Amilcar Cabral‘s 37 quotes appear at the end of this article. Therefore, if you are familiar with his work and accomplishments, please feel free to skip this introduction to the legend. For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with the life and work of Amilcar Cabral, I have put this intro together to contextualise his words and thoughts.
His full name was Amilcar Lopes da Costa Cabral. His nom de guerre was Abel Djassi. Some of the names sound Portuguese. That was the case. Cabral rose to prominence in the liberation struggle against Portugal’s colonisation of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde.
The people of Portuguese colonised Guinea took up arms to free their country from colonial domination in 1963 under the leadership of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde [PAIGC].
At the time Cabral was both the founder and the Secretary-General of the PAIGC, including the small group that formed the original core of the Party.
Cabral became aware and conscious of the wretched conditions his people were living in while working as an agricultural engineer for the government of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde Islands.
His job involved travelling around the country and meeting people. From 1952 – 54, Amilcar Cabral had visited every corner of his country, preparing an agricultural census for the colonial administration.
This gave him unprecedented contact with the people and provided him with the opportunity to understand the problems the people faced and an intimate knowledge of the local terrain.
The detailed knowledge he acquired of his people and their situation provided the basis for the PAIGC’s revolutionary strategy.
Guinea did not have the necessary elements on which revolutionary movements in Europe and Asia had based their respective revolutions.
They didn’t have a large proletariat. There was no developed working class. There was no large peasant class deprived of land ownership: colonial exploitation in Guinea was executed via price mechanism rather than by land ownership.
Therefore, a successful revolutionary struggle could not be based on any wholesale adoption of other revolutionary experiences or strategies.
They needed a strategy based on African conditions; more specifically, on conditions within Guinea and Cape Verde.
Cabral was central to the creation of these revolutionary elements, creating the theory and articulating it to Party members, locals and others outside the borders of Guinea and Cape Verde.
Cabral weighed up the revolutionary potential of each group within his society. Thus the PAIGC began its long, patient process of clandestine political preparation in 1959.
The gravity of Cabral’s political theory grew way out of proportion to the size of Guinea when compared to Africa and its influence on the liberation movements on the continent.
Cabral’s political and revolutionary analyses extended way beyond the borders of Guinea and Cape Verde.
The clear, down to earth terms in which the terms were articulated and were put to use influenced many revolutionary movements all over the world. This includes revolutionary movements in Europe and Asia.
His theory and political analysis illustrate the importance of the need to study one’s own concrete conditions and to make the revolution according to those particular conditions, rather than relying on the experience of others, as valuable as it may be.
In addition, his revolutionary strategy was centred around the mobilisation of the people around practical material issues rather than indulging in vainglorious theoretical and ideological ideals.
It is absurd therefore to find African revolutionary movements or revolutionaries who swear blindly that they are Marxists, Maoists, Leninist‘s, Sankarists, etc. or a blend of all the aforementioned schools of thought.
Cabral was deeply influenced by Marxism but he was not a Marxist. However, he became an inspiration to national liberation movements and revolutionary socialists worldwide.
This was partly due to his brilliant scholastic ability to reinvent a new ideological school of thought, that took the works of Lenin and Marx and made them relevant to the realities Africa was facing at that time.
Probably, his latter day equivalent was the late Captain Thomas Isidore Sankara.
Cabral’s legacy today is undisputed. He is revered as one of the greatest anti-colonial and anti-imperialist leaders of the twentieth century. He is remembered as a brilliant, devoted and fearless revolutionary.
He is acknowledged as the architect and mastermind behind the drive to liberate Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde from the inequity of Portuguese colonialism.
It is fitting though that today we keep the flame burning for one of Africa’s greatest revolutionary theorist, guerrilla fighters, an inspiring agitator, and an uncompromising internationalist.
We have a lot to learn from his methods and theory because the ideas set out in Revolution in Guinea transcend time and geographical boundaries or locations.
His ideas are probably more relevant to us Africans than Marxism is today because his ideas grew out of an analysis of the African situation and conditions in comparison to Marx whose analysis was based exclusively on Europe.
Amilcar Cabral’s legacy continues to inform the global struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism while advocating for socialism.
His words, thoughts and ideas remain relevant in the struggle to eliminate oppression and exploitation and restoring humanity to all dehumanised people worldwide.
I have no intention of providing an in-depth analysis of this great visionary here today. That is the stuff for another day and article. In the meantime, enjoy his words, thoughts and ideas.
- Let us be precise: for us, African revolution means the transformation of our present life in the direction of progress. The prerequisite for this is the elimination of foreign economic domination, on which every other type of domination is dependent.
- We are for African unity, on a regional or continental scale, inasfar as it is necessary for the progress of the African peoples, and in order to guarantee their security and the continuity of this progress.
- In relation to Africa, we are for fraternal collaboration between the African peoples, against narrow nationalisms which do not serve the true interests of the people.
- We are sure of the solidarity of all the African peoples in our struggle. We conscious of the fact that our struggle for national liberation does not only serve our own peoples: it also serves the fundamental interests of all peoples of Africa and of the world.
- Our struggle has lost its national character and has moved onto an international level. The struggle taking place in our country today is the struggle of progress against misery and suffering, of freedom against oppression.
- It is on basis of this universal principle that we would like to express our firm conviction that our struggle is for peaceful coexistence and peace.
- To coexist one must first of all exist, so the imperialists and the colonialists must be forced to retreat so that we can make a contribution to human civilization, based on the work, the dynamic personality and culture of our peoples.
- To make this contribution in independence, fraternity and equality with all peoples, it does not seem to us to be necessary to get involved in the ideological disputes and conflicts which are splitting the world.
- We do not need to follow any line: our position must be and remain based on the fundamental aspirations of our people.
- We consider that when imperialism arrived in Guinea it made us leave history – our history.
- For a revolution to take place depends on the nature of the party (and its size), the character of the struggle which led up to liberation, whether there was an armed struggle, what the nature of this armed struggle was and how it developed and, of course, on the nature of the state.
- As you can see, it is the struggle in the underdeveloped countries which endows the petty bourgeoisie with a function; in the capitalist countries the petty bourgeoisie is only a stratum which serves, it does not determine the historical orientation of the country; it merely allies itself with one group or another.
- So that to hope that the petty bourgeoisie will just carry out a revolution when it comes to power in an underdeveloped country is to hope for a miracle, although it is true that it could do this.
- I think one thing that can be said is this: the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie is honest; ie in spite of all the hostile conditions, it remains identified with the fundamental interests of the popular masses. To do this it may have to commit suicide, but it will not lose; by sacrificing itself it can reincarnate itself, but in the conditions of workers or peasants. In speaking of honesty I am not trying to establish moral criteria for judging the role of the petty bourgeoisie when it is in power; what I mean by honesty, is total commitment and total identification with the toiling masses.
- Neocolonialism is at work on two fronts – in Europe as well as in the underdeveloped countries. Its current framework in the underdeveloped countries is the policy of aid, and one of the essential aims of this policy is to create a false bourgeoisie to put brakes on the revolution and to enlarge the possibilities of the petty bourgeoisie as a neutraliser of the revolution.
- You must analyse and study these movements and combat in Europe, by all possible means, everything which can be used to further the repression against our peoples. I refer especially to the sale of arms.
- Moreover, you must unmask courageously all the national liberation movements which are under the thumb of imperialism.
- If we are fighting together, then I think the main aspect of our solidarity is extremely simple: it is to fight – I don’t think there is any need to discuss this very much.
- In any struggle it is of fundamental importance to define clearly who we are, and who is the enemy.
- We are from the part of Africa which the imperialists call Black Africa. Yes, we are Black. But we are men like all other men. Our countries are economically backward. Our people are at a specific historical stage characterised by this backward condition of our economy. We must be conscious of this. We are African peoples, we have not invented many things, we do not possess today the special weapons which others possess, we have no big factories, we don’t even have for our children the toys which other children have, but we do have our own hearts, our own heads, our own history. It is this history the colonialists have taken from us. The colonialists usually say that it was they who brought us into history: today we show that this is not so. They made us leave our history, our history, to follow them, right at the back, to follow the progress of their history. Today, in taking up arms to liberate ourselves, in following the examples of other peoples to liberate themselves, we want to return to our history, on our own feet, by our own means and through our own sacrifices.
- Our national liberation struggle has a great significance both for Africa and for the world. We are in the process of proving that peoples such as ours – economically backward, living sometimes almost near naked in the bush, not knowing how to read or write, not having even the most elementary knowledge of modern technology – are capable, by means of their sacrifices and efforts, of beating an enemy who is not only more advanced from a technological point of view but also supported by the powerful forces of world imperialism.
- We should consider ourselves as soldiers, often anonymous, but soldiers of humanity in the vast front of struggle in Africa today.
- We are fighting for the complete liberation of our peoples, but we are not fighting to simply hoist a flag in our countries and to have a national anthem.
- We do not confuse exploitation or exploiters with the colour of men’s skins; we do not want any exploitation in our countries, not even by black people…
- In Africa we are all for the complete liberation of the African continent from the colonial yoke, for we know that colonialism is an instrument of imperialism. So we want to see all manifestations of imperialism totally wiped out on the soil of Africa…
- In Africa, we are all for African unity, but we are for African unity in favour of African peoples. We consider unity to be a means, not an end. Unity can reinforce and accelerate the reaching of ends, but we must not betray the end. This is why we are not in a hurry to achieve African unity. We know that it will come, step by step, as a result of the fruitful efforts of the African peoples. It will come at the service of Africa and of humanity.
- In the CONCP we are firmly convinced that making full use of the riches of our continent, of its human, moral and cultural capacities, will contribute to creating a rich human species, which on turn will make a considerable contribution to humanity. But we do not want the dream of this end to betray in its achievement the interests of each African people.
- We are willing to join any African people, with one condition: that the gains made by our people in the liberation struggle, the economic and social gains and the justice which we seek and are achieving little by little, should not be compromised by unity with other peoples. That is our only condition for unity.
- In Africa, we are for an African policy which seeks to defend first and foremost the interests of African peoples, of each African country, but also for a policy which does not, at any time, forget the interests of the world, of all humanity. We are for a policy of peace in Africa and of fraternal collaboration with all peoples of the world.
- We reserve the right to make our own decisions, and if by chance our choices and decisions coincide with others, that is not our fault.
- You understand that we are struggling first and foremost for our own peoples. That is our task in this front of struggle.
- We are with the Blacks of North America, we are with them in the streets of Los Angeles, and when they are deprived of all possibility of life, we suffer with them.
- We strongly support all just causes in the world, but we are reinforced by the support of others.
- We know that all the African peoples are our brothers. Our struggle is their struggle. Every drop of blood that falls in our countries falls also from the body and heart of our brothers, these African peoples.
- It is our peoples who guarantee the future and certainty of our victory.
- It is the struggle which makes comrades which makes companions, for the present and for the future.
- The enemies of the African peoples are powerful and cunning and can always count on a few faithful lackeys in our country, since quislings are not a European privilege.
In conclusion, keep an eye open for the review of Revolution in Guinea by Amilcar Cabral coming soon.
Aluta Continua! Revolutionary Love!