Fidel Castro: The Burden of a Name, By Dele Agekameh

For many of my generation and those who admire him, Castro will retain a special place in our collective psyche, no matter what others might say. His legacies will outlive him.

It is not only those who attended Castro’s funeral last Sunday that are mourning him. There are lots of other mourners all over the globe. One of them is yours truly. My obsession with Fidel Castro’s persona dates back to 1972. That was my second year as a student at Saint John’s Grammar School, Ile-Ife, present day Osun State. Saint John’s was founded in 1962 by the late Reverend Father Fabian Cloutier. He was a Christian missionary of the Roman Catholic faith who came all the way from Canada to Nigeria for pastoral duties and settled in Ile-Ife where he lived until he retired and relocated to Canada. He died a few years ago.

As a person who had served at the altar right from my primary school through secondary school, it was a little bit absurd to adopt Fidel Castro as a nickname then, especially in that religious environment. And for the last 44 years that name has stuck to me like indelible indigo ink on a white cloth. Many of my school mates at all the schools I attended since 1972 don’t know me by any other name other than Castro. That is the name that still rings bells all over the place.

In those days in school, some of us were voracious readers. There were books on Josef Stalin, Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx which I stumbled upon, read and digested. I also read a lot of books written by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Books like Path to Nigeria’s Freedom, Thoughts on Nigeria’s Constitution, and so on. All these and many other issues at that time kindled my interest in the life and times of Castro. I was so fascinated that he could stand up to a world power like the United States of America, a country he held at bay for at least 50 years.

I remember those days in secondary school when I single-handedly carried out my own rebellion against the authorities over what I perceived as injustice against the students by writing articles and pasting them on the school’s notice board. A few times I was called out on the assembly ground in the morning and given some strokes of the cane for writing “seditious articles”. But the floggings which happened a good number of times, did not dampen my resolve, rather, they emboldened me more.

When the authorities saw that I was recalcitrant, one English teacher, Mrs. Adepetu, a tall, beautiful damsel from the Omisore dynasty of Ife, was appointed to moderate my scripts. This notwithstanding, I still found a way around it and got my opinions across to the students. At a point, the school, especially the principal, Fr. Cloutier, a man I had served at the altar in the church for several years, got nauseated about me and requested me to go home and bring my parents to the school. I felt that was an insult. In the first instance, the person who was responsible for my education was late Sir Adesoji Aderemi, my benefactor, who gave me a scholarship. Therefore, the implication of that order was that I should go and produce the Ooni of Ife, a directive that was akin to a taboo. I did not budge. After a lot of rigmarole, one of my ‘uncles,’ Prince Adejare Aderemi, followed me to the school and the matter ended there.

Castro came, saw and conquered. He conquered backwardness deprivation and poverty thereby placing Cuba strategically on the map of the world. It is only hoped that those he left behind will sustain his legacy and even surpass his giant achievements.

My popularity soared. But I paid dearly. In my last year in the school, although I was the Chapel Prefect, at the valedictory service which usually preceded the awards of prizes to the school prefects, my name was conspicuously omitted. I did not bother to find out what went wrong. I just took it as the price I needed to pay for sticking out my neck to challenge some glaring cases of injustice in the school.

Fr. Cloutier never forgot my activities in the school till he died. I could remember when a send-forth was organised in his honour when he was leaving Nigeria finally for Canada. We met at the venue while he was standing with Mr. Mike Oyebanjo Paul, the proprietor of Mopson Pharmaceutical Company based in Lagos and one of my seniors whom I never met in the school. When Fr. Cloutier learnt that I was in the media, the first thing he asked me was: “How many times have you been detained as a journalist?” Before I said anything, he turned to Mr. Paul and said: “This boy was like you when he was here.” And we all broke into laughter.

I can go on and on to narrate my experiences as Castro in all the schools I attended and places that I have worked, but what trills me most is when my last daughter and the baby of the house, Stephanie, calls me Castro. Although it has to do with some mischief, especially when she wants to get something from me and she thinks I could refuse her; she disarms me whenever she calls me Castro. The way it sounds in her mouth sends a nice, sweet and scintillating signal that touches the core of my affection for her.

I was less than two months old when the Cuban strong man led his group of revolutionaries and seized Cuba in January 1959 and threw out Fulgencio Batista, the then Cuban dictator. As the country’s new leader, Castro implemented communist domestic policies and initiated military and economic relations with the Soviet Union. This angered the United States. The strained relations culminated in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Under Castro, improvements were made in healthcare and education, while he maintained a tight control over the country.

His death may reignite many important and still-unresolved debates on his particular place in history, and about the revolutionary ideas he epitomised. For many of my generation and those who admire him, Castro will retain a special place in our collective psyche, no matter what others might say.

Castro also participated actively in communist revolutions in many countries around the world. But with the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union in 1991 and the attendant negative impact on Cuba’s economy, he was left with no option than to relax some restrictions he had earlier put in place. Faced with his failing health, Castro officially handed over power to Raúl Castro, his brother, in 2008. Nevertheless, he still wielded some political influence in Cuba and abroad until he died on November 25, 2016, at the age of 90.

His death may reignite many important and still-unresolved debates on his particular place in history, and about the revolutionary ideas he epitomised. For many of my generation and those who admire him, Castro will retain a special place in our collective psyche, no matter what others might say. His legacies will outlive him. That a dirty-poor, third-world country managed to create very credible medical and education systems are a few of them. As iconic film director, Michael Moore, took delight in pointing out, Cuba’s medical system is in many ways better than that of the US itself. This is not bad for a country that has laboured under American economic sanctions for more than half a century. It is remarkable.

It’s not hard to see why the US loathed Castro and mounted what, at times, amounted to a comical series of efforts to assassinate or overthrow him throughout his eventful life. The abortive CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, which ended in a catastrophic humiliation for the US only reinforced Castro’s position and aura among his own people and his foreign admirers like me. Try as the US did, they could not dislodge him. Rather, throughout his life, Castro maintained a reputation as the most enduring affront to American hegemony in the region the US considers its own.

Castro came, saw and conquered. He conquered backwardness deprivation and poverty thereby placing Cuba strategically on the map of the world. It is only hoped that those he left behind will sustain his legacy and even surpass his giant achievements. Like Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua, whose own revolution Castro supported in the 1970s said in Havana recently:
“Castro lives on in all of us.”

Adieu, my hero; my idol!

Fidel Castro’s Ashes Return To Cradle Of Revolution

 The convoy carrying the ashes of Cuba’s late communist leader Fidel Castro ends an island-wide journey on Saturday in the cradle of his revolution for a big ceremony before his burial.

The flag-draped cedar urn left Havana on Wednesday, passing roads lined with people chanting “I am Fidel!” and making daily stops on the way to Santiago de Cuba in the eastern end of the country.

President Raul Castro, who took over when his brother fell ill in 2006, will deliver a much-awaited speech during a massive tribute with foreign dignitaries on Saturday evening.

Capping a nine-day mourning period, the remains will be interred during a private ceremony on Sunday at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery, where 19th century independence hero Jose Marti is buried.

Fidel Castro’s death on November 25 at age 90 has fueled discussions about his divisive legacy and the direction that the country may take without the omnipresent leader who ruled for almost half a century.

Tearful supporters have cheered Fidel Castro for the free education and health care he spread in the island, while detractors call him a brutal dictator who imprisoned dissidents and ran the economy to the ground.

Read More: punchng

Ashes Of Fidel Castro Begin Final Journey Across Cuba

The ashes of Cuban leader Fidel Castro began a four-day journey across Cuba on Wednesday to his final resting place, retracing the late communist leader’s revolution victory tour of 1959.

The “caravan of freedom” left at 7:16 am (1216 GMT) from Havana, and will make symbolic stops along a 950-kilometer (590-mile) route that will end in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba over the weekend.

The urn containing the remains of Castro, who died Friday at age 90, was covered by a Cuban flag and protected by a crystal covering as it was transported.

Senior officials of the government and Communist Party, and Castro’s longtime partner, Dalia Soto del Valle, attended the farewell ceremony at the armed forces ministry before the caravan headed out to travel through 13 of the Caribbean island nation’s 15 provinces.

Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets, waving Cuban flags and shouting “Vivas!” to the late leader as the seven-vehicle motorcade passed by, escorted by police on motorcycles.

The trip follows two days of tributes in Havana where massive crowds were encouraged by the government to view a picture memorial to Castro at the Revolution Square.

The commemorations in the capital ended with a massive rally Tuesday night at the square attended by Latin American, African and Caribbean leaders, along with the Greek prime minister — the only European leader at the event.

Raul Castro, 85, expressed his gratitude for the “countless gestures of solidarity and affection from around the world” after his brother’s death. The rally ended with the revolutionary battle cry, “Until victory, always!”

Castro ruled from 1959 until an illness forced him to hand power to Raul in 2006.

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Fidel Castro: An Unforgettable Revolutionary Icon, By Rauf Aregbesola

Fidel Castro has completed his earthly assignment but the ideas for which he struggled, defended, sacrificed, lived and died, like his other immortal colleagues, will live forever.

“Died in beauty, like a rose blown from its parent stem” – Charles Doyne Sillery


At last the curtain fell on the exemplary life of the Commandante of The Army of the oppressed and dis-inherited people world-wide. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz has passed on after 90 eventful years, 49 of which he held sway as the Prime Minister and later President of Cuba. Indeed, Castro became a permanent feature of political and ideological discourse in the past five decades, such that we almost thought he would live forever.


The feeling is mixed. Yes mixed! To lose such an inspiring and profound personality is eternally painful but for such a legend to depart at such a ripe age of 90, deserves a huge celebration in a world where the average life span hardly surpasses 50 years, but not more than 70 years for men in the most advanced nations on our planet.


On behalf of the government and people of the State of Osun, and in recognition of the historical and cultural bond between the Cubans and Yoruba in the State of Osun in Nigeria and worldwide, we salute the courage, determination, vision, resilience and revolutionary zeal of Fidel and his companions, the indomitable spirit of Cubans, and solidarity of all people of the world committed to human dignity, freedom and happiness.

From the July 26 movement of 1953, the Granma Expedition of November 25, 1956, the ultimate victory of the revolution on January 1, 1959, to his final departure from our realm at about 10 pm, November 25, 2016, we are sure that our Commandante lived a fulfilled life that history will never forget.


Millions of people – students, academics, poets, politicians, trade unionists, artisans, revolutionary cadres and humanists – including my humble self, drew inspiration from him, his rhetorics, writings, reflections, dedication, integrity and commitment to building socialism. There is no doubt that the world is a better place because of him, consequently a gem has been lost indeed.


He was a symbol of resistance to injustice and oppression, as all the oppressed people of the world drew inspiration from him. He held the unenviable record of being the man with the most assassination attempts on his life, without any succeeding. He stood for what he believed in and not for once did he flinch in the face of the most formidable military encirclement and daunting economic and financial strangulation. Ironically, the man who the greatest powers on earth could not break finally succumbed to illness and ultimately the cold hands of death, in the way of all mortals.

…we join the people of Cuba in their national grief and urge them to renew and redouble their commitment and duty to the struggle and ultimate victory of socialism.

As Africans, we remember the solidarity, partnerships, high level of discipline and sense of DUTY of the Cubans to the liberation struggles, healthcare delivery, education, sports and youth development and political consciousness in Africa under the leadership and direction of Fidel and his administration. Although Castro’s Cuba is a nation with modest means, yet she has a gargantuan spirit of internationalism, support and assistance to the poor and exploited peoples and nations of the world. We proudly acknowledge the heroism of Cuba in this unparalleled show solidarity and humanism.

Nevertheless, in death, Castro has joined the pantheons of immortals whose ideas and praxis continually dominate and influence their world and therefore live forever in the hearts of people, in literature and politics, and in the physical monuments that will be named after him all over the world. Millions will carry on the struggle from where he left it.


Fidel Castro has been rightly described by The Guardian of London as a ‘revolutionary icon’. It is expected that well deserved encomiums and heartfelt tributes will pour in for a life of struggle, Spartan discipline, selflessness and sacrifice that he lived.


As we mourn and celebrate the passage of this international revolutionary legend, hero of the oppressed, fighter of oppression and exploitation, promoter of social justice, soldier and Commandante of ideas, we join the people of Cuba in their national grief and urge them to renew and redouble their commitment and duty to the struggle and ultimate victory of socialism.


Fidel Castro has completed his earthly assignment but the ideas for which he struggled, defended, sacrificed, lived and died, like his other immortal colleagues, will live forever.


Long Live Cuba !
Long live the revolution !!
Till Everlasting Victory !!!

7 Ex-Convicts who became Heads of State.

While it easily can be argued that they are all not saints, the sacrifice made by these people has to be respected. These modern-day Josephs, driven by love for their country or ambitions, risked their lives to secure a better future for their people.

Here are seven presidents who rose from prisoners to becoming the leaders of their nations.

1. Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi [India]

7 ex-convicts who became heads of state


The first and only female Prime Minister of India, Indira was the daughter of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. She first served as Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977, before losing her seat to the Janata alliance.

She later won a bye-election in 1978 but was arrested along with her son Sanjay Gandhi by the Janata government on some trumped up charges but was released after the collapse of  the Janata coalition.

In 1980, Indira Gandhi once again became Prime Minister but was assassinated by her bodyguards in 1984 for ordering the storming of the Harmandir Sahib as a countermeasure to the Punjab insurgency.

2. Fidel Castro [Cuba]

7 ex-convicts who became heads of state


The son of  his father’s maid, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz and his brother Raul were captured and sentenced to 15 years in prison, after their group “The Movement” staged a failed attack on the Moncada barracks on July 26, 1953.

Released in 1955 they traveled to Mexico, where they met Ernesto “Che” Guevara who helped them mount a series of successful military campaigns, that eventually led to the collapse of General Fulgencio Batista’s government in January 1959.

Manuel Urrutia was then installed as president while José Miró Cardona became  prime minister. But after just a month Miro resigned, and Castro was sworn in as prime minister at the age of 32.

3. Dilma Vana [Brazil]

7 ex-convicts who became heads of state

Daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant, Dilma Rousseff joined various guerilla groups which fought against the dictatorship in 1964 before she was captured, tortured, and locked up between 1970 and 1972.

The Mensalao corruption scandal in 2005, saw her become the Chief of Staff of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and in March 2010 she resigned to run for president.

Dilma Rousseff became Brazil’s first female president in 2010 and was re-elected again in 2014, but was suspended by the senate for six months on 12 May 2016, before she was finally impeached on 31 August 2016.

4. Kim Dae Jung [South Korea]

7 ex-convicts who became heads of state

Referred to as the “Nelson Mandela” of Asia, Kim Dae-Jung was arrested in 1980 and sentenced to death. But the intervention of the United States and the Pope John II, saw his sentence changed to 20 years in prison, then to an exile in the US.

In 1985, Kim returned to South Korea and was once again put under house arrest, before losing the first transparent elections held in a long time by dictator Chun Doo-hwan after succumbing to pressure.

Finally, after trying four times, Kim Dae-Jung defeated Lee Hoi-Chang and was sworn in as the eighth President of South Korea on 25 February 1998.

5. Nelson Mandela [South Africa]

7 ex-convicts who became heads of state

A lawyer by profession Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela joined the ANC in the late 1940s, co-founded its Youth League and before being appointed President of the ANC’s Transvaal branch.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 1962 for conspiring against the state after his militant group Umkhonto we Sizwe, launched a sabotage campaign against the government but was freed in 1990 after serving 27 years.

In 1994 Mandela became the first black President of South Africa after winning a multiracial general election. A true statesman, he only served one term before handing over the reins to Thabo Mbeki.

6. Patrice Lumumba [Congo]

7 ex-convicts who became heads of state

Hailed by Malcolm X as the most impressive black man to ever walk the African continent, Patrice Lumumba was handed a 69-month sentence in 1959 for his anti-colonial fight but was released after serving only nine months and became the Prime Minister at the young age of 34.

He only lasted three months as Prime Minister before being ousted in a military coup fronted by Mobutu Sese Seko but orchestrated by the US, England, and Belgium their former colonial lords.

Lumumba’s believed to have been shot multiple times, before his body was dissolved in acid, by the Belgian military in a bid to cover a full-scale investigation. Belgium later apologised in 2002 for its role in his death.

7. Olusegun Obasanjo [Nigeria]

7 ex-convicts who became heads of state

Credited with bringing the civil war to an end, Olusegun Obasanjo first became the President of Nigeria after the death of Murtala Mohammed in the failed Dimka coup.

In 1995, Obasanjo an outspoken critic of the Abacha regime was arrested on trumped up charges of plotting a coup but was released after the sudden death of Abacha in June 1998.

After his release, Olusegun Obasanjo contested for and won the presidential elections held in 1999, under the Peoples Democratic Party and also won a second term in 2003.

US owes Cuba millions – Fidel Castro

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro on Wednesday said the United States owes Cuba millions of dollars due to the economic damages it has caused the island through its 55-year-old trade embargo.

“Cuba is owed compensation equivalent to damages, which total many millions,” he said in an open letter published on CubaDebate, a government-run news website.

The former Cuban leader made the statement on the eve of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Havana, where U.S. officials on Friday are expected to hoist the U.S. flag over its recently opened embassy — a largely symbolic event marking the normalization of relations between the two countries.

Cuban officials have recently stated that the U.S. embargo against the Castro regime has cost the island $117 billion, contributing to chronic shortages and a lack of investment on the island.

Source : Aljazeera