Heroes’ Day in Cape Verde & Guinea-Bissau
Heroes’ Day is a public holiday observed in Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau on January 20th every year. It commemorates all those who have worked towards nationhood and is observed on the anniversary of Amílcar Cabral’s death. Cabral had become a leading figure for West African independence and had established the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).
On January 20, 1973, he was assassinated by Inocêncio Kani—a former PAIGC rival. Cabral died before he could see his country achieve true independence, and the date of his death was chosen to honor him and all national heroes.
The History of Heroes’ Day in Guinea-Bissau & Cape Verde
In 1924, Amílcar Lopes Cabral was born in Portuguese Guinea. He went on to receive his education in Cape Verde and Lisbon, where his views on colonialism were formed. He became a leader in the West African liberation movement and, in 1956, formed the PAIGC.
The PAIGC originally pushed for independence through peaceful means, but that changed over seven years as they became disillusioned with their lack of progress. The PAIGC then launched a military campaign in 1963 to begin the war of independence.
On January 20, 1973, Amílcar Cabral was shot dead by Inocêncio Kani. A few months later, Guinea found independence, and in July of 1975, Cape Verde followed suit. Not long after, both Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde chose the anniversary of Cabral’s death for their celebration of Heroes’ Day.
Observing Heroes’ Day in Guinea-Bissau & Cape Verde
In Cape Verde, this holiday has traditionally been observed with the issuance of stamps, coins, or banknotes that bear Cabral’s image. On this day, many people in Cape Verde enjoy traditional dishes such as Cachupa, Búzio, or Morreia. In Guinea-Bissau, dishes such as Yassa and Egusi are usually enjoyed.