24 October, 2021

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Reading Cabral

By Sarath de Alwis

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.

Cabral is the quintessential pragmatic patriot. In addition to his many achievements, Cabral is also an agronomist. He has researched and written extensively on indigenous agricultural practices.

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.

Oh, Poetry,

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.”

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Latest comments

  • 12
    0

    I thought we are going to hear about our Cabral, the Economics maestro.
    What a relief.

    Soma

    • 15
      0

      For a moment, I thought Sarath has switched sides . Then I thought Nandasena had resigned and Cabral had replaced him. I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. A little later I read the last bit. Still, I suppose there is some deep message in the story. Is it that a guy called Cabral is not always a devious hypocrite of a wheeler-dealer?

      • 7
        4

        OC
        I remember a great neurosurgeon named Cabral.
        His son was an engineer if I remember correctly. Very decent fellow.
        Not only appearances even names could be deceptive.

        • 6
          2

          Hello, again, SJ. I, too, remember Dr Cabral & his wife, Helen (sister-in-law of the archaeologist, Dr Roland Silva). They were good friends of my parents in London before we ever came to Ceylon, as it was then.

          But more relevant, unless my memory is fading badly, I went to hear Amilcar Cabral speak in London, to a huge audience, in 1971 or 72. The news of his assassination, not long afterwards, was devastating — he was one of the heroes of our youth in those turbulent 60s & 70s.

          • 2
            2

            SJ

            Just remembered, Doc was Shelton, & his daughter now spells their name Cabraal. I can’t remember if he did.

            • 3
              3

              I could not find any Cabraal outside this country on Google.
              I suspect that the correct Portuguese spelling in Cabral.
              At some stage someone may have added an ‘a’ to get the pronunciation more correct.
              I doubt if Ms Cabraal would have changed the spelling. (Only SL Tamils change the spelling for good luck.)
              *
              I have the following text “Dr. Shelton Cabraal was a Founder Member of the Department of Neurosurgery in Sri Lanka.” from
              http://archives.sundayobserver.lk/2007/02/04/imp08.asp

              • 2
                4

                Full name of Neurosurgeon is Shelton Arulanandam Cabraal. Now you know what his ethnicity is. I had the opportunity to work as NSU registrar in his unit. During our time the other Neurosurgeon was Darrel Weinman.

                • 2
                  6

                  They belong to the Colombo Chetti community. The do not want to have anything to do with the Tamils here and at one time sought to be registered separately.
                  Wonder why.

              • 3
                2

                SJ
                There’s quite a bit about Shirin Cabraal on the Net, e.g.
                https://www.e-justice.org/eisenberg-dinner/shirin-cabraal/

                • 0
                  1

                  Thanks very much Manel

                  • 1
                    0

                    He is probably of Baratha origin. The names Arulanandam and Cabraal are not found among Colombo Chetties.

                    • 0
                      0

                      I stand corrected.
                      But are there Baratha Cabraals?
                      And do the Barathas want to be counted as Tamils either?

    • 12
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      soman

      “What a relief.”

      I am sorry to point out to you that your “Eyes are always Wide Shut”.
      Gota and his b***s carriers are bent on taking this island back to Siri Mao’s period of dark ages, the early 1970.
      Read the excerpt of following news item:

      “The government is planning to extend the import ban to mobile phones, computers and electronic consumer goods, local media reported recently.”
      https://www.yahoo.com/news/sri-lanka-tightens-foreign-currency-083835759.html

      On the other hand G L Pieris and Shavendra want children to stay at home and learn using Zoom.

      What should the children do?
      What exactly the dump asses want the people to do?
      What exactly do the Maha Sanghas want the people to do?

      Eyes Wide Shut
      When a person refuses to see something in plain view because of preconceived notions of what this something should look like. This frequently happens to naïve people.
      – Urban Dictionary

      • 9
        1

        NV,

        Oh boy….you mean Gota is going socialist and going to do it better than even AKD? How wonderful! Way to go Gota!

        First thing he must do is tax the Lankan billionaire 60% (they will still be billionaires of course). This means collecting from his very own family. We will rely on him to do the needful.
        _
        Can they return all those luxury cars for full price? Our Cabral said they were given from someplace with a line of credit. Line of credit! Lines of credits are given when the item sold appreciates in value. Cars depreciate in value by 30% immediately, when they are bought. Thereafter the depreciation rate is 10-20% per year. Couldn’t have been Gota’s idea. If it was, he was swayed by Ranil.

        • 3
          0

          Ramona,
          “Cars depreciate in value by 30% immediately, when they are bought. “
          Maybe they do in Pittsburgh, but not here. Mine is worth three times what it cost new. But that’s no profit, because the rupee has lost 4/5 of its value.

          • 0
            0

            OC. The line of credit would have come from Western or E. Asian bank. So what you say is unnecessary and moot.

            • 3
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              Ramona,
              Yes, and pink dandelions don’t grow on horse feathers. Because it’s bad for the fish.

      • 2
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        Native,
        “The government is planning to extend the import ban to mobile phones, computers and electronic

        On the other hand G L Pieris and Shavendra want children to stay at home and learn using Zoom”
        Didn’t you hear the govt is planning to produce mobile phones here?
        This is the model they want to produce:
        https://youtu.be/g8JvXs_u8SI

  • 8
    0

    I do not think that Sri Lanka government will follow policies of Cabral.
    A new government is the only remedy.
    But, will this happen in our life time?

  • 8
    0

    As I started to read this article, I was gradually overcome by consternation as the suspicion grew that old Sarath was beginning to lose his mind. He was also speaking of Cabral in the present tense so I assumed he was referring to the Sri Lankan Cabral! In penning this piece the author has adopted the same style of writing as certain authors of mystery novels who love to keep the reader in suspense until the last paragraph!

  • 8
    2

    Cabral is a puppet of Rajapaksha regime. That is the best reading. And his mechanism is supported and guided by a catholic religious priest. What a hypocrisy.

  • 12
    0

    When I started reading the few lines in this essay, my mind ventured into the wilderness of my hidden vocabulary to find the most stinking words and phrases to pen an appropriate reply. However, with all the stamina and strength available at my disposal, I continued reading, till the end. What a “Relief” and enjoyment I happened to feel knowing that the narration was not at all related to our “Navad Cabral”- the “Baka-Pandiyhaya” and the “ROUGE” of the Ministry of Finance. Thank you, Sarath for “energizing” my nerves for a few minutes I devoted to reading the essay.

    • 11
      0

      I do see some correlation, and hope not just my imagination . Recently our Cabrrrrral spoke to media on the same lines but with the sole intention of deceiving public. He spoke about not approaching IMF but with some kind of internal mechanism of his Lanka will be able overcome the crisis. To me it sounded like the North Korean model.. Complete shutdown of imports, starvation, public is told these as sacrifices made for nation to progress, no to materialism as in Buddhist teaching, agriculture as our primary industry, say no to IMF / foreign powers _ _ _ .blah , blah. It was tell all lies and remind public of no easy victory( suffering and misery to come.)

  • 2
    5

    “He always maintained that ordinary people were not interested in fighting for abstract ideas.”
    *
    Cabral himself was a theoretician of the calibre of Fanon and Nkrumah, who fought for an abstract idea.
    He applied Marxism to colonial sub-Saharan Africa, which did not have an industrial working class. That was his genius. He persuaded people to fight for abstract ideas by translating them into issues of relevance to them.
    *
    Cabral was assassinated by a member of his own PAIGC on instruction of colonial rulers, before the liberation of Cape Verde & Guinea Bissau.
    So technically he did not liberate the colony. It was his ideology and mass organization that did.

  • 10
    0

    All of us felt a sense of great relief when we saw the final paragraph. But the poor, our own, Cabral had the exact opposite reaction when he hit the end of the article. [I heard some Einstein attached to the President’s Media Unit had alerted our Cabral, in order to impress him, that there was a surprise article on CT praising him like crazy.]

    • 2
      7

      “All of us felt a sense of great relief when we saw the final paragraph.”
      *
      So much for our knowledge of the world around us.

      • 6
        0

        SJ
        I was being nice by saying “us” instead of “many readers.” You who claim to be a master at discerning sarcasm, should know better. This belongs to the polite variety. We are not amused.

        • 0
          6

          I have been very polite.
          There is nothing sarky there. I pointed to the pathetic state of understanding of world affairs among us.
          I mean US not just you.
          For consolation, look at the other comments.

          • 4
            0

            I cannot disagree there. There’s no better indication of “the pathetic state of understanding of world affairs” among us than our total ignorance of what’s really going on inside China today.

            • 5
              0

              Ajith this is the guy who dosen’t know the difference between President and VP. Who thought RW actually won and Sajith lost in last election. Who once imagined Venezuelans were reading CT and responding with comments. In short a know it all who is an expert in international affairs but has no clue on internal affairs. I am sure you would have come across of such in Lanka.

            • 0
              5

              Thanks for admitting total ignorance of what goers on inside China. (BTW, who are the “we”?)
              That explains the quality of comments on China.

              • 0
                5

                BTW, who are the “we”? Rather the ‘us”?

              • 5
                0

                @SJ and gangstas

                As an elderly woman braving corona, I go outside to buy the necessities and do all the chores.  I get little leisure time.  CT commentators give me a real kick in these trying times.  You Liberals, Communists, Maoists, Socialists – anti this/that and pro this/that – are amazing.  You fellas keep women like myself amused.  This is one of the  reasons I visit this site. Keep it up.  You men, engaged in keeping the world together, are a real asset to humanity. You can fool some people sometimes………..

  • 7
    0

    While reading Sarath de Alwis’s artticle, I got flabbergasted and for a moment made to feel whether he too has turned out to be a trapeze dancer like Dr.DJ.
    The conclusion part of the article brought great relief.

  • 7
    1

    The subtlety of this genre of writing will go over the heads of a majority of our readers. They need it direct with no subtlety or literary flourishes.

    Remember Sri Lanka is a very narrowly educated country, with economic desperation only one step behind us. Men with big egos but only small level of skills. Big talk and small doings.

    Culturally we are like the Sahara. Or may be I should repeat -the Sahara desert, empty and unfertile.

  • 1
    3

    I noticed that the signpost on the logo for the article suggests opposite directions for Integrity and Honesty and for Respect (or Self-respect?) and Ethics, both of which go at a tangent to Integrity and Honesty.
    Was it by any chance intentional?

    • 0
      5

      It occurs within the article too, and it is “respect”.

  • 5
    0

    From the comments above, Sarath De Alwis has finished off Ajit Nivard Cabral, without even mentioning his name.
    Great!

  • 0
    0

    “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.”
    ~ Amilcar Lopes Costa Cabral

    What’s the material reality that has given us the double-Paksa regime?

    Moral decadence? Bigotry? Sinhala Buddhist nationalism?Functional illiteracy – Poor education? Vast lack of Intellect? Greed? Poverty? Fickle or lack of moral resolve? Selfishness? Corruption? Pettiness? Deception?

    Are any of the above actually shadows? I think some of those are (E.g. Corruption).

    How do the righteous souls of this country combat possibly a slew of material reality?

    Nonetheless, however difficult it has been and it is, we have to crossover the threshold of resolution on all material reality that have stole so much from us.

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