By: Lazaro Herrera Martínez, Ambassador of Cuba to The Gambia
“(…) if you want to have an example of an absolutely complete man, that man, that example is Mandela. If you want to have an example of a man unshakably firm, courageous, heroic, serene, intelligent, capable, that example and that man is Mandela”.
Fidel Castro Ruiz
July 26th, 1991
This 18th of July the world commemorates the centenary birth of an indispensable man, a man who devoted his life to fight for the rights of his people. His spirit of sacrifice, his capacity for resistance and his ideals of freedom, justice, equality and fraternity made him an icon that transcended the borders of his homeland, and decisively influenced the conception of a new South Africa and an African continent in harmony.
It is no coincidence that Nelson Mandela is remembered 100 years after his birth. Nor is it a casual fact the close friendship, respect and mutual admiration that existed between that great anti-apartheid fighter and the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro.
Cuba, in its commitment to keep the legacy of the anti-apartheid leader present and as a valuable tribute to the historical example of this African giant, has organized diverse activities to celebrate the International Day of Nelson Mandela.
In that spirit, on July 4, the graduation ceremony of 703 South African medical students took place in Havana, which was attended by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister in the Presidency of South Africa, along with senior Cuban leaders. With a similar purpose, a photographic exhibition, “Mandela 100”, was inaugurated in Havana, and it will remain open to the public until August 13, the date on which the birth of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, is celebrated.
Last July 14, while activities to commemorate the 173rd anniversary of the birth of Antonio Maceo Grajales and the 90th anniversary of the birth of Ernesto Che Guevara were still fresh, the 5th edition of the “Nelson Mandela Race” was held in Havana, Cuba.
Undoubtedly, Madiba occupies a special place in the heart of the Cuban people.