With John Lennon’s murder having occurred 30 years ago, homage was paid in the Cuban capital to his life and work.
The past December 8, the day of the death of one of the most popular musicians of the 20th century, Havana recalled him with an extended concert featuring his best known songs.
Although the Havana Film Festival was underway at that same time, many people left the theaters to attend this special gathering.
The evening’s activities took place in the middle of the Vedado neighborhood in a park that many people have baptized “Lennon Park.” Ten years ago a brass sculpture was installed there exhibiting the artist sitting on a bench identical to the rest of those on the grounds.
That night hundreds of people turned out to sing songs as emblematic as “Yesterday,” “Working Class Hero,” and “Imagine.” This last one was chanted by everyone, as people held up lighters.
Though there were many people in the audience between the ages of 16 and 30, one couldn’t overlook that the bulk of the participants were over 40, and it was precisely those adults who enjoyed the event the most, sang all of the songs and even danced.
This boundless joy could be associated with the fact that people over forty were youths in the ‘70s, when Lennon reached the height of his popularity.
But we would be short-changing matters if we didn’t go beyond that fact, because Cuba has more than musical history with the Beatles and John Lennon.
The music of these English lads, like that of many others, was lumped together with what was considered “ideologically diversionism” or the enemy’s music, while John’s pro-peace stance was frowned upon by the island’s leadership.
Some middle-aged people will tell you that in workplaces back in those days, people were browbeaten with two questions: if they were religious and — no less important — if they listened to the Beatles.
Many were careful to respond by saying “no” to both enquiries.
Other people talk about how they took it on themselves to overturn the cars of police officers who tried to prevent youth from listening to this music.
If we assume that all this is true, we can say that this past December 8 was more than a homage to John Lennon’s death.
It was in fact a celebration of the victory of the generation that opposed this musician’s being forgotten or usurped from the cultural world of their fellow Cubans.
The fact that this recognition was made here exhibits the victory of those who struggled against what they didn’t agree, against things they didn’t understand and were imposed on them.
Is for the youths of that time that today, Lennon sits in a Havana park.
This reminds us that as today’s youth we mustn’t turn our backs on making decisions, participating and being critical.
I hope no one opposes the fact that this should be the attitude of a communist.