By Sabella Ogbobode Abidde
HAVANA TIMES — In the next couple of years, I suspect that there will be books and other intellectual productions by African scholars, writers, artists, activists, commentators and chroniclers detailing their “love and respect” for Fidel Castro. It is likely to be so in much of the Global South — an area that was once characterized by colonialism, and by western domination and exploitation.
Africans have a long history of idolization and idealization of populists, revolutionaries, political-gadflies and intellectuals. Frankly, they love trouble-makers. They love agitators. Africans love men and women who can stand up to government and other constituted authority.
In Nigeria, for instance, many of the men and women who commanded popular love and respect were those who were seen to be challenging government; and who devoted much of their lives to fighting for just and noble causes. It is why, several years after their passing, many Nigerians still think fondly of men like AyodeleAwojobi, Tai Solarin, and GaniFawehinmi.
You cannot be an educated African between the ages of 25 and 105 – and not know who Thomas Sankara, FelaKuti, and Patrice Lumumba were. You cannot be an African and claim never to have heard of Amilcar Cabral and AgostinhoNeto. The Gold Coast gave us Kwame Nkrumah; Ghana gave us Jerry Rawlings.
And you couldn’t have graduated from an African university and not know the role and place of Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney, Che Guevara and Hugo Chávez. It is impossible. Well, almost impossible! Millions of Africans think of Latin America and the Caribbean as part of their world. In any case, millions of educated Africans are like that: they think globally.
They know what is right and just. They know and appreciate their defenders. At this very moment, I cannot think of a non-African, in the last fifty years, who has come to the aid and defense of Africa as genuinely and intensely as Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz – known around the world as Fidel Castro. He was many things rolled into one: a justice-seeker; an intellectual; a revolutionary; and anti-elitist who was always for the oppressed, and always against the oppressors.
For us Africans, we admired his courage, his simplicity, his stubbornness, his sense of self, his measured arrogance, his humanity and his willingness to put his people and country first. He was not a traitor, not a hypocrite, not a demagogue; and certainly, not a xenophobe or a fraud. He was one of us. He was one of us! And was a revolutionary of the original intent.
Decolonization, especially in the southern and eastern region of the continent, would have taken much longer, but for Comrade Fidel Castro. He stood by Africans. He fought for Africa. But for the courage and kindness of Fidel Castro and his countrymen, Apartheid-South Africa and their western and non-western collaborators and supporters would have dominated and oppressed and exploited and wounded and raped and killed for many more years.
He wasn’t without his fair share of political mistakes. We recognize that fact. But he got so many things right. He was right and righteous in so many ways. In 2050, or at any point in history, he will be considered a statesman and a great man that he truly was. History and posterity will be very kind to him.
And no historian, writing about Africa or the Global South, will omit his name and his good deeds. Apartheid-loving and injustice-embracing politicians and commentators may tell you otherwise; don’t listen. Don’t believe it. Fidel Castro was one of the truly greats. We’ll miss him. The world will miss him.
We Africans appreciate him. And we also appreciate the good people of Cuba who stood by us, who fought for us; and who sacrificed a great deal so millions of Africans can have their countries and their dignity back. Thank you!
- Sabella Abidde is an associate professor of political science at Alabama State University. He can be reached at: [email protected]