Amilcar Cabral lived as both an intellectual who derived theories of political economy and as an activist dedicated to the unification of a nationalist movement in Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea Bissau). This balance between theoretician and activist in combination with his abilities as a leader to unite and inspire the rural peasantry accounted for his success in organizing the masses to fight for independence. Specifically, he applied analyses of African socialism and national liberation to Portuguese colonial practices and sought to liberate colonial subjects through an understanding of such principles, in addition to uniting them under a functional political party.
Until his assassination in January of 1973, Amilcar Cabral dedicated his life to the study of revolution. Throughout his career, particularly as the leader of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), he successfully launched a cohesive Nationalist movement against Portuguese rule and is consequently viewed as an architect of the revolution. His approach to uniting the masses was both pragmatic and meticulous: he appealed to individuals at a grass roots level attracting attention on an emotional and rational level and was consequently successful in exporting his philosophy as well as his call to action
[...] He explained that common in every form of imperial domination is the denial of history, the repression of economic self sufficiency through control of the processes of development, and the rejection of the cultural accomplishments of colonial subjects as rooted in their history. By outlining his idea of political struggle so broadly, Cabral proved that national liberation could only be obtained by resisting colonialism on all fronts. Cabral contextualized national liberation by the economic and cultural forces surrounding it. He spoke of the reality of political domination. [...]
[...] Although he studied Marxism in great detail, Cabral's theory of socialist development differed from Marxist notions of class struggle and focused instead on the modes of production in rural Guinea Bissau. He envisioned a nation free from exploitation where the economic backbone was the subsistence farmer. Seeing colonialism as an extension of capitalism, Cabral sought to break from the crippling effects of unwanted competition. Chilcote explained: “Rapid industrialization would not necessarily be the course of development after independence in a society whose resources largely related to agriculture. [...]
[...] Amilcar Cabral's Revolutionary Theory and Practice: a Critical Guide. (London: Lynn Rienner Publishers, 1991). Elaigwu, J. Isawa and Mazrui, Ali A. “Nation-Building and Changing Political Structures,” in General History of Africa: Africa since 1935, Unabridged Edition, ed. Ali A. Mazrui (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). Handyside, Richard, ed. Revolution in Guinea: Selected Texts by Amilcar Cabral. New York: Monthly Review Press McCulloch, Jock. “Amilcar Cabral: A Theory of Imperialism.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 19 (1981): 503-511. Mendy, Peter Karibe. [...]
[...] Although Cabral advocated a decentralized revolution in the countryside, he nevertheless believed that the organization and leadership of PAIGC was crucial to maintaining a cohesive ideology as well as a well thought out plan of attack. He witnessed the turmoil and political upheaval that followed independence in other African nations, namely Angola, another formerly Portuguese colony. This motivated him to strengthen the PAIGC as a political party that would govern Guinea Bissau after independence. Although Cabral was assassinated before independence was achieved, his legacy continued through the well run, effectively organized party. [...]
[...] While Cabral sought to transition PAIGC from a Nationalist organization to a functional political party ready to take on the role of the government following liberation, he perhaps underestimated the emotional and political turmoil that followed independence. Never in his speeches did he speak of the sense of loss and emptiness that many soldiers and civilians felt post independence. Had he not been assassinated before the commencement of the revolution, Cabral would have most likely addressed this struggle and continued as a source of inspiration for the construction of a functional post colonial state in which the basic needs of the people are met. [...]
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