Geographically distant, but joined by everlasting ties, the friendship between Cuba and Namibia was forged in the struggle against racism and colonialism
Geographically distant, but joined by everlasting ties, the friendship between Cuba and Namibia was forged in the struggle against racism and colonialism. The blood and sweat of Cubans and Namibians watered African soil in the heroic battle against apartheid South Africa.
A deep friendship united the historical leaders of the two peoples, that of Fidel Castro Ruz, and Sam Nujoma, who once said: “Namibia would not be the same if it were not for the Cubans. The defeat of apartheid opened the doors of freedom.”
On the basis of these close ties, Commander and former President of the country, Hifikepunye Pohamba, spoke with Granma.
–You have frequently expressed your gratitude for Cuba’s contribution to the freedom that your country enjoys today, and you have also confirmed your deep admiration, respect and affection for Fidel Castro, leader of the Revolution, and for the Cubans who fought side by side with Angolans and Namibians to achieve the liberation of their homelands. In the light of the years that have passed, how do you assess the role played by Cuban combatants in the liberation of Namibia?
-The role of the Cuban fighters changed the course, not only of Namibia as a country and of Africa, but the entire world, as well. The international community, through the United Nations, declared apartheid system a crime against humanity. It was immoral and insulting of the South African white colonial system to maintain apartheid. We therefore profess deep admiration, respect and affection for comrade Fidel Castro and the Cuban people.
–Among the last battles for independence were those of Cuito Cuanavale and the offensive along the border between Angola and Namibia. What was the greatest success of this military strategy, what elements promoted unity, and what role did Swapo have in accomplishing this?
-The greatest successes of the Cuito Cuanavale offensive began with the participation of comrade Fidel Castro in the offensive, and the sending of several experienced fighters and the most modern tanks, aircraft and artillery, responding to a request from his Angolan comrade Eduardo Dos Santos, to crush the enemy in 1987. The Namibian National Liberation Army (NLA) fighters and the Swapo Military Wing also played an essential role in the defeat of the enemy offensive in Cuito Cuanavale, since that offensive made clear South African ambition to destabilize Angola. Moreover, Swapo was aware that, with the help of our Cuban and Angolan brothers, it was important to deliver a crushing, humiliating blow to the enemy at Cuito Cuanavale, to send the message that our unity was strong, not only to overthrow apartheid in Windhoek, but also in Pretoria, if necessary.
-During your visit to the island in 2014, you noted that Namibian cooperation with Cuba began before independence was achieved. What is the state of collaboration between the two countries today?
-Cooperation between the two nations originated in critical times, in the struggle for life, against death. That is why it has transcended generations and is an aspect that our people know how to value. The state of collaboration continues even under the circumstances of the blockade, but both nations could do much more if the blockade of Cuba were lifted.
-Younger generations of Cubans and Namibians have made a commitment to the history that unites us. What do you think should be emphasized to maintain those bonds of friendship?
-In order to achieve full commitment to the history and legacy of the two nations, that commitment must be created at a state to state, party to party, level, as well as with human interaction through education, the exchange of knowledge and through other aspects such as cooperation between groups of students.
-What is Namibia’s position in relation to the U.S. blockade of Cuba, intensified precisely in times when solidarity and the most elementary humanism in international relations should prevail, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic?
-Namibia will always stand by the Cuban people and against the blockade, and hopes that the peoples of the world will put aside their differences during these difficult times of the coronavirus pandemic. I urge the Cuban scientific community and that of the entire world to work hard, with determination, to contribute to humanity in these times of global pandemic.
-You have visited Cuba on several occasions. What has struck you most about the Revolution’s work?
-My observation is that the Party of the Revolution has made great progress in many areas, especially in education, health, agriculture, conservation and human development in general, despite the U.S. blockade.
-The South West African Peoples Organization now has a 60-year history. How would you assess the role it has played? What must be said? What is Swapo’s current role in Namibian society? How would you describe its relations with the Communist Party of Cuba?
-It is important to mention that unity is a strength, and the knowledge of our history is a strong thread, along with the legacy of our fighters, who sacrificed their lives during the hard times of our struggle. The Cuban people and all leaders of the Communist Party should be proud that their sacrifice and their unwavering commitment to peace have created indestructible ties with peace-loving peoples around the world and specifically with the people of Namibia and the countries of southern Africa.
-Given the times we currently face, what are the greatest challenges for humanity, and what can Namibia and Cuba contribute?
-The world is facing calamities of unimaginable proportions, and people must come together to exchange knowledge and experience without undermining the strengths of each nation. The battle of Cuito Cuanavale, considered the most important since World War II, was won by the unity of determined peoples. Now, more than ever, people must act together to ensure the survival of humanity, and today it is a matter of surviving the coronavirus.