Guinea-Bissau is a small country situated on the West African coast with a population estimated at about 1,800,000 inhabitants and borders with Senegal and Guinea-Conakry.
The map of the country with its borders, drawn at the Berlin Conference (1884/85) by the colonial powers in the partition of the African territories, ignores the people and cultures present in the territory, which, with the end of slavery, would be considered cheap labour for the looting of natural resources.
Ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity – seen as obstacles to the understanding and collaboration with the country’s government by international organizations – should instead be considered a great wealth, as long as respect and cooperation are established among the cultures present in the territory.
Amilcar Cabral in two fundamental texts for understanding the uniqueness of Guinea-Bissau’s liberation struggle from colonial rule highlights how the process leading to independence is closely linked to cultural affirmation:
“… It has been found that culture is the true basis of the liberation movement, and that the only societies that can mobilize, organize and fight against foreign rule are those that preserve their culture. This is whatever the ideological or idealistic characteristics of its expression, an essential element of the historical process.” (pp. 244).
The music, dance, stories and games learned in childhood are the key to the permanence of the languages and cultures that enrich the country. They sing and dance a lot with the boys and girls in Guinea-Bissau. There are games where words are repeated endlessly, chanted over melodic motifs, along with the sounds of the mother tongue, where the marks of each culture are present. It all comes together so that the sense of security that is associated with the faces and voices of the caregivers of childhood is the territory of deep affection and meaning that will accompany them throughout their lives. Almost everything will forever be understood by these unconscious filters, immaterial territory present in every decision and evaluation of what is foreign to them.
In each child who lives a childhood of happiness and grows in respect for the difference between the different ways of being in society lies the hope of creating a country fairer and open to modernity.
Domingos Morais, Inst. of Studies of Literature and Tradition of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa