Amílcar Lopes da Costa Cabral (12 September 1924 – 20 January 1973) was a Guinea-Bissauan and Cape Verdean agricultural engineer, writer, and a nationalist thinker (Pan-Africanist) and political leader. Cabral was also  known by his nom de guerre Abel Djassi, was also one of Africa's foremost anti-colonial leaders, an outstanding leader with a great prestige and is usually put in the same category as Africa's great personalities such as Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, Sekou Toure of Guinea, Abdel Gamal Nasser of Egypt, Eduardo Mondlane of Mozambique, Agostinho Neto of Angola, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, Nelson Mandela of South Africa and  Samora Machel of Mozambique.
Amilcar Cabral who was named after Africa`s all-time legendary Carthaginian War strategist and leader Hamílcar Barca who founded the Spanish city of Barcelona as his father’s way of paying homage to the famous Carthaginian, committed a a class suicide and founded the PAIGC or Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde) in 1956 by abandoning his job as an agronomist in Lisbon and returned to Guinea Bissau to fight for independence of his country, a fight which he saw as an act of culture. He was at the same time one of the founders of Movimento Popular Libertação de Angola (MPLA) (later in the same year), together with Agostinho Neto, whom he met in Portugal, and other Angolan nationalists.
Cabral who is often referred to as "One of the greatest of modern theoreticians of the Africa Revolution" cast in the mold of Frantz Fanon and Che Guevara", whose influence reverberated far beyond the African continent. He was a groomed politician and a leader from his humble beginning. His father Juvenal Lopes Cabral who was also an intellectual in his own right and authored a book "Memórias e Reflexões (Memories and Reflections) in 1947, tutored young Cabral to be like him. According to his mother Iva Pinhel Évora, "He was born with politics in his head. He was the son of a politician. Juvenal used to talk to him about everything." These words are pronounced in 1976, a year before Amílcar’s death.

                                   Amilcar Cabral during the revolutionary War years.

Cabral distinguished himself from other revolutionary leaders and theorists by the emphasis he put on culture and its role in the liberation struggle and in the transformation of society. He would have been in the forefront to rehabilitate African culture and to reclaim our culture, including the significant cultural objects stolen by the colonial masters and now located in many European and American museums.
The first challenge and premise which he put forward was that the peasantry was not a revolutionary force in Guinea. In saying this, he differentiated between physical and political force, as the peasantry was actually a great force in Guinea. They were almost the whole population and produced the nation‘s wealth. However, because there was no history of peasants‘ revolts, it was difficult to build support among the peasantry for the idea of national liberation (Chabal 2003.p.175).

Cabral‘s second premise was that some elements of the petite bourgeoisie were revolutionary. By petite bourgeoisie, he meant people working in the colonial state apparatus, the people Abilio Araujo called ‘the colonial elites’, that is, people who benefited from colonialism but were never fully integrated into the colonial system. According to Cabral, these people were trapped in the contradictions between the colonial culture and the colonized culture, with no clear interests in carrying out a revolution. (Chilcote 1999.p.174-6). Acknowledging this weakness, Cabral wrote:
  "But however high the degree of revolutionary consciousness
   of the sector of the petite bourgeoisie called to fulfill its historical
   function, it can not free itself from one objective reality: the petite
  bourgeoisie, as a service class (that is to say a class not directly involved
 in the process of production), does not possess the economic base to
 guarantee the taking over of power.
 In fact, history has shown that whatever the role—sometimes important—played
 by the individuals coming from the petite bourgeoisie in the process
 of a revolution, this class has never possessed political control.
  And it could never possesses it, since political control (the state) is
 based on the economic capacity of ruling class, and in the conditions
 of colonial and neo-colonial society this capacity is retained by two
 entities: imperialist capital and the native working class" (Chabal 2003:176).
The petite bourgeoisie, according to Cabral, was a new class created by foreign domination and indispensable to the operation of colonial exploitation. But the petite bourgeoisie could never integrate itself into the foreign minority in Guinea and remained prisoner of the cultural and social contradictions imposed on it by the colonial reality, which defines it as a marginal or marginalized class. But it is on them, the petite bourgeoisie, which the PAIGC revolution should rely (Chilcote 1999:80). Cabral delivered another speech in Havana in 1966, stating that:
the alternative - to betray the revolution or to commit suicide as a class - constitutes the dilemma of the petite bourgeoise in the general framework of the national liberation struggle…(cited Chabal 2003:179).
To carry out their historical function for national liberation, the petite bourgeoise needed to undergo a process of déclassé or class suicide, in order to organize and build alliances with the farmers to fight against colonialism and imperialism (Chilcote 1999:80).
Amilcar Cabral delivered two important speeches on culture between the early 1970s and when he was assassinated on 20 January 1973. In a speech delivered at Syracuse University, New York, on February 20, 1970, entitled National Liberation and Culture, Cabral stated that:
"A people who free themselves from foreign domination will be free culturally only if,
without complexes and without underestimating the importance of positive accretions from
oppressor and other cultures, they return to the upward paths of their own culture, which is
nourished by the living reality of its environment, and which negates both harmful influences
and any kind of subjection to foreign culture. Thus, it may be seen that if imperialist
domination has the vital need to practice cultural oppression, national liberation is necessarily
an act of culture" (African Information Service 1973:43).
Cabral saw culture as: "an essential element of the history of a people. Culture is, perhaps, the product of this history just as a flower is the product of a plant. Like history or because it is history, culture has as its material basis the level of the forces of production and the mode of production."
According to Cabral, every society, everywhere, has both culture and history. The colonial and imperialist forces imposed cultural domination on the indigenous people, and maintained their domination through organized repression. For example, the Apartheid regime in South Africa was, to Cabral, a form of organized repression. It created a minority white dictatorship over the indigenous people. But culture is also a form of resistance against foreign domination. In a society where there is a strong indigenous cultural life, foreign domination cannot be sure of its perpetuation. Cultural resistance could be in the form of political, economic and armed resistance, depending on the internal and external factors, to contest the foreign domination, colonialism and imperialism. The character of imperialism was ‗distinct from preceding types of foreign domination (tribal, military-aristocratic, feudal and capitalist domination in the free competition era)‘. According to Amilcar Cabral, ‗the national liberation movement (against imperialism) is the organized political expression of culture of the people, who are undertaking the struggle‘ (African Information Service 1973:43).

Amilcar Cabral further reasserted his position in his speech entitled Identity and Dignity in the
Context of National Liberation Struggle, delivered at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania in 15 October 1972. He argued that imperialist domination calls for cultural oppression and attempts either directly or indirectly to do away with the most important elements of the culture of the subject people. On the other hand, a people could and should keep their culture alive, despite the organized repression of their cultural life, as a basis for their liberation movement; they can still culturally resist even when their politicomilitary resistance is destroyed. Eventually, he believed, new forms of resistance - political, economic and armed - would eventually return (African Information Service 1973:57-69).
The ideas of Amilcar Cabral were transformed into concrete actions in the liberated zones in Guinea Bissau. This was documented by Patrick Chabal, professor of Lusophone African Studies at King‘s College-London, who provided extensive data about political and economic reconstruction in the liberated areas in his book, Amilcar Cabal: Revolutionary Leadership and People’s war (Chabal 2003).

Amilcar Cabral and Fidel Castro of Cuba

It is a shame that after leading the nationalist movement of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde Islands and the ensuing war of independence in Guinea-Bissau, he was assassinated on 20 January 1973, about eight months before Guinea-Bissau's unilateral declaration of independence.  While he was influenced by Marxism, he was not a Marxist.
On 20 January, 1973 Amilcar Cabral was kidnapped in Guinea-Conakry and shot by an assassin in the service of the Portuguese secret police, PIDE. The African world was aghast with shock and many of the African intellectuals were devastated. Cabral was a symbol of a new leadership emerging on the continent. A fearless leadership which was viscerally anti imperialist but non racist. A leadership which was willing to talk to the colonialists but was determined to be independent in thought and action. The Portuguese know why Cabral had to go. With Agostinho Neto, Angola, Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique, Cabral had coordinated and spearheaded a series of military actions against the Portuguese in their colonies in Africa that would weaken the fascist colonial power in Lisbon and finally oblige them to accept and grant independence to their African colonies.
The assassination of Amilcar Cabral stands in a long line of prominent African politicians eliminated by Western imperialism in its attempts to stabilize its political hegemony in Africa.
As Kwame Opoku (2008) averred "Amilcar Cabral showed by his own life and works the exemplary leadership which seems to be missing in some of the countries on the continent. He will forever be remembered by those who are not prejudiced as a selfless leader who contributed to the liberation of Africa and demonstrated that with the confidence of the people one could defeat an oppressor who had powerful armies behind him. African youth can only gain by learning about Amilcar Cabral and pondering over his writings, the problems and conflicts of his times."
In his tribute to Amilcar, Fidel Castro posits that Amilcar is " of the most lucid and brilliant leaders in Africa, Comrade Amílcar Cabral, who instilled in us tremendous confidence in the future and the success of his struggle for liberation. ” — Fidel Castro, 1966 Tricontinental Conference in Havana, Cuba
Amilcar Cabral during the revolutionary War years.

Amilcar Lopez Cabral was born on 12 September 1924 in Bafatá, Guinea-Bissau, from Cape Verdean parents Juvenal Antònio Lopes da Costa Cabral and Iva Pinhel Évora. The first name on his birth certificate was Hamilcar, his father’s way of paying homage to the famous African Carthaginian Hamílcar Barca, the military strategist and the founder of the Spanish city of Barcelona. Amilcar`s father, Juvenal was born in Cape Verde in 1889 to one of the important landowning families. At his tender age Juvenal stayed with his grandfather, but as a result of misfortunes in the family had to live with his godmother, Simoa Borges. Borges paid for Juvenal`s education and sent him to study at the Viseu Seminary, in Portugal. Juvenal who was destined for the priesthood abandoned his studies when his benefactor could not pay his tuition and returned to Cape Verde 1906. He continued his studies at the St. Nicolau Seminary.  At the age of 18 Juvenal abandons his studies and leaves for Guinea in search of a job. He become a civil servant in Bolama and, later, started his activities as a teacher, even though he has no diploma. It was here that he met and married a young lady Iva Pinhel Evora, the marriage that saw the birth of the great leader, Amilcar Cabral.
Young Amilcar Cabral

 Cabral was was mostly tutored by his father at his basic level. In 1941 he started his secondary school education at Liceu (Secondary School) Gil Eanes in the town of Mindelo, on the island of São Vicente (Cape Verde). At this school Cabral exhibited high display of intellectual brilliance and consequently graduated in 1943 with an outstanding grades, 17 out of a possible 18 point total. At this juncture, Amílcar was gaining popularity. He was now called "Larbac" (Larbac is Cabral spelled backwards). That’s how he signed his love poems: Quando Cupido acerta no alvo (When Cupid Hits the Bull’s-eye), Devaneios (Daydreams), Arte de Minerva (Minerva’s Art), among others. The themes indicate classical influences. His inspiration came from the poets he studied in school: Gonçalves Crespo, Guerra Junqueiro, Casimiro de Abreu. In fact, Amílcar’s lyricism reveals a romantic sensitivity which can be seen in his prose writings, his short stories, annotations and commentaries. In these writings  you can detect a strong awareness of what is happening and a desire to participate in the life of his island world. Later in Lisbon, these feelings will become even stronger.
Amilcar Cabral

In 1944, a year after his completion of Secondary school, Cabral obtained a job at the National Printing Office, in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, on São Tiago Island. After working for some over a year, in 1945 Amilcar received a scholarship to study Agronomy at the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, in Lisbon (the capital of Portugal, which was then the colonial power ruling over Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde). While an agronomy student in Lisbon, he founded student movements dedicated to opposing the ruling dictatorship of Portugal and promoting the cause of liberation of the Portuguese colonies in Africa.

Amílcar Cabral, Maria Helena e Clara Schwarz

Apart from his political activism on campus, Amilcar also had time for romance. He met his first wife, Maria Helena de Athayde Vilhena Rodrigues, with whom she would have two children, Iva Maria and Ana Luísa. Maria was his classmate at the Agronomy Institute and this is how she describes her first meeting with her future husband as written by Mário de Andrade:   "I met Amílcar during our freshman year at the Agronomy Institute, in 1945. School had begun in November and he arrived in December. . . . I didn’t belong to his group but I remember very well seeing him among the other students. He stood out, since he was the only negro in the group. . . . 
Amílcar had not taken the college entrance examination. . . . Everybody talked about him . . . they praised his intelligence and, on top of that, he was very pleasant and easygoing. As far as his political activities were concerned, I remember that my fellow students were gathering signatures in support of democratic movements. Amílcar was actively engaged in these antifascist student organizations. Whenever there was a general meeting, he acted as moderator because he expressed himself so well. . . .
In the beginning of our third year, in October, 1948, we were in the same group, which was composed of the last twenty-five students who had passed the examinations."
"Amílcar Cabral e Maria Helena Rodrigues",, Fundação Mário Soares. Circa 1950

As described by his first wife Amílcar`s persona as an individual of contagious energy, a great sense of humor, and an enormous capacity for making friends, was  corroborated by his classmates and friend.  He was said to be very charming and women were easily attracted to him. “He was the best dressed and groomed of all of us,” recalled his friend, the journalist Carlos Veiga Pereira.
 “My brother could make friends anywhere,” says Luís Cabral, Guinea-Bissau’s first president.  In an interview to the newspaper Diário Popular, he revealed that “...It was because of Amílcar’s charm that the soviets gave us the missiles to control the Portuguese Air Force.  The Italian tycoon Perelli was his friend and gave us the officer uniforms we used.  It was all because of friendship and affection.”
On campus, despite strenuous effort to his studies, his political activities and his romantic affairs, Cabral still found time to practice his favorite sport:  soccer. According to the sports columnists, he could have made a career of it, if he had wanted to.  His performance with the institute’s football team was so impressive that he was invited to play for Benfica, one of the top teams in Portugal.
Amilcar Cabral, student in Lisbon

But Amílcar did not accept the offer and preferred to stick with the informal games at school.
In the light of all these, Cabral never stopped to think about the motherland, Africa. He felt an irresistible calling during his college years, a feeling that affected other Negro students as well: " it was necessary to return to Africa."  Not only because of his family, which he loves so deeply, but because “...millions of people need my contribution in the hard struggle against nature and against man, himself...There, in Africa, in spite of the beautiful and modern cities on the coast, there are still thousands of human beings who live in the utmost darkness."  In 1949, he writes:  “I live life intensely and from life I have extracted experiences that have given me a direction, a road that I must follow, whatever the personal losses that I might come to suffer.  That is my reason for living.
The life he was referring to was lived in Lisbon, at the Agronomy Institute, in the Casa dos Estudantes do Império and through the books that open up horizons for the understanding of the world of his times.  One of such books had a fundamental influence: "Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie négre et malgache" (Anthology of the New Black and Malagasy Poetry), edited by Léopold Sédar Senghor.  This book convinced him that “...the Negro is awakening everywhere in the world.”  He theorizes on the condition of the Cape Verdean man, the result of the miscegenation of the archipelago’s first inhabitants, black and white.  He knew that the number of mestiços (people of mixed races) was already six times that of the whites and three times that of the Negros.  From a psychological point of view there was a “Cape Verdean spirit,” a cape-verdeanness.  This profession of faith must be brought into harmony with his militancy.
In his fifth year at school, Amílcar returned to the archipelago (Cape Verde) for a summer vacation. He proceeded to teach and pass along to his fellow Cape Verdeans all the knowledge at his disposal. He taught subjects in his special field of studies, soil erosion, or in general culture.  He also delivered several lectures on the Radio Clube de Cabo Verde, in the city of Praia, covering the soil characteristics of the islands.  He recognized that, despite the difficulties, the economy of Cape Verde is based on agriculture.  As such, it is essential that the man in the street be elucidated, be well-informed, be made aware.  Amílcar discussed the problems of the elite in Cape Verdean society.  He maintained that there was a need for the creation of an intellectual vanguard that will give every downtrodden Cape Verdean citizen all the information about his traditional problems. As he says:  “The members of the organization must bring light to those who live in ignorance.”
Such information, according to Amilcar, must travel beyond the borders of Cape Verde and become global in nature so as to be available anywhere in the world.  This is Amílcar’s task as a militant:  to make Cape Verdeans aware. In fact, “Make Cape Verdeans aware of Cape Verde,” was a slogan that also reflects what is happening in Angola, where a group of young intellectuals has gathered around the poet Viriato da Cruz and has adopted the motto:  “Let’s discover Angola.”
The Portuguese authorities were quickly placed embargo on him and denied his access to the radio waves. In the same fashion, they forbade him to give a night course at the Central School, in Praia. 
 “Make Cape Verdeans aware of Cape Verde,” was a slogan that also reflects what is happening in 
Back in Lisbon, Amílcar made connections that put him in close contact with other students from the Portuguese colonies.  This is a group of young people, members of the urban African lower middle-class, who are conscious of the rebellious feelings against colonialism and who have the advantage of being well-educated and cultured.  They were active in the Portuguese democratic youth movement known as MUD Juvenil, the Movement for Peace.  As Amílcar Cabral put it, they have an ideal that distinguishes them from the Europeans - it’s: the reafricanization of the spirits. 
This search for an identity gave birth to the Center for African Studies at the home of the Espírito Santo family (whose most important member is Alda Espírito Santo, a native of  Sao Tomé).  In spite of the frequent interference of the secret police (PIDE), some of the most important questions affecting Africa were discussed there.  Amílcar’s participation in these debates had a decisive influence.
Statue of Amilcar Cabral in Cape Verde

Finally, in 1950 Amilcar graduated from Instituto Superior de Agronomia and went through a period of apprenticeship at the Agronomy Center, in Santarém.  It was during this period that his father, Juvenal Cabral died. After working in Lisbon for two years, Amílcar returned to Guinea Bissau, under contract with the Agricultural and Forestry Services of Portuguese Guinea in 1952.
Cabral was 28-year-old man when he arrived in Bissau as an agricultural engineer whose goals were not limited to those connected with his profession (in which, incidentally, he has always shown great competence).  The most important of these goal was to raise the awareness of the Guinean common masses.  As he says is a memorandum to the members of the organization, during the struggle for liberation, in 1969:  “I didn’t come to Guinea by mere chance.  My return to my native land was not occasioned by any material need.   Everything was carefully planned, step by step.  I had great possibilities of working in other Portuguese colonies and even in Portugal itself.  I left a good job as a researcher at the Agronomy Center to take a job as a second class engineer in Guinea...This was done following a plan, an objective, based on the idea of doing something, of contributing to the betterment of the people, to fight against the Portuguese.  That’s what I have done since the day I arrived in Guinea.” 
“Engineer Cabral” as he was affectionately called by his compatriots, utilized his position to carry out the task of  “raising awareness.” As manager of the agricultural station at Pessubé, he was able to contact rural workers, including Cape Verdeans.  But it was difficult to bring the Cape Verdeans and the Guineans together to form a common front.  This task proved to be difficult to the very end, even though a good number of Cape Verdeans gathered around him (Aristides Pereira, Fernando Fortes, Abílio Duarte, among others).  His political activities run parallel to his professional work.  He was in charge of the planning and implementation of Guinea’s agricultural census; his final report was, to this day, the first dependable collection of data for a more accurate knowledge of  Guinean agriculture.
In the beginning, Amílcar tried to act in strict observance of the law.  He drafted the by-laws of a club dedicated to sports and cultural activities open to all Guineans.  The Portuguese authorities did not permit it to function because the signatories of the document did not have a government issued identity card.
Then In 1955, Governor Melo e Alvim used his executive powers to force Cabral to leave Guinea. The Governor granted him only one condition, that is, Cabral can return to Guinea once a year for family reasons.

Amilcar Cabral and Marcelino dos Santos of Mozambique at UN General Assembly

In the same year, a group of Asian and African countries held a conference at Bandung in Indonesia, The Bandung Conference, which gives birth to the movement of non-aligned countries in the world politics.  That year also marked the end of the first Vietnamese war of independence and the beginning of open warfare by the National Liberation Front (FLN) of Algeria.  Amílcar Cabral was then transferred to Angola and was working in Cassequel, as an engineer. That opportunity brought him into direct contact with the founders of the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), of which he becomes a member.   
During one of his visits to Bissau, on September 19, 1959, Amílcar Cabral and his political cohorts Aristides Pereira, Luís Cabral, Júlio de Almeira, Fernando Fortes and Elisée Turpin founded a new party with a name  Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde or  in English "African Party for the Independence and Union of Guinea and Cape Verde"  (known by its Portuguese acronym PAIGC). It was an underground organization that acquired legal status within four years after it established a foreign delegation in Conakry.
The Portuguese started using “divide and conquer”  tactics on the PAIGC leadership and followers. Portuguese enacted policies that separated the Cape Verdeans from the Guineans. The former are, by and large, the children of mixed races (mestiços), are better educated and are favored by the central government.  They occupy positions which are less demeaning and enjoy preferential treatment.  The PAIGC`s, top echelon was made up of Cape Verdeans, while the foot soldiers were Guineans.  Amílcar Cabral, himself, was considered to be a Cape Verdean, even though he was born in Guinea.  As a result, there were always conflicts and tensions within the PAIGC. 
Despite all these snafu, Amilcar Cabral worked assiduously to ensure internal harmony and cohesion of the PAIGC so as to enable it fight effectively against Portuguese imperialism in Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau. He also continued his botanical and agricultural studies which caused him to travel frequently between Portugal, Angola and Guinea.

                             Cabral and female guerrillas in the field

In November, 1957, Cabral had a unique opportunity to attend a meeting in Paris. At the meeting, members discussed and planned on strategies that was to be used in the struggle against Portuguese colonialism. He made contacts with some notable anti-colonialists in Lisbon; and proceeded to Accra, capital of Ghana, for a Pan-African meeting before heading towards Luanda when the Pidjiguiti massacre occurred.  In January of 1960, Cabral was privileged again to attend the Second Conference of African Peoples, in Tunis. He later went to Conakry in May.  That same year, he attended an international conference in London where, for the first time, he used the rare opportunity to denounce Portuguese colonialism. He made it quite clear, as he always did throughout the years of struggle, that he is not against the Portuguese people.  But his battle was exclusively against the colonial system.

Aquino in a relaxed mood with Angolan comrades Lúcio Lara, Desidério da Graça Veríssimo e Costa and Daniel Chipenda, as well as Amílcar Cabral, in Marrakesh 

 Historical research and the testimonials of many of the participants in the events show that the PAIGC’s leader always made himself available for negotiations with the Portuguese government, but such openness was never accepted by the dictatorship regime.
 Between 1960 and 1962, the PAIGC operates out of the Republic of Guinea.  Its activities were developed along three courses of action:  to prepare militants and party workers to spread the party line in the interior of Guinea; to obtain the support of neighboring countries (a very complicated affair because the Republic of Guinea intended to use Amílcar Cabral’s Guinean supporters to carry out its own political agenda and because Senegal showed its hostility for six years) and, finally, to marshal international support.
War breaks out in 1962 against the Portuguese Establishment. The goal of the conflict was to attain independence for both Portuguese Guinea and Cape Verde. Over the course of the conflict, as the movement captured territory from the Portuguese, Cabral became the de facto leader of a large portion of what became Guinea-Bissau.
In preparation for the independence war, Cabral set up training camps in neighboring Ghana with the permission of Kwame Nkrumah. Cabral trained his lieutenants through various techniques, including mock conversations to provide them with effective communication skills that would aid their efforts to mobilize Guinean tribal chiefs to support the PAIGC.
Amílcar Cabral soon realized that the war effort could be sustained only if his troops could be fed and taught to live off the land alongside the larger populace. Being an agronomist, he taught his troops to teach local crop growers better farming techniques, so that they could increase productivity and be able to feed their own family and tribe, as well as the soldiers enlisted in the PAIGC's military wing. When not fighting, PAIGC soldiers would till and plow the fields alongside the local population.
Cabral and the PAIGC also set up a trade-and-barter bazaar system that moved around the country and made staple goods available to the countryside at prices lower than that of colonial store owners. During the war, Cabral also set up a roving hospital and triage station to give medical care to wounded PAIGC's soldiers and quality-of-life care to the larger populace, relying on medical supplies garnered from the USSR and Sweden. The bazaars and triage stations were at first stationary until they came under frequent attack from Portuguese regime forces.
In 1972, the war of national liberation was approaching its moment of victory.  The political leaders were still Cape Verdeans and the Portuguese once again chimed the clock of "divide and conquer" tactics. This affected the impending success in the struggle and exacerbated the confrontation within the party. Cabral began to form a People's Assembly in preparation for the independence of Guinea-Bissau, but disgruntled former PAIGC rival Inocêncio Kani, with the help of Portuguese agents operating within the PAIGC, shot and killed him. The Portuguese government's plan, which eventually went awry, was to enjoin the help of this former rival to arrest Amílcar Cabral and place him under the custody of Portuguese authorities. The assassination took place on 20 January 1973 in Conakry, Guinea. His half-brother, Luís Cabral, became the leader of the Guinea-Bissau branch of the party and would eventually become President of Guinea-Bissau.
Other than being a guerrilla leader, Cabral was highly regarded internationally as one of the most prominent African thinkers of the 20th century and for his intellectual contributions aimed at formulating a coherent cultural, philosophical and historical theoretical framework to justify and explain independence movements. This is reflected in his various writings and public interventions.
Cabral is considered a "revolutionary theoretician as significant as Frantz Fanon and Che Guevara", whose influence reverberated far beyond the African continent. Amílcar Cabral International Airport, Cape Verde's principal international airport at Sal, is named in his honor. There is also a football competition, the Amílcar Cabral Cup, in zone 2, named as a tribute to him. In addition, the only privately owned university in Guinea-Bissau is named after him—Amílcar Cabral University—and is in Bissau. Jorge Peixinho composed an elegy to Cabral in 1973.
Cultural actions of Amilcar Cabral on Liberated Areas
Intellectually, Cabral`s idea on culture for Africans and his people was the best of its kind and quite relevant today. On putting his cultural ideas into liberated zones in Guinea Bissau, Cabral, firstly implemented the idea of the revolutionary democracy in the political sphere.
Among the political measures taken was to set up the Village Committees (Comite de Tabanca). Each committee consisted of five directly elected villagers, among whom two had to be women. Each member was responsible for a particular area: agriculture production; security and local defense; health, education and other social services; providing supplies and deliveries to the armed forces and also to provide accommodation for visiting troops to the villages; census, civil registry and accounting (Chabal 2003:107). The Village Committees provided basic administrative infrastructure for the management of the liberated zones, increased agricultural production, and built schools and hospitals. The local traditional ethnic systems and structures had to adopt the new systems. The traditional elders were uneasy but were the first to come forward to support the programs. Later it was the liberated zones from which PAIGC obtained greatest support which contributed most to the success of the revolution against the Portuguese colonialism (Chabal 2003:108-109).
Another interesting cultural action was the establishment of agriculture cooperatives and armazens do povo (the people‘s warehouses). Cabral believed that the war in Guinea Bissau had an economic dimension (Chabal 2003:107). The economy could be a weapon of the struggle for liberation. PAIGC had to develop policies that would systematically destroy, sabotage and in any way possible dismantle the colonial economic system (Chabal 2003.p.110). Among the policies of PAIGC were to increase and diversify food cultivation - rice, maize, potatoes, manioc, beans, vegetables, bananas, cashew nuts, oranges and other fruits; and to create and develop collective farms and cooperatives for the production of certain crops (pineapples, bananas and other fruits) (Chabal 2003:111). The agricultural products were to be stored in the armazens do povo to replace Portuguese commercial networks and to compete with private shops in the Portuguese held-zones. After establishing the first armazens do povo in 1964, there were some fifteen (15) by 1968. The stores were also centres for the people to engage in barter system, replacing the monetary system of the Portuguese. Armazens do povo provided economic justice to the people by keeping the food prices low, when they were sold for money. Rice was also always available in the stores for everyone (Chabal 2003:112-113).
Amilcar Cabral

Aside from the successes in the agriculture cooperatives and the armazens do povo trading system, there were also challenges. PAIGC organized collectives in the few of the plantations and farms
abandoned by the Portuguese (and there were very few) but with little success. Cabral then appealed to the comrades, the party leaders, to help people to organize the collective farming, extensive mutual aid and cooperatives, assuring them of the importance of this experiment to bring about a new economic order in Guinea (Chabal 2003:112). By 1969, the party was able to export rice, coconut, and kola nuts (Hoagland 1971, cited Chabal 2003:112).
The third example of cultural action implemented by Cabral was the development of social
services such as basic education and health care. Cabral urged the education system to go beyond literacy and numeracy and teach students about the liberation struggle going on in the country. In 1971, Cabral stated that:
"Today our primary education is political, we cannot forget this fact. From early
childhood we must prepare our people to follow the struggle of the PAIGC: to teach them the
basis of the struggle, the basis of the strength of our party, about the interests and values of our
party…at the same time we must teach them how to read and write and account and to make
progress, slowly‘ (Chabal 2003:117).
But, according to Chabal, these schools in the liberated zones were deliberately being bombed by the Portuguese causing death of innocent children. In 1970, Cabral in return threatened to take retaliatory terrorist action against the Portuguese. Other difficulties they faced were the lack of proper organization, the lack of proper teacher training, and the reluctance of some parents to allow their children to the schools, because the children were needed on the farms. PAIGC improved the quality of education by having better trained teachers, and by 1971-1972 there were more schools opened (Chabal 2003.p.115).
As mentioned above, schooling in the liberated areas went beyond the teaching of literacy and numeracy. For exmple, there was one subject called ‗militant formation‘ throughout the four year-elementary schooling. The first two years they students learned political formation. In the second two years, students learned sociological and political notions such as the social and ethnic structures of Guinea, the objectives of the national liberation struggle, and the contribution of Guinean liberation struggle to world peace. The curriculum also offered history lessons which avoided the European colonial ethnocentric tradition. Instead, lesson were about the history of Guinea and Cape Verde within the African historiography, which had emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. (Chabal 2003:116-117).

Amilcar Cabral regarded political education as the development of political consciousness, not as
indoctrination. Ideologically it avoided endorsing a particular political doctrine such as, for example,
Marxism-Leninism. PAIGC instead believed that experience of the nationalist struggle and of the
political education in the liberated areas formed the basis for the socialist ideology (Chabal 2003:117). In addition to primary schooling, PAIGC set up boarding schools which were initially for the war orphans, but were later expanded to include selected elite boys and girls from elementary schools. These new centers were intended then to promote new ways of life. By 1971 there were four centers, under the name internatos in the liberated areas with each having 100 pupils. The most interesting aspect of these schools is that the students were supposed to participate in administering the schools and in cultivating food for their own use. These schools provided the students with a sense of leadership as a foundation for the future of the independent Guinea (Chabal 2003:117).
PAIGC established only one Party School, known as Centro de Instrucao Politico-Militar
(CIPM) in 1971. CIPM provided military and political training to some 200-300 members of the armed forces for period of several months, specifically intended to raise political consciousness. They included university students returned from overseas, mixed up with illiterate members of armed forces Aside from strict military training, there were also topics like colonial domination, the nature of the enemy, the situation in Africa, international affairs, the PAIGC program, the strength and the weakness of the party, the question of national unity, the problem of regionalism and tribalism and relations of armed forces with the population (Chabal 2003:118). Cabral strongly believed that the quality of Party members would determine PAICG‘s success in attaining its objectives. Cabral also urged the women to combat the restrictions imposed by Muslim teachings on women to promote the involvement of women in the Muslim practices. PAIGC promoted women‘s participation at all levels of its structure. In the Village Committee it was obligatory for two women to be on the committee (Chabal 2003:118).
A health care sector system was also established in the liberated zones. Between 1968 and 1971
PAIGC built some 117 posto sanitarios (Tomas 2007:209), some of which were mobile medical centers, or known as mobile ‗health brigade.‘ The health brigade had one female and one male nurse and was responsible for a number of villages. They operated on the principle of developing hygiene and health prevention, and to treat those of most serious cases in the liberated zones. In 1971, PAIGC had built three safe, well- equipped modern hospitals, staffed with surgeons and other specialist across the borders of Guineé and Senegal. From only one medical doctor in 1966, by 1972 PAIGC had 18 medical doctors and 20 medical assistants. There were 9 foreign doctors in 1966, and the number increased to 23 in 1972. Some of the doctors were from Cuba and some from Eastern Europe (Chabal 2003:119-120).
The fourth example of cultural action was the establishment of a people‘s judicial system in the
liberated zones, which was perceived as popular and progressive justice system. This came about through PAIGC‘s experience of a situation in Forcas Armadas de Revolucao Popular (FARP) where military and political power had been concentrated in the hands of some guerrilla commanders, leading to gross abuses and arbitrary justice, (Tomas 2007:193). PAIGC therefore took decisive steps by drafting a new legal code which essentially recognized the role of the traditional system. This was followed with the establishment of tribunal do povo, the village people‘s tribunal, for minor offences such as theft, minor violence, land disputes and family matters. The Popular Tribunal had three judges selected from Village Committee members and one schoolteacher to act as court clerk. The villagers could replace the members of the judges if they were found no longer suitable for the job (Chabal 2003.p.120-121). In his speech entitled Connecting the struggles: an informal talk with the Black Americans, given in the U.S. in October 1972, Cabral told his audience:
"We now have Popular Tribunals - People‘s Courts- in our country…
Through the struggles we created our courts and the peasants participate
by electing the courts themselves (African Information Service 1973:84).
Cabral holds a baby

PAIGC claimed that crimes diminished markedly after the introduction of the peoples‘ courts,
and most disputes were settled without recourse to the higher regional courts. Those cases which required jail sentences were brought to zone courts. The tribunal do povo brought back the capacity for people to control their own lives that had been taken away by the colonial rule. The higher judicial system was the Tribunal de Guerra to deal with serious crimes including death penalty for espionage and murder. Yet, corporal punishment was strictly forbidden. The court instead adopted reconciliation, rehabilitation and retributive justice, rather than punishment against the Party members and members of armed forces. This way of thinking reflected Cabral‘s conviction that human nature is essentially good and always seeks for better things. Amilcar Cabral was therefore opposed to life imprisonment and death penalty (Chabal 2003:120-123).
In conclusion, the pedagogy of the liberation struggle of PAIGC, in Cabral‘s view, arose from the fact that Portuguese colonialism was also a cultural colonialism. The revolution against Portuguese colonialism was therefore essentially a cultural opposition, to build an alternative culture. The cultural resistance of the colonized people could be in the form of political, economic and armed resistance. Assuming the farmers were not revolutionaries, Cabral appealed to the petite bourgeoise to commit class suicide by forming an alliance with the farmers, in order to educate the people about the character of an alterative cul ture to that of the Portuguese colonial fascist state of Antonio Salazar. Cabral tested his theories on the ground, in the liberated areas in Guinea Bissau. He constructed an alternative culture based on the themes or concepts of revolutionary democracy; organizing agriculture cooperatives; integrating the liberation struggle into education; preventive health care through health brigade programs; and the establishment of Popular Tribunals. They were proved to be successful. Cabral‘s life was however cut short leaving his ideas and practices seem to remain a challenge to his contemporaries in Guinea Bissau and Cabo Verde.

Amilcar Cabral: Tell No Lies, Claim No Easy Victories…

Tell No Lies, Claim No Easy Victories (1965), by Amilcar Cabral, is a gem of revolutionary sayings. Often quoted by many Africans and activists worldwide, but rarely read in its entirety. For this reason, I have typed it up, dusted it off the shelves and reproduced here for your study.

Tell No Lies, Claim No Easy Victories

Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children. . .

We should recognize as a matter of conscience that there have been many faults and errors in our action whether political or military: an important number of things we should have done we have not done at the right times, or not done at all.

In various regions – and indeed everywhere in a general sense – political work among the people and among our armed forces has not been done appropriately: responsible workers have not carried or have not been able to carry through the work of mobilization, formation and political organization defined by the party leadership. Here and there, even among responsible workers, there has been a marked tendency to let things slide … and even a certain demobilization, which has not been fought and eliminated …

On the military plane, many plans and objectives established by the Party leadership have not been achieved. With the means we have, we could do much more and better. Some responsible workers have misunderstood the functions of the army and guerilla forces, have not made good co-ordination between these two and, in certain cases, have allowed themselves to be influenced by preoccupation with the defense of our positions, ignoring the fact that, for us, attack is the best means of defence…

And with all this as a proof of insufficient political work among our armed forces, there has appeared a certain attitude of ‘militarism’, which has caused some fighters and even some leaders to forget the fact that we are armed militants and not militarists. This tendency must be urgently fought and eliminated within the army. . .

If ten men go to a rice-field and do the day’s work of eight, there’s no reason to be satisfied. It’s the same in battle. Ten men fight like eight; that’s not enough … One can always do more. Some people get used to the war, and once you get used to a thing it’s the end: you get a bullet up the spout of your gun and you walk around. You hear the motor’ on the river and you don’t use the bazooka that you have, so the Portuguese boats pass unharmed. Let me repeat: one can do more. We have to throw the Portuguese out …

… Create schools and spread education in all liberated areas. Select young people between 14 and 20, those who have at least completed their fourth year, for further training. Oppose without violence all prejudicial customs, the negative aspects of the beliefs and traditions of our people.  Oblige every responsible and educated member of our Party to work daily for the improvement of their cultural formation …

Oppose among the young, especially those over 20, the mania for leaving the country so as to study elsewhere, the blind ambition to acquire a degree, the complex of inferiority and the mistaken idea which leads to the belief that those who study or take courses will thereby become privileged in our country tomorrow … But also oppose any ill will towards those who study or wish to study – the complex that students will be parasites or future saboteurs of the Party … – militants for action and support of our fighters …

Develop political work in our armed forces, whether regular or guerilla, wherever they may be. Hold frequent meetings. Demand serious political work from political commissars. Start political committees, formed by the political commissar and commander of each unit in the regular army.

Oppose tendencies to militarism and make each fighter an exemplary militant of our Party.

Educate ourselves; educate other people, the population in general, to fight fear and ignorance, to eliminate little by little the subjection to nature and natural forces which our economy has not yet mastered. Convince little by little, in particular the militants of the Party, that we shall end by con­quering the fear of nature, and that man is the strongest force in nature.
Artistic sketch of Amilcar Cabral

Demand from responsible Party members that they dedicate themselves seriously to study, that they interest themselves in the things and problems of our daily life and struggle in their fundamental and essential aspect, and not simply in their appearance … Learn from life, learn from our people; Learn from books, learn from the experience of others. Never stop learning.

Responsible members must take life seriously, conscious of their responsibilities, thoughtful about carrying them out, and with a comradeship, based on work and duty done … Nothing of this is incompatible with the joy of living, or with love for life and its amusements, or with confidence in the future and in our work…

Reinforce political work and propaganda within the enemy’s armed forces; Write posters, pamphlets, and letters. Draw slogans on the roads. Establish cautious links with enemy personnel who want to contact us. Act audaciously and with great initiative in this way … Do everything possible to help enemy soldiers to desert. Assure them of security so as to encourage their desertion.

Carry out political work among Africans who are still in enemy service” whether civilian or military. Persuade these brothers to change direction so as serve the Party within enemy ranks or desert with arms and ammunition to our units.

We must practice revolutionary democracy in every aspect of our Party life. Every responsible member must have the courage of his responsibilities, exacting from others a proper respect for his work and properly respecting the work of others. Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures.

Claim no easy victories…

Amilcar Cabral.

Amilcar Cabral quotes
“Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children. . .”
― Amilcar Cabral
“The colonists usually say that it was they who brought us into history: today we show that this is not so. They made us leave history, our history, to follow them, right at the back, to follow the progress of their history.”
― Amilcar Cabral, Return To The Source: Selected Speeches Of Amilcar Cabral

“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories...”
― Amilcar Cabral, Revolution in Guinea: Selected Texts

'A people who free themselves from foreign domination will be free culturally only if, without complexes and without underestimating the importance of positive accretions from the oppressor and other cultures, they return to the upward paths of their own culture, which is nourished by the living reality of its environment, and which negates both harmful influences and any kind of subjection to foreign culture. Thus, it may be seen that if imperialist domination has the vital need to practice cultural oppression, national liberation is necessarily an act of culture.'
Amilcar Cabral, 'National Liberation and Culture' (1)

The texts of Cabral's poems are in, Obras escolhidas: a arma teoria, pp. 23-24.
Mamãi Velha, venha ouvir comigo
o bater da chuva lá no seu portão.
É um bater de amigo
que vibra dentro do meu coração.

A chuva amiga, Mamãi Velha, a chuva
que há tanto tempo não batia assim
Ouvi dizer que a Cidade Velha,
- a Ilha toda -
em poucos dias já virou jardim...

Dizem que o campo se cobriu de verde,
da côr mais bela, porque é a côr da esp'rança.
Que a terra, agora, é mesmo Cabo Verde,
- É tempestade que virou bonança...

Venha comigo, Mamãi Velha, venha
recobre a força e chegue-se ao portão.
A chuva amiga já falou mantenha
e bate dentro de meu coração.

Tu vives mãe adormecida
nua e esquecida,
batida pelos ventos,
ao som de músicas sem música
das águas que nos prendem

teus montes e teus vales
não sentiram passar os tempos,
e ficaram no mundo dos teus sonhos
os sonhos dos teus filhos
a clamar aos ventos que passam,
e às aves que voam, livres
as tuas ânsias!

colinas sem fim de terra vermelha
terra bruta
rochas escarpadas tapando os horizontes
mas aos quatro cantos prendendo as nossas ânsias!


Mother, in your perennial sleep,
You live naked and forgotten
and barren,
thrashed by the winds,
at the sound of songs without music
sung by the waters that confine us...

Your hills and valleys
haven't felt the passage of time.
They remain in your dreams
- your children's dreams -
crying out your woes
to the passing winds
and to the carefree birds flying by.

Island :
Red earth shaped like a hill that never ends
- rocky earth -
ragged cliffs blocking all horizons
while tying all our troubles to the winds!

(The English translation was taken from, 'AMILCAR CABRAL, Freedom fighter,1924-1973', Carlos Pinto Santos)

Amilcar Cabral


  1. Thank you for this great portrait of Almicar Cabral. He is indeed one of the greatest revolutionnary mind and soul.

    The following quote particularly resonates with me as a mantra for all walks of life :
    “Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories...” ~ Amilcar Cabral

  2. "Theory of class suicide and revolutionary socialism". One of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century and a great revolutionary. Sad that the overwhelming majority of African leaders did not follow on his footsteps.

  3. A great man and a great African.He stood for justice,fairness and equality and above all the dignity of the African man.Thanks for the post.


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