Known for his push for independence by fighting against the Portuguese colonialists in Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau, Amilcar Cabral was more than a national revolutionary and Pan-Africanist. He was an intellectual, a poet, a diplomat and an agricultural engineer.
Born September 12, 1924, to Cape Verdean parents in Guinea-Bissau, Cabral attended school in Cape Verde and later attended university in Lisbon, Portugal, where he studied agronomy. While in university, he founded a students’ movement that was against Portugal’s colonisation of Africa and that called for the independence of African countries.
Upon his return to Africa in the 1950s, he founded the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) and was one of the founders of the Movimento Popular Libertação de Angola together with Agostinho Neto, the first president of Angola.
Throughout his life, Cabral led the PAIGC against the Portuguese colonial powers in what is considered one of Africa’s most successful movements. They were able to take over some portion of the colony and Cabral became the de facto leader of what would become present-day Guinea-Bissau.
Cabral was friends with Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and with the latter’s permission, he was able to run a camp in Ghana where he taught his lieutenants communications skills and farming techniques to enable them to speak to the tribal chiefs and to grow crops to feed themselves respectively.
In 1972, Cabral started the formation of Peoples’ Assembly in preparation for independence. However, dissent in the PAIGC would cut short his dreams. One of the disgruntled members combined forces with Inocêncio Kani, a former member of the party, planned to arrest and summarily judge Cabral. However, they were met with resistance and decided to kill him.
Cabral died in January 1973, nine months before Guinea-Bissau gained independence.