Sónia Vaz Borges and Filipa César, Mangrove School, 2022, digital video, 35 min;
About Mangrove School
We went again to Guinea Bissau this time to research the conditions of the students in the guerrilla schools in the mangroves. Instead, we soon became ourselves the learners and the first lesson was how to walk. If you walk straight, placing your heels on the ground first, you promptly slip and fall in the dams of the flooded mangrove rice field or you get stuck in the mangrove mud. You need to lower your body, flex your knees and stick your toes vertically into the mud, extend your arms forwards in a conscious and present movement. In the mangrove school the learning happens with the whole body.
Filipa César and Sónia Vaz Borges, Navigating the Pilot School, 2016, digital video, 12 min.; archival material
Often underestimated as such, the anti-colonial wars of liberation were also large scale educational endeavors.
Consider the educational strategies pursued by agronomist Amílcar Cabral, the revolutionary thinker and politician, assassinated in 1973, who provided the decolonial struggles of the Portuguese - in Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé - with an impressive range of militant ideas pertaining to the organization of the intermediate resistance as well as to the formation of future citizens. In Guinea-Bissau, learning took place in the Liberated Zones themselves, in nomadic makeshift schools that were carried along through the forest by the guerrilla fighters.
However, not limited to this, Cabral and the PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde) also founded the system of the so-called Pilot School abroad. Children from Guinea-Bissau were thus taught at boarding schools such as the one in the neighboring schools such as the one in the neighboring Conakry, the Capital of the Republic of Guinea, already independent since 1958.
Cabral envisioned the Pilot School to form "the best students from our schools in liberated areas, and [to be] integrated in our educational system for the liberated areas.