Celebrating Amilcar Cabral – National Liberation and Culture

Amilcar Cabral
Amilcar Cabral

Every September 12, we like to celebrate the life of Amilcar Cabral, the father of Cape Verdean and Guinea Bissau’s independence. As you all know, Cabral fought for the independence of his land, of his people, from the imperial Portuguese domination. He also talked a lot about understanding the link between national liberation and culture. The extract below is part of a speech originally delivered on February 20, 1970, as part of the Eduardo Mondlane Memorial Lecture Series at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, under the auspices of The Program of Eastern African Studies. It was translated from the French by Maureen Webster. Enjoy!

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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.

On the basis of what has just been said, we may consider the national liberation movement as the organized political expression of the culture of the people who are undertaking the struggle. For this reason, those who lead the movement must have a clear idea of the value of the culture in the framework of the struggle and must have a thorough knowledge of the people’s culture, whatever may be their level of economic development.

… The experience of colonial domination shows that, in the effort to perpetuate exploitation, the colonizers not only creates a system to repress the cultural life of the colonized people; he also provokes and develops the cultural alienation of a part of the population, either by so-called assimilation of indigenous people, or by creating a social gap between the indigenous elites and the popular masses. As a result of this process of dividing or of deepening the divisions in the society, it happens that a considerable part of the population, notably the urban or peasant petite bourgeoisie, assimilates the colonizer’s mentality, considers itself culturally superior to its own people and ignores or looks down upon their cultural values. This situation, characteristic of the majority of colonized intellectuals, is consolidated by increases in the social privileges of the assimilated or alienated group with direct implications for the behaviour of individuals in this group in relation to the liberation movement. A reconversion of minds–of mental set–is thus indispensable to the true integration of people into the liberation movement. Such reconversion–re-Africanization, in our case–may take place before the struggle, but it is completed only during the course of the struggle, through daily contact with the popular masses in the communion of sacrifice required by the struggle.

J.J. Rawlings in His Own Words: African Identity, Betrayal, and More

President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana (Source: thecable.ng)

In the video below, you will hear J.J. Rawlings talk about the issues I always talk about on this blog: the loss of the African soul to westernization, the danger of traitors within our ranks, and more importantly the dangers of globalization. I think people should really pay attention to all he has to say about betrayal, African identity, and also about the manipulations of the people by the triumvirate that is the multinationals, the media, and the intelligence.

Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah, First President of Ghana

On betrayal, Jerry Rawlings said, “Something that is worse than an enemy is a traitor.” This is very reminiscent of the speech Amilcar Cabral gave at the funeral of Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah on May 13, 1972, which I translated to English here on Afrolegends, “The Cancer of Betrayal” by Amilcar Cabral. J.J. adds, “As bad as an enemy can be, … something worse than an enemy is a traitor.”

On African identity, Rawlings affirmed, “In the process of trying to modernize, we [Africans] have ended up being westernized. … When I wanted to even name my children African names, heroic names, … the catholic church said no… they will have to be catholic names … [which] are European names.“… “I have a right to my identity, don’t take away my identity!

Christianize me if you may, but don’t westernize me!” He talks about the issues of African identity, which is powerfully shown in the poem ‘My Name’ by Magoleng wa Selepe.

On globalization, “The world is manipulated by the multinational corporations, the media, and the intelligence apparatus, … they work as a triumvirate and they are neatly sandwiched… in between the governed people and the governors… the sooner we begin to return, restore, some sense of morality in business ethics, in politics, in the media, intelligence apparatus, …” apply the same morality to all, especially when talking about globalization, applying the same moral standards to all.

“The Cancer of Betrayal” by Amilcar Cabral

Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah

During Kwame Nkrumah‘s state funerals in Conakry on 13 – 14 May 1972Amilcar Cabral gave this great speech titled: “Le Cancer de la Trahison,” (The Cancer of Betrayal) on May 13, 1972, which I posted earlier in French.  I have now translated his speech to English, and would like all to enjoy.  I will later add the captions to the video on youtube as well.

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In his last public speech in Conakry, at the funeral of the former Ghanaian president Nkrumah, Amilcar Cabral had denounced the cancer of betrayal that eats up African movements.  His comments today take a strange resonance in Guinea as in Angola, and Mozambique, where many movements are demanding power which the Portuguese have not yet abandoned.

Amilcar Cabral
Amilcar Cabral

… What to say? but we must speak otherwise at this point, if we don’t talk, our hearts may burst.  Our tears should not infiltrate the truth.  We, freedom fighters, we do not mourn the death of a man, even a man who was a comrade and an exemplary revolutionary, because as President Ahmed Sekou Toure often says ‘what is man in front of the infinite being and transgressing of the people and of humanity?’  We do not mourn the people of Ghana scoffed in its most beautiful realisations, in its most legitimate aspirations.   We are not crying for Africa, betrayed.  We are mourning, yes, of hatred towards those who were able to betray NKRUMAH to serve the ignoble imperialism …  Mr President, Africa by requiring through the voice of the people of the Republic of Guinea, as always fairly represented by President Ahmed Sekou Toure, whom NKRUMAH had put in his right place on the Kilimandjaro’s highest summits of the African revolution, Africa rehabilitates itself and through history.  President NKRUMAH, which we honor is primarily the great strategist of the struggle against classic colonialism, he is the one who created what we call African positivism, what he called “positive action”, affirmative action.  We pay tribute to the declared enemy of neocolonialism in Africa and elsewhere, the strategist of economic development in his country.  Mr President, we praise the freedom fighter of the African people who always gave his full support to national liberation movements, and we want to tell you here that we, in Guinea and Cape Verde islands, even though it is true that the most important factor for the development of our struggle outside our country was the independence of the Republic of Guinea, the heroic ‘no’ of the people of Guinea on 28 September 1958.   It is also true that if we went through the struggle regenerated, it was essentially due to the concrete support of Ghana and particularly of President Nkrumah …

Mr. President, we should however in this moment remember that all coins in life have two faces, all realities have positive and negative sides… to all positive action, is opposed a negative action. To what extent is betrayal’s success in Ghana linked to problems of class struggle, from contributions to social structures, from the role of party or other instructions, including armed forces as part of a new independent state.  To what level, we shall ask ourselves, is betrayal’s success in Ghana linked to a correct definition of this historical entity and craftsman of history that is the people and their daily work, in defending its own independence conquests?  Or to what extent is betrayal’s success not linked to the major problem of the choice of men in the revolution?  My idea on this question will allow us to better understand the greatness of Nkrumah’s work, to understand the complexity of problems he had to face so many times alone… problems that will allow us to conclude that, as imperialism exists, an independent state in Africa should be a liberation movement to power or it would not exist.  Let no one tell us that Nkrumah died of a cancer to the throat or some other disease; no, Nkrumah has been killed by the cancer of betrayal that we should uproot… by the cancer of betrayal, that we should root out of Africa if we really want to definitely crush the imperialist domination on this continent.  But, we, Africans, firmly believe that the dead continue living by our sides, we are a society of dead and living.  Nkrumah will resuscitate each dawn in the hearts and in the determinations of freedom fighters, in the action of all true African patriots.  Our liberation movement will not forgive those who betrayed Nkrumah, the people of Ghana will not forgive, Africa will not forgive, progressive mankind will not forgive!”

Translated from French by Dr. Y., afrolegends.com (12 October 2012)

French version here Amilcar Cabral – Le Cancer de la Trahison