Prior to the pre-colonial era Africans were living large with their own rules. The arrival of colonization in Africa caused havoc across the whole continent and disrupted the way Africans lived which is still prevalent today. It was a nightmare era for the Africans as the Europeans were using the deaths of the Africans to glorify themselves. Portugal enjoyed its share of colonies and spread the same cruelty that was felt in the whole continent. Her evil in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde made Amilcar Cabral led the efforts in fighting their illicit and barbaric rule.
Amilcar Cabral, born on the 12th of September 1924 and was murdered in cold blood on the 20th of January 1973. Amilcar spent his entire life fighting for the freedom of Africans in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde. With a military experience, he led the most successful liberation war movements in Africa which ultimately led put an end to Portugal’s empire in Africa. He was immersed in Marxist theories and this had a huge influence in persuading him to take up arms against the colonialists.
Amilcar was the pioneer of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde; PAIGC). He began his early basic studies in Cape Verde but went further with his university studies in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital. While studying in Lisbon, he supported in the creation of the Centro de Estudos Africanos, an association of Lusophone African students that included future Angolan president Agostinho Neto. They created their revolutionary ideas laid in Marxist theories, fighting colonialism. Later, he worked with the Portuguese authorities as an agronomist where he traveled extensively in Portuguese Guinea to perform his duties. This gave him more room to interact with people of various cultures in the colony.
In 1956, PAIGC was established with Amilcar Cabral at the center with the aim of fighting Portuguese oppression. The group’s initial objective at its inception was limited to organizing workers’ strikes. But when the Portuguese authorities massacred a group of protesting workers in 1959, it dawn on them that they had to adopt a new strategy, one that entailed fighting them back totally. It was time to fight them back with guerrilla warfare. An excerpt from Peter Mendy wrote, “He favored interaction, but the Portuguese were intransigent. The use of aggression was a last-resort measure, and the use of lethal force was selective to avoid or minimize collateral damages.”
Cabral spearheaded the revolution for independence from 1963 to 1973 as the leader of PAIGC’s guerrilla forces. While being full of motivation to attain independence for both Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, Cabral organized a training camps in Ghana with Kwame Nkrumah’s order. The strategy he used in training his troops included mock conversations to provide them with effective communication skills to support their efforts in mobilizing Guinean tribal chiefs to help in the fight PAIGC. Guerrilla wars can only be won if the guerrillas had enough to eat, as well as the ability to live in the land off the larger populace and Cabral realized that it was very important for his troops to fend for themselves.
Being an agronomist, he empowered his troops in other to be able to teach local farmers better farming techniques, so that they could improve their productivity and be able to feed their own family and tribe, as well as the soldiers enlisted in the PAIGC’s military wing. It was a beautiful idea that made their war one of the most successful ones in fighting for independence.
Together with the PAIGC, he assisted in setting up a trade by barter system which was pivotal in making staple goods available to the countryside at cheap prices than that of colonial store owners. He also created a roving hospital and triage station to cater for injured PAIGC soldiers and quality-of-life care to the larger populace, relying on medical supplies garnered from the USSR and Sweden. These projects were prone to frequent attacks from the Portuguese forces.
Amilcar was a man of excellent ideology that involved the importance of culture as crucial tool in freeing the mind of the colonized. He founded a process of “re-Africanization” by which “Africa’s elite, long beholden to the colonizers for their education and employment, would re-accept indigenous African culture and reintegrate themselves into mass popular culture”. The goal was to develop an independent entity, “socially, culturally, and psychologically and rally a nationalist spirit in the rural peasantry, whose lives had largely been untouched by imperialism”. His attention was on national consciousness and indigenous development.
In 1972, he created the People’s Assembly in preparation for the independence of Guinea Bissau. A disgruntled former PAIGC rival Inocêncio Kani, alongside another member of PAIGC, murdered Amilcar Cabral on 20th of January 1973. They were believed to be spies of Portuguese agents. They had faced peaceful resistance from Amilcar and immediately assassinated him. The hope had been to arrest him and judge him (summarily) later.
Despite his humans presence departing from the planet, his impact were a force to reckon with in gaining independence from Portugal and destroying the country’s colonial empire in Africa. His revolutionary movement is still relevant today, and he will be immortal to Africa. His Pan-Africanism will live on for eternity.