WINDHOEK. – Namibians adore the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro where a street was named after him in the capital Windhoek. The news of Castro’s death last Friday was received with profound sadness and deep grief, the ruling party Swapo secretary for information Helmut Angula said in a statement Saturday.“During the difficult times of our struggle for independence, Commandant Fidel Castro provided our people with hope, inspiration and impeccable leadership,” Angula said.
To millions, Angula said, Castro was more than just a man but a symbol of the struggle for freedom, justice, equality and human dignity.
“His selfless sacrifice inspired revolutionaries in all corners of the world to fight relentlessly for justice, freedom and human dignity. He leaves us with a wealth of legacy and great vision to strive for self-reliance and well-being for the people of our country,” he further said.
President Hage Geingob, in his condolence message Saturday, also described Castro as a father, a brother, an uncle and a friend.
“Our own victories and losses in the struggle for our independence against apartheid South Africa, are inextricably linked to the international solidarity of the Cuban people through diplomatic, military, and people to people interface,” he said.
Geingob also recalled how in May 1978, South African Defence Forces attacked defenceless Namibian women and children in exile at a Swapo camp at Cassinga, Angola.
“Again, it was the gallant Cuban forces who rushed to our rescue. Cuban soldiers lost their lives in this process due to land mines planted by our enemies.
‘‘It’s in the same year, Fidel offered education to more than 3 000 Namibian children who survived the Cassinga attack,” he said.
“In short, the unwavering commitment of Fidel to our freedom led to the destruction of apartheid in Namibia. True to his revolutionary heart, Castro had no other interest other than the liberation of the oppressed,” he said.
“He had no interest in the natural resources of a free Namibia as his view was that Cubans did not come to collect gold or diamonds, all they had to do was return the remains of their fallen comrades,” said Geingob.
Theo Ben-Gurirab, who served as Swapo representative to the United Nations, said Castro’s boldness expedited Namibia’s independence struggle.
“If it were not for Cuba, Southern Africa could have been a very different region right now,” Gurirab said.
Geingob said on Sunday that he will be accompanied by two former Namibian presidents, Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, as well as the ruling party Swapo’s secretary general Nangolo Mbumba to Cuba for Castro’s memorial service in Havana.
Meanwhile, Angolans remembered Fidel Castro on Saturday, some calling him the “son of Africa”, a day after the revolutionary Cuban leader passed away. The leader of Angola’s ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), Juliao Mateus Paulo “Dino Matross” said Castro was like Mandela.
“In the world, from time to time, there will be individuals like this who appear, be it in science or politics. These individuals are like our Mandela . . . and when they leave us, they leave us with a gap, emptiness and longing,” he added.
A towering figure of the 20th century and Cold War icon, Castro built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and for five decades defied US efforts to topple him.
In another development, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma expressed deep sadness and extended her condolences to the Castro family, the people of Cuba and the progressive forces of the world upon having received the news of the passing of former Cuban President Fidel CCastro.
– Xinhua/Africa Press/HR.