I wish you wouldn’t see this as a review of Fidel Castro’s life. The whole day yesterday, till now has seen me jumping from one review onto another, of this great icon since his passing yesterday. The electronic media as well didn’t let up, from covering the celebrations in Miami by Cuban exiles in reaction to the news, to the beginning of the nine-day mourning period in Cuba, to the empathy towards Cubans expressed by Venezuelans, amongst varied reactions worldwide depending on the side that’s been featured. No news item has beclouded his passing now close to forty-eight hours after the fact.
I expected no less in terms of reactions to his death, especially when even his daughter in Miami spoke of him in less glowing a manner, that points to an unresolved rift that might have existed between the duo, while he lived. His life and legacy was such that could’ve aroused the kind of reaction we see today, but I strongly doubt that the number of those through whose eyes he’d be unkindly viewed will be more than those where the contrary would hold true. If Fidel Castro had died some years back that assertion would’ve been wrong, but in a world where the control of the media has lost quite the monopoly that was once vested in the west, the narrative about his other side that held some charm for the majority worldwide is now also receiving some attention howbeit subtle.
Unfortunately, the western media remain steeped in its narrative about the man, in not telling the full story, making the man’s life only about his relationship with an America, that has been demystified, as more tales of her meddling, many times dangerously, into the life and affairs of nations far and near (all in the bid to protect the so called “American interests”, without a single bother as to what the people of those places truly want), continue to come to light, as more files become declassified. Knowing afore hand that it will be like this, and surveying the western media just to confirm, I hurriedly scanned the alternate media for the other angle to the life of this enigmatic man, and I wasn’t in the least disappointed.
Fidel Castro and his story, of course related with the Cuban revolution inspire me always. Not only was he very determined in pursuing his set out goals and objectives, but the way he chased them with the kind of conviction as you’d find with someone who’d encountered divine assurances to proceed, because his palm kernels had already been broken for him by a benevolent spirit, astounds me. He struck me like someone who doesn’t take no for an answer, who says “yes”, hence his “Chi” has no choice but to tow the same line. He thinks President Fulgencio Batista has to go, then he makes him go, the number of attempts inconsequential. At a time when it was sensible to kowtow to the Americans even when one had overt leanings towards socialism, he stuck to his guns, defied the Americans, at the risk of losing his life, graciously surviving many attempts on his life, from a country quick to label others as sponsors and exporters of terror internationally. In doing so, he outlived American presidents and administrations, making President-elect Donald Trump’s twitter reaction to his death sound more like a relief than a mockery of Castro’s mortality.
Africans, whose countries were able to gain independence because of the assistance Castro’s Cuba availed the armed liberation groups that fought imperialists to a standstill will never forget him in a hurry. Cuba also assisted many such countries in Asia and Africa with non-financial aid, such as sending teachers, doctors and the likes to help develop capacities of those newly independent states that were in need of capacity building in such areas. A friend of mine also benefited from scholarship to Cuba, from where she read medicine and has become of immense help to her immediate society in Lagos since her return about a decade ago. That’s as far as personal the late Fidel Castro has been for me, and other Africans, from Angola, to Mozambique, to the Congo, even on to South Africa amongst others that memory fails me to recall.
The western media can continue to show pictures of hungry Cubans on long queues awaiting staples, but even that is order compared to the chaos in the world’s seat of capitalism, where the world’s poorest engage in the game of dog-eat-dog just to eat the next meal. With healthcare so unavailable to common Americans, it’s to that same Cuba they run to, in their bid to enjoy of that country’s largely inexpensive, yet more all encompassing healthcare system, that was designed by the so called “mad man”. America has also benefited from Cuba under Fidel Castro in terms of sports, with record breakers from there traversing the nooks of baseball, and the many Olympic defector-boxers that have gone on to make a name for their adopted countries, and wouldn’t have been so had their raw talent not been harnessed to yield nothing but the best by a Cuban system enabled by the great icon himself.
Gaskiya neh, his regime was repressive and many Cubans lost their lives, got imprisoned or exiled, suffered ranging forms of Human Rights abuses under his watch, but that was part of the whole that was the man. It reminds me of the story of Solomon in the Bible whom we are regaled about his glowing attributes all of his life, only to be roundly rejected through his son after his demise, as a regime that “chastised the people with whips ”, and elected to split the kingdom of Israel in two, leaving the faction with two tribes only, for his son who had vowed to chastise the people with scorpions in his “acceptance speech”. In essence, there are two sides to everything, and indeed to every man, if you understand that Hillary Clinton’s loss at the recent American presidential elections was partly a rejection of America’s most loved President, if (Obama’s approval ratings) polls are anything to go by (lol), then you can relate that with even a more controversial figure as Castro, who can be as much loved as he could be much hated for his role in the play of life.
If you were seeing Cuba for the first time on the map, after reading and learning so much about Fidel Castro, you’d be shocked to find that it’s only a strip of land off the coast of Miami, of which only a man of Castro’s standing and charisma could’ve projected beyond its size, the way only he could’ve. It will leave you to wonder what devil he had calling his shots to have grown the cojones to defy the mighty United States, yet live to tell about it. Even his socialism outlived the original proponents, and he was wise enough to concede power (howbeit to his younger brother, Raul) when his strength and health began to fail him, as the system he helped create in Cuba began to face a decline and rot, and then to die at ninety, after seeing the best days of his legacy, and leaving just before it finally collapses as it expectedly would. Only a few men can claim, or actually have ascribed to and with them at their demise, the words “VENI, VIDI, VICI”. FIDEL ALEJANDRO CASTRO RUZ, a Prince whose death the heavens themselves blazed forth, stands tall amongst such colossal figures.