Cabo Verde is an archipelago of ten small islands off the coast of the African continent. In the 19th century, a group of mostly Jewish men from different Moroccan cities sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to settle on the African Islands in quest for better economic opportunities.
The advent of the North African Jewish community added to the cauldron of Portuguese-African cultures in the country. Today, there is a proud community of those Moroccan immigrants with some distinctly Moroccan Jewish last names like (Benchimol, Benlolo, Benoliel, Maman and Pinto).
The Jewish Moroccan community in Cabo Verde had intermarried with catholic women and had gradually lost affiliation with their Jewish Sephardic customs and tradition, However, The Moroccan surnames, etched onto the gravestones in the burial grounds across the islands, are considered as a tangible reminder of the Jewish North African presence in this African region.
In 2015, the Moroccan ministry of migration and Moroccan living abroad invited a delegation of Cape Verdeans from Jewish descent to visit the land of their ancestors. This visit to Morocco, which was at the invitation and the expense of the Moroccan government, was extremely meaningful. The ten Cape Verdeans toured Morocco to visit the cities from which many of the Jews of Cabo Verde hailed.
With the financial support of HM king Mohammed VI and his deep commitment in preserving the cultural heritage of the Moroccan Jewish Diaspora, the Cape Verde Jewish Heritage project restored multiple Jewish cemeteries on different islands of the archipelago. The restoration of the Jewish cemeteries, on the Christian islands, by the Muslim monarchy sent a strong and a powerful message to the world that religious harmony and coexistence is not a myth.