Cuba’s revo­lu­tion with­stood ev­ery pos­si­ble on­slaught over decades and has been a tri­umph of the hu­man spirit, writes

CityPress - - Voices -

he revo­lu­tion will not be tele­vised.” An African-Amer­i­can poet ut­tered those words at the height of the strug­gle for US civil rights.

Rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies adopt an ap­proach to their his­tor­i­cal re­al­ity op­posed to that of an au­di­ence of a TV pro­gramme with a set timetable. Rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies don’t sit by the way­side and ob­serve history un­fold as re­moved yet cu­ri­ous observers with no obli­ga­tion, but rather as those who work. Rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies are not merely an au­di­ence to history un­fold­ing on a pre­de­ter­mined and pre­dicted time pe­riod, but are ac­tive agents of change en­gaged in a con­scious ef­fort to change the world; to bring about a new so­ci­ety. A rev­o­lu­tion­ary lives his life no longer solely in ser­vice of his in­di­vid­ual wants and needs but un­der­stands his ex­is­tence as in­ex­tri­ca­bly con­nected to that of his fel­low men, whose so­cial wel­fare can­not be dis­so­ci­ated from his. This gen­uine hu­man sol­i­dar­ity does not arise out of sen­ti­ments of pity for the weak or false gen­eros­ity in­formed by guilt; it is based on ir­refutably sound prin­ci­ples to at­tain eman­ci­pa­tion of the op­pressed and build a new so­ci­ety.

It is this form of hu­man sol­i­dar­ity that has in the present day brought into be­ing the now un­par­al­leled stature of the Cuban revo­lu­tion and the Cuban peo­ple as an ex­em­plar for those who seek the deeper mean­ing of free­dom, lib­erty and self-de­ter­mi­na­tion. It is through the Cuban rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies and Cuban so­ci­ety as a whole that the whole world and the op­pressed, wher­ever they are to be found, have learnt the dis­tance one must travel and the dis­ci­pline and sac­ri­fice that may be nec­es­sary for one to de­fend one’s God-given right to de­ter­mine one’s own fate and give mean­ing to the idea of be­ing free. In win­ning their free­dom and fight­ing the gallant fight to de­fend their right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion, the Cuban peo­ple have demon­strated that the revo­lu­tion was a live phe­nom­e­non ex­pe­ri­enced at the point where it was pros­e­cuted.

Talk­ing about the Cuban Five and the or­deal they went through can­not oc­cur in any mean­ing­ful way if one does not speak about the un­par­al­leled achieve­ments of the peo­ple of Cuba as a whole. For their out­stand­ing sac­ri­fice was in the ser­vice of Cuban so­ci­ety. We pay homage to the Cuban pa­tri­ots as a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of rev­o­lu­tion­ary sac­ri­fice and self­less­ness. We pay homage to their con­scious re­sis­tance in the face of the in­jus­tice meted out to them in the at­tempt to de­file what they stood for and what Cuba stands for. We celebrate the tri­umph of sol­i­dar­ity that came from all pro­gres­sive hu­man­ity and all free­dom-lov­ing peo­ple world­wide.

The work­ing class and the poor con­tinue to draw in­spi­ra­tion from the ex­am­ple of the Cuban revo­lu­tion. Their longevity and dy­namism have sailed through the tur­bu­lent wa­ters, in­clud­ing eco­nomic block­ades, at­tempts at regime change and other test­ing con­di­tions, to emerge as liv­ing tes­ti­mony to the supreme no­tion that free­dom is as pre­cious as life it­self. In a so­ci­ety such as ours, we have learnt through the ex­am­ple of Cuba that no man is an is­land and it is in the in­ter­est of the op­pressed ev­ery­where to build sol­i­dar­ity as an in­dis­pen­si­ble in­gre­di­ent of the recipe of strug­gle and lib­er­a­tion. There is no greater ex­am­ple for us as the lib­er­a­tion move­ment in South Africa than the supreme sac­ri­fice of the Cubans in the bat­tle of Cuito Cua­navale, which was ar­guably the most decisive mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion with the apartheid mil­i­tary forces.

The crit­i­cal role of the Cubans in that bat­tle pro­pelled the strug­gle to the point of break­through, prompt­ing then Cuban pres­i­dent Fidel Cas­tro to as­sert that “the history of Africa will be writ­ten as be­fore and af­ter Cuito Cua­navale”. As South Africans and rev­o­lu­tion­ary forces in our re­gion we have a stark un­der­stand­ing of the sac­ri­fices of the Cubans in the de­feat of the mon­ster of the apartheid regime, the last colo­nial out­post in our con­ti­nent. We have a grat­i­tude to the in­ter­na­tion­al­ism of the small is­land of Cuba that stood against giants at its own peril, for all hu­man­ity to see that no price is too high to pay for free­dom, not merely for one­self but for oth­ers.

From Cuba we can never be in doubt in agree­ing with the phrase that in­deed the revo­lu­tion will not be tele­vised. The Cuban Five and their vic­tory is a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of such a spirit from the Cuban peo­ple, never only in the­ory but also in prac­tice. Sol­i­dar­ity is the lifeblood of the revo­lu­tion; let us never stop build­ing it.

Zuma is pres­i­dent of the ANC and SA


Cuban rev­o­lu­tion­ary Fidel Cas­tro (left)

lights his cigar while Ar­gen­tinian rev­o­lu­tion­ary Che Gue­vara (1928-1967) looks on in the early days of their guer­rilla cam­paign in the Sierra Maes­tra moun­tains of Cuba, circa 1956. Cas­tro wears a mil­i­tary uni­form while Gue­vara wears fa­tigues and a beret

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