February 13, 2009

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Filed under: manifesto,opinion article,testimonies — newritings @ 11:35 am

Due to various requests by some friends, digitally deprived with low bandwith, etc. to search the web all day long, we publish Cabral’s brilliant essay on culture and national liberation. Is national liberation still part of the discourse in a globalised-internationalised world? Is culture still relevant, or have we all been MacDonalised, or Coco-lonised? I think it is good that we are thinking and talking about African intellectuals and their contribution to socialist theory and practice. This I find missing in many discussions I participate in with some of my Northern comrades. Intellectuals from the Global South, from yester year, such as Walter Rodney, Paolo Freire,  Fanon and others show that there were strong voices out there. The struggles in Africa and the South were not like some B-grade Tarzan movie where the stars were white. But what of the women intellectuals? We must revist this theme again soon. It is a sore… women intellectuals were there, but they were written out of herstory- which we must redress. Urgently. Now back to Cabral.

This text was originally delivered on February 20, 1970 as part of the Eduardo Mondlane (1) Memorial Lecture Series at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, under the auspices of The Program of Eastern African Studies. The translation from the French is by Maureen Webster.

When Goebbels, the brain behind Nazi propaganda, heard culture being discussed, he brought out his revolver. That shows that the Nazis, who were and are the most tragic expression of imperialism and of its thirst for domination–even if they were all degenerates like Hitler, had a clear idea of the value of culture as a factor of resistance to foreign domination.

History teaches us that, in certain circumstances, it is very easy for the foreigner to impose his domination on a people. But it also teaches us that, whatever may be the material aspects of this domination, it can be maintained only by the permanent, organized repression of the cultural life of the people concerned. Implantation of foreign domination can be assured definitively only by physical liquidation of a significant part of the dominated population.

In fact, to take up arms to dominate a people is, above all, to take up arms to destroy, or at least to neutralize, to paralyze, its cultural life. For, with a strong indigenous cultural life, foreign domination cannot be sure of its perpetuation. At any moment, depending on internal and external factors determining the evolution of the society in question, cultural resistance (indestructible) may take on new forms (political, economic, armed) in order fully to contest foreign domination.

The ideal for foreign domination, whether imperialist or not, would be to choose:

  • either to liquidate practically all the population of the dominated country, thereby eliminating the possibilities for cultural resistance;
  • or to succeed in imposing itself without damage to the culture of the dominated people–that is, to harmonize economic and political domination of these people with their cultural personality.

To read the full text, go to page 2.


1 Comment »

  1. Dear Maureen and John Webster, I am currently writing an article about Mondlane and Cabral in relation to their connection with SU and have found your article/translation of Cabral’s work to be very important. I’d be very interested in following up with you, if possible. Jose

    Comment by Jose Cossa — March 17, 2011 @ 4:00 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: