LAGOA BY CANDLELIGHT | Algarvian.Life reviews Lagoa Candle Market 2018 | article by Mel Ve
When I first arrived in the Algarve in July 2017, this was the very first place our gracious host took us, the LAGOA CANDLELIGHT MARKET. This is by far the best event that Lagoa Municipality put on, as the streets of Lagoa become a magical wonderland of candles and colourful market vendors, selling an amazing and unique array of beautiful items and food. This year’s event ran from 5 – 8 July 2018.
The 2018 LAGOA CANDLELIGHT MARKET marked our first year here in the Algarve, and we attended 3 out of the four evenings, and enjoyed what was on offer. For us, this was a celebration of an eventful year getting to know the beauty of our new home here in the Algarve, and reflecting on all the beautiful people we had met. Lagoa is a great place to be located if one is based in the Algarve, and I have loved getting to know this friendly little town.
One of our favourite stops in this market, is located at the bottom of the “red road”, being the freshly baked bread vendors, with those making and serving the various bread based dishes, all adorned in traditional dress. The pizza here was also amazing, and for only 2,5 euros per slice, it was really good quality. The wait however was no joke, taking 45 minutes at one point, but it was totally worth it, as the Pao com Chorico is the best I have come across in the last year since being here. My husband fell in love with this baked bread filled with Chorico sausage, when we first arrived here last year, and he has tried it many places since, but coming back here we remembered why we fell in love with this traditional Portuguese snack, as nobody does it quite like these guys.
The theme of this year’s market was AFRICA, and boy was I excited, as I was born in South Africa, and lived there for the first 23 years of my life. So off I went to the African themed event wearing my favourite African print dress, made and purchased in South Africa, to contribute to the vibe and theming of this occasion. I also currently hold the post of International Media Advisor to the King Khoebaha Calvin Cornelius III, Royal House of the Khoisan Nation, and the Sovereign State of Good Hope. In my past media endeavours, I have published books about South Africa, and made several documentary films, including SECRETS OF THE KALAHARI, which documents my discovery of the remains of the oldest and largest advanced ancient civilisation to have ever been found. My work as an investigative journalist has led me to interview some of the greatest researchers and historians regarding Africa. Indeed, my love for Africa runs deep, as does my deep understanding of the complex collection of cultures that exists in Africa, and has existed far further back in history than many can imagine. I of all people was really looking forward to the various expressions of Africa put forward in the 2018 Lagoa Candle Market, but to be fair, it was very limited, and at certain point, out right offensive.
Firstly, their was very little African themed food. That which could be found was over priced, at 8 euros a dish, for some stew and “pap”, a traditional dish of the impoverished African, which could only be found tucked away in the cloisters of the convent… As if this is the only way in which food from Africa can be represented. I don’t mean to sound like a spoilt food snob, as I understand that many Africans are poor and this is the only kind of food that they can afford, but there are so many other amazing African food dishes which could have been served at an event like this. It is actually an insult to vast plethora of African cuisine that is available. One of the key focuses should have been on providing a far greater variety of African foods from different part of Africa.
ABOVE: The culturally offensive African effigies.
Then there was the giant African (black) mannequins, which were paraded through the streets of Lagoa… Was I the only one who found these giant puppets to be racially offensive? I am caucasian, but I am African non the less, and there are many races who live in Africa, not just black people. For example, the Khoisan who have inhabited the Southern part of Africa for hundreds of thousands of years, are not black, but a more caramel colour. In fact, they are a totally different genetic group all together, and they are in fact the First Nation of Southern Africa. Furthermore, the representation of the typical black African was also rather questionable, as the hands were disproportionately oversized and hanging in a way that gave the giant African mannequin, a monkey or ape like countenance. It is most certainly derogatory and racially offensive to depict black Africans as monkeys or apes. This subtle but important social nuance is something that perhaps one can only grasped if you have lived in Africa, which is why I say, the Creative Director / Theme Organiser, clearly had very little idea of what they were doing due to their limited cultural knowledge about Africa. In general, I got the impression that whom ever was the Creative Director of this event, they clearly had not spent much time travelling through Africa, and they had probably only ever been to Morocco or Egypt, if that. The vision of Africa was very limited and one dimensional, and what a shame that is, because there are so many African themed things which can be done very well and simplistically, including food.
The entertainment was spectacular however, with some amazing drummers, dancers and musicians, taking to the streets and creating a wonderful atmosphere. There were a wonderful array of interesting instruments being played, and some lovely African themed artworks on display in the market. However, the artworks that were on display in the gallery above the convent, were somewhat menacing in theme, and had more of an occult undertone, than actually being a representation of African art, despite the fact that all the artworks by a single artist, depicted black Africans, all of which had menacing, haunted and frightened eyes. The repetition of the cockerel and goat motif are a common occult allegory, with the goat being depicted in one paintings which explicitly implied beastiality. This series of artwork did not leave me with a pleasant feeling at all.
What makes the Lagoa Candlelight Market so special is of course all the candle arrangements scattered across the streets of this quaint Algarvian town. The candles are laid out in symbols, all of which have deeper meanings.
As the sun sets, the candles are lit all across the town and the magic of this festival pulls you in, as you wonder through the old town of Lagoa. Around every corner, is a surprise, an act, a musician, a display, or even just friendly people having fun.
For those who may be travelling through the Algarve in early summer, make time to pass through Lagoa. Whether it be the Wine Show, Candlelight Market or the Dessert Festival, there is something for all in Lagoa over summer.