DR Fred M’membe says late revolutionary icon Fidel Castro was a true Pan Africanist. The Socialist Party (Zambia) 2021 presidential candidate says the “selflessness of the Cubans cannot be written in one sentence, on one page, in one book” because “it’s endless, it’s boundless.”
During the just ended 3rd annual conference on Pan Africanism Today held in Winneba, Ghana, Socialist movements honoured six individual veterans and two organisations for their contribution to the struggles of the masses against imperialism and capitalism.
Ghana’s founding president Kwame Nkrumah was honoured posthumously for the foundation he laid on promoting Pan Africanism.
Others were Fieldmore Mapeto from South Africa, also posthumously, who was instrumental in the African National Congress’ liberation movement; El Harif Abdalah, a Moroccan revolutionary who has been detained several times for fighting for the rights of the people of Western Sahara; Dr Nkrumah’s disciples: G. A. Balungu and Capt Kugu Chigata, who were both instrumental in defending the spirit of Pan Africanism.
The conference also honoured Frantz Fanon, and Cuban internationalists, who participated and died in the liberation struggles of many African countries such as Angola and Congo DR; and members of the Polisario Front in Western Sahara, a movement that keeps resisting Morocco’s annexing of their land.
Dr M’membe, the SP Deputy General Secretary, who handed the Cuban award, said any Pan Africanism that excludes Cuba was not Pan Africanism.
“This joyous evening [Saturday] brings with it also sad memories. It reminds us of the pain our comrades had to endure, it reminds us of death, but on top of that, it also reminds us of betrayal,” he said.
Dr M’membe noted that over 2,000 Cubans perished in defence of the independence of the African continent and much more so of Angola paving way to the independence of Namibia, and freedom in South Africa.
“Sometimes one wonders what these internationalists died for, especially when one looks at the banditry that is in Angola, the corruption that is in South Africa – how people have enriched themselves very quickly for the freedom that so many people died for,” he said.
“Comrades, armed struggle is not an easy thing. When you enlist to be a combatant, you are enlisting to die and the possibility of death is extremely high. Thousands of combatants, internationalists, passed through our continent and many of them died. We cannot forget both the deaths and the betrayal. Comrades you cannot talk about Pan Africanism without the Cubans. Any Pan Africanism that excludes Cuba is not Pan Africanism. Today, when we talk about Pan Africanists, the name of Fidel [Castro] is always and will always be high on that list. Fidel was a Pan Africanist. Che was a Pan Africanist. Commandante Raul [Castro] is a Pan Africanist.”
Dr M’membe said all the Cuban combatants that passed through Africa, that passed through Cuito Cuanavale (Angola) were Pan Africanists.
“We are not just honouring Cubans here, we are honouring Pan Africanists. But these Pan Africanists we are honouring this evening have something unique to teach us, that were taught by Fidel. Fidel made it very clear that those who are not ready to fight for others will not be able to fight for themselves,” he said.
“The Cuban Revolution has survived close to 60 years of a blockade and all sorts of provocation, intimidation, threats and so on because they were able to fight for others and die for others. They died for us and because they were able to die for us, they were able also to defend their homeland of Cuba, the land of Jose Marti, the land of Fidel and we can say the land of Che and the homeland of all revolutionaries, heart of all revolutionaries. This honour to the Cubans comrades, reminds us also not only the captain we honoured here, it reminds us also of all the revolutionaries that fought in Cuito, SWAPO combatants, our comrades from uMkhonto we Sizwe, including Fieldmore and some of them died.”
Dr M’membe said the occasion reminds “us of Chris [Hani], it reminds us of so many things, it reminds us of the battles that we continue to wage but today we are not waging it against the Apartheid regime.”
“We are waging that battle against our fellow comrades. People who were our comrades, people we shared trenches with, people we shared suffering with, people we never thought can be our enemies,” he said. “Comrades, the selflessness of the Cubans cannot be written in one sentence, on one page, in one book. It’s endless, it’s boundless. We, who have remained on this continent have no right whatsoever to be ungrateful to the Cubans. We have a debt to pay, not necessarily to the Cubans, but to humanity as Fidel taught us. This gathering should put us on that path for the repayment of this debt to humanity.”
Dr M’membe told the Cuban delegation that was among the 400 participants from 60 countries from around the world that attended the conference, that it was a great honour to honour the Cubans.
“Comrades, you have come 8,000 kilometres from the Island. When talk of the island, we revolutionaries we talk of one island, we only knew of one island for a very long time and that was only Cuba,” said Dr M’membe. “We didn’t know that there were many other islands, we only knew one island.”