As we mourn Castro, it is time Africa’s youth rose up against kleptocracies

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Nobody should be under the illusion that the conditions of poverty and hopelessness that crush the masses of the people in Africa are one day going to end without a bitter struggle. The time is ripe for a Socialist revolution in Africa that will overthrow elite misrule and put the continent on the path to true transformation. That is the urgent task for Africa’s teeming masses of young people.

The red flag at half-mast

“Soon I will be 90 years old,” he said. “Soon I will be like all the rest. Everybody’s turn comes.” Those are some of Fidel Castro’s last memorable words in public, during a meeting of the Cuban Communist Party congress on April 19, 2016. [1] The words perhaps symbolised his realisation that his watch was ultimately about to come to end. Then on November 25, he quietly bowed out from the national and international stage, [2] leaving his global audience heavily polarised over his legacy based on the national and foreign policies that he and his comrades had formulated, and which heavily impacted the Cuban people and the world at large. [3]

Polarised legacy

Nevertheless, whatever the western imperialist media that demonised him in life and death wants the world to believe, Fidel Castro, just like his comrades, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and Raul Castro, both of whom speeded his transformation into a Marxist-Leninist, until his death stood for what he believed in. A set of ideals that appealed to the masses who were oppressed and exploited by the evils of capitalism, imperialism and colonialism, but were appalling to the western imperialist powers. These ideals against domination, exploitation, and subordination of African and Latin American countries led to reportedly numerous attempts, mostly by the US and its agents, on his life and regime. The failed Bay of Pigs invasion perhaps illustrated the tenacity of the US to go to get rid of Fidel Castro and his communist regime. [4] Despite all these machinations Fidel Castro has peacefully and naturally transitioned, at 90 years, while still steadfastly holding on to his ideals and commitments that he hoped would steer the next generation of progressive young leaders in Cuba and beyond. [5]

A true friend of Africa

For Africans, at least for those committed to seeing an Africa that is at peace with itself, Fidel was nothing other than a hero, and a true friend, not the monster portrayed by western charlatans. The collective dedication of the Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel in word and deed to the struggle for Africa’s liberation from colonialism and western imperialism elevated him to the ranks of Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Robert Mugabe, amongst a plethora of other great African freedom fighters. The most impressive illustration of his dedication to the African struggle was his interventions in Namibia and Angola against the South African apartheid regime that continued to attract support from the US and other western European colonial powers hell bent on exploitation and domination of the continent. [6]

In 1990, upon being released from jail, a concerned Ken Alderman asked Mandela why he maintained close relations with Fidel and others, such as Muammar Gadhafi of Libya and Yasser Arafat of Palestine, whom in the view of the western imperialists were considered as “global pariahs”. [7] In his characteristic defiant response Mandela reiterated the unwavering support that Cuba had availed to the African National Congress in the fight against the white minority rule in South Africa throughout the struggle, as opposed to western latecomers who had joined the struggle in the dying days of the apartheid regime. [8] The commitment of Fidel’s Cuba to the cause of Africa still continues to date. This was more so witnessed by Cuba’s generous support in the fight against the Ebola outbreak in parts of West Africa in 2014.

Fidel gave back dignity to Cubans

In addition to these noble foreign ventures by Cuba in Africa and across Latin America to promote liberation struggles, Fidel also achieved much more at the domestic level for Cubans. The achievements range from universal free healthcare to free education. With regard to healthcare, Cuba has been a vanguard in first class innovation and delivery of free and quality modern health practices. This is illustrated by the fact that Cuba was the first country to successfully eliminate the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections from mother to child at birth. [9] This is an achievement that won accolades for Cuba, including from the World Health Organisation that described it as one of the greatest achievements in public healthcare in recent times.

Time for African youth to rise up against kleptocracies

Across the world, and more specifically in Africa, the death of Fidel Castro should ignite the revolutionary zeal amongst Africa’s young population, who at over 70 percent are the majority citizens. The economic and political struggle for independence in most countries across the continent has been betrayed by successive post-independence regimes. A fact that has left majority of young people wallowing in the miasma of poverty and hopelessness, even as corruption by incumbents and a few connected elites becomes a norm. The clarion call of pan-Africanism has become a cry for elites to absolve themselves at the international stage, whenever they are called upon to account for human rights violations and atrocities against their fellow countrymen and women. This is currently the case with regard to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where the leaders are loudly calling for either withdrawal from the ICC, [10] without necessarily advocating for the cause for good governance and accountability in their own countries.

It’s on the basis of these shenanigans by current crop of African leaders, reminiscent of Cuba under dictator Fulgencio Batista’s regime, that the youths across the continent should rise up to be innovative and develop measures aimed at pushing for political and economic transformation. The time is ripe and all the ingredients for a new 21st century socialist revolutionary movement against poverty and hopelessness, imposed by African leaders on the majority of suffering youths across the continent is all laid out! What is lacking is a committed set of revolutionaries to trigger the action.

And as Ernesto “Che” Guevara, one of Fidel Castro’s trusted and able comrades, once said during the height of the Cuban revolution, “there shall be no dull moments until victory!” Therefore it’s time for Africa’s young people to awake from their slumber, and carry on with the revolution, even as we salute our fallen comrades.

Rest in Power, Fidel Castro! You are gone, but you will never be forgotten! Hasta Siempre, Commandate! We are all once again going to shake the world for a brighter now and the future!


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