This article is a personal tribute to the fallen Cuban leader/hero who died on the 25th of November 2016 and to the Cuban people and their subsequent historic holistic heroic deeds towards the independence of Namibia, towards the prevention of the fall of the nationalistic Angolan Government during the period of 1975 to 1988 and towards the eventual eradication of the United States imperialist agenda across the African continent and elsewhere.
The Cuban military involvement on the African continent and in particular in Angola and Namibia started in earnest during the late 1950s to 1991 and throughout this period under the strong leadership of Commandant Fidel Castro.
My account of this great nation as a child of the liberation struggle, and of its role towards our independence, is sincerely just a snapshot of what I have observed and researched.
In all honesty and it should be very clear to all that Namibia only truly eventually gained its national independence in 1990 after the direct support and involvement of Commandant Fidel Castro and the Cuban people towards the plight of the nation at that time of our history.
I should however at this juncture sincerely acknowledge and appreciate the role and assistance of many other like-minded nations towards the total freedom of Namibia especially with the necessary material, logistics, education, finances and hospitality.
With that said, Cuba’s role still however strongly stands out above all the rest as it gave an all-inclusive human personnel, materials and many more to directly assist Namibia and many others to achieve their independence.
This very small but powerful, strong and brave Caribbean nation of Cuba under the able and capable leadership of Commandant Fidel Castro went all out of their way under the intense and at most times aggressive watchful eye of the imperialist United States of America and other like-minded negative western nations of that time, to sacrifice their own national sovereignty and the many lives of their sons and daughters to ensure that the ultimate aim of Namibia’s nationalistic struggle and freedom goals were eventually successfully achieved against any negative forces whatever the cost and associated danger that might come.
This brave independent nationhood sacrifice by Cubans was sincerely very rare in modern history and Namibia should hence as a nation be forever sincerely grateful and thankful to the kind person of Fidel Castro and to the holistic Cuban people as this will, God forbid, only happen once in our lifetime.
Before I continue with this article, it is very important to note at this juncture that Cuba is still a socialist country and despite its historic and current ideological thinking used its brave human and limited financial and economic resources to forge ahead to assist us and many other struggling nations to achieve their national economic and political independence to live freely and to choose their own destinies without any pre-conditions. In this regard, let us please take a moment of silence at this juncture to think and reflect on how it is even possible that a poor socialist nation such as Cuba in contrast to mineral-rich nations such as Angola and Namibia is able to sacrifice even under very tough international economic sanctions and embargo for the sake of humanity, dignity and respect.
This selfless act by Cuba under the strong leadership of Castro definitely needs further research and understanding as the answers could potentially determine our future.
It is hence important to note at this point that Cuba’s initial contact with the Angolan affair really started in the late 1950s with the first training of MPLA’s guerillas in Algiers in 1963 and the subsequent high level meeting between the Cuban hero Che Guevara and the then MPLA leader Agostinho Neto in 1965.
This high level meeting led towards a number of official requests from the MPLA liberation movement to Cuba to assist with its liberation struggle against the Portuguese and the United States-backed UNITA and FNLA troops.
The Carnation Revolution in Portugal in 1974 entirely changed the geo-political environment in Angola which then led to the three main liberation movements of MPLA, FNLA and Unita to scramble for power. These developments led to an eventual pull-out of Portugal and the subsequent independence of Angola in 1975.
Each of these movements had their support of which the MPLA had Cuba, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union on its side, while Unita was strongly supported by the United States and South Africa, and FNLA by mostly Zaire.
Cuba however really intensified its military involvement and operations in the nation of Angola in 1976 when the South African apartheid regime’s armed forces in support of Unita and FNLA troops were within a short distance to capture the capital city Luanda.
These developments during that time prompted the Angola leadership to call upon the nation of Cuba to directly intervene to assist them to reverse the situation.
Cuba under Castro responded favourably to this request under the risky watchful eye of the United States and other imperialist nations of that time to directly assist Angola to repel the advancing forces of South Africa, Unita and FNLA. This process officially commenced with the presence of the Cuban internationalist forces to strongly position themselves in the Southern African region against forces of imperialism and apartheid.
Cuba’s significant assistance towards Namibia in earnest started after the Cassinga massacre by the South African apartheid forces of 1978. This sad event led to the acceptance of a number of Namibians to be accommodated and educated in Cuba. These developments further strengthened Cuban forces’ assistance to Namibia to achieve its independence by way of military training, provision of weapons and active participation in the war against South Africa and Unita.
The defeat of the South African and Unita armies by forces led by the Cuban internationalist forces during the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1988 turned the tide towards the eventual independence of Namibia through United Nations Resolution 435 and towards the eventual release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990. These positive developments further turned the tide towards the dismantling of the South African apartheid regime movement and government and towards the eventual independence of South Africa in 1994 under the leadership of President Nelson Mandela.
Cuba under Commandant Castro and as a sovereign nation took very dangerous and risky steps to help, without any fear nor favour to any other nation in this highly complicated world of geo-political interests, those nations who were under the ambit of nationalistic ideologies achieve their freedom and national independence.
Cuba thus through the direct leadership of Commandant Fidel Castro ensured that the true agenda of the imperialist western nations was at that time not spread and achieved in the Southern Africa region whatever the cost.
Go well Commandant Fidel Castro, the true hero of our liberation struggle.
Pendapala N Hangala
Pendapala Hangala is a socio-economist as well as an entrepreneur and this article is written towards the aims and objectives of Namibia’s Vision 2030. email@example.com