Happy New Year!!
I owe you an apology. I went into hiding for a few months and am only just coming out of it. You see last term was so particularly stressful for me because of school and extracurriculars and I ended up giving up on things that I really enjoyed doing. Like reading my revolutionary texts and keeping up this blog. But it’s a new year and new tings are gwan! I didn’t read Wangari Maathai eventually – not sure why every time I think of reading that book I just chicken out. I should do it sooner rather than later.
True to our revolutionary credentials, I’ve been reading books by a great African revolutionary. I just finished reading “Unity and Struggle by Amilcar Cabral. For the uninitiated Cabral was a hero of the independence struggle in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. An engineer by training, he was educated in Lisbon where he began his revolutionary shenanigins. The most fascinating thing about Cabral for me was his egalitarianism. I find that West African revolutionary thought is on the whole – towards women, the elderly, the youth – more egalitarian than East or even Southern African revolutionary thought. Cabral was keen to encourage his mates to see the value in all revolutionary activity, and actively dissuaded actions like taking on young female revolutionaries as brides by older men. I also like the fact that he’s more measured in his assessment of the progress of the revolution and how things needed improvement. One of my favourite quotes is “it is no longer necessary to be courageous, just honest”. Okay, it’s more of a paraphrase, but I like the idea that with regards to inequality, it gets to a point where standing up for justice and truth has nothing to do with courage and everything to do with honesty. Because while it is possible to challenge the basis and the rationale for courage, honesty just is what it is.
All in all, Cabral is a brilliant thinker, analyst and strategist and I think the quality of his thought is exemplary. He’s a pragmatic man; throughout the book you see him considering the practical needs of his people over stylised or over-hyped ideals. He’s always worried about what they’ll eat, how they’ll keep healthy, founding schools, protecting the youth etc. I think it’s that concern for the practical realities of the People that made him so well loved and respected among the people. And that’s a valuable lesson for any aspiring political leader. Not to lose sight of the fact that after the rhetoric dies out, you still have to feed your people. Jesus thought about it – turning water into wine at Cana, feeding the 5,000 with the loaves and fish. I wish more African leaders had a similar instinct, to balance ideas with practicalities.
The book is a little hard going but because most of it is based on speeches given in various fora, it’s not impossible. I read it in two days so it can definitely be done in about a month at a more leisurely pace.
Nonetheless, my brain is fried. Tomorrow, I’m rereading the Alchemist!
KT, burnt out!!