Throughout his infancy and adolescent years, events of the time and the environment he lived in, influenced passion for Cabral to become a leader of his people. Despite a tight and oppressed regime and within
the allowable limits, his father was a defender of the people and his mother provided lifetime lessons of survival and family ties. As his brother Luis Cabral affirmed, "years later when Amilcar established PAIGC, there's no doubt that it was modeled on the foundation and sentiments provided early in life by our beloved father."
In his youth, Amilcar Cabral was dedicated mostly to his studies and poetry writings that he labeled "Larbac" - his name spelled backwards - which made him a part of a notorious and influential group of poets among the student body such as Guerra Junquero, Goncalves Crespo and Casimiro de Abreu. Among his most celebrated poems of that time included "Naus sem rumo" – vessels without destination:
Alone on the Ocean
Pieces of the African
Of the black continent
A brilliant student, Cabral finished his secondary studies with honors and moved to city of Praia where he took a temporary position working for the government while he waited for a chance to be awarded a scholarship and expand his education in Lisbon.
At this time, he had knowledge of certain problems faced by his contemporaneous and the lack of sensibility of the central government to the needs of the archipelago. Amilcar Cabral rebelled to the fascist regime that would allow anyone born in Portugal to become Governor of Cape Verde while the Capeverdeans were limited to only certain levels in the government regardless of their talents, skills and abilities.
Finally, at the end of 1945, after waiting endlessly for the promised scholarship, he traveled to S. Vicente where he boarded the vessel "Serpa Pinto" to Lisbon with the intention of studying Agriculture engineer. According to his brother Luis, it wasn't Cabral's choice but his father convinced him that the industry would allow him a greater possibility to serve and help more people.
World War II ended and the fascist regime had been defeated. Portuguese democrats hoped that Salazar would inflict a repressive political regime but that didn't happen. The western superpowers had other things in mind and opted for Cold War after the insurgence of the eastern block frontier walls that Churchill popularized with the nickname "Iron Curtain."
The first wife of Amilcar Cabral, Maria Helena de Athayde Vilhena Rodrigues, a colleague at the Institute affirmed that "everyone spoke of Cabral and how polite he was, they praised his intellectual, and his manners made him popular." As far as political activities, "I remember that my comrades collected signatures for democratic movements and Amilcar actively participated on anti-fascist student committees. He was usually the one that spoke because he expressed himself very well."
Various publications confirm Maria Helena's statement as friends recalled Amilcar Cabral as a dynamic and contagious individual, a visionary who possessed enormous abilities in making new friends. He was usually the best dressed and often admired by his friends.
Luis Cabral, who was the first president of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, said that his brother was a master at making friends and developing relationships. Despite his busy schedule, Cabral found time to practice his favor sport. He was good enough in soccer to attract an invitation from Benfica of Portugal. But he often said, he didn't travel to Portugal to play soccer but rather to study. Well, in that time players didn't earn a fortune like they do now but those that know Cabral well still affirm that he would choose education over sports.
Like many other African contemporaneous he felt home sick and could wait for an opportunity to return to motherland. As he usually said, in Africa, despite the modern and beautiful cities of the coast, many thousand of human beings still live in the deepest darkness.
In one of his speeches, Cabral said, "you live your life intensely and from it you extract experiences that for me is a direction, a guide that I must follow regardless of personal interests and personal sacrifices. That's my reason for living." The fight for independence then took precedence over Cabral's personal interest.
About one year later, Cabral went to Cuba to organize a group of combatants who were being formed by Cuban regime. Among them now President of Cabo Verde, General Pedro Pires that according to Luis Cabral was a very responsible and trusted leader. In Guinea, the situation with colonialist forces had been deteriorating and PAIGC was gaining strength daily in the region as well as in international waters.
In 1967, PAIGC inaugurated its first radio transmission program called Liberation Radio and in 1968 began a trail of success for PAIGC: convention of liberation in Conacry ended with a vote of proclamation for the party but in February of 1969 the militants were devastated with the assassination of Mondiane from a package that was contaminated with bomb. Samora Moises Machel was then chosen to lead FRELIMO, the Mozambique Liberation Party.
However, International supports were increasing at a greater pace than expected: President Maktar Ould Daddah of Mauritania, President Felix Houphouet of Ivory Coast, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Libya, Nigeria, etc., but it was in Swiss with the Social Party in power that colonialism was officially denounced in western countries.
Elected president of his party and performing the functions of Prime Minister, Olof Palm announced important measures of support for liberation movement parties. It was at this juncture that Amilcar Cabral made his first visit to Swiss, country that turned out to be the greatest friend of PAIGC. On the other hand Italian friends had organized International Solidarity Conference for the people of Portuguese colonies. The enormous success of the convention culminated with the reception that Pope Paul VI sponsored for the delegation leaders of MPLA, FRELIMO and PAIGC in Rome on July 1st, 1970.
At this time, Amilcar Cabral had re-established his family life with Ana Maria Voss de Sa, Guineans that was studying in Czechoslovak. As for PAIGC, with two thirds of the territory freed, he only hoped that the international community pressed the government of Portugal to end the war. Amilcar Cabral took advantage of the United Nations Security Council meeting in Adis-Abeba to denounce the situation of occupation in Guinea and invited UN to send representatives for a visit of liberated zones. Despite the bombardments effectively launched by colonialists troops to scare the visitors, the trip was a success. It demonstrated that in fact PAIGC's controlled territory was ready to swear in as a sovereign country.
International success and support from neighboring countries frustrated the colonialist regime that they began to exercise extremely actions against those countries. The last grasp of hope for the colonial governor was to destroy the party from within and disrupt the unity of PAIGC. This action proved deadly for Cabral as colonial secret agents infiltrated the movement.
Amilcar Cabral was assassinated on January 20, 1973 but his legacy provided strength for the independence of Guinea (1974) and Cape Verde in 1975.