THERE is a saying in the Luganda language running like this: “Ekkumi telikywawa omu”, meaning “ten people cannot hate the same one person”; that an individual may have foes, but he will also have friends.
The saying can apply to the late Fidel Castro who many of us admired, and we really did not think there were people who held a diametrically opposite view. Donald Trump is reported to have called Castro “a brutal dictator ……. whose legacy is one of …….unimaginable suffering, poverty, ……”.
One Cuban exile is reported to have said: “It is sad that one finds joy in the death of a person – but that person should never have been born”. Another exile implied that Fidel was destined for Hell: “Satan is now the one who has to worry.
Fidel is heading there and is going to try to get his job”. Many in Africa have a different view of Fidel Castro. He is our hero. The Sunday Nationalist (Kenya) of 27 November carried an article reflecting this, titled: ‘Doctor has fond memories of schooling in Cuba ……”.
The Doctor, one NK, has nothing but positive adjectives to describe Cuba: “In Castro’s Cuba there was no corruption, things moved like clockwork …. The state provided virtually everything, food, electricity, water, health services ……. security was top notch …..”.
No, we in Africa have lots and lots of good things to learn from Fidel Castro. I also think true dictators do not think or talk about their imminent death like Castro did this April: “I will soon be 90”, adding that this was “something I’d never imagined. Soon I’ll be like all the others, to all our turn must come”. Let us look at how some of the press in Tanzania wrote about Castro’s death.
On the front page of the Sunday Blog of 27 November, we find an item titled: “President mourns Fidel Castro”, in which the President sends condolences to the people of Cuba “for losing somebody important”.
One senior Party member had nothing but praise for the fallen revolutionary: “His leadership skills and ‘commentate’ are second to none. He ‘lead’ his country to development even through difficult embargo times, his country was able to develop successful professional sectors including ‘medical’ which is ‘second to none’ in the world”.
I could not decipher what the writer had in mind by the word “commentate” which is a verb meaning: “to describe an event such as a sports game on television or radio”. In the quoted sentence above, the writer uses commentate as a noun and it does not make sense to me.
Besides, given the circumstances, the writer should not have said “He lead his country”, but “He led his country”. Furthermore, the word ‘medical’ is an adjective. My feeling is that the writer should have gone for the noun “medicine”.
Lastly, the writer should have found a way of avoiding the use of the phrase “second to none” in two ‘neighbouring’ sentences in the same paragraph. This is my re-write: “His leadership skills and ‘commitment’ were second to none.
He ‘led’ his country to development even through difficult embargo times. His country was able to develop successful professional sectors including ‘medicine’ which has won worldwide acclaim”.
Let us read on: “During his leadership, ‘Castrol’ provided ‘scholarship’ to Tanzanians to study medicine”. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a Cuban politician and revolutionary who governed the Republic of Cuba for 47 years as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2006.
Yes, his name is Castro, not Castrol. Castrol is a British global brand of industrial and automotive lubricants offering a wide range of oils, greases and similar products for most lubrication applications. We need to remember as well that Fidel Castro provided many scholarships to students from all parts of the world, not just one scholarship.
So the sentence should have read as follows: “During his leadership, ‘Castro’ provided ‘scholarships’ to Tanzanians to study medicine”. Whichever way you look at him, Castro was a unique and admirable person.
May he rest in peace!