THAT Fidel Castro is one of Africa’s favourite “sons” there is no doubt. Our brother from another continent has championed many African causes, and inspired revolutions at the peak of his powers. History speaks for itself, and although his influence has waned in the past 15 years, his death has revived debates around his legacy and influence on the continent. Angolans, Mozambicans, Ethiopians and South Africans revere him as a hero who helped them fight imperialist minority rule, but to Somalis, he was a gun for hire, who meddled and in the end turned on them. Castro saw war and conflict as an opportunity to promote his brand of international solidarity, but he did it with more than guns and ammunition. After the soldiers came aid in the form of highly trained medics and teachers. He sought to win the hearts and minds of the people he wanted to free. Some say that what he achieved in Angola irreversibly changed the course of history in Africa, and southern Africa in particular. He destroyed the buffer created by colonial forces in Rhodesia, Mozambique and Angola – leaving the South African apartheid government vulnerable. Castro was not a fair leader though, and his brutal crackdown on dissent back home and freedom of expression ruined his image abroad. Castro fought for the poor and the marginalised, but he never abandoned cornerstones like education and health. Perhaps that is the legacy we should demand of our current leadership in Africa as we face economic strife and environmental catastrophes. Perhaps we should demand more of our own sons of the soil – some of whom are reaching the end with little or no legacy.