THE United Nations Security Council Resolution 435 which paved the way for the UN- supervised elections in November 1989 and the independence of Namibia on 21 March 1990 was adopted during 1978. However, the Western powers and their ally apartheid South Africa delayed its implementation for 10 years. Apartheid South Africa adopted the so-called “hot pursuit policy” which was nothing but a military stratagem to destabilise southern Angola. In order to repel the troops of apartheid South Africa, UNITA- Savimbi and FNLA of Holden Roberto which were on the outskirts of Luanda, the MPLA- Marxist government requested Cuba to dispatch the troops to Angola in 1976. Had the government of Cuba, under EL Commandante Castro, not intervened militarily at that critical moment, the consequence would have been ghastly to contemplate.
The first time I saw a picture of the uniformed Cuban troops, armed to teeth, was in a newspaper in 1977. I was a young boy doing standard one at Onaanda village in Omusati Region. I got this newspaper from my late father who was working at the fishing factory in Walvis Bay. The Cuban troops impressed me. Since then, I followed assiduously the political developments as they were unfolding in southern Africa.
Doubtless to say that Castro was inspired by the bravery of the father of the Cuban first Revolution Jose Marti whose gallant fight brought the independence from Spain on 24 February 1898. The Preamble of the amended Constitution of Cuba, which was adopted by the Assembly of the People’s Power on 26 June 2002, attests to this narrative: “We, Cuban citizens, heirs and continuators of the creative work and the traditions of combativity, firmness, heroism and sacrifice fostered by our ancestors, guided by the idea of Jose Marti and the political and social ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin and decided to carry forward the triumphant Revolution of the Moncada and the Granma, of the Sierra [Maestra] and of Giron under the leadership of Fidel Castro…”
In the interim period, Cuba was ruled by a multitude of visionless leaders like Jose Barnet, Federico Bru. In the morning of 10 March 1952, the people of Cuba woke up with Colonel Frugencio Batista in power. Since that date, self –aggrandizement, political incompetence and gross abuse of State power by Batista became the order of the day. Havana was turned into a gambling house of American mafia and gangsters. All these vices happened under the watchful eyes of Batista shielded by the White House administration of former US President Eisenhower.
On 26 July 1953, the young Cuban revolutionaries led by Castro launched a surprising attack on Moncada. However, the consequence of such was not favourable to Castro and his compatriots. Like Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Cathrada and Andimba Toivo ya Toivo in southern Africa, Castro, his brother Raul (the current President) and other co-revolutionaries were arrested, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced for pursuing a just cause. During the trial, he made the following historic and celebrated remarks and I quote:
“ I know the imprisonment will be hard for me as it has been for anyone-filled with cowardly threats and wicked torture. But I do not fear prison, just as I do not fear the fury of the miserable tyrant who snuffed life of seventy brothers of mine. Sentence me , I do not mind. History will absolve me.”
After being imprisoned in the Isle of Pines for two years, Batista’s regime made a folly by releasing them under the amnesty law. This gave Castro and Raul a chance to go in exile in Mexico. It was in Mexico where they met an illustrious revolutionary, an Argentine doctor Ernest ‘Che’ Guevara. Just within three years after the Moncada attack, Castro organized an uprising in Santiago de Cuba to coincide with his arrival on board of a small yacht Granma. Unfortunately, Batista’s regime thwarted the planned uprising. Subsequent thereto, Castro and his combatants retreated and regrouped in the Sierra Maestra mountains in Santiago de Cuba. What had started as skirmishes between the guerrillas and the regular army of Batista’s regime culminated into major battles. On 1 January 1959, Castro and his military men marched in Santiago de Cuba without a shot being fired. The dictator Batista ran away with briefcases stacked with millions of US dollars and was allegedly granted asylum by Rafael Trujillo of the Dominic Republic and never returned to Cuba.
There is no modicum of doubt that (a) the demise of the US puppet government in Cuba in 1959 (b) the establishment of the Communist State just 90 nautical miles away from the State of Florida (c) the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 and (d) Castro’s policy of internationalism (support of the liberation movements in the Caribbean and on the African continent) angered the United States.
The White House administration reacted furiously by imposing an economic embargo. During the 70s, 80s and 90s direct travelling to Cuba via the capital cities of some Western powers became a nightmare. Despite the odds, the government of Cuba and its people remain our good friends. The government of Cuba and its people under the leadership of the Communist Party led by Castro contributed immensely to the liberation struggle of Namibia. The joint combat of the Cuban internationalists, FAPLA and our PLAN combatants at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale halted the military ambitions of apartheid South Africa to occupy Angola, remains unmatched. The battle of Cuito became one of the turning points in the struggle for the independence of Namibia. Apartheid South Africa was forced, by the circumstances, to agree to the resumption of the peace talk which culminated in the signing of the New York Accord on 22 December 1988, the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 435 on 1 April 1989, the arrival of UNTAG and the holding of UN supervised suffrage during November 1989.
People who still think that the battle of Cuito Cuanavale was a stalemate must go and ask the defunct National Party (NP) retired politicians like Roelof ‘ Pik ‘ Botha, Roelof Meyer and Adriaan Vlok in South Africa. The trio is still alive and served in the National Party Governments of PW Botha (‘the Crocodile’) and apartheid reformist Willem De Klerk when some of these events happened.
During October 2005, the Government of Namibia was invited by the Government of Cuba to attend an international Law conference of countries of Latin America in Havana. Namibia was the only country from Africa which was invited to attend. This, plainly, shows the deep diplomatic and political bond which exists between the two countries. I accompanied my friend Utoni Nujoma who was a deputy Minister of Justice. I was delegated because I was a Deputy -Coordinator of the SADC Legal Sector and also participated in the negotiations of many international legal instruments of the African Union.
We had a good journey from Windhoek to London. We had to go through Gatwick International Airport to Havana. We arrived at the airport more than one hour before our flight departed to Havana. Just after we disembarked but before we were ushered in the transit, two immigration officials approached us and demanded to see our Namibian passports whereupon we complied. We explained that we were on the way to Havana to attend an international conference. We even produced all the conference invitation documents. Utoni had a diplomatic passport while I had the ordinary green Namibian passport. The itinerary on our tickets to and from Havana spoke for itself. These officials unreasonably refused to return our passports until we missed our connecting flight. Immediately, after the plane took off, they returned our travel documents without tendering any apology or explanation. Such incident demonstrates how the imperialists vent their anger against any suspected adherents of Castroism. There is no doubt that we were and are still pro-Castro. The late President Mandela remarked some years ago that: “Some political analysts [imperialists] make mistakes to think that their enemies must be our enemies. Therefore, Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat and Muammar Qaddafi are our friends”.
In Havana, we were warmly welcomed by senior officials in the Government of Cuba. We spent the whole week in the government guest house at no cost. This shows how the government of Cuba and its people like and respect Namibians.
The fact that President Geingob was the only Head of State from Africa who delivered a eulogy at the memorial service in honour of Castro at Havana Revolution Square is a clear testimony of Namibia’s long standing relationship with the Cuba.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015