Water and Culture
by Brandon Lundy, São Domingos, Cape Verde
Morna is Cape Verdean music straight from the heart. Every time I hear it, I get choked up, and I'm not even Cape Verdean. The primary instruments used in morna include the violin, guitar, and most importantly, the voice. The music is slow and melancholic. The lyrics tell the story of Cape Verde: slavery, the lack of work, the strength of the sea, and, yes, the extreme lack of potable water. Drought is a word Cape Verdeans know too well. It has caused mass migration to other countries, leaving loved ones behind to pray and sing about their precious water.
I was living with my host family when I was first exposed to morna. I was sitting in a room beside the roof, and it was dark outside. I heard a sad, beautiful song coming from the roof, so I went to explore. As I stepped onto the roof, there, in the dark, were about 10 people playing instruments and singing. My host father was playing a guitar. I sat down, mesmerized by the sad music. I wasn't alone. A large crowd had gathered, including some personnel from our Peace Corps office. The music played on until morning and I remained—fixated on music that reflects a culture's hardships and realizing one of the most basic needs shared by everyone in the world—water.