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Cabral: Exemplary light and guide for the pan-African and socialist revolution

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‘The ideological deficiency, not to say the total lack of ideology, within the national liberation movements–which is basically due to ignorance of the historical reality which these movements claim to transform–constitutes one of the greatest weaknesses of our struggle against imperialism, if not the greatest weakness of all. We believe, however, that a sufficient number of different experiences have already been accumulated to enable us to define a general line of thought and action with the aim of eliminating this deficiency.’ (Amilcar Cabral, ‘The Weapon of Theory’) [1]

INTRODUCTION

This article proposes to paint a concise picture of our eternal Comrade Amilcar Cabral’s clear revolutionary vision; arguing that both his theory and practice are critically relevant to provide politico-ideological direction today, not only for Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, but as well for Africa and socialist revolutionaries throughout the world. It will concisely present his political guidelines to a coherent political program; fundamentals, objectives and cultural development towards an ideology for the African revolution linked with strategies for socio-political structures. In a very compressed form, our modest attempt is to project the relevance of Amilcar Cabral’s worthy example to be consolidated in Guinea-Bissau, Africa and the world.

The article serves as an appeal for action to those who honestly want to pay tribute to Amilcar Cabral in practice to; 1) institutionalize systematic politico-ideological education inside of the political parties, including a systematic study of Cabral’s contributions to mass culture – ideology for the Pan-African and socialist revolution; 2) ensure that those responsible for the mass structures are constantly studying these revolutionary theories and faithfully applying them in practice from the base to the central leadership bodies; 3) systematically coordinate the development of a coherent ideology via systematic study and practice with other similar parties throughout Africa and the revolutionary – progressive world.

REVOLUTIONARY CONSCIOUSNESS AND PERMANENT MASS PARTY

The revolutionary consciousness instilled in the people due to the mass conception of the PAIGC www.paigc.org and the mass nature of the glorious armed struggle for national liberation using the people’s culture are the very reasons that the PAIGC is still alive, vibrant and struggles to this day. Cabral gave priority of all priorities to training cadres, who would continue his work in theory and practice after his physical disappearance. To complement the nucleus of cadre who were with him since before the beginning of the glorious armed struggle for national liberation, as soon as liberated zones were established Cabral would set up boarding schools, where children were given politico-ideological training. The best of these students would be sent to the ‘Escola Piloto’ (pilot school) in Conakry, next to the PAIGC headquarters. Cabral would regularly spend time participating in the ideological training and reminding them that they would be the future political cadre of our land when it is liberated. For the armed militants, (not military), ideological centers were established, in addition to political commissaries inside the People’s Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARP). Still other militants were sent to the China, Cuba, Ghana, the USSR and Eastern Europe for political education and military training. These unsung cadres have been intensifying revolutionary work, especially recently.

This may possibly explain why it is that the PAIGC is one of only a few parties in Africa that lost state power and later re-gained it twice (in 2004, again in 2008). On the other hand, after the neo-colonialist coup d’état against the Kwame Nkrumah-led CPP government in Ghana (1966); and similarly after the neo-colonialist coup d’état against the PDG-RDA-led government (over Ahmed Sékou Touré’s dead body) in the People’s Revolutionary Republic of Guinea, neither of these parties has ever been able to regain state power to date. Not only has the PAIGC been able to, but it is projected to regain state power again in the elections set for this year.

FUNDAMENTALS, OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGY; DECISIVE ELEMENTS

Followers of Amilcar Cabral who honestly want to continue the work he incarnated must adhere to the following three decisive elements; 1) a political program, including ideology, strategy, fundamentals, tactics and objectives; 2) Structures (socio-political) rooted in the popular culture of the people on a national, African and on the international level to apply the political program into practice and thereby gain revolutionary consciousness; and 3) follow his worthy politico-cultural example.

POLITICAL PROGRAM

The political program designed by Amilcar Cabral includes fundamentals, objectives, ideology, strategies and tactics.

Fundamentals and objectives

The fundamental objective of national liberation is not simply political independence, but rather goes further onto the higher plane of the liberation of the productive forces; placing the modes of production in the hands of the people for their own progress (economic, political, social, cultural, et al) according to our culture, taking back our history.[2] The bottomline is to rid society of exploitation of all kinds, develop political and technical cadres and create the new man and woman, who give according to their abilities and receive according to their needs; with the modes of production in the hands of the people.

Ideology for Africa from our Culture / History

‘…The value of culture as an element of resistance to foreign domination lies in the fact that culture is the vigorous manifestation on the ideological or idealist plane of the physical and historical reality of the society that is dominated or to be dominated. Culture is simultaneously the fruit of a people’s history and a determinant of history, by the positive or negative influence which it exerts on the evolution of relationships between man and his environment, among men or groups of men within a society, as well as among different societies…’ National Liberation and Culture (1970)

Ideology rooted in culture regulates relations in action. From cultural practice, our ideology develops and our new society emerges. To achieve our objective, we must resolve the ideological deficiency.

In his speech entitled ‘Fundamentals and Objectives of National Liberation in Relation to Social Structure’ (Cuba, TriContinental Conference, 1966; also known as ‘The Weapon of Theory’[3] Cabral said: ‘The ideological deficiency is the greatest weakness we have in Africa’ and went on to provide ideological direction: ’We, however, have enough accumulated experience to trace the basic lines of an ideology for Africa…’ This was a conference attended by African, Asian and Latin American representatives of the two currents of the world revolution: the current that emerged with the Great October Socialist Revolution and that of the National Liberation Revolution.

Amilcar Cabral Thought beyond Marxism-Leninism

In both of these two revolutionary currents, many considered themselves as Marxist-Leninists. Surely, if Cabral had considered Marxism-Leninism as being capable of resolving this ideological deficiency in Africa, he would have proposed that Marxism-Leninism be taught intensely to cure this deficiency. Instead, he made it clear that ideology cannot be imported, no matter how attractive.

He went on to diagnose that many are struggling against imperialism but not struggling for national liberation and were not aware of the reality that they sought to change. What is remembered most about this historical presentation was his revision of Marxists’ emphasis on ‘class struggle’ being the motor force of history, by showing that it is only true during the epochs where classes exist, but obviously not so where classes don’t exist, (that is, without classes there could be no class struggle). He pointed out that in world history there was a time when classes didn’t exist (prior to private property regimes – that is, communalism) and there will be a time when classes will cease to exist (communism). He asked: “Does this mean that these periods are outside of history?’ He also used the contemporary example of some classless ethnic groups in Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique. [4]

In his presentations on National Liberation and Culture (1970), he pointed out that our ideology comes from our culture, which in turn comes from our history and dialectically our ‘Culture is simultaneously the fruit of a people’s history and a determinant of history.’ (http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/cabralnlac.html). Here we find Cabral’s pragmatic contribution towards developing a coherent ideology for the African revolution, as well as for Socialist Revolutions throughout the world. For Africa, our ideology must come from a positive synthesis of African cultures, while in other parts of the world from the cultures and history of its people. Marxism-Leninism comes from the history and culture of the European revolutionary workers’ class and must be defended as a just ideology, but not to be imported by non-Europeans. Its universal aspects must be applied to the reality of other parts of the world; but the specific aspects of ideology that comes from culture cannot be exported or imported. Marxism-Leninism is not the only ideology that will lead to socialism.

As Cabral said: ‘… I am a freedom fighter in my country. You must judge from what I do in practice. If you decide it is Marxism, tell everyone it is Marxism…But the labels are your affair; we don’t like those kind of labels…” [5]

The first thing necessary is to know the people whom we seek to liberate. Secondly, live among the people, doing as they do, learning from them, (from our culture) and helping to bring them to higher levels. [6] Embracing this principle, Cabral organized one of the most serious revolutionary parties in Africa – the PAIGC (African Party of Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde). (Cuba in Africa video excerpt on PAIGC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIq2757p8a8&feature=youtu.be ) Instead of importing, he and the party honestly learned from the reality, conceived and developed strategies and tactics.

It is often pointed out that prior to founding the PAIGC Cabral had the opportunity to visit almost every village in Guinea-Bissau under the guise of doing an agricultural census. His observations and contacts served as the main database of the cultural-political reality of Guinea-Bissau that the PAIGC would use during its armed struggle for national liberation. He insisted that we start with reality: ‘People are not struggling for ideas in anyone’s head; but for a better life for their children’.

SOCIO-POLITICAL STRUCTURES

It is well known by most that Amilcar Cabral was one of the main founders of the PAI, (African Party of Independence) on 19 September 1956, which later added GC for Guinea and the Cape Verde Islands in 1960. Likewise, many know that after the coup d’état in Guinea-Bissau, the Cape Verde Branch changed the name of their structures to PAICV, maintaining Amilcar Cabral thought as their ideology. What is not known by many is that Cabral was one of the main founders of the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) on 10 December of the same year. He was one of the founders of the Partido de Luta Unida dos Africanos de Angola (PLUAA) that preceded the manifesto of the MPLA. http://tinyurl.com/o985rfk Very few know how Cabral strongly influenced the foundation of FRELIMO (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) www.frelimo.org.mz and strongly influenced the development of MLSTP (Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome e Principe) particularly while it had its office and leaders in Conakry, not far from the PAIGC headquarters.

Very few know the role that some PAIGC armed militants contributed in fighting against apartheid South African invasion of Angola; using anti-aircraft missiles to deter South African jets that attempted to prevent Agostinho Neto from proclaiming independence on 11 November 1975. It should be known that it was the PAIGC who introduced MPLA to the Cubans who for their part eventually sent thousands of internationalists to militarily and politically support the MPLA against the apartheid South African / CIA invasion into Angola. Most of the weapons used by Cuba in Angola were transported through independent Guinea-Bissau’s airport.

These socio-political structures still exist inside of these national boundaries, (each with hundreds of thousands of militants; the MPLA with millions), for those who wish to take the ideas of Cabral (an incarnation of our people’s history and culture) and put them into practice.

STRATEGY

It is urgent that we properly understand how to develop upon Cabral’s work as a founder and coordinator of CONCP (Conference of Nationalist Organizations in the Portuguese Colonies) http://casacomum.org/cc/arquivos?set=e_2767 (See Cabral’s speech at the CONCP 1965 Conference in Dar Salaam. http://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/cabral/1965/tnmpc.htm CONCP’s Pan-African structures and coordination of armed struggles across national boundaries was appreciated by Kwame Nkrumah in the Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare, see page 53; (to download a copy, click http://tinyurl.com/p9qkga2) It is imperative that we actively coordinate and link (see Handbook, page 57) our Pan-African structures with the Organization in Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAAL), of which Amilcar Cabral was a co-founder. http://tinyurl.com/nolnbv7

Its implications are overwhelming. The strategy is clear; link the national parties, (FRELIMO, MPLA, PAIGC, PAICV et al) via CONCP with ANC www.anc.org.za , PAC www.pac.org.za PDG-RDA https://www.facebook.com/pdgrda.revolution , SWAPO www.swapoparty.org , ZANU-PF www.zanupf.org.zw et al, linked up to form a mass African people’s revolutionary party – an All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP www.aaprp-int.org); which in turn should be linked to OSPAAAL www.tricontinental.cu Development of this strategy is not limited to Africa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wr6SC8X2hIk .

WORTHY EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW

Amilcar Cabral’s pragmatism, courage, modesty, intelligence, honesty [7]and credibility are irreproachable. His example serves as a potent weapon to emulate. Not even the detractors of the African Revolution are able to attack him. Instead, they attempt to make it seem as though no one is continuing his work since his physical disappearance, while others even go so far as to attempt to demobilize potential support with the false notion that the organizations founded by Cabral are corrupt.

On the contrary, revolutionaries and progressives of all ages enthusiastically copy Cabral, in essence and in form. There are no others contesting Cabral’s ideological supremacy. The coups against the PAIGC were carried out by internal traitors linked with external forces. Whenever a coup happens, Cabral’s continuers are usually the main targets and continue to be so. The enemies of Amilcar Cabral thought are imperialists, neo-colonialists and zionists. They have not yet been defeated. Portuguese colonialism never worked alone, but rather served as the police of NATO.

It is the masses who say that the fact that the PAIGC is the organized political expression of the popular masses’ culture and the fact that it engaged in glorious armed struggle for national liberation – a ‘People’s war’; and organized stateless administration in liberated zones with its institutions (justice, schools, people’s stores, health centers, hospitals and economy) from our people’s culture, is the very reason why the PAIGC still wields political power; survived the assassination of its uncontestable leader, Amilcar Cabral (on the eve of Independence); survived attempted coup d’états; survived the coup d’état of 14 November 1980; survived the separation of the Cape Verde branch of the PAIGC, which later founded the PAICV; survived the many multi-form sabotage of imperialists in the economic, political, psychological and military fields and will survive the most recent coup d’état carried out by collective neo-colonialism using four (4) neo-colonial regimes of ECOWAS, (Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Senegal) on 12 April 2012; and despite all attempts at voter fraud will emerge victorious in next year’s elections, no matter how many times they are postponed.

RELEVANCE OF CABRAL THOUGHT TO GUINEA-BISSAU AND AFRICA

‘Now is the time for actions; not words’. (Amilcar Cabral)

Few countries in Africa achieved total political independence and none have yet been able to liberate the productive forces. This is still to be achieved; Amilcar Cabral Thought provides the roadmap to make that history.

Now, more than twenty years after the betrayal of socialism by the petite bourgeoisie in the former USSR and Eastern Europe, there is no longer imposition of Marxism-Leninism as being the only ideology leading towards socialism. There is an ideological void in Africa. Amilcar Cabral thought harmonized with philosophical contributions emanating from a synthesis of cultures of Africa will fill that ideological void. It is based on our culture / history.

Although more silent than should be, the example of Amilcar Cabral is growing day by day in Africa and abroad. It is common to meet comrades from political formations throughout Africa who testify to being inspired by Cabral. There are those who follow the ideas of Kwame Nkrumah, Sékou Touré and others, but do not know much about their political and ideological relationships. They were together in the People’s Revolutionary Republic of Guinea, (now known as simply ‘Guinea’ or ‘Guinea-Conakry’). The PAIGC actually developed there. After being founded clandestinely in Bissau, it moved its main headquarters to Conakry in 1960, where it grew from a handful of youth and developed into thousands of militants. The following year, (1961) it founded its workers’ union and gave it the same names as the one in Guinea, called the UNTG (National Union of Guinean Workers). The PAIGC Women’s Wing, called UDEMU (National Union of Guinean Women), who together with the women’s wing URFG (Revolutionary Union of Guinean Women) of the PDG-RDA (Democratic Party of Guinea of the African Democratic Revolution – the party that led the Party-State of the People’s Revolutionary Republic of Guinea), were also co-founders of the Pan-African Women’s Organization in 1962, one year before the founding of the OAU.

Not only did Cabral influence the PAIGC, PAICV, MPLA, FRELIMO, MLSTP, but also other liberation movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America. As an example, leaders of the ANC, including Nelson Mandela, testify that they were influenced by Cabral. Timorese leaders (Asia) also confirm the influence of Amicar Cabral on FRETLIN, particularly on using culture. http://tinyurl.com/pqa8tuc

Even less known is the influence of Amilcar Cabral inside of Portugal itself. Revolutionary Portuguese testify to the role Cabral played, not only as an inspiration. When the PAIGC would capture Portuguese soldiers, they would engage them in ideological struggle, pointing out that they themselves were exploited victims of the fascist regime in Portugal and should see themselves as being in the same class as those whom they were erroneously fighting against. Whenever Portuguese soldiers decided to become part of the ‘Free Officers Movement’ they would be sent to the already liberated Algeria, where their base existed. Many of these officers who served in Guinea-Bissau are the same ones who eventually over turned the fascist regime in Portugal during the ‘Revolution of the Craves’, 25 April 1975.

CONCLUSION

Faithfully adhering to Comrade Amilcar Cabral’s guidelines will lead us to the total liberation and unification of Africa with scientific socialism with the modes of production controlled by African people from conception, decisions, implementation through consolidation. To continue the revolution according to Cabral thought means committing class suicide and being re-born as a revolutionary worker, actively involved in the daily sacrifices inside a mass political party; which is the organized political expression of our people’s culture, led by the ideology that comes from our culture resulting from our history. For the revolutionary petite bourgeoisie it means ‘returning to the source’. [8]

In our honest pursuit to resolve a fundamental contradiction for Africa – the lack of a coherent ideology for the Pan-African revolution; we strongly encourage serious attention to the contributions of ‘Amilcar Cabral Thought’. Development of Amilcar Cabral Thought cannot take place in the academic arena isolated from political practice. Consistent with Cabral’s example, one must be involved in daily communion with the masses. This is where our ideology finds its weapons – our people’s culture; which can only be developed in the struggle, whose objective is to take back our history by liberating the productive forces so that the people control of the modes of production, developing our economy, politics, justice, military and society based upon our culture. The sin-quo-non pre-requisite is to be active inside of a people’s mass revolutionary party taking part in the daily sacrifices together with our almighty People.

We reiterate our urgent appeal, particularly to revolutionary and progressive political parties, to institutionalize systematic ideological training inside of respective parties while coordinating ideological exchanges between other parties to develop a common ideology for Africa, arising from a positive synthesis of our cultures.

Eternal glory for Amilcar Cabral! Cabral “ka muri”! Cabral ká tá more! (Amilcar Cabral is not dead; Cabral never dies!)

* Imani Na Umoja has 25 years of experience organizing in the PAIGC in Guinea-Bissau; is a member its Central Committee ; member of the C.C. of its youth wing JAAC; serves on both the PAIGC and JAAC National Secretariats; and is a member of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP)

END NOTES

Amilcar Cabral’s presentation during the Founding TriContinental Conference, held in Cuba in January 1966, entitled: “Fundamentals and Objectives of National Liberation in Relation to Social Structure”, also known as “The Weapon of Theory”.

Ibid. “…It is often said that national liberation is based on the right of every people to freely control its own destiny and that the objective of this liberation is national independence. Although we do not disagree with this vague and subjective way of expressing a complex reality, we prefer to be objective, since for us the basis of national liberation, whatever the formulas adopted on the level of international law, is the inalienable right of every people to have its own history, and the objective of national liberation is to regain this right usurped by imperialism, that is to say, to free the process of development of the national productive forces…

…For this reason, in our opinion, any national liberation movement which does not take into consideration this basis and this objective may certainly struggle against imperialism, but will surely not be struggling for national liberation…

…This means that, bearing in mind the essential characteristics of the present world economy, as well as experiences already gained in the field of anti-imperialist struggle, the principal aspect of national liberation struggle is the struggle against neo-colonialism. Furthermore, if we accept that national liberation demands a profound mutation in the process of development of the productive forces, we see that this phenomenon of national liberation necessarily corresponds to a revolution. The important thing is to be conscious of the objective and subjective conditions in which this revolution can be made and to know the type or types of struggle most appropriate for its realization…” (Amilcar Cabral)

Ibid “The ideological deficiency, not to say the total lack of ideology, within the national liberation movements–which is basically due to ignorance of the historical reality which these movements claim to transform–constitutes one of the greatest weaknesses of our struggle against imperialism, if not the greatest weakness of all. We believe, however, that a sufficient number of different experiences has already been accumulated to enable us to define a general line of thought and action with the aim of eliminating this deficiency. A full discussion of this subject could be useful, and would enable this conference to make a valuable contribution towards strengthening the present and future actions of the national liberation movements. This would be a concrete way of helping these movements, and in our opinion no less important than political support or financial assistance for arms and suchlike..”
Ibid “This leads us to pose the following question: does history begin only with the development of the phenomenon of ‘class’, and consequently of class struggle? To reply in the affirmative would be to place outside history the whole period of life of human groups from the discovery of hunting, and later of nomadic and sedentary agriculture, to the organization of herds and the private appropriation of land. It would also be to consider–and this we refuse to accept–that various human groups in Africa, Asia, and Latin America were living without history, or outside history, at the time when they were subjected to the yoke of imperialism. It would be to consider that the peoples of our countries, such as the Balantes of Guinea, the Coaniamas of Angola and the Macondes of Mozambique, are still living today–if we abstract the slight influence of colonialism to which they have been subjected–outside history, or that they have no history.”

Amilcar Cabral, Our People Are Our Mountains (London: Committee for Freedom in Mozambique, Angola, and Guinea, 1971), p. 21

“Revolutionary democracy demands that the militant should not be afraid of the responsible worker, that the responsible worker should have no dread of the militant, nor fear the mass of the people. It demands that the responsible worker live in the middle of the people, in front of the people and behind the people, that he work for the party serving the people.”
“Do not hide anything from the mass of the people, do not lie, fight against lies, do not disguise the difficulties, errors and failures, do not believe in easy victories, nor in appearances.
“Return to the source,” was coined by Amilcar Cabral in describing the revolutionary petite bourgeoisie who go through a ‘cultural renaissance’.
“…But the “return to the source” is not and cannot in itself be an act of struggle against foreign domination (colonialist and racist) and it no longer necessarily means a return to traditions. It is the denial, by the petite bourgeoisie, of the pretended supremacy of the culture of the dominant power over that of the dominated people with which it must identify itself…

…When the “return to the source” goes beyond the individual and is expressed through “groups” or “movements,” the contradiction ‘is transformed into struggle (secret or overt), and is a prelude to the pre-independence movement or of the struggle for liberation from the foreign yoke. So, the ”return to the source” is of no historical importance unless it brings not only real involvement in the struggle for independence, but also complete and absolute identification with the hopes of the mass of the people, who contest not only the foreign culture but also the foreign domination as a whole. Otherwise, the “return to the source” is nothing more than an attempt to find short-term benefits—knowingly or unknowingly a kind of political opportunism…

…One must point out that the “return to the source,” apparent or real, does not develop at one time and in the same way in the heart of the indigenous petite bourgeoisie. It is a slow process, broken up and uneven, whose development depends on the degree of acculturation of each individual, of the material circumstances of his life, on the forming of his ideas and on his experience as a social being. This unevenness is the basis of the split of the indigenous petite bourgeoisie into three groups when confronted with the liberation movement: a) a minority, which, even if it wants to see an end to foreign domination, clings to the dominant colonialist class and openly oppose the movement to protect its social position; b) a majority of people who are hesitant and indecisive; c) another minority of people who share in the building and leadership of the liberation movement….

…But the latter group, which plays a decisive role in the development of the pre-independence movement, does not truly identify with the mass of the people (with their culture and hopes) except through struggle, the scale of this identification depending on the kind or methods of struggle, on the ideological basis of the movement and on the level of moral and political awareness of each individual…”

Via Pambazuka News

http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/90276

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