Every 20 January is National Heroes’ Day in Cape Verde to honour all the heroes of Cape Verde’s independence movement – but especially Amilcar Cabral.
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Amilcar Cabral founded the independence movement in Cape Verde and in nearby Guinea-Bissau. On 20 January 1973, he was assassinated, bringing great loss to both of the nations whose freedom he fought for.
Amilcar Cabral was the son of parents who hailed from Cape Verde, although he was actually born in Guinea-Bissau. Both lands were Portuguese colonies at the time.
Cabral was educated in Cape Verde, but later went to college in Lisbon, Portugal, as well. While there, he started up student protests against Portugal’s control over its African colonies.
In the 1950’s, Cabral returned to Africa and organised an independence movement for both Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. And later on, he helped found a similar movement in Angola.
Cabral’s forces engaged in guerrilla warfare, but they also worked to win the support of the people. They sought the support of tribal chiefs, taught soldiers to farm so they could live off the land, and ran mobile hospitals. Medical care was provided to soldiers and citizens, the people were instructed in agricultural techniques, and a barter system was created to undercut Portuguese-run stores.
Despite dying two years before Cape Verde’s independence was achieved in 1975, Amilcar Cabral is considered the number one freedom fighter and hero of the nation.