Roughly the world we live in today is decisively divided between the haves and have-nots. The Global North with complete monopoly of world resources, power and political influence continued to dictate with impunity. This, without regard to the majority of world population that made the life of the fortunate few as comfortable as possible. In a sense the segment of world population responsible for making strategic and non strategic natural resources available for the advancement of the highly developed nations are nowhere in the picture. Unfortunately, this section of world populace is also not vocally hostile to be taken seriously. Their contribution to making less than one-fifth of world population comfortable by furnishing (almost) free of charge various exotic industrial, pharmaceutical, stimulant crops need not mention. The dichotomy which begun to take shape sometime in the 16th century is now getting wider by the day. While certain historical forces propelled Europe (USA) to the highest mountain top few such as China, India, Brazil are striving to reach those heights using all the tricks that Europe performed to be ahead of the game. To be fair, India and China for centuries were in the receiving end of the onslaught while Brazil a pioneer in slavery degenerated into third class state exactly like its progenitor Portugal.
Generally, the Southern hemisphere has been in economic disadvantage for a long period of time. But, there is a South to South also. In that case the description South of the South fit Africa in particular Africa south of the Sahara perfectly well. No matter how one wants to rationalize the weight of the African continent on world affairs definitely it is insignificant. The human development index of the continent is disgustingly low. Almost, always the countries are dependent on foreign largess to maintain peace and order in their neighborhood. The elite instead of helping put lid on corruption they promote it. Worst of all they are subservient to the primordial feelings that lead to regress. I dare say that the African nations without exception are at the bottom rang of world scale.
Today the size of the African population is estimated at a little bit over a billion of which Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa, the DRC, Egypt and Ghana make half of the total whole. According to 2015 estimate about 389 million of the continent’s population exist under abject poverty (World Bank, 2015). Tragically half of the worlds poorest live in Africa south of the Sahara. The tragedy is that there is high probability that those who escaped the label of being “abject poor” may revert back and join the living dead if vagaries of nature amplified by el Niño, El Nina or whatever term is used hits the globe. All said and done, what is the fate of the African young caught up between the vicious world so much accustomed to plunder and robbery and the clue less leadership of black skin with white mask, to borrow Frantz Fanons term.
Perhaps equal or more than the few farsighted African leaders in the past who went through pains to explain the state of the continent and the way out of the quagmire, the Island of Cuba under Fidel Castro Ruiz seemed to notice very well of the existential threat that the continent faced. The strategic support of the western nations to the minority regimes in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, the assassination of Lumumba under the UN cover, the rapid extractive investment in countries led by tribal leaders in place of the nationalists ones ousted by dubious means was enough clue for Fidel and his nation to step up to the plate. The invasion of Angola by South Africa to thwart its hard won independence made sense for Fidel to sprung up to action. This deep understanding of Africa’s dilemma heightened Fidel’s resolve to confront forces inimical to the interest of the downtrodden, hence for devoting considerable resources to achieve that. Yet Cuba’s presence in Africa was deliberately confused to look as a surrogate war on behalf of the Soviet Union forgetting Cuba’s historical and ethnic ties to Africa (1). Coupled with its unwavering internationalist commitment to fight oppression and exploitation whenever and wherever it occurs it is not surprising to witness this third world Caribbean nation commit a sizeable portion of its meager resources to do just that.
The first and most crucial steps undertaken by revolutionary Cuba was to frustrate the malicious plan hatched by the Apartheid regime in South Africa aimed at squashing the hard won independence of Angola, barely few hours old. It is no secret that the white minority regime had always worked hand in glove with the forces sucking the life out of Africans for centuries. Since the first Dutch adventurer set foot at the extreme southern tip of the continent in 1652, South Africa has evolved to be an outpost to safeguard European interest. Thus, the decision to invade Angola in July 1975 was not an aberration but an execution of long standing policy to frustrate actions taken by any uppity leader or a state in Africa for example Kwame Nkrumah, Tomas Sankara and the mild mannered Julius Nyerere. The sudden appearance of the ‘bad’ MPLA at the gates of Luanda, therefore, must have sent shivers through South Africa’s spines to commit such humongous forces to nip it from the bud. In that case, the decision to stop the ‘charade’ as one South African official put it at that time was logical. Not so fast.
While few of the continent’s leaders at the time were engaged in their own tribal wars and many more unashamedly sitting in their arse expecting kickbacks from international deals to bother about Angola, Cuba true to its international commitment stood up to meet the challenge posed by the apartheid regime and its backers, the western world. In a matter of few hours Fidel and his colleagues made life and death decision to send troops in a way that South Africa and her patrons never expected. Notwithstanding the logistic nightmare that the Cubans faced, the whites and their puppet UNITA were dealt decisively in all battlefronts. Between November 1975 to April 1976 an estimated 36,000 Cubans came to the aid of MPLA. Fidel’s bold decision gave the Angolan people respite in their long struggle for political and economic freedom. It finally paid. South Africa was defeated and its backers backed off to strategize once again on how to continue their economic domination over Angola. Alas the new state drifted toward cesspool deferring the dream of the Angolan people. Today an Angolan live on 2 dollar a day, sort of dividend he receives from the export of strategic commodities that his country posses. What is new of a continent full of tribal and corrupt leaders? The difference is that in the case of Angola other than themselves people from far corner of the world paid their lives for things to go wrong. May god strike the corrupt leaders of Angola?
Piero Gleijesis an authorithy on Cuban affairs describes the involvement of this Caribbean nation in Africa and other part of the world as voluntary. He argues that Cuba was never a puppet nor adventurous when it undertook many of its foreign missions in Africa and South America. Its motive was not for self-aggrandizement but to fulfill its internationalist duty it uphold since inception. Whenever and wherever the interest of the common man and women is in jeopardy Cuba rises to the occasion. It is not surprising, therefore, for Fidel to decide send fighting forces to shore up the fledgling Revolution in Ethiopia. Indeed, at the time of Cuban intervention the February Revolution of 1974 was threatened by assorted forces of all genres. To the Cubans the revolution was under siege by actions of irredentists, separatists, narrow nationalists, feudal landlords, and leftist for it to commit more than 10,000 fighting forces. What followed after repulsing the enemies of the revolution is revolting to many of us but like the case of Angola this again is not the responsibility of Cuba and the Cubans. In all Fidel and his government committed 381,842 fighters in the Africa campaign. During the campaign 2077 died in Southern Africa alone and another 2,400 all over Africa.
All the measures that Cuba undertook have no hidden agenda but only done for altruistic reasons. Today Cuba takes part in the alleviation of educational, cultural and health problems that the South faces. During and after the revolution in Ethiopia, Cuba supplied fine doctors some with bargain price and many free. Eritrea has also Cuban doctors in its health system. When the deadly earthquake hit Haiti few years ago, medical brigade of 1,200 were promptly sent to operate in the earthquake-torn and cholera-infected sections of the island. According to (INDEPENDENT. XMAS, 2010) third of Cuba's 75,000 doctors, along with 10,000 other health professionals, are currently working in 77 poor countries, including El Salvador, Mali and East Timor.
Some of Fidel’s excess notwithstanding, he was an internationalist, never mind globalist who saw unity for mankind and believed deeply that human beings are instinctly wired to cooperate rather than compete, share than aggrandize, do justice than injustice. If heaven and hell exists, then Fidel will barely make it to Heaven. Adios Fidel!