How Fidel Castro helped end Apartheid

Fidel Castro addressing a crowd in Havana, circa 1978.

Many people see the death of Fidel Castro as the end of an era. Yet the Castroite legacy is alive in one form. Cuba has played a key role lending support to national liberation movements around the world. One major site of struggle during this period was Southern Africa. There the Cuban leader backed the ANC to the hilt when Nelson Mandela was widely regarded as a ‘terrorist’. Castro opposed European colonialism and fostered ties with independence leaders. This was not simply tactical, it was a part of an emancipatory process. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the Cuban revolution was really … Continue reading

“Don’t take us for granted!” – voters give African National Congress a dose of tough love

TSHWANE, SOUTH AFRICA – Interest in countries’ local elections is usually confined within state borders, while national elections nearly always attract international attention. Not so South Africa’s municipal elections on August 3, which made headlines around the world. The elections saw the ruling African National Congress (ANC) lose its outright majorities in half of the country’s eight urban hubs, the metropolitan municipalities of Tshwane (Pretoria), Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, and Nelson Mandela Bay. The major ascendant parties are the conservative Democratic Alliance (DA) and the left-populist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). A massive 204 political parties contested the elections, 68 per cent more … Continue reading

Keith Somerville on Africa’s Long Road Since Independence

As a journalist, Keith Somerville was stationed in Malawi in 1981 to monitor regional radio coverage. The BBC World Service maintained the Monitoring Service, with bases in Kenya and Malawi, to track events across southern, central and eastern Africa. The Monitoring Service worked both for the BBC and its funder, the British government, and routinely passed on information to the Ministry of Defence and, by extension, to the intelligence services. The radio networks played a vital role in Africa because of widespread illiteracy, as well as the lack of infrastructure and logistics necessary for a functioning press. Radio broadcasts offered … Continue reading