Commentary quotes Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham on Jewish heritage in Cape Verde:
Richard Lobban Jr., who alongside the Atlantic Council’s J. Peter Pham is the foremost Africanist in the United States, has called my attention to efforts within Cape Verde to restore and preserve its Jewish heritage. Jews may have arrived in Cape Verde as early as the 16th century as they fled religious persecution on the Iberian Peninsula. But these Jews—often masquerading as Christians or actual converts—assimilated into Verdean society. In the 19th century, however, Cape Verde absorbed a wave of Moroccan Jewish emigrants who migrated against the backdrop of Moroccan economic stagnation and opportunities on Cape Verde, which was an important trans-Atlantic trading hub. While many were Moroccan, a number also traveled to the islands on British passports, having acquired them because of their substantial trade with Gibraltar. Carlos Alberto Wahnon de Carvalho Veiga, who became the island nation’s first democratically elected prime minister in 1991, is of Jewish descent.