist Vanessa Paulina met with Cape Verdian cultural attache Mr. Manuel da Veiga. She endowed the artwork ‘Indigo kids’, cementing cultural ties between the ABC islands and Cape Verde.

Aruban artist/painter Vanessa Paulina visited the Cape Verde Island of Santiago di Praia during the months of May and June last. She was there in company of the reggae band “Delidel Touch” that was invited from the Netherlands to perform at the international festival of “Gamboa”, an annual 3-day music festival celebrating the anniversary of the city of “Praia” (literally “Beach”), held for the 6th time. There was a caravan of musicians present from all parts of the world, such as Brazil, the U.S.A., Portugal, Angola, Guinea Bissau, and many others.

Vanessa Paulina made use of the opportunity to donate a painting to the Minister of Culture Mr. Manuel da Veiga, who is also a writer, linguist and colleague of our Caribbean pride and Paulina's source of inspiration Prof. Frank Martinus Arion, writer and linguist who lives on the island of Curacao. These two men have met each other on several occasions to compare the Cape Verde Creole language with the ABC-islands' Papiamento, the latter of which derives for a greater part from the first.

As an artist, Vanessa Paulina is intrigued and captivated by the culture, history and ancestry that Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao have in common with Cape Verde. The ABC-islands are the only islands in the Caribbean where they speak a similar language, resulting from slavery. The similarities are enormous and can be found in architecture, gastronomy, features, and culture such as carnival, burning of the momo, dande, simadan, dera gai, music and instruments, etc.

Cape Verde
This was the 6th time that Paulina visited the Cape Verde Islands. Cape Verde consists of 10 islands situated on the West coast of Africa. Besides the largest island and capital Santiago di Praia there are Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Lucia, São Nicolão, Ilha do Sal, Boa Vista, Maio and Brava i Fogo.

On the pictures you can see Vanessa Paulina with the Minister of Culture Mr. Manuel da Veiga taken at the Palacio di Cultura Ildo Lobo. The picture hanging on the wall is from the president of Cape Verde Mr. Pedro Pires .

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The painting donated by Paulina is one of her Childhood series, the 1st one of the theme “Amistad” (friendship) with the title “Indigo kids”. On the canvas there are 2 children embracing each other; a Rejoining/Reencounter. The children stand symbol for the islands: an Antillean girl and the Cape Verde boy, who is holding a typical woven Cape Verde cloth called “Pano di terra”.

Vanessa Paulina is proud to be part of all the ABC islands. Since she has lived on each one of them, it is easy for her to recognize the similarities between the islands, despite the fact that the Cape Verde islands appear to have stood still in time for the last forty years, whereas the ABC islands have developed into modern countries. Similar are for instance the salt ponds in both Ilha do Sal and Bonaire, the cosmopolitan atmosphere in both São Vicente and Aruba, and also the way in which they celebrate carnival, Boa Vista and Ilha do Sal have similar white beaches and blue waters to those in Aruba, and Santiago more resembles Curacao. Also the dialect spoken there is better comprehended by the people of the ABC islands.

Paulina's curiosity for the Cape Verde islands was first inspired by her Cape Verdean partner whom she met in Rotterdam, and the discovery that they spoke practically the same language. Furthermore, Paulina's hometown Rotterdam has the largest Cape Verde community in the Netherlands. And the thesis written by prof. Frank Martinus Arion “Kiss of a Slave” was a source of inspiration for her work.

Vanessa Paulina has a degree in fashion and illustrating. She studied at the Windroos Fashion Institute in Rotterdam, the Fashion Academy in Eindhoven, the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, and the Institute of Education in Leiden, and she took classes in Caribbean Studies at the University of Leiden, all in the Netherlands. Nowadays she uses the brush more and has proven to have mastered her skills as an autodidact painter.

You can admire her work at