‘THE HEART OF AMILCAR CABRAL’ (THOAC)is a 58-minute feature film documenting one of the greatest of modern theoreticians of the African Revolution and founder of the Party for the Independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, Amilcar Cabral. Also known by his nom de guerre, Abel Djassi. He is an agronomist, a writer, a poet and one of Africa’s foremost anti-colonial leaders. His mission was to eradicate Portuguese colonial rule in the exploitation, moral and physical propensity for repressive practices based on their absolute refusal to regard the African as a human being.
‘THOAC’ recounts the Portuguese colonial period from the time of slavery to liberation movements in Africa and the Caribbean including Cuba. The conflict that began in 1961 as Portugal insisted on maintaining the colonies, the struggle in Guinea under the leadership of Cabral and the Portuguese army defeat that led the colonies into independence which also resulted in the release of political prisoners from the African concentration camp Tarrafal (Santiago Island/Cape Verde) after the Revolution of April 1974 .
Years in the making, award-winning Director, Guenny K. Pires of Txan Films explores the struggles of this bigger than life enigma, his ideologies, his personal life and legacy. The film chronicles Pires’ personal journey through 11 countries, between the West Coast of Africa, Europe and the East Coast of the Americas particularly Angola, Cape Verde, Cuba, East Timor, Guine Bissau, Guine Conakry, Holland, Portugal, Senegal, Russia and United States.
Archival film clips from Professors: Dr. Noam Chomsky, Dr. Richard Jr. Lobban, Dr. Peter Mendy, Dr. Diawara Mantha and Dr. Oba T'Shaka; Actors and Activists: Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte and Ossie Davis; Filmmakers: Michael Lange, Rigoberto Lopez; Journalist/Writer, Jerri Lange; Artist/Writer, Vasco Pires and Salath Matteus, disciple of Amilcar Cabral are presented for discussions and analysis. In addition, interviews with his second wife, Ana Cabral and daughter, Iva Cabral, former President of the Republic of Cape Verde Pedro Pires, artists, historians and personal reflections from the people of Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau.
The film also highlights Cabral’s ideological struggle and pedagogy of liberation in Portugal. The House of Students Empire, the guidelines in the First Congress of the PAIGC in Cassacá in Feb, 1964 -defining mechanisms for political mobilization of communities, texts published in London, Morocco and Paris, his speeches at the University of Pennsylvania (USA) -where he is awarded the degree of Honorary Doctor of Law, Syracuse in 1970 -which he speaks about the National Liberation and Culture in honor of Eduardo Mondlane, At the UN in 1972 where he clearly denounces the international community of Portuguese colonial rule and have great influence on the action of FRETILIN in the period 1975-1978, his life in Guinea, Cape Verde, Angola and international travels to Stockholm and Ethiopia including friendly relations established with Cuba, China, Italy, former USSR and with great leaders like Mario Andrade, Agostinho Neto, Sékou Touré or Che Guevara from Latin and Central America.
Amilcar Lopes da Costa Cabral was born on September 12th, 1924 in Bafata, Guine Bissau West Coast of Africa. His early childhood was deeply rooted to his Cape Verdean father’s public conscience, civic engagement and his Guine-Bissau mother’s great capacity for self-sacrifice. He
was well educated, brilliant and cultured. His desire to participate in his island world echoes in his writings, stories and commentaries: Guinea and Cabo Verde against Portuguese Colonism (1961),At the United Nations (1962),Anonymous Soldiers for the United Nations (1962),National Liberation and Peace Cornerstones of non-alignment (1964),Brief Analysis of the Social Structure in Guinea (1964),The National Movements of the Portuguese Colonies (1965),Tell No Lies, Claim No Easy Victories (1965),The Weapon of Theory (1966),The Development of the Struggle (1968),On Freeing Captured Portuguese Soldiers 1&2 (1968),Practical Problems and Tactics (1968),Message to the People of Portugal (1969),Towards Final Victory (1969) and finally, New Years Message, January (1969).
He founded the Partido Africano da Independencia da Guine e Cabo Verde (PAIGC) in 1956 aimed to carry the weight of armed struggle against colonialism. He constructed an alternative culture based on themes and concepts of revolutionary democracy: creating village committees called ‘Tabanca’, organizing agriculture cooperatives, integrating the liberation struggle into education, preventive health care through health brigade programs and the establishment of Popular Tribunals. All were implemented and proved successful in the political sphere.
However, on January 20, 1973, a few months away from realizing the independence of Guinea- Bissau, Cabral‘s life was cut short by an initial shot fired from comrade Inocencio Kani, a guerilla war veteran and former PAIGC navy commander, more shots followed by other Guinean party members. An assassination, a tragedy he predicted that would occur from someone within his own party.
Of all the leaders from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America none have made more profound contributions to the advancement of the Black Liberation Movement than Amilcar Cabral. What separates him from others is that his work provided detailed theoretical and strategic clarity on a number of fundamental questions that were critical to understanding the transition from “American colonialism” to neo-colonialism following the defeat of legalized white supremacy in the early 1960’s. Cabral’s ideas, teachings and practices are truly a legacy that continues to be a challenge for contemporaries in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. His influence reverberates far beyond the African Continent.
“I never imagined that one day in my filmmaking career, I would have the opportunity to work with a group of people whom I regard with the highest esteem" says Pires. I am humbled and grateful towards the kindness and generosity of all the people who share their knowledge and expertise in supporting me with this project.
My mission and vision as a filmmaker are always aimed at raising awareness, bridging cultures by empowerment of visual information that inspires hope for the next generation.