3-Day 6th African Continental Conference on Solidarity with Cuba would be declared open this morning, Monday 23rd September in Abuja by President Muhammadu Buhari. It’s the 6th edition of the most significant celebration of the friendship and solidarity between Africa, Africans and good people of Spanish Island of Cuba, República de Cuba.
Yours comradely was among the Nigerian delegates to the historic 5th Solidarity Confab in Windhoek, Namibia between 5th and 7th of June 2017. It was significant because it held at the time the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People (ICAP) marked it’s 56th Anniversary and more remarkably the Cubans were upbeat celebrating the release of the Five Heroes from the USA jails on phantom espionage charges. My memorable take away in Namibia 2017 was meeting with Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo and former President Sam Nuyoma. Toivo was the founding father of South West African People’s Organisation in 1960, and its predecessor the Ovamboland People’s Organization which prosecuted the liberation war against German/South African colonialism. The Namibian anti-apartheid activist, politician spent years in Robins Island with the legendary Nelson Mandela. Paradoxically he died on the 9 June 2017, two days after the Solidarity Summit. He was on his feet for Africa and Cuba to the end! Comrade Andimba Herman Toivo YaToivo, who was the star of the conference was also then the Patron of the Namibia-Cuba Friendship Association. He rejected compromise with the Apartheid regime despite spending sixteen years on Robben Island! We were privileged to be in Namibia and walk on the soil of the heroic men and women like him who on January 12, 1904 rose against colonialism and exploitation and taught Africans to fight for freedom no matter the costs. Namibia is a natural host of the Continental Africa Conference in Solidarity with Cuba. Between 1892-1905 German colonialism perpetrated the worst genocide by brutally suppressing the resistance of hundreds of thousands of Herero and Namas people. One of the key resolutions of the Namibian conference was the African demand for a formal apology from German government for the unacceptable murderous atrocities against the Namibian people. There was also a demand for compensation, assuming any compensation can assuage a genocide. In 1990 March, Namibia got liberated after centuries of resistance by its peoples and solidarity by African countries including Nigeria and significantly Cuba. Following the great battle of Cuito Cuanavale the combined forces of Angola, Cuba and SWAPO repulsed the South African apartheid forces with South African heavy losses. In 1988 South Africa eventually agreed to Namibian independence in exchange for removal of Cuban troops from Angola. In 1988, Fidel Castro triumphantly said” “When you meet a white South African, a racist, the only thing you have to ask him is: What happened in Cuito Cuanavale? What happened in Cuito Cuanavale? That’s all you have to ask him”. Comrade Sam Nujoma the first President in 1988 said “We in the liberation movement in Africa are indeed grateful to the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba and in particular Companero Fidel Castro, for concrete material assistance, political and diplomatic support. We wish to pay special tribute to the Cuban Armed Forces who travelled thousands and thousands of kilometers to come to Africa to assist in a practical way those of us who are still languishing in the chains of colonialism, imperialism and foreign domination in this region of Southern Africa”. The Nigerian Movement of Solidarity with Cuba is honoured to be counted among the progressive and peace loving people of the world committed to defense of rights and freedom of all people without domination and exploitation. Today’s historic gathering is a practical demonstration of great old internationalism (and to use the modern buzz word; globalization, no apology to Donald Trump) that serves humanity not just the market and its ever greedy operators. The gathering to be chaired by Chairperson/Moderator – Comrade Alhaji Hassan Sunmonu, the founding President NLC and long time General Secretary of OATUU (Organization of Africa Trade Union Unity) would be attended by as many of 40 African countries. Undoubtedly this would be another assembly of new men and women which Che Guvera, (co-revolutionary confidant of Fidel Castro) long envisioned to stand up against the bully of the strong against the weak and who stand for just and fairer world. Another star of the Namibian conference was Comrade Fernando González, President of ICAP one of the Cuban Five Heroes. For fighting international terrorism, Gonzalez, like Toivo, spent sixteen years in prison; no, not in an Apartheid prison but that of democratic United States of America which claims to be against terrorism. Today’s Abuja conference raises the nostalgia of Commandate Fidel Castro Ruiz, the revolutionaries founding leader of modern Cuba. Going by his solidarity and support for Africans, Fidel Castro Ruiz was truly the first African American President before President Barack Obama! Fidel may have left us physically, but his legacy is imperishable and his ideas will never die! Fidel taught humanity to fight for justice, for well being of many not necessary well having of the tiny few. And selflessly too. The Namibian President betrayed Presidential emotions. He broke down in tears while in paying homage to Fidel and Cubans. He asked rhetorically:
In the wake of unacceptable xenophobia in South Africa (Cubans should not hear or read this!) Africans must also learn to unite like Cubans. We must realize the dream of Kwame Nkrumah for socialist and independent UNITED STATES OF AFRICA. We must oppose xenophobia and cultivate friendship and love among all Africans. We must also build inclusive growth, eliminate mass poverty and re-industrialize our great continent.