By Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

Amilcar Cabral, one of Africa's foremost anti-colonial thinkers, with Fidel Castro. (Photo: Invent the Future/
Amilcar Cabral, one of Africa’s foremost anti-colonial thinkers, with Fidel Castro. (Photo: Invent the Future/

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]


25 thoughts on “Africa’s Love For Fidel Castro

  • Just another correction Nick. The last Queen of England died in 1603. So I imagine that you are referring to the Queen of the United Kingdom?
    I agree that I tend to speak from personal knowledge and experience rather than referring to the opinions of others.
    To me Nick, commentary about Cuba and the people of Cuba is not a game. My views and opinions reflect concern for the people of Cuba including my wife, step-daughter, extended family, God-daughter, friends and local community. To me the discussions are not about scoring points, but about addressing reality in pursuit of the hope that one day Cubans will have the degree of freedom that we others are privileged to enjoy.
    However, you will be relieved to know that as the festive season is fast approaching that I shall soon become incommunicado due to being unable to access the Internet from my home.

  • Mr Macduff,
    Contrary to you poorly put presumption, I am highly critical of certain actions taken by my own country.
    I remember only too well the arguments regarding apartheid South Africa. Mrs Thatcher’s stance was a disgrace.
    Apparently even The Queen of England told her thus.

    However the reason I often refer to the USA in my comments is that the USA and it”s foreign policy is quite obviously infinitely more relevant to Cuba than any of the great many flaws of my own country.
    As I have said in other comments, I have spent much time in Cuba over the past couple of decades.
    I have also mentioned that I have had the good luck and privilege of visiting the USA on various occasions.
    I find that both countries have their fascinations and their flaws.
    So don,t go jumping to conclusions Mr MacDuff regarding my opinions or incorrectly asserting that I am somehow anti USA.
    I will continue to point out to US contributors here who criticise Cuba that they should have a look at their own country’s failings first.

    You mention Wikipedia. I do indeed look at thIs website. As do many.
    But my opinions do not spring from there.
    By contrast I would suggest that you pause to verify some of your points prior to uploading. Whether the verification comes from Wikipedia or other source, some verification would be good.

    With a bit more verification, a it more subjectivity (and perhaps less mention of irrelevant right wing British politicians), you could significantly up your game Mr MacDuff.

  • Thatcher and Reagan very reluctantly “joined the concept” (of imposing an embargo on South Africa) and did so ONLY more that nine months after PW Botha had offered Mandela conditional release (in 1985) and a decade after Thatcher became party leader.

    Despite a growing international movement to topple apartheid in the 1980s, Reagan maintained a close alliance with a South African government that was showing no signs of serious reform. And the Reagan administration demonized opponents of apartheid, most notably the African National Congress, as dangerous and pro-communist. Reagan EVEN VETOED A BILL TO IMPOSE SANCTIONS on South Africa, only to be overruled by Congress.

    On a trip to the United States after winning the Nobel Prize in 1984, Bishop Desmond Tutu memorably declared that Reagan’s policy was ”immoral, evil and totally un-Christian.”

    Thatcher resolutely opposed sanctions and disinvestment. Even when Britain was forced to follow the minimalist Commonwealth sanctions programme, she stressed that she had warded off a more stringent stance.

  • George Washington had nearly 150 enslaved people and started moving them in and out of Pennsylvania when, in 1780, a law (the Gradual Abolition Act) passed that freed enslaved people after they turned 28 and that automatically freed any slave who moved to the state and lived there for more than six months. Washington did all he could to get around the new law.

    South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, himself, credited Cuba’s defeat of the South African army for being a major factor in ending apartheid in his country!

  • Lol….that was the 1700’s. We are now in a diferent would, in another age. Wake up!

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