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Amilcar Cabral - A Soft Voice For Harsh Change

Words:

Edd Norval
May 29, 2018

The struggle that Amilcar Cabral lead against colonialism ended a triumphant one, unfortunately he never lived long enough to see it.

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On January 20, 1973 he was assassinated by disgruntled former members of his People's Assembly in preparation for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau (PAIGC) after Cabral peacefully resisted their arrest. Due to his importance in the shaping of contemporary lusophone culture, theories have sprung up to better explain the vagueness of the crime. By many accounts, the Portuguese secret police were involved in an effort to destabilize the progress he was making towards independence as a colony.


"We are not going to eliminate imperialism by shouting insults at it." Cabral said, his demeanour was the personification of his idea that culture conquers imperialism and neoliberalism. The impetus of Cabral's struggle and the defining legacy he left behind was the colonisation of his homeland by the oppressive authoritarian Portuguese rule.


Cultural imperialism was perhaps their most effective weapon in destroying national identity for the Portuguese to then systematically reinventing. The culture of the people of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde were under attack, so it was on this plane of that Cabral would do battle.

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Through globalism, the world has become smaller and fitting of a culturally homogenous mould into which, no matter who you are or where - large corporations have a product for you to buy. Cabral's work on liberation-by-culture has become embellished with new meaning in a political landscape vastly different to the one he existed in. Ours is one that he seemingly foretold or predicted - it's his worst nightmare. Despite the time that has passed, his ideas are just as important now.


The suppression of culture is an effective tool, and Cabral fought against it by utilising his own, and fellow countrymen's, culture as a foundation to construct his own struggle. He believed that the strength of maintaining a 'cultural life' was one of the best defences against a colonial power. They might be able to burn books, destroy buildings, but as long as people rejoice under the things that unite them, rather than divide them, it will take more than violence to break a nation.

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It was through culture that the people were able to resist the dehumanizing efforts of the colonial power. In many ways the society he had created transcended simply the struggle he up against. By replacing money with bartering methods and creating an almost self-sustaining society built on agriculture, he was developing a model that could have been implemented throughout Africa, it was truly revolutionary - it still hasn't been replicated since.


This idea of a transferrable system of alternative governance is part of the Cabralista documentary. His death validated his ideas, it showed people that he was too dangerous to keep alive. The 2011 documentary is the latest effort to keep his ideas alive. Cabralism is a radical group of ideas based on the man that still have credence and the ability to be applied in our contemporary society.


His prescience was uncanny and although some of the methods seem out of date, they are applicable to contemporary forms of technology that could go a long way in building on his thoughts. Cabral was a revolutionary with truly revolutionary ideas. Yet we don't hear much about him. Like his death, his life has similarly been swept under the rug. Whether that's because his ideas didn't matter or because of how much they mattered - you can decide.

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