President Geingob's Speech on the occasion of the 5th Continental African Conference in Solidarity with Cuba
By His Excellency Dr. Hage Geingob
President of the Republic of Namibia and President of the SWAPO Party
JUNE 5, 2017
Before I start with my official statement I want to share with you that I spent this Saturday with the Founding President of our Republic Comrade Sam Nujoma and Former President Comrade Hifikepunye Pohamba where I shared the news of this event with them both. The Founding President and the former President both asked that I convey their warm and revolutionary greetings to you all.
Director of Ceremonies;
The Right Honourable Saara Kuugongelwa Amadhila, Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia;
Honourable Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation;
Cde Nangolo Mbumba, Secretary-General of the SWAPO Party of Namibia
Comrade Fernando Gonzalez Llort, President of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP)
Commander Victor Dreke, former Cuban internationalist soldier, who was the second in Command of Ernesto Che Guevara in Congo and President of the Cuban Africa Friendship Association.
Comrade Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo, Patron of the Namibia-Cuba Friendship Association and the National Hero
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly;
Honourable Chairperson of the National Council;
Honourable Ministers from SADC Region and Namibia;
Honourable Members of Parliament'
Your Excellency Giraldo Mazola, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to Namibia and other Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Distinguished Service Chiefs;
Leaders of Political Parties;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and Friends;
True friendship and solidarity do not happen accidentally. Life is very often guided by destiny. Some people that we meet in life sometimes have a story that has a profound effect on our lives forever.
This premise holds true in the context of the Cuban people's relationship with Africa. Immediately after the triumph of the Cuban revolution under the gallant leadership of Commandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, the Cuban Institute of friendship with the peoples was established (ICAP). This is a clear demonstration that already at that critical time when the consolidation of the revolution was being initiated, Cubans were thinking about helping other people still colonized and oppressed. I am extremely pleased that the President of that Institute - Mr. Fernando Gonzáles Llort is with us today and he is also one of the Cuban five heroes released.
The great Cuban hero, José Martí once said, "In a time of crisis, the people of the world must rush to know each other.'' Cubans indeed rushed to Africa, Latina America and Asia so that we can know each other.
The people of Cuba under the iconic leadership of Fidel Castro, followed José Martí's wise words and while in crisis themselves, they stretched out their brotherly and sisterly hand in solidarity with the oppressed people of the world - and the people of Africa in particular.
During my speech on the occasion of the Memorial Service of the Commander of the Cuban Revolution and Founding President of the Republic of Cuba, Comandandte-En-Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, on November 29, 2016 in Havana, Cuba I asked "What is the price of freedom? What is the cost of liberating a nation? How much do you pay a country which fought for you when others were allies to your enemy? According to Fidel, helping with the liberation of the oppressed should never be for economic gain, but only to gain in conscience.''
At this juncture I would like to call on all of us to pause and remember the icon known as Comandante En Jefe Fidel Castro. No other person has left such a peerless, enduring and awe inspiring legacy on the struggle for self-determination, which spread across the world during the latter half of the 20th century. Fidel not only became a symbol of revolution and a linchpin of Cuba-Africa solidarity, but he also became a symbol of true friendship and selflessness. Even though he knew Cuba needed all its resources to build upon the legacy of its Revolution, he still provided military, social and economic support to the peoples of Asia, Latin America and Africa. Fidel Castro, was and will always be a true revolutionary in every sense of the word. We must all emulate as we find ourselves in new world dynamics and find new friends we should always remember his words "One can negotiate anything except on principles".
Let us therefore stand up for a minute of silence in memory of that great revolutionary, Comandante En Jefe Fidel Castro.
Comrades and friends,
On behalf of the Government and the people of Namibia, it is my great honour and pleasure to welcome you all to the Land of the Brave and the City of Windhoek, to this 5th Continental African Conference in Solidarity with the Government and People of Cuba.
Few days ago, African people and their friends from all over the world celebrated Africa Day. It was the Day, on which we looked forward to the future, to our youth, who will be tomorrow's leaders on our continent. It was also the Day, where we looked back at the past and remembered the sacrifices made for Africa's de-colonization and the many young stalwarts and young heroes, who played their part in Africa's epic struggles for independence. The fight against colonialism and apartheid in Southern Africa and Namibia in particular was made possible through the blood of Namibian, Angolan, and Cuban youth in particular. We also celebrated the many other achievements over the 54 years of the existence of our union. Cuba has been intergral part of our battles lost and battles won, until final victory.
The Theme: intensifying solidarity and continuing the legacy of Fidel and Ché is most appropriate at a time when the world is crying out for leaders that possess the moral fabric, principles and leadership acumen that these iconic individuals possessed. Fidel and Ché inspired confidence and trust.
They espoused solidarity. Their revolutionary narrative was far more explosive than any gunpowder, it traveled further than any artillery shell, and it became the bread and butter that nourished the brave men and women on the battle fields of Asia, South America and Africa.
Fidel once said, "It does not matter how small you are as long as you have faith and a plan of action." How true those words have been, in the case of Cuba and Namibia. The brave passengers travelling on Granma were small in number, but through faith and concrete plan of action, they initiated a revolution that culminated in celebration of freedom in the streets of Havana.
The brave combatants who fired the first shots at Ongulumbashe were small in number, but through faith and a plan of action, they began a struggle that would lead to Namibia's independence.
The continent of Africa and Cuba, have and continue to enjoy fraternal relations. However, this needs to translate in a very strong commercial and trade ralations.
Namibia and Cuba signed a number of agreements over the past several decades. In order to further enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the economic, scientific, technical, sport, education and health fields, Cuba and Namibia have established a Joint Commission for cooperation which is responsible for the identification of bilateral cooperation programmes.
Namibia's hosting of this important Conference, constitutes another platform to further strengthen the friendship and solidarity among our respective nations. These conference I trust will lead to development of a common African strategy interms of support to Cuba during this difficult time due to economic blockade.
This event is taking place when the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People (ICAP), already attained its 56th Anniversary of its formation and Cubans are still celebrating the release of the Cuban Five, whose release was made possible by the consistent support of international solidarity movements, in which African organizations played a crucial role.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Participants,
The hosting of the 5th Continental African Conference in Solidarity with Cuba follows from the previous conferences, especially the Fourth Regional Meeting celebrated in Addis Ababa in 2012. In this context, together, we will analyse and ratify the importance of the solidarity and friendship actions in terms of the most relevant and topical issues of common interest.
It is imperative to note that similar four Continental African Solidarity meetings were previously held in Africa. The first took place in 1995 in South Africa, chaired by late President Nelson Mandela. The second was in Ghana in 1997, chaired by former President Jerry Rawlings. The third was in Angola in 2010, and the fourth hosted by Ethiopia in 2012 in partnership with the African Union.
The objectives of the Conference are to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the people of Cuba and progressive peoples of the world by:
- recognizing the important work done in support of Cuba based on its solidarity actions;
- discussing priorities in the actions of solidarity and to strengthen the bonds between partner organisations of the continent;
- agreeing on new strategies to work together and a greater scope for lifting the blockade of the US Government against Cuba;
- reaffirming the historical and cultural links between the peoples of Africa and Cuba and to deepen the knowledge of the African reality and culture in its relationship with Cuba.
Some progress has been made in these, particularly following the release of the Cuban Five, as well as the economic and trade embargo.
We applaud the positive development in this respect and commend the Governments of Cuba and the US, for their efforts towards normalizing bilateral relations between the two countries. We salute the people of Cuba for the fortitude that they have maintained throughout the years, never compromising on their principles while facing economic injustice. There is still much ground left to cover to ensure the complete lifting of the US economic blockade against Cuba. Africa will continue to support the people of Cuba until the world witnesses the total elimination of economic and commercial limitations.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Participants,
We are living in an era in which we are witnessing the rise of new Africa - an Africa on the march. While we acknowledge and appreciate the great strides we have taken in moving the continent forward, we also take cognizance of the fact that we still face challenges of economic development, external debt, global economic downturn, poverty, as well as the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We all agree that our aim should be to achieve sufficient levels of sustainable economic development in order to eradicate poverty in our societies.
Admittedly, as Africans, we should be responsible for our own development. In this context, we must take bold and concrete actions aimed at promoting South-South Cooperation at all levels, in areas such as investment, trade, technology exchange for agricultural production and manufacturing, as well as human resource development. In this way we will improve our productive capacities for economic growth and competitiveness in the global market.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Participants,
Guided by the principles of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), Namibia is confident that we have a firm basis for moving forward, having laid the foundation for a more dynamic and cohesive institute, capable of being pro-active in responding effectively to existing, new and emerging challenges of common interest to us all. This Conference will undoubtedly be a step forward for the consolidation of the solidarity movements with Cuba and African countries.
Let me conclude by sharing with you one final quote from Fidel Castro, who said, "If we wish to express what we want the men of future generations to be, we must say: Let them be like Che! If we wish to say how we want our children to be educated, we must say without hesitation: We want them to be educated in Che's spirit! If we want the model of a man, who does not belong to our times but to the future, I say from the depths of my heart that such a model, without a single stain on his conduct, without a single stain on his action, is Che!" On each of those traits we can safely say, Fidel and Che!!
In the year that Africa celebrates 54 years of its union and looks to its youth to assume their role as torchbearers of Pan African Solidarity and solidarity with Cuba, let us guide our young people to be like Che, to be educated in his spirit, to be models of moral fortitude without a single stain on their conduct and without a single stain on their action. If we are able to do this, we will have invested in a future where the people of Africa and the people of Cuba will reap the harvest of progress and prosperity.
I now declare this 5th Continental African Conference in Solidarity with Cuba, officially open.