A true com­mu­nist worth re­mem­ber­ing

CityPress - - Voices - Yunus Car­rim voices@city­press.co.za

Aclearly moved and un­usu­ally emo­tional Blade Nz­i­mande, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP), who at­tended Fidel Cas­tro’s fu­neral ear­lier this month, said: “Of course, he was 90 and not well. We all knew he was go­ing to pass on. But some­how, be­ing there, you felt it was not hap­pen­ing – that he was still alive! He seemed to be there, loom­ing as large as ever, in the spirit of the Cuban peo­ple. And maybe that’s true. Peo­ple like him never re­ally die.

“And for me to be there, at his grave­side, among about 100 peo­ple, was a great hon­our and a very hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence. It was in­spi­ra­tional.”

Cas­tro was buried in San­ti­ago de Cuba, where the 26th of July Move­ment he led launched the armed strug­gle in 1953. He was born in Bi­ran not far from San­ti­ago de Cuba.

“That Com­rade Cas­tro was buried in San­ti­ago de Cuba sym­bol­ises, I think, the im­por­tance of the armed strug­gle in wag­ing national lib­er­a­tion strug­gles against op­pres­sive regimes. That he was buried near his birth­place also sym­bol­ises his root­ed­ness among or­di­nary peo­ple, which was a hall­mark of his lead­er­ship,” Nz­i­mande said.

He said that more than 500 000 peo­ple at­tended the fu­neral rally in the main square of San­ti­ago de Cuba.

“You had this enor­mous sense of loy­alty to Fidel and the Cuban rev­o­lu­tion. Many peo­ple were very emo­tional at the fu­neral. One of the great con­tri­bu­tions Fidel and his com­rades made was to build a strong sense of na­tion­hood among the Cuban peo­ple, some­thing so lack­ing in our coun­try. And what Cuba shows is that strong in­ter­na­tion­al­ism and a strong sense of national sovereignty can go hand in hand.”

Cuba’s Pres­i­dent Raúl Cas­tro was the main speaker at the fu­neral. Other speak­ers in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Com­mit­tees for the De­fence of the Rev­o­lu­tion, veter­ans, stu­dents, writ­ers, artists and farm­ers.

“As Pres­i­dent Raúl spoke, it struck me that we in this coun­try don’t know enough about him. Yet he’s such a cru­cial fig­ure in the Cuban Rev­o­lu­tion. He was there with Fidel at the launch of the armed strug­gle. In­ter­est­ingly, un­like Fidel then, Raúl was in the youth wing of the Com­mu­nist Party, and he played an in­flu­en­tial role in win­ning Fidel and oth­ers over to merg­ing with the Com­mu­nist Party.”

Nz­i­mande said that it was hard to ac­cept that Cas­tro’s ashes rep­re­sented the world leader. Yet it was also very mov­ing: “Fidel’s ashes, in a small glass box, were put into a huge rock on which was in­scribed a quote from him.” Nz­i­mande no­ticed that, “on the bus re­turn­ing to Ha­vana, [for­mer Ar­gen­tinian foot­baller] Diego Maradona was wear­ing shorts and had a tattoo of Cas­tro on his left leg”.

SACP treasurer Joyce Moloi-Moropa said: “Un­for­get­table, un­for­get­table! That out­pour­ing of love for Cas­tro was like when Madiba died, but also dif­fer­ent in the huge com­mit­ment to the Cuban rev­o­lu­tion, even with all the prob­lems.”

North­ern Cape SACP sec­re­tary Nor­man Shushu said: “What also makes Fidel great is his in­sis­tence that he didn’t want a statute erected of him or a road, clinic, build­ing or any­thing named af­ter him. He re­quested that the Cuban Par­lia­ment passes a law pre­vent­ing this from hap­pen­ing.”

Lim­popo SACP sec­re­tary Gil­bert Kganyago added: “The Cubans died in An­gola for us, and they didn’t ask for oil con­ces­sions or any­thing. I was glad to pay my re­spects.”

Nz­i­mande smil­ingly re­called: “It’s said that [Soviet Com­mu­nist Party leader Leonid] Brezh­nev was once asked if Cas­tro was re­ally a com­mu­nist. He replied: ‘What I know is that I’m a Fidelist.’”

“Ul­ti­mately,” said Nz­i­mande, “Fidel’s death is a pow­er­ful re­minder of the need to main­tain pop­u­lar sup­port for national lib­er­a­tion and so­cial­ist strug­gles, and for us in this coun­try to re­con­nect with the peo­ple.” Car­rim is an ANC MP and an SACP Polit­buro mem­ber who ed­its its jour­nals TALK TO US Do you agree with Nz­i­mande that a sense of na­tion­hood is lack­ing in SA? SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word CAS­TRO and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

PHOTO: EPA / ALEJANDRO ERNESTO

A woman com­mem­o­rates Fidel Cas­tro in Cuba on De­cem­ber 2. Her ban­ner reads: ‘The young will not fail’

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