By Constancio Hishiyukifa Mwandingi
Monday, 13 August 2018, Fidel Castro Ruz, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, would have turned 92 years old.
Fidel, as he was simply affectionately known in Cuba and by many around the world, led the last stretch of the struggle for the independence of Cuba mainly through the 26 July Movement, which started mobilising the people of Cuba politically with the aim of overthrowing the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista who was supported by the government of the United States then.
When Fidel and other young Cuban revolutionaries realised that Batista's dictatorship was not going to be removed through peaceful means, they decided to take up arms and their first military action was the attack on the Moncada Garrison on 26 July 1953 in Santiago de Cuba.
Fidel personally put his life on the line by leading the group that attacked the Moncada Garrison and as a result he and other assailants, including his brother Raúl Castro Ruz, were later arrested and imprisoned on the Island of Pines, later renamed Island of Youth where thousands of Namibian children and young people, including the author, were later send for schooling, especially after the Cassinga Massacre of 1978 which was carried out by racist apartheid troops at Cassinga in Angola.
After they were released from the Island of Pines, Fidel led the young Cuban revolutionaries into exile in Mexico where they regrouped and returned to Cuba in 1956 to continue the fight against the Batista dictatorship.
They returned using an old yatch called Granma, 82 of them crammed into the yatch and ill-armed. As a result, one of their comrades fell into the sea and their trip was delayed on the orders of Fidel to try and rescue the fallen comrade. This incident disrupted their plans as it delayed their docking on the coast of Cuba, which was planned to coincide with an internal uprising led by Frank País, the inside leader of the 26 July Movement.
As result of that, the enemy was able to suppress the internal uprising resulting in prosecution and ultimately in the unfortunate death of Frank País in 1957. Consequently, the enemy ambushed the landing group of Fidel resulting in a bloody encounter that saw only few of the 82 revolutionaries surviving the entrapment. Of the survivors, only around 21 could arrive at the Sierra Maestra mountains in December 1956 and six more in 1957.
The survivors included Fidel, his brother Raúl, the Argentinian internationalist Ché Guevara, who was recruited by Fidel in Mexico, and others who took refuge in the Sierra Maestra mountains to continue the fight against the enemy.
Luckily, the people of Cuba who were fed up with the dictatorship, joined Fidel and his small group of rebels en mass to form a formidable rebel army that eventually overthrew the dictatorship in January 1959, ushering in the triumph of the Revolution in Cuba, which the American empire could not swallow because it disrupted its interests in Cuba.
Since that time, Fidel and Cuba were targets of death and destruction on the part of the enemy until his death in 2016 at the age of 90.
Fidel is a transdental leader who has influenced history in an incomparable manner. He survived numerous enemy attacks and saved Cuba from destruction right in the belly of the empire.
If the world and life were fair, Fidel would have received nobel prizes, not one but many, for helping bring about a better world for all and shaping the destiny of humanity towards justice and world peace.
Today, Cuba has the best health and education systems in the world. There is no illiteracy in Cuba nor are there diseases of poverty. All that was achieved under the unparalleled leadership of Fidel.
As we celebrate the 92nd birthday of Fidel, we in Africa and particularly in Namibia, must honour the life and legacy of Fidel Castro Ruz for fighting, not only for our freedom, but also for our human dignity by giving us the best inheritance for young people which is education.
Many of us who had the opportunity to study in Cuba are today contributing positively in a variety of ways and manners to the building of our country thanks to El Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz and the Cuban people who did not only educate us but also fought shoulder to shoulder with us on the terrains of Angola to achieve lasting peace in Angola, the independence of Namibia and the end of apartheid in South Africa, thereby bringing about the total liberation of Southern Africa.
In 1978 when I was still in Cuba, Fidel spoke without doubt about the independence of Namibia and the end of apartheid, demonstrating his visionary thinking.
Go well Comandante!