Saturday, April 10, 2010

On "National Liberation and Culture" by Vagabond

by Vagabond Beaumont

I just recently came across this brilliant African brother Amilcar Cabral from Guinea-Bissau. He was a leader in the movement to de-colonize Guinea-Bissau from Portugal. He was a supporter of not only his own countries struggle for independence but also active in the struggles of neighboring Guinea and Cape Verde and of course a staunch opponent of South African apartheid. A true outspoken Pan-African and thinker.

Amilcar Cabrial was a agronomic engineer (the science of using plants for food, fuel, feed, and fiber) and passed on his expertise to both his guerrilla troops and local farmers. Even requiring his troops to work in the fields along side the people.

He managed to help lead his people to freedom but like Moses and MLK never got to see the promised land. He was assassinated in 1973 months before Guinea-Bissau gained its independence.

He was an amazing thinker. In this essay National Liberation And Culture he outlines the intertwined impotence of culture in national liberation movements. This speech was given on February 20th, 1970 at Syracuse University in Syracuse New York as part of a lecture Series in memory of Eduardo Mondlane who was the first President of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and assassinated by the Portuguese on February 3rd of 1960.

When I came across this essay I was immediately struck by how relevant it was to work that Iwas doing with MACHETERO. In a way I have a mixed bag of emotions about this essay. Not in terms of it's content but in terms of its continued relevance in terms that directly affect the national struggle for liberation in Puerto Rico. And not just in terms of the situation in Puerto Rico but in terms of Africa-Americans and Native peoples here in the United States.

On one level it saddens me that something written 40 years ago about imperialist domination and its ills has such relevance today and at the same time its good that someone has laid down a firm foundation from which we can build upon. For me (and perhaps many others) MACHETERO is salvo at imperialist domination as well as artistic or cultural imperialist domination. When I was making MACHETERO I was trying to think Puerto Rican. Trying to make a Puerto Rican film and asking myself what does that mean and how does one go about expressing that. I tried to incorporate the culture of my people in the film and tried to create a piece of cultural resistance to imperialist domination. Reading Amilcar Cabral's essay now, some 40 years later helped me to understand what it was that I was struggling with.
- vagabond
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History is a Weapon

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