Pretoria, Aug 12.- South African veteran of anti-apartheid war Ronnie Kasrils today highlighted Fidel Castro's legacy for southern Africa, on the occasion of the 94th anniversary of the birth of the leader of the Cuban revolution (August 13).
In statements to Prensa Latina, Kasrils, former head of military intelligence in the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC), former minister of government (1994-2008) and author of several books on the struggle for liberation, affirmed that “Fidel will live in Africa, as everywhere, as an eternal icon of liberation in all its forms ”.
Since the 1960s, Castro's nom de guerre was popular with freedom fighters in southern Africa, he recalls. Today, the children of many of those guerrillas bear the name of Fidel or Fidelis.
That generation, he explains, was inspired by the epic leadership of the Cuban Revolution of Fidel Castro Ruz in the overthrow of tyranny, the confrontation with imperialism, the transformation of Cuban society, and its historical lessons of international solidarity.
Since 1975, Kasrils recalls, Cuban internationalist forces, under the leadership of Commander Fidel, contributed to safeguarding Angola's independence from racist invaders and counterrevolutionary bandits backed by the CIA.
Upon learning of these historical events from his prison cell -by secret means-, highlights Kasrils, Nelson Mandela wrote in a glowing way that it was the first time that a country came from another continent, not to take something, but to help the Africans to achieve their freedom.
By helping Angola over the next several years, the reactionary apartheid forces found their final destination in the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale (1988), which forced them to withdraw.
At that time, Kasrils reveals, I had the privilege of being in Havana as a member of a delegation from the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1988, when Fidel briefed us in front of a huge topographic table in southern Angola, about how that epic battle it had been earned.
The result was that Angola was freed of foreign forces; explains the veteran fighter, which allowed the subsequent independence of Namibia from the occupation of Pretoria in 1990; followed by freedom for South Africa in 1994.
As Fidel affirmed after achieving the ignominious withdrawal of the racist South African military from Angola in 1988: “The history of Africa will be written as before and after Cuito Cuanavale”.
Since then, Kasrils mentions, generations of Africans have studied in Cuba, they continue in the legendary footsteps of Fidel, one of the leading revolutionaries of modern times.
His life and his legacy, he summarizes, are intrinsically linked to the destiny of Africa and the eternal gratitude of its peoples.
In 1994, when the presidential inauguration of Nelson Mandela, Kasrils remembers as an eyewitness, Fidel received the highest approval from the people for a foreign guest, who was cheering Fidel! Fidel! and ¡And Cuba! To Cuba!.
For us, the peoples of Southern Africa, it is a privilege to have shared trenches, trained and studied in Cuba, received inexhaustible help not only on the battlefields, but also now from the brave Cuban health workers in the fight. against Covid-19, he adds.
As it does in other parts of the Caribbean and Latin America, Cuba continues to send health professionals to Africa. More than 50,000 Cuban doctors currently work around the world, including in 32 African countries.
When we launched our armed struggle in the 1960s, recalls Kasrils, we had a song that we composed to the rhythm of a calypso: "Take the country Castro-style!"
Then we also realized the examples that Cuba provided in terms of people's living conditions, medical care and education, housing and social welfare, overcoming colonial backwardness and inequalities, and security for the population.
Now, he concludes, in the midst of the global struggle against imperialist domination, exploitation and racism; his military aggression, and the injustices of capitalism, those words "Lead the country in the manner of (Fidel) Castro" are still alive in our hearts. (Text and photo: PL)