Lucibela: Amdjer

January 19, 2023

Windows and Mirrors

Listening Post 365. Lucibela’s soft and lovely voice calms as it penetrates the din of club, street or civilization. On her second album she presents stories that illuminate Cape Verde, her archipelago homeland, and distant shores as well. Amdjer (Woman) is a tribute to her sister citizens, their daily joys and travails, relationships, work, raising children, reflecting their culture but also demonstrating that, in the artist’s words, “What happens to Cape Verdean women happens to women all over the world.” Her universal themes are respect and insolence, hope and despair, memory and living in the moment, leaving and returning home. Her styles are mostly local—melancholy morna and bubbly coladeira, mazurka and slow batuque, plus a touch of bolero. The new album includes works by an impressive roster of composers and also launches Lucibela’s own songwriting career. Sound travels easily in a small nation full of neighborhood squares: Gossip is aided by an all-ears parrot in the buoyant Txe Txu Fla (I Say What I Hear, video 1) and escapes through open windows with Zum Zum (video 2). A dance quickly goes wrong in Amdjer ká Bitche (Women Aren’t Cattle, video 3), one partner reproving, “Put a brake on your ardor… you confuse sympathy with frivolity.” There’s tender confession in Alma Gêmea (Soulmate, video 4), and childhood nostalgia in Justa Recordação (Happy Memory, video 5). Cape Verde’s star is rising globally: Tourism has grown twenty-fold in the past two decades and the late Cesária Évora put the country on the international music map, inspiring a generation of world-class artists. Every accessible nation offers a window, allowing observers and listeners the chance to experience its unique and familiar features—and maybe even see their own reflection. Gossip may float through those windows, to be sure, and so do Lucibela’s delightful songs. (Lusafrica)

Related post. Lucibela: Laço Umbilical, Listening Post 158, July 9, 2018.


Txe Txu Fla / I Say What I Hear
Lyrics & music: Elida Almeida

(From the Cape Verdean Creole lyrics)
I wasn’t told to say it/Nor to make a commotion
But no one forbade me/To repeat it

I heard it with my ears
All the gossip/In the setting sun
Oh, if I were to report everything/There would be trouble

The barnyard/Is upside down
Disoriented animals/no longer recognize their owner

We say it, we don’t say it/Our mouths can’t take it anymore
We say it, we don’t say it/Our tongues are nervous

We say it, we don’t say it/I can’t hold it in anymore
We say it, we don’t say it/My parrot says so

I just repeat/What I’m told
I say only/What I hear


Zum Zum
Lyrics & music: Lucibela Freitas

Zum zum, zum zum/It was buzzing everywhere
Dreaming he spoke/Without knowing he was revealing his secret

Early in the morning/She kicked him out
Telling him “Go! and don;t come back/Go see the woman of your dreams”

From their windows/Neighborhood ladies on the phone
Spread the news/of the separation

His friends were worried/Believing they were in the same boat
But John being the only one concerned/They hastened to console him

Zum zum, zum zum
Everyone knows their secret
Zum zum, zum zum

Zum zum zum zum
Everyone tells their secret
Zum zum, zum zum


Amdjer ká Bitche / Women Aren’t Cattle
Lyrics & music: Nhelas Spencer

Step back, don’t hold me tight/There’s John, watching us
He’s a friend of my husband/I don’t want any misunderstanding

When this dance is over/Please take me back to my place
And if another slow dance is played/Don’t bother asking me

What you want I already know/To you we are just cattle
You men should behave better/And stop acting like animals

Let me put a brake on your ardor
I offer you a finger and you want the arm
You confuse sympathy with frivolity

If I act ill mannered/Things could go wrong
I would have slapped you/And you would surely have responded in kind

I beg you to dance properly/Or else take me back to my place
Don’t act like you know me/I don’t know you at all

My body is not for sale/I can’t do anything for you
Get serious, man/Maybe one day you’ll have your chance
My boy


Alma Gemea / Soulmate
Lyrics & music: Lucibela Freitas

We don’t always recognize/Our soulmate
She could be nearby/Maybe he’s a friend, a brother

I have often looked for/The better half that would complete me
But I never knew I would have the chance/To meet you and live this love

You are my soulmate/My better half for eternity
You are my soul mate/Love and complicity
You are my soul mate/I looked for you in all my essence
You are my soulmate/Today you are the love of my life


Justa Recordação / Happy Memory
Lyrics & music: Tibau Tavares

I feel nostalgia/For the old days
I have nostalgia/For my childhood

I have nostalgia/For the old folks
I miss the time/When I was a child

I fondly remember/All the herbs
All the plants/That no longer exist

Time passes
Memory remains

I long for the naked children/Of our fishing trips
The cattle in the pasture/Our tin-can cars

I long for fruit/That we ate
All those good things/From our childhood

Time passes
Memory remains


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