By Kuvee Kangueehi
The Namibian Government has conferred Namibia’s highest medal on former Cuban President, Fidel Castro, for the immense support and assistance he and the people of Cuba rendered to Namibia during the liberation struggle and after independence.
Namibian President, Hifikepunye Pohamba, accorded the medal, “The Order of the Most Ancient Welwitschia Mirabilis”, to General Leopoldo Cintra Frias, who was representing Castro, during the 18th independence anniversary celebrations at the new State House on Friday.
Pohamba said the medal is a token of Namibia’s sincere gratitude to Cuba and is to let the Cuban people know that their sons and daughters did not die in vain during the fight for the liberation of Namibia and Southern Africa.
The President further paid tribute to Castro and Cuba during the 20th anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which was held at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Sunday. He said Cuba has done unparalled things for Namibia and Africa.
He noted that when South African occupationist forces attacked and massacred hundreds of innocent Namibian refugees at Cassinga in southern Angola in May 1978, the Cuban people came to their rescue.
“They took hundreds of the wounded and traumatised children to Cuba where they were provided with medical care, counselling and education.”
Pohamba said after independence, the Government of Cuba provided Namibia with hundreds of medical doctors as well as other experts in different sectors to help the country in its quest for socio-economic development.
“We are indebted to the Cuban Government and the heroic Cuban people for this support and we shall never forget this unparalled example of selfless internationalism.”
The President said the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in which Cuba played a crucial role cannot be over-emphasised, as it marked the turning point in the balance of power between the progressive forces and the anti-revolutionary forces.
“After their defeat at Cuito Cuanavale, South Africa had no choice but to engage in talks to end their illegal occupation of Namibia.”
He added that this decisive defeat did not only lead to Namibia’s independence but also ushered in the end of foreign occupation of the sovereign territory of Angola.
“We say thank you to former President Comrade Fidel Castro as we shared the same trenches with many Cuban soldiers who sacrificed their lives and shed their precious blood for our freedom and independence.”
Pohamba also paid homage to citizens of countries such as Angola, Zambia and other Frontline States who hosted Namibians in exile.
He said most Frontline States experienced many hardships such as economic sabotage, destruction of property and loss of lives but despite these hardships they were ready to assist Namibians in their struggle to achieve freedom and independence.
The Cuito Cuanavale anniversary was attended by hundreds of Namibians at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Katutura.
Founding President, Sam Nujoma, also attended the event.