Amílcar Cabral ( 12 September 1924 – 20 January 1973), was born in Bafatá, Guinea. He was born to parents, Juvenal Cabral, a Cape Verdean elementary school teacher and Mrs. Iva Pinhel Évora, a shopkeeper. Guinea-Bissau, the small Portuguese colony suffered from exploitation imposed by the backward and despotic Portuguese colonial regime. Cabral later wrote:
Faced with the power of the main imperialist nations, one is forced to wonder how it was possible for Portugal, an underdeveloped and backward country, to retain its colonies in spite of the redistribution to which the world was subjected. Portuguese colonialism managed to survive despite the sharing-out of Africa made by the imperialist powers at the end of the 19th century because England supported the ambitions of Portugal which, since the treaty of Metwen in 1703 had become a semi-colony of England. England had every interest in using the Portuguese colonies, not only to exploit their economic resources, but also to occupy them as support bases on the route to the Orient, and thus to maintain absolute domination in the Indian Ocean. To counter the greed of the other colonialist powers and to defend its interests in the Portuguese colonies, England found the best solution: it defended the 'rights' of its semi-colony.
After the death of his godmother, Simoa, his father, Juvenal inherited a few tracts of land and moves in the island of Cape Verde with his family. In the 1940s, a severe drought causes widespread starvation, claiming more than 50,000 Cape Verdeans. Chicken bones describes the details of the boy’s life, “This is the atmosphere in which Amílcar Cabral spends his early childhood and adolescent years. If, on one hand, his father gives the example of public conscience and civic engagement, within the limits permitted by Salazar’s fascism, his mother, Iva Évora, on the other, is for young Amílcar an example of love and affection, of family protection and of dedication to her work. Iva labors all day on a sewing machine to help the family overcome, as well as possible, the many crises they have to face. Later in addition to her activities as a seamstress, she gets a job a in a fish-packing factory. Amílcar’s mother and her capacity for self-sacrifice will serve as an example which he will pass to the young militants of the PAIGC.”
He was educated at Mindelo, Cape Verde, and later at the Instituto Superior de Agronomia , in Lisbon, where he founded student movements promoting the cause of liberation for Portuguese colonies across Africa. Cabral completed his training as an agronomist in 1951 and returned to Africa in 1952.
Describing his yearning for Guinea, “This was done following a plan, an objective, based on the idea of doing something, of contributing to the betterment of the people, to fight against the Portuguese. That’s what I have done since the day I arrived in Guinea." Between 1953 and 1954, Cabral conducted an agricultural survey or census of the colony. The knowledge from the survey helped him better understand the problems facing his country. He and Aristides Pereira, Julio de Almeida, Elisée Turpin, Fernando Fortes, and Luiz Cabral (Amílcar Cabral's half-brother) founded the PAIGC (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde) or African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde and Guinea (PAIGC). The party was responsible for radical change that swept through the country. In the late 50’s and 60’s, the PAIGC fought in a warfare for liberation. By 1969 the PAIGC had two-thirds of the country under its control. They established schools, medical clinics, and courts, as well as People's stores, in these areas.
Tragically, like all freedom fighters his life came to an end in January 20, 1973, at the hands of Portuguese colonial masters and its puppets. Amílcar is best remembered by his classmates and friends as a person of hard work ethic, a great sense of humour, and ability to make friends.
Steve Biko(18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977), is remembered for his role in fighting apartheid. Best known for the “Black Conscious Movement” and slogans like “Black is beautiful.” The boy was born to parents Mzingayi Mathew and Alice 'Mamcete' Biko in Ginsberg Township , in the present-day Eastern Cape province of South Africa. He attended Brownlee Primary School and Charles Morgan Higher Primary School. Later attended the Lovedale High School in 1964, but was soon expelled for his political views. His brother, Khaya said concerning Biko ‘‘Steve was expelled for absolutely no reason at all. But in retrospect I welcome the South African government’s gesture of exposing a really good politician. I had unsuccessfully tried to get Steve interested in politics. The police were able to do in one day what had eluded me for years. This time the great giant was awakened.”
Biko was a bright student and passed with very great grades. He was admitted to Durban Medical School at the University of Natal Non European section (UNNE) in 1966. During that time he helped found the South African Students' Organisation (SASO), which later became the “Black Consciousness Movement.” The BCM aims of the organisation was to install a sense of self- determination through community-upliftment projects. In 1972, he was expelled for his political activity. The following year he was banned by the apartheid regime. In the following years he met Donald Woods , the editor of Daily Dispatch and became best friends. In 1975 Steve was arrested and detained for approximately 137 days. However, he was not charged or put on trial. Around 12 September 1977, Biko was reported dead. According to several accounts, he stripped naked and viciously beaten and sustained serious head injuries. South African History Online: “Lang did not object when police said they were driving Steve to Pretoria, 700km away. This they did, on 11 September, in the back of a van, with Steve still naked, frothing at the mouth, and unable to speak. In Pretoria, a district surgeon examined Steve and tended to him, but it was too late.”
Steve Biko was one of the greatest anti-apartheid activists who was on a mission to liberate both the mind and body of an African. Yet, he ended up dead for simply resisting the Nazikaner government. We might have lost him, but his words and actions are still visible in our lives. After waging a hard and brutal battle. With this, we release Biko to rest.
1. ChickenBones: A Journal. “Amilcar Cabral.” http://www.nathanielturner.com/amilcarcabral.htm (last accessed 20 July 2016).
2. South African History Online. “Stephen Biko.”http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/stephen-bantu-biko ( last accessed 25 July 2016).