When giants die

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -


FIDEL CAS­TRO’S death re­minds us about what hap­pens when giants die. His reach was global and on this our own lit­tle is­land, the peo­ple cheered when he came to say farewell to Michael Man­ley at the Ro­man Catholic Cathe­dral.

In my im­pres­sion­able youth, I shook his hand at a re­cep­tion on the yacht Granma, which was moored at the end of King Street. He pos­sessed the charisma and com­mit­ment to trans­form the world. He used the knowl­edge he pos­sessed as a trained lawyer and for those who do not agree with his ideas, it is nec­es­sary to recog­nise the worth of ideas. Af­ter all, he was con­tend­ing with Batista, a dic­ta­tor.


There is a poem about the im­pact of peo­ple with ideas which we should re­mem­ber. For Cas­tro’s gen­er­a­tion, born be­tween the first and sec­ond world wars, many ideas con­tended. Para­dox­i­cally, at this very mo­ment be­tween what might have been dubbed by some the cul­ture wars, we are in con­flict about glob­al­i­sa­tion, the re­asser­tion of white supremacy and xeno­pho­bia, and we have seen the rise of many dwarfs pro­mot­ing self-serv­ing ideas.

His­tory has ab­solved Fidel Cas­tro and so in spite of his faults, his legacy in­cludes a highly ed­u­cated pop­u­la­tion, full of pride, re­silient and healthy. There are peo­ple in ex­ile who have suf­fered, but our own coun­try, Ja­maica, also has ex­iles abroad. All of the things the Cubans have been ac­cused of, in­clu­sive of tor­ture, have also been em­ployed by our mighty neigh­bour to the north.

We cer­tainly need new giants to lift our minds and hearts out of the hate­ful rhetoric, in­equal­ity and vi­o­lence which seem to have be­come the norm. There are many mo­ments to­day of what eerily hap­pened be­tween 1919 and 1939 – the rise of racism, Nazism, com­mu­nism, Amer­i­can iso­la­tion­ism. But coun­terideas and giants also arose, and that is our hope to­day. Lead­ers make mis­takes but, as is the case with Cas­tro, he loved his coun­try and tried to make the world a bet­ter place. HILARY ROBERTSON-HICKLING MSBM UWI MONA

Fidel (left) and brother Raúl Casto.

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