Speech by His Excellency Dr. Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, on the occasion of the memorial service of the commander of the Cuban Revolution and Founding President of the Republic of Cuba, Comandante-En-Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz on 29 November 2016.
HAVANA, REPUBLIC OF CUBA
Long Live the memory of Fidel;
Long Live Raúl;
Long Live the Cuban Revolution;
Aluta Continua, Victoria Ascerta;
Comrades and friends;
Children of the Cuban Revolution;
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government;
Bereaved Castro family.
What is the price of freedom? What is the cost of liberating a nation? How much do you pay a country which fought for you when others were allies to your enemy?
According to Fidel, helping with the liberation of the oppressed should never be for economic gain, but only to gain in conscience. That is why we are here. We are here in good conscience to bid farewell to a man whose legacy will never die and to honour a country whose debt we can never repay.
Our Founding Father and leader of the Namibian revolution, comrade Sam Nujoma as well as our second President, Comrade Hifikepunye Pohamba have both accompanied me to pay Namibia’s respect to Cuba. We included the Secretary General of the SWAPO Party, two decorated military officers of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia – who became generals in the independent Namibian Defence Force, as well as a survivor of the Cassinga massacre to illustrate the enduring legacy of Fidel Castro in Namibia. As part of our collective homage, Namibia has declared three days of national mourning in honour of Fidel Castro.
Northern Namibia and Southern Angola bore the brunt of the Namibian liberation war against apartheid South Africa. It was at a SWAPO camp in Cassinga, Southern Angola where racist South African military forces launched a brutal attack on defenseless Namibian women and children in exile.
The first responders to this scene of brutality and death were the gallant Cuban forces, who came to our rescue. It was in our defence in which Cuban soldiers lost their lives and limbs. After the attack, Cuba was the first country to provide education facilities at the Island of Youth for 3 000 surviving children of the Cassinga massacre.
The high stakes battle of Cuito Cuanavale is yet another example of Fidel’s unflinching belief in the liberation of the oppressed. Under his command, Cuba risked its own national security in order to repel apartheid South Africa. Defeat at Cuito Cuanavale would have been defeat for all the oppressed people of Southern Africa and victory to racist South Africa and the imperialism they represented.
Fidel described how “thousands of courageous and tireless combatants from Namibia” joined Angolan and Cuban troops in this battle of ideology. Cuito Cuanavele was a watershed moment for Southern Africa in general but particularly for Namibia as it led to the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 435. This culminated in Namibian Independence in 1990. The blood of Cuban fighters indeed waters our freedom.
True to his revolutionary heart, Castro had no interest other than the liberation of our people. He had no interest in the vast natural resources of a free Namibia and his view was that Cubans did not come to collect gold or diamonds, all they wanted was to return the remains of their fallen comrades.
While have forgiven our enemies, we will never forget our friends. The Cuban people are our friends. Fidel is our friend. Now and forever.
We are reminded of Fidel in the countless Namibian children who are named either Fidel or are named Castro.
We are reminded of Fidel by the 3 000 Namibian children from Cassinga, who grew up in Cuba, speak fluent Spanish and now occupy positions throughout the public and private sector.
We are reminded of Fidel by the Cuban doctors, nurses and pharmacists, who continue to work in Namibian hospitals and clinics.
We still have a lot to learn from a man who lived, and died, on his own terms. In this moment, when global politics are no longer clear cut, when alliances are falling apart, when people are losing faith, it is in this moment that we need the razor-sharp clarity of mind and purpose, which characterised the life of Fidel Castro.
Cuba’ consistent support for African liberation was a heritage bequeathed to them by Jose Marti, hero of the Cuban revolution, who said, “A true man does not seek the path where advantage lies, but rather, the path where duty lies.”
The legacy of Fidel is an eternally burning flame that will continue to inspire and ignite the passion of progressive forces of the world as we fight for economic justice and the realisation of an equitable world order.
May his revolutionary spirit consume all of us so we may continue to resist neo-colonialism and remain united in. Hasta la victoria siempre!
To our brother Raúl, the Castro family and our Cuban family, our struggle was your struggle, your pain is our pain. Fidel is no more but his spirit will live on forever.