While Ethiopians who tend to consider themselves as “progressives” omitted deliberately talking about story of Fidel Castro following his death, media outlets like VOA Amharic and DW Amharic covered the news and reactions of Ethiopians who studied in Cuba.
Political convictions and ideologies aside, the story is not something that can be ignored. True, Cuba left its foot print in the history of Ethiopia at some crucial point in our history when Arab backed Ziade Baree invaded Ethiopia. Besides, thousands of Ethiopian children, who were orphaned by civil war in Northern Ethiopia and Ethio-Somalia war, were sent to Cuba to pursue their education and many of them returned to Ethiopia as medical doctors, economists and engineers.
But the measure of significance of Fidel’s story is not just his contribution to Ethiopia in a difficult time. He did it to Africa and elsewhere,too. In recognition of that, the memorial service at “Plaza De La Revolucion” (Revolution Square) in Havana was attended by world leaders from Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America.
In terms of development programs, Cuba helped improve health coverage in Africa by sending thousands of Cuban doctors for free in addition to providing university scholarships to thousands of African students from Namibia,South Africa,Zimbabwe etc. Politically, it supported anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggles in Africa by providing logistic and training for freedom fighters. In the case of Angola, Cuba sent well over 30,000 troops to fight along side Angolans against Apartheid aggression. Cuba also offered support in the in Latin America, Middle East and Asia.
All these supports were initiated by Fidel Castro. That’s part of the reason which makes omitting Fidel, for those who want to distance themselves on grounds of political conviction or perception that it would harm effort to form alliance with neoliberal forces, looks really unethical. The attitude to ignore the story could in fact put these forces on the spot for test as to whether freedom, in the real sense of the term, is valued or it is just lip service. It is also a measure of the principle of impartiality on reporting.
On the part of ESAT, it is better late than never and it’s well done.
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