Chief Justice Peter Shivute yesterday hailed Fidel Castro as not only a champion of social justice, but justice in general general following the former Cuban leader’s death last weekend.
Despite widespread criticism from the west regarding Castro’s alleged dictator and oppressive tendencies, African nations in general have over the years remained staunch admirers of the man who ensured that basic services such as healthcare and education provided free of charge.
Shivute, in an exclusive interview with The Patriot at the Cuban Embassy in Windhoek this week, praised Castro as a huge figure in Africa and urged Africans to emulate his lifestyle in order to ensure African unity.
Castro’s support for Angola played a crucial role in bringing an end to Apartheid in South Africa and Namibia, and he will be remembered both as an internationalist and a champion of social justice.
“We must not forget that he was a lawyer, so he did not just fight for social justice but justice in general terms. He was an inspiration and we will carry his spirit to serve our people better,” said Shivute.
Shivute said: “He is definitely an icon on our continent. I implore the youth of Namibia to be inspired and subsequently work towards becoming the Castros of Namibia who will take out the world to restore the dignity of Africa and oppressed people worldwide. In Namibia we lost an inspiration and we have no words to thank him for his immense contribution to the liberation of our people”.
He led an example and he paved the way for all of us, if Africa was a country we would say he is a mational hero so in that spirit we must all be inspired to take Africa forward.
Castro’s death has been hailed as the passing of a huge figure of modern history, national independence and 20th century socialism.
In fact, world over, many leaders have listed Castro’s push for a world class health and education system, to Cuba’s record of international solidarity abroad as one of his many achievements.
Shivute added: “He was always in touch with his people, fought hard to serve them and he was a man of ethics…something that must inspire us all.”
Castro’s death at the age of 90 was announced by his brother Raul Castro, after years of wild speculations about his ill health.
A tomb presumably built next to a mausoleum erected for Cuban patriot José Martí in Santiago de Cuba will be Fidel Castro’s eternal abode.
The premier location at the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, analysts say, is a government tactic to equate Castro with Cuba’s independence hero.
Montaner, a contributing columnist for el Nuevo Herald, added that Castro “did not like the idea of being buried under the Plaza of the Revolution, under the shadow of a large statue of Martí that exists there, because that plaza was built and inaugurated by Fulgencio Batista” (the dictator ousted by Castro and his rebel fighters, including his brother Raúl Castro).
Santa Ifigenia, located northwest of Santiago and inaugurated in April 1868, is one of the oldest burial sites in the country. Its main monument is dedicated to Martí and dates back to 1951.
The cemetery, named after a black saint, is designated as a Cuban historical site due to its monumental pantheons and crypts carved out of marble and fine stones and because many national heroes are buried there.
Some of the most important Cuban patriots are buried in Santiago de Cuba.
From the revolutionary perspective, placing Castro’s ashes in Santiago makes sense: It is not only where he spent much of his childhood, but also from where the revolution was launched. A short note from the organizing committee for Castro’s funeral, published in government-run publications, stated only that “the burial ceremony will be held at 7:00 a.m. on December 4 in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery.” The ashes are due to arrive in Santiago on Saturday, following a four-day caravan from Havana. Construction work to accommodate Castro’s remains at Santa Ifigenia began two years ago in absolute secrecy, according to witnesses who live in the area. It includes a final resting spot for Castro’s ashes and the expansion of a thoroughfare that leads directly to the cemetery.
Additional reporting by Miami Herald