The prominent difference between political leadership of present Africa and Africa of the yester- century is the gradient in intellect. Political leaders of Africa during the anti-colonial epoch mostly referred to as liberation fathers were full of ideas and fibrand of intellect. They also had a strong appreciation for intellectualism as well as power of the mind from whatever the source. In contrast with present day African political leadership, which is devoid of political thought and if there is one it must be in turn disadvantaged by a position that it is devoid of quality, suffers from one commonplace stark vice that it is an open contradiction to intellectualism.
by alexander opicho
This outlook is based on both rudimentary and political experiences in Africa both in the Diaspora and in situ.Both in the francophone, Anglophone, spanophone and even in the un-colonized Africa of Ethiopia and Liberia. The movement of anti-colonial African political interest was in the hands of heavyweights like Kwameh Nkrumah of Ghana, Namdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Leopold Sedar Senghor of Senegal, Patrice Emery Lumumba of Congo, Eduardo Mondlano of Angola, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Amilcar Lopes da Costa Cabral of Cape Verde. The un-colonized Ethiopia had and has always had a series of intellectually curious leaders ranging from brilliant Marxists like Mengistu Haille Mariam to swashbuckling realists like Meles Zenawi. Liberia was not an exception apart from regular military and non military but armed insurgences. However, there were also cases of intellectual misfortune where Political leaders were not intellectuals like Kenya where Jomo Kenyatta was a kikuyu traditionalist but he becomes the president because of the ballot process favoring the large tirbes.This is why again Jomo Kenyatta made cult of the tribe to be a political weapon. This condition of hostile ethnicity has persisted as a legacy of Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya until today. The unlucky part of such cases like those of Kenya is that half literate presidents and political leaders were in full control of state power, but the top world appreciated intellectuals Like Tom Mboya and Ngugi wa Thiong’o were in ever politically threatened civil positions. One more phenomenal experience is to be encounterd in the relationship between culture and intellect. Especially when an overt reality is observed that English speaking colonies produced political leaders who were not intellectuals contrasted with Portuguese and French speaking African colonies.Inguest into this political and cultural dilemma takes us straight to Cape Verde, the former Portuguese colony which produced Amilcar Cabral.
Personally I am not luck because I did not see and understand what Amilcar Cabral was. As I was born one year later after his violent death. I was born in August 1974 but Amilcar Cabral had been shot to death by Inocentia; a fellow revolutionary in January 1973. He was killed in his own Country as an outcome of twin forces of the cult of betrayal and colonialism. It is betrayal because Seko Ture is confirmed to have participated in the connivance which led to assassination of Amilcar Cabral because he was for split of Guinea from Cape Verde but Amilcar Cabral was for combination of Cape Verde and Guinea as one sovereign Africa state when liberated from the colonial shackle of Portugal. This tragedy was again extended on the African soil which happened in the manner that the American imperialists used colonel Afrifa to execute a violent coup d’ etat Against Kwameh Nkrumah of Ghana in 1974. This was really tragic epoch for African revolutionary movement and social democracy.
But twenty five years later in 1998, after I had had cleared my high school education and desperately looking for a job and a job that you would never get in the city of Mombasa is when I came across a literary force known as Amilcar Cabral.My discovery of Amilcar Cabral was of big concern to me because I was already two and a half decades old, I had cleared my secondary school education with a principal pass in history having a focus on African history but I never knew what Amilcar Cabral was. Really Kenyan education system during Moi’s rule was very evil. We had only been taught about Daniel Toroitich arap Moi and to sing a slogan of his ruling political party which we always sang; Jogoo! Jogoo! Jogoo! Every time but there was no actual evidence of education that could intellectualize an African young boy or girl in guest for intellectual liberation of Africa. Moi owes apology to the generations of his reign.
This is how it began; I was chased away from the construction site that time of Monday eight in the morning because of some tribalism issues. So, that day and eventually that week, I did not have any work to do. I went to the public national library at Mombasa. Next to the famous Portuguese military fortress known as fort Jesus. I walked straight to a section for history and politics. A lot of attractive titles were at the shelves. Likes of Jewarlul Nehru, Karl Marx, Mahatima Gandhi, and very many others. In the midst of these titles I saw a paper back, published by Heinemann’s African writer’s series, its title was Unity and Struggle the author was Amilcar Cabral. His photograph on the backside of the book showed a very handsome man in revolutionary attires. I didn’t waste anymore time but I straight got myself a chair on the vestibule of the library then I buried my self into this bible of socialist revolution. I enjoyed humour, intellectual content, language flow and liveliness of the story a whole of that day. What really gripped my emotions and still grips my emotion whenever I read Cabral’s Unit and Struggle is the section on tribalism and another one is Homage to Kwameh Nkrumah. The one on tribalism I discovered later is redolent of National consciousness as discoursed by Frantz Omar Fanon in his Wretched of the Earth. But the section I utmost enjoy, even I have enjoyfully read it by this time of 23rd November 2013 when am writing this essay is the section of homage to Kwameh Nkrumah. Whenever I read the lines that; ‘Kwameh Nkrumah was the sky no filthy saliva of any malicious mouth can vilify him, he could not be covered by the human balm, and that he has only died because of cancer of betrayal, ’ I always come to personal disillusionment that Amilcar Cabral was not only a Cape Verdean Socialist Revolutionary but indeed the son of Africa.
Usually good books end with a section on the bibiliography.Where you get recommendation for other books that you can read. Now I was perusing in the bibliographical section of Unity and Struggle. My eyes again came across another work by Amilcar Cabral the title was weapon of theory. Some scholars refer to it as a tri-continental speech made in Havana Cuba, The chicken bones Journal severally refer to this work in diverse tributes to Amilcar Cabral but me I will refer to it as Cabral’s oeuvre.The work which he formulated both verbally and scripturally when all of his muse and African gods of wisdom plus oratorical angels were fully on duty. I utmost uphold this book for the super revolutionary argument that; ‘revolutionary practicum comes before revolutionary theory, masses are fighting not to gain ideas but to gain material success and the armed struggle is a so basic necessity for the success of the revolution.’ Actually in this super-revolutionary mental stretch Amilcar Cabral overturned the traditional classical stand of Paul Freire from pavlo, povlo, e povo to povo, povlo e pavlo. And earnestly Amilcar Cabral adjusted to this stand with the heart that was warmed by an unshakeable certainty which gives some of us with an intellectually left bent an appalling courage in the difficult but glorious struggle against the vestiges of both post-colonial imperialism and domestic comprador bourgeoisie agents of African imperialism.
As Amilcar himself could; let also follow the true revolutionary consciousness by going back to him as the source. And indeed he entitled his book as going Back to the Source. We the present living generation of the southern hemisphere we are to be bound by the spirit of Amilcar Cabral by not telling no lies nor claiming no easy victories by affirming that Amilcar to us was a very strong intellectual force, A literary and a no nonsense revolutionary. Those of us who did not have an opportunity to meet him in person we only get such evidence by reading him most. By reading his Unity and struggle, African revolution, Weapon of theory, Going Back to the Source, and tell no lies nor claim cheap victories.
Paul Freire; Pedagogy of the oppressed
Kwameh Nkrumah; Consciencism
Frantz Omar Fanon; Wretched of the Earth
Alexander K Opicho is a social researcher with the sanctuary researchers ltd in Eldoret, Kenya he is also teaches research methods in governance and leadership.