By Sarath de Alwis –
A man is best defined by his actions. Actions testify to the person’s priorities. Do not lie to the people. Hide nothing from the people. This simple dictum guides all of Cabral’s actions, assertions.
Cabral is a unique politician. His mind combines a profoundly humane attitude and a capacity for incisive analysis. There is hardly a match for his ability to unravel the exploitative nature of the global economic order.
His pioneering theory of socio-cultural transformation offers a sure roadmap for a developing country to move forward in the context of our rapidly globalizing and increasingly unequal world.
Cabral is a national leader who believed that national liberation did not come about by hoisting a flag or singing the anthem. True independence should empower the people to continuously improve their lot he believed.
His life is one of service, committed to erase the legacy of foreign domination and economic servility to the west.
He always maintained that ordinary people were not interested in fighting for abstract ideas.
The people would fight and accept all sacrifices demanded from them. But you must convince them that such sacrifices would result in progress, material benefits and to live a better life in peace and to guarantee a future for their children.
He has a disarming honesty.
“Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children. . .”
He insists on total transparency. He says
“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…”
He challenges his political enemies on simple matter of facts assumptions. He is the archetype political pragmatist.
Challenging the establishment, he is devastatingly effective. He maintains that it is the people through their free will who will write their history.
He does not believe in external agencies. He concedes the tough battle that a nation must face with unflinching resolve. National liberation is like a dress which must fit to each individual’s body.
“Naturally, there are certain general or universal laws, even scientific laws, for any condition, but the liberation struggle must be developed according to the specific conditions of each country. “
“If a bandit comes to my house and I have a gun, I cannot shoot the shadow of the bandit; I have to shoot the bandit. Many people lose energy and effort, and make sacrifices combating shadows. We have to combat the material reality that produces the shadow.”
He tells adversary and colleague “Do not confuse the reality you live in with the ideas you have in your head… Struggle is daily action against ourselves and against the enemy.”
Cabral is a committed leader. He exhorts “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…”
Cabral is also a poet.
Do not hide within the inscrutability of my soul.
Do not run away from life itself.
Break the invisible bars of my prison,
Open wide the doors of my being.
Take my arms to embrace the world,
Give me your arms to embrace life.
I am my own poetry.
This quick sketch is that of Amilcar Lopes Costa Cabral the freedom fighter who ended 500 years of Portuguese rule in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde. He was killed in 1973 by agents of Salazar’s autocratic rule of Portugal.
This Cabral, like the philosopher Frantz Fanon imagined a new future for his people, offering a new form of thinking on identity, culture, and economics. This Cabral is remembered for his dictum “tell no lies. Claim no easy victories.”