Linking the Struggles: Amilcar Cabral and his impact and legacy in the Black Liberation Movement (Part 1)

(On Navigating the Storm, Kali Akuno explores the legacy of the great revolutionary Amilcar Cabral.)

Keep always in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting…..for material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children. National Liberation, War on Colonialism, building of peace and progress – independence – all that will remain meaningless for the people unless it brings a real improvement in the conditions of life.

–Amilcar Cabral, from “Destroy the economy of the enemy and build our own economy”, 1965.

Since the close Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England and the end of the second great inter-imperialist war (better known as World War II) in 1945, the radical-wing of the Black Liberation Movement in the United States (US) has been inspired by and drawn many lessons from its reciprocal interactions with the national and social liberation movements of Africa (primarily from 1945 through 1994) and the Diaspora (particularly those of the Caribbean).

The Black Liberation Movement or BLM is the historic movement of people of African descent within the territories now occupied and claimed by the settler-colonial government of the United States for self-determination and social liberation in three primary (and often mutually inclusive) forms:

  • Repatriation back to Africa
  • The creation of a sovereign, independent national-state for Black or New Afrikan people in the southeastern portion of what is presently the United States
  • The socialist and/or anti-capitalist transformation of the United States by an anti-racist, anti-imperialist multi-national alliance

The radical elements of the BLM – composed primarily of revolutionary nationalists, socialists, communists, and anarchists – have over the years learned and incorporated many of the critical aspects of the theories and strategies of radical social transformation developed by many of the twentieth century intellectual and political towers of the African world revolution, such as Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Aime Cesaire, Constance Cummings-John, Sekou Toure, Leopold Senghor, Amy Jacques Garvey, CLR James, Julius Nyerere, Walter Rodney, Patrice Lumumba, Govan Mbeki, Frantz Fanon, Robert Sobukwe, Winnie Mandela, Abdias do Nascimento, Mariam Makeba, Steven Biko, Maurice Bishop, and Thomas Sankara. Of all of these leaders and theoreticians from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America however, none have made more profound theoretical and strategic contributions to the advancement of the BLM than Amilcar Cabral.

All of the above named figures made valuable contributions to the BLM, particularly in the realm of providing ideological clarity on various questions, such as the relevancy of Marxism, Leninism, and Maoism to the struggles of African peoples worldwide, the exploratory power of dialectical and historical materialism, and the necessity of fighting for a United States of Africa and a unified Pan-African world guided by scientific socialism

What separates Cabral from the others however, is that his work provided detailed theoretical and strategic clarity on a number of fundamental questions that were critical to understanding the transition from “American colonialism” to neo-colonialism following the defeat of legalized white supremacy in the early 1960’s.

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