The 3 F's of Portugal: Fado, Futbol, Fatima

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I was recently on a plane en route from Praia, Cape Verde to Lisbon and was sitting next to a Cape Verdean who’ve I’ve known for many years. He was the tour manager of the late Cesaria Evora, who visited KCRW many times. He told me that “Fado, Futbol, and Fatima are the 3 F’s of Portugal”. We know about the first F, “Fado”–that most filigreed, delicate, yet powerful musical idiom. Similar to what flamenco is to Spain, tango to Argentina, and samba to Brazil, fado is much less known. In addition, fado was associated with the repressive Salazar dictatorship and hence fell from favor for a period of time. Now fado has become more popular in Portugal and elsewhere as well. Watch an informative video on the genre.

And with the FIFA World Cup arriving soon on June 12th, we know about the second F, “Futbol”–Americans call it soccer, but the rest of the world refers to it as football or futbol.

So what about the third F, “Fatima”? Fatima is in some ways the Portuguese analogue of the what reputedly happened in Lourdes, France, when the Virgin Mary appeared to a 17 year old girl, Bernadette 150 years ago. Today, thousands go on Pilgrimage to the city to annoint themselves in the holy water there.

On October 13th, 1917, a seemingly miraculous event happened when after a downpour, clouds suddenly opened and the sun changed shape. The unusual event was predicted by three young children.

Fado means fate in Portuguese, and there is a fatalistic streak in fado music. Fatima, the Portuguese city and the spirit it evokes, is in someways similar.

Here is a video clip about the event in Fatima in 1917.