June 19, 2021

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Amilcar Cabral: On the taking of arms, theory, poetry and African African liberation

by Yousef AlJamal

We are delighted to publish this piece by Palestinian rights activist Yousef Aljamal which was first published on Politics today


When discussing the African struggle for liberation and the struggle to end colonialism, Frantz Fanon, Chinua Achebe and the names of a few other intellectuals and personalities emerge. Although widely known today among elites and intellectuals, and unfortunately less known to the general public outside of Africa, Amilcar Cabral is a symbolic name and a leading figure in the Pan-African struggle for self-determination and the end of colonialism.

Amilcar Cabral was an agricultural engineer who became a revolutionary and a theorist. He was born to a Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde family on September 12, 1924. Cabral dedicated his short but productive life to the liberation of African nations from colonialism, both in his home country of Guinea-Bissau and in Cape Verde, Angola. . , Algeria or Liberia.

Cabral was one of the figures of a Pan-African movement demanding the independence of the Portuguese colonies in Africa. In 1973, as preparations for Guinea-Bissau’s independence began, Cabral was assassinated by his rival Inocêncio Kani, giving his life for the cause. Despite his short life, Cabral left a great legacy of books and writings that inspired generations of Africans to achieve their independence from colonial powers.

VIDEO: Amilcar Cabral: life, legacy

Starting the fight in Portugal

In 1956, Cabral was one of the founders of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGS). He led the PAIGS in his own country against Portuguese colonialism, leading his people to one of the most successful anti-colonial movements on the African continent and eventually becoming the de facto leader of today’s Guinea-Bissau.

The quantity and depth of Cabral’s writings speak volumes about his legacy and its impact on other liberation movements in Africa. He is also a major contributor to national liberation theory through his writings such as Unity and Struggle: Speeches and Writings by Amilcar Cabral, Back to the Source: Selected Speeches by Amilcar Cabral, is The weapon of theory. In his writings, Cabral provides an understanding of the liberation process, its impact and the political dynamics of liberation movements along with their aspirations and goals.

Taking up arms

Cabral unapologetically defended the use of weapons and revolutionary violence against foreign colonial powers to achieve independence, noting that speeches, insults and shouts will not free people, but rather what is needed is to take up arms and engage in an armed struggle for liberation. “For us, the worst or best we can say about imperialism, whatever its form, is to take up arms and fight. This is what we are doing and will continue to do until foreign domination is completely eliminated from our African countries, “he said. he wrote.

Understanding the existence of differences within the liberation movements, Cabral called on all Africans to unite under the single Pan-African goal of ending colonialism and putting aside their differences. Hey stressed out that the lack of a liberation ideology and unity is one of the greatest weaknesses of a liberation movement and that all movements should work to overcome it. Cabral also stressed the importance of education as a bridge to achieve the desired outcomes of educating the masses, in and out of school.

A new man and a new woman

For Cabral, national liberation was only the first step in a long process that should lead to shaping what he nicknamed as “a new man and a new woman”, pointing out that such a process is complicated that goes beyond the symbolic politics of independence and celebration. In his own words, national salvation and liberation “must end not only suffering but also backwardness”. Africans, he added, should “go back to the source” to reinvent their culture and heritage and face foreign domination and colonialism.

Cabral understood well that getting Africans to fight colonization was a challenge in itself, but he also noted that people are united by the brutality of colonization which increases their awareness of their situation. This was the case when the Portuguese responded with brutal force to the Pidjiguiti strike in Guinea-Bissau, awakening the national feelings of the locals and the need for self-determination just as Cabral envisioned.

But for that to happen, Cabral said understanding history is crucial, because it allows people to understand how colonial boundaries were drawn and thus reinforces their sense of Africanism. This knowledge of history will also help create what Cabral called a “nation-class” capable of facing foreign domination and carrying it out. He believed that an educated social class was capable of accomplishing this noble goal and that it was not necessary for all Africans to initiate this process.

In memory of his African people and comrades, Amilcar Cabral is known as the founder of the liberation movement that won the long-awaited independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. Despite the rapid and tragic end of his life at a young age, Cabral managed to mobilize the people of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde to end the Portuguese domination of their territories. His legacy, however, in addition to his country, mostly survives in the elites outside Africa who study his many writings.

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