The Life of Amílcar Cabral and the Struggle of the PAIGC with António Tomás

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In this episode we interview António Tomás, author of the recently published biography Amílcar Cabral: The Life of a Reluctant Nationalist. Tomás is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. He is a native of Angola, and holds a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University. He has worked as a journalist in Angola and Portugal and has written extensively on issues related to Lusophone Africa.

Recently we held a study group on Cabral’s Return To The Source, but one of the things that stood out to many of us in the group was how little we really knew about Guinea Bissau, about the PAIGC and about Cabral and the context in which his writings and thought were produced.

The official archives available to scholars on Cabral and the PAIGC are limited due to the fascistic nature of the Portuguese state at the time among other factors. In 2020 we did an interview with Sónia Vaz Borges on the PAIGC’s Militant Education program which filled in some gaps, and we hope that this interview will fill in more.

There are more questions we’d like to ask about his relationships with Frantz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah, and Sékou Touré all of whom were influential to Cabral important to the PAIGC and are discussed in the book. And more broadly about the network of African liberation movements at the time. Perhaps when our schedules permit we can record a part two to fill in some of those gaps.

Hopefully this conversation will deepen our understandings of Cabral, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and the liberation struggle of the PAIGC. And ultimately of the contradictions which deepen our understanding both Cabral’s fate and the developments of the years after his death. Understanding the inner workings of Portuguese colonialism, counterinsurgency, and of the contradictions of the revolution led by the PAIGC, demonstrate just how relevant many of Cabral’s theoretical contributions and insights are to struggles against the global capitalist system, and against different forms of colonialism and counterinsurgency.

While the unity Cabral sought to lead between Cape Verdeans and Guineans may have been fraught, it is perhaps in this struggle against its own contradictions that we can find important lessons for movements that at times seem impossible or incommensurable.

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Now here is António Tomás on the Life of Amílcar Cabral and the Struggle of the PAIGC

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