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Amilcar Cabral: A Pan-African Revolutionary

March 28, 2023

The relevance of his praxis for Africa in a world undergoing geopolitical reconfiguration

By Ameth LO, Pan-African militant and Member of GRILA (, Toronto Dakar June 20th, 2022.

The renewed general interest in Pan-Africanism among young people, and interest in the work of Cabral in particular, can be largely explained by the urgency of current issues confronting Africa and the world. In West Africa, these issues present themselves as a skilfully orchestrated redeployment of imperialism in collusion with elite heads of state through a violent process of monopolising resources and agricultural lands by multinational corporations.

Ultimately, the success of elites in these endeavours call into question the fundamental goals of liberation struggles and independence movements; particularly the right of African people to reclaim their means of production as a precondition for self-directed development.

The sub-region is at the center of major dislocations (jihadism, inter-imperialist rivalries, the collapse of democratic states, and so on) which threaten the stability of all of Africa. At the heart of these struggles are issues linked to the trafficking of narcotics given new drug trafficking routes from Latin America to Europe. But there is also the emergence of new conflicts such as those currently underway in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and so on. These conflicts involve multiple actors such as the USA, France, Jihadist networks, drug traffickers and others who have some interests that coincide, but others that diverge particularly around the fundamental issue of control of the immense natural resource of the region such as gold, oil, uranium, and the potential for setting up a strategic operating base in the region. Another issue of concern relates to the structures of a global capitalist system in crisis, and based on a consumption model that increasingly demands the energy and mining resources of which Africa abounds.

Today, fifty years after Cabral’s death, it is clear that the persistence of these issues shows that the national liberation movement, led by African nationalists such as Cabral, has not reached its objectives despite its significant progress. Security issues persist, urban-rural inequality is growing, creating a double movement. On the one hand, there is a massive rural exodus of peasants to the cities in search of better living conditions. On the other hand, directionless African youth are tempted by the mirage of the West to make sometimes suicidal attempts to traverse the desert or the oceans to emigrate to the Global North.

But how did we get here despite the enormous sacrifices made by leaders such as Cabral to free their people from all forms of domination and exploitation? Which factors stalled the transformation of national liberation into true social revolution? Which factors internal to Africa have favoured the systematic elimination of revolutionary leaders like Cabral who had led these movements? How can we interpret Cabral’s political vision in light of current issues facing Africa and the world?

A set of questions that should be reflected on in order to draw lessons from the past (but not to take pleasure in it as Professor Cheikh Anta DIOP said) but to guide future struggles with greater clarity and precision. We will try to explore Cabral’s vision through several reflections he produced in the context of struggle against Portuguese colonialism and imperialism more broadly. Themes such as: the role of culture in the national liberation movement, the problem of class struggle in Africa, and how to go beyond the stage of national independence through social, economic and cultural revolution; only a multi-pronged revolution can support the many aspirations of African people.

Ameth LO

One Comment
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