Fidel Castro has been described as a friend of Africa, so it is no wonder many African leaders including embattled SA leader Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe went to Fidel Castro’s funeral to pay their final respects.
Castro probably has a divided legacy in most areas of the world. While some people see him as a revolutionary who succeeded and became the guiding star for all who saw the world through the lens of Marxist Leninism, others consider him to be a brutal dictator who suppressed democracy and kept his country poor.
It was this second view that the world has of him that caused the people of Canada to condemn their Prime Minister when he tweeted glowing words in tribute to Fidel Castro.
Fidel Castro, however, is not viewed with such conflicted lenses in Africa. Many of Africa’s liberation leaders considered him a loyal friend and a hero of the people.
When news of his death surfaced, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame had tweeted in tribute;
“RIP Fidel Castro, tenacious fighter who lived a full liberation life & condolences to the resilient people of Cuba”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari also tweeted glowing views of his legacy;
“I received with sadness the news of the death of Fidel Castro. My deepest condolences to the Government and people of Cuba.”
“Fidel Castro was a great friend to Africa, to countries in the Global South and to the Non-Aligned Movement. His place in history is assured”
Zimbabwe’s state-owned Herald Newspaper reports that President Robert Mugabe is in Cuba for former leader Fidel Castro’s funeral and he addressed Cubans after his arrival in Havana, paying tribute to the former revolutionary:
“Fidel was not just your leader. He was our leader and the leader of all revolutionaries. We followed him, listened to him and tried to emulate him.”
The opposition Zapu party of Zimbabwe was quick to jump on the President’s tribute at Fidel Castro’s funeral as they called on Mr. Mugabe, 92, to emulate Mr. Castro by stepping down. The independent NewsDay newspaper quotes spokesman Iphithule Maphosa as saying;
“We urge Mugabe to pluck a leaf from Castro and do the right thing and resign over old age and reports of ill health.”
Fidel Castro had stepped down in 2006 after ruling Cuba for 47 years but Mugabe who has been in power since 1980 still has plans to run for office again in the 2018 presidential election.