#BlackHistory: Remembering The Young But Courageous Titina Silá: A Martyr Of Guinea-Bissau’s War of Independence Whose Death Date Is Celebrated As National Women’s Day

Ernestina Silá, (Titina Silá), Guinea-Bissau freedom fighter

Ernestina Silá, (Titina Silá), born 1943 was a Guinea-Bissauan member of the PAIGC. A freedom fighter, active with the African party she is remembered as one of the most famous figures of the independence struggle of Guinea-Bissau against the Portuguese.

A combatant and militiaman, during her short lifetime, Titina Silá managed to live an exceptional life, making a difference and leaving her footprints in the sands of time.

At 18, Titina already knew her passion and purpose, she joined
the guerrilla war led by the charismatic Amílcar Cabral, her exceptional leadership and organisational skills made her stand out from her contemporaries.
During this period, the early 1960s, Titina Silá established herself as a force, she became a famed guerrilla leader on the North Front.

As part of her responsibilities as leader of People’s Militia Committee in the North, she organised passage of people and goods into the exchanges of the Cacheu River.

On January 20th, 1973, her mentor, PAIGC leader Amilcar Cabral was brutally murdered in neighboring Guinea- Conakri. Shattered and yet to recover from the shock, January 30th, Ernestina’s life was cut short as well during an encounter with the Portuguese military while crossing the Farim River with a group of other guerrillas. She was on her way to the funeral of Amílcar Cabral, the leader of PAIGC guerrillas.

30 January, the day of her death, is celebrated as National Women’s Day in Guinea Bissau.

Honouring her incredible life and legacy, after the Carnation Revolution in Lisbon and the independence of Portuguese Guinea as República da Guiné-Bissau, in 1974, a monument was erected in her honour near the river Farim where she died. Numerous places and institutions in Guinea-Bissau have also been named in Silá’s honour including Praça Titina Silá in Bissau (home to government ministries and foreign missions).

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