HARWICH — There has been a strong connection between the island of Brava in the Cabo Verde archipelago and the town of Harwich for more than a century. That bond is about to become a little firmer with a planned visit of President Francisco Tavares, the mayor of Brava.
Albert Raneo informed selectmen last week that Tavares will visit the community on Aug. 28. There are numerous residents of Cape Verdean descent living on Cape Cod, especially in the towns of Harwich, Dennis and Falmouth.
Most of the families immigrated from Cabo Verde (the island's official name) in the 1800s and worked here as fishermen and on cranberry bogs. Raneo said many of the families came to New Bedford from the western islands of Cabo Verde, including Brava.
“President Tavares is a young mayor who knows the importance of cultural exchanges and is endeavoring to promote them. He is presently working to preserve Cape Verdean culture, especially preserving local traditions,” Raneo said.
Many Cape Verdeans worked the cranberry bogs, especially in Harwich, Raneo said. Tavares intends to encourage Cape Verdeans to know their heritage and history. He also seeks to promote cultural exchange between the two communities and nations, Raneo said.
The Cape Verdean community here has been actively working to keep its culture and heritage on the minds of residents. Over the past three years a Cape Verdean Festival has been held in Brooks Park in July and schools have instituted Cape Verdean programs.
Raneo said President Tavares will speak at the Harwich Community Center at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28. At Raneo's request, selectmen will prepare a proclamation welcoming Tavares to Harwich.
“I’m excited. I think it will be great for the town of Harwich,” Selectman Michael MacAskill said.
“Can we help with the welcoming reception?” Selectman Stephen Ford asked.
“Your help would be great,” responded Brenda Collins, who accompanied Raneo at the meeting.
“We want the building overflowing” for the special occasion, Raneo said.