What Fidel Castro meant to Africans

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“The United States will come talk to us when it has a black president and the world has a Latin American pope,”Fidel Castro supposedly told the world in 1973, a joke or prophecy that predicted the rise of Barack Obama, Pope Francis and the work to bring the US and Cuba together again.

Fidel Castro died today, the end of an era of a man who evoked admiration and consternation almost in equal measure.

Fidel Castro, when all is said and done, will be remembered for his unrelenting anti-apartheid stance. At a time when America betrayed Nelson Mandela by disclosing his hideout that led to an arrest in 1962 followed by prosecution and 27 years in jail, and later designating him as a terrorist, Fidel Castro never wavered in his support for a liberated South Africa.

It wasn’t strange therefore that shortly after his release after 27 years as a political prisoner, Mandela visited Cuba to express his gratitude, calling Castro’s Revolution “a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people.”

Mandela went on to tell Castro:

“We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious, imperialist-orchestrated campaign…..

“Who trained our people, who gave us resources, who helped so many of our soldiers, our doctors?You have not come to our country — when are you coming?”

Fidel Castro was not a leader to be baited by tough questions in interviews with the press. He always turned around any tough question to his own advantage. For example, in a 1985 interview he was asked how he would respond to President Ronald Reagan’s description of him as a ruthless military dictator.

His answer:

“Let’s think about your question. If being a dictator means governing by decree, then you might use that argument to accuse the pope of being a dictator.”

Rest In Peace Fidel Castro.