Amilcar Cabral, father of the independance of Bissau Guinea

In January 20th 1974, Amilcar Lopes Cabral, great fighter and African activist, was assassinated. This is a tribute to him.

Young Cabral
Young Cabral

Let’s remember that Amilcar Lopes Cabral was born on September 12th 1924 in Bafata, current Guinea Bissau, which was at that time a Portuguese colony. He was the son of Juvenal Cabral and Iva Pinhel Evora, and was a good student.

After he finished his secondary studies in 1943, he obtained a scholarship in 1945 that enabled him to go to Portugal to continue his studies. During his stay in Portugal he made friends with people who would later be actors in the liberation struggles in Africa during the colonial period, especially in the territories conquered by the Portuguese like Angola for example. He met people such as Mario Andrade, Agostinho Neto or Eduardo Mondlane who was the future founder of the FRELIMO – Front for the Liberation of Mozambique.

During his studies, he and his fellow Africans who were also studying in Portugal became conscious about the problems of Africa. Their awareness and their reflections made them – especially along with Agostinho Neto – found in secrecy a center for African studies in Portugal in order to study the African populations under the domination of the colonizers and to promote the African literature.

Cabral as a student
Cabral as a student

In 1952 he left Portugal after having worked there and in other Portuguese colonies. He went back to Guinea to work and to try to put an end to domination and to the Portuguese colonization. As a director of the experimental agricultural center of Bissau, he took advantage of his work to study during a few years the social-economic structures of the country and immerse himself in the local realities. This better knowledge of the field was to serve him in his struggle for liberation. In 1955 the colonial governor of Guinea Bissau, asked him to go work in Angola.

During his stay in Angola, he participated in the creation of the famous MPLA – Movement for the Liberation of Angola – in 1956. During this same year, on the 19th of December, he created along with 5 of his comrades the African Party for the Independence of Guinea Bissau and of Cap Verde – PAIGC -, which was at first an illegal organization before being officially recognized later on. This was the beginning of the real struggle. He became the general secretary of the party. In 1957 he secretly organized the movement in Guinea creating several underground cells and a union movement with people from the urban population.

On August 3rd 1959 his party suffered important losses during the crushing of a workers strike – Dockers of Bissau – led by the Portuguese army. According to his statements, he understood then that: The oppressor only starts to listen when the number of cadavers on his side is sufficiently high.

cabral 3He reorganizes the party – PAIGC -, basing his strategy of struggle upon the rural populations and the expansion of the field. And he prepares himself, like many other African activists at that time have prepared themselves, like Mandela, with his party – still illegally – to the armed struggle against the Portuguese for several reasons amongst which we can cite in particular:

  • the independence of Guinea Bissau and Cap Verde
  • The research of the economic, cultural, social and political unity of all the ethnical groups in these regions.

In 1963 the armed struggle against the Portuguese bursts. The PAIGC – oriented towards the armed struggle – fought against the Portuguese on several sides with as their rear base in Guinea Conakry and Senegal. His great knowledge of the field allowed his organization to beat the Portuguese several times and to free several regions, starting by the south of the country.

Cabral wearing sun glasses with a weapon in his hands surrounded by feminine troops of his army
Cabral wearing sun glasses with a weapon in his hands surrounded by feminine troops of his army

From 1964 to 1965, Cabral and his party substituted the colonial structures by new administrative and political structures in the freed zones in order to help the populations and to solve their problems relative to colonial injustice. In the same time, he tried to make his movement known internationally in order have support and to legitimate the necessity of his struggle on an international scale, political and diplomatic in order to obtain the independence and destroy the colonial Portuguese regime.

cabral 2In 1966 Cabral participated in Cuba in a conference where were represented three continents – Asia, Africa and Latin America – and where was created the organization of solidarity of Asia, Africa and Latin America’s people. Cabral asserted himself as a leading revolutionary.

On the field, the resistant troops of the PAIGC continue the struggle and keep beating the Portuguese. In 1968 the PAIGC had already liberated two thirds of the Guinea Bissau, controlled these places, reinforced the administration, settled the basis of a real state structure, created schools, health centers, etc.

In 1969, before all the military and diplomatic advances of the PAIGC, the Portuguese feared that their image would be sullied – bad reputation – abroad so they promised the populations better life standards and looked for Blacks to corrupt in order to use them to destroy Cabral’s movement. But this tries did not prevent the advance of Cabral’s movement, which was to be receive by the western authorities to discuss about his struggle, to defend his ideas and his liberation movement. He escaped an assassination attempt set by the Portuguese on November 22nd 1970.

In August 1971 the ruling organ of the PAIGC decided to prepare the conditions for the elections that would take place in 1972, aiming to form the first popular assembly of Guinea Bissau. And this happened.

In 1972 the United Nations recognized the PAIGC as legitimate representative of the people of Guinea Bissau and Cap Verde. From that moment on, the United Nations and western countries would discuss matters regarding Guinea Bissau and Cap Verde only with this movement. The United Nations started then to condemn the manoeuvers practiced by the Portuguese colonizers. The official independence wasn’t then that far and the fall of the Portuguese was only a matter of time.

We can see Cabral and Fidel Castro, a person who has done a lot for Africa and who supported several liberation African movements – for example the ANC in South Africa.
We can see Cabral and Fidel Castro, a person who has done a lot for Africa and who supported several liberation African movements – for example the ANC in South Africa.

On January 20th 1973, the Portuguese ordered the assassination of Cabral in Conakry. On September 24th of the same year, the popular assembly formed the year before by the PAIGC announced the constitution and on September 10th 1974, Portugal recognized the independence of Cap Verde and Guinea Bissau.

Even though Cabral could not see the final achievement of his work – the independence for which he fought during almost thirty years – his vow became true and the struggle he led paid off.

timbre cabralTo conclude, we cite here a Cabral’s quotation: ‘Nobody can doubt, among our people, like among other African people, that this national liberation war in which we engaged ourselves belongs to the whole African continent!’

Hotep to you servant of Maat !!!!

By : Lisapo ya Kama © (All rights reserved. Any copying or translation of the text of this article is strictly forbbiden without the written approval of Lisapo ya Kama)

Notes :