16.05.2013 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

"We have to show the young generation to think for themselves"

Mr. Amadou Mahtar Mbow at the press conference at UNESCO Dakar on 14 May 2013 ©UNESCO/Tine Ismaël

Amilcar Cabral is a symbol and unfortunately we don't have many of those in Africa, said Mr Amadou Mahtar Mbow, former Director-General of UNESCO.


He spoke at the launch of an international campaign for the collection of objects and documents relating to Amilcar Cabral, one of Africa's revolutionary leaders.

The launch took place during a press conference held at UNESCO’s Regional Office in Dakar on 14 May 2013.

Mr Mbow emphasized the significant role of the campaign in the preservation of symbols of African history and heritage.

Amilcar Cabral, born in 1924, was the leader of the movement which fought for the independence of Guinea Bissau and the Cape Verdean islands. He was assassinated in 1973, a few months before Guinea Bissau became independent

"Amilcar Cabral always said that you have to think for yourself, which means to eliminate cultural and intellectual alienations. But we in Africa look for external models and are concerned about what others think about us," Mr. Mbow said. "We have to show the young generation to think for themselves. We tried, Cabral and others in my generation, to assume our historic responsibility, now it's up to the young generation to assume their historic responsibility," he added.

An appeal to all

Mr Mbow launched an appeal to everyone in Senegal as well as in Guinea- Bissau, Cape Verde, Portugal and other places, who may have documentation relating to Amilcar Cabral, whether newspaper articles, photos or objects, to collect and bring them to light so they may be restored.

Amilcar Cabral’s home and birthplace in Bafata, Guinea-Bissau was recently refurbished as part of the UNESCO led campaign to increase the visibility and understanding of Africa’s ‘Che Guevara’ worldwide. In January 2013, the house was inaugurated as a museum by the President of the Guinea Bissau, his Excellency Mr. Serifo Nhamadjo.

The museum is intended to house a documentation centre, as archives currently in a dilapidated state have already been discovered.

The history of Cabral’s life 

"Let's make Batafa a museum and documentation centre on Amicar Cabral, on the independence movement in Africa, and also on what the future of Africa could be - a continent where people live in peace, fraternity and progress, and in which everyone will find their place," Mr Mbow said.

UNESCO's former Director-General presented the history of Cabral’s life and contribution to postcolonial liberation movements, complete with his own memories of meeting and working with Cabral in the 1960s.

The press conference also included a presentation on the restoration of the Cabral’s home as a museum, plans for the documentation centre and museum as well as other awareness raising activities. A video of Cabral speaking of his dreams for sovereignty and independence was also screened.

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