Amilcar Cabral – Tell no lies, claim no easy victories

Amilcar Cabral
Amilcar Cabral

January 20th marks the anniversary of the death of Amilcar Cabral, the father of the independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde. As such, I just thought about leaving you with some of his most famous quotes. Enjoy!

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” Lecture delivered on February 20 at Syracuse University as part of the Eduardo Mondlane Memorial Lecture Series. Eduardo Mondlane was the first President of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) who was assassinated by Portuguese agents on Feb. 3, 1960.

Map of Guinea Bissau
Map of Guinea Bissau

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: tell no lies, claim no easy victories

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.Amilcar Cabral: Tell no lies, claim no easy victories

Flag of Cape Verde
Flag of Cape Verde

“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.” Amilcar Cabral: tell no lies, claim no easy victories

When the African peoples say in their simple language that “no matter how hot the water from your well, it will not cook your rice,” they express with singular simplicity a fundamental principle, not only of physics, but also of political science. We know that the development of a phenomenon in movement, whatever its external appearance, depends mainly on its internal characteristics. We also know that on the political level our own reality — however fine and attractive the reality of others may be — can only be transformed by detailed knowledge of it, by our own efforts, by our own sacrifices. Amilcar Cabral: The Weapon of Theory

Amilcar Cabral on a stamp with the flag of Guinea Bissau
Amilcar Cabral on a stamp of Guinea Bissau

We therefore see that both in colonialism and in neo-colonialism the essential characteristic of imperialist domination remains the same: the negation of the historical process of the dominated people by means of violent usurpation of the freedom of development of the national productive forces.[…] On the basis of this, we can state that national liberation is the phenomenon in which a given socio-economic whole rejects the negation of its historical process. In other words, the national liberation of a people is the regaining of the historical personality of that people, its return to history through the destruction of the imperialist domination to which it was subjected. Amilcar Cabral: The Weapon of Theory

18 thoughts on “Amilcar Cabral – Tell no lies, claim no easy victories

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  4. Henry.

    this is a beautiful quote. africa must reinvent itself by harnessing her culture and tradition for growth and development to achieve this africa must do away with western theories that have been of great disadvantage to the continent.


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