Obi Egbuna Jnr Simunye
This past week daughters and sons of Africa along with all those on the planet who are proud to identify themselves as lovers and defenders of freedom watched US President Barack Obama lead a high-level delegation to the revolutionary island of Cuba making him the first president to make this trip
since former US president Calvin Coolidge touched down in Havana 88 years ago.
For so-called African Americans who long ago arrived at the conclusion that the definition of America used by both Democrats and Republicans is not only politically outdated and geographically baseless but rooted in racism, fascism and white supremacy, the words of civil/human rights icon Ambassador Andrew Young are very helpful in bringing about a collective expansion of our limited horizons.
When commenting on the success of former US president Jimmy Carter’s campaign in the southern part of the US, Ambassador Young stated: “The hands that picked cotton now pick presidents”. What President Obama got to see up close and personal was Africans whose ancestors once cut sugar cane from sun up to sundown over 400 years ago, completely devoted to a revolution dedicated to fundamental change not cosmetic change that best defines not only his ascension to the White House but the so-called African Americans represented in the US Congress and Senate as well as the over 700 so-called African American mayors throughout the United States.
The historic Press conference between Commandante Raul Castro and President Obama also magnified an existing dichotomy on a political level that unfortunately too many so-called African Americans think they have the luxury of completely ignoring. Commandante Castro represents the ideas of someone who is a direct participant in Cuba’s revolutionary struggle, while President Obama is arguably on the individual level the most decorated beneficiary of our people’s suffering and blood inside US imperialism’s borders.
What has become standard practice for the Cuban Revolution is any high- level visitor from Pope John Paul II to former US president Jimmy Carter representing either governments or institutional frameworks that have been detractors of their ideology and way of life, were forced to openly acknowledge on the world stage that the US blockade on Cuba is an abysmal failure, to the delight of the Cuban people President Obama with all his fanfare and hype was forced to follow suit.
Because of the love affair and romanticism so-called African Americans have for President Obama which has culminated in the artistic creation of on T-shirts and paintings that place his image alongside Dr King, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass and Paul Robeson, it is expected that many of our writers, historians and journalists will engage in many feeble attempts to portray President Obama as the liberator of Cuba, in the same vain Abraham Lincoln supposedly rescued our ancestors from chattel slavery or Lyndon Baines Johnson is presented as a champion of civil and human rights. It is time for not only so-called African Americans but Africans the world over to let it be known to continue to intellectually speaking drink from that well is the equivalent of drinking countless glasses of contaminated water in Flint, Michigan.
Those amongst our ranks who are anxiously eager to bestow this label on President Obama had better look back at his speech to the Cuban American National Foundation in 2008, where he made it abundantly clear in his opinion that the Cuban Revolution was opposed to democracy and human rights.
During his opening remarks President Obama joked about how his daughters as they have gotten older are becoming more reluctant to travel alongside their parents, but they wanted to go to Cuba, the most important lesson for them should be that expensive private school they attend at Sidwell Friends School in Washington DC would be absolutely free of charge in Cuba.
As far as Africans are concerned the Press conference could have ended when Commandante Raul Castro stated the most decent measure of President Obama’s administration are positive but insufficient and that the blockade stands as the most important obstacle to our economic development and the well-being of the Cuban people.
The African world must salute Commandante Raul Castro for not scolding the US-based Cuban reporter for bringing up political prisoners in Cuba which was followed up by NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell bringing up the Ladies in White being arrested.
We can only hope that Commandante Raul Castro’s statement concerning the politicising of human rights was not over the head of these journalists who felt the need to pose these questions. What is rather baffling is journalists who live in a country which has 25 percent of the world’s prison population would feel justified in raising this question. This would be the equivalent of Cuban journalists on US soil asking President Obama about Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier and Russell Maroon Shoatz at a Press conference to foster diplomatic relations.
When President Obama mentioned a lack of freedom of speech in Cuba, it became glaringly obvious that so-called African Americans have treated him like a spoiled child, who everyone knows deserves a spanking yet appear hesitant to get it over with.
Does President Obama need to be reminded of the assassinations of Dr King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Herbert Lee and others in the Americas like Maurice Bishop of Grenada and Jacobo Arbenz in Guetamala, who were executed for expressing ideas rooted in fundamental change or the 635 assassination attempts on the life of Commandante Fidel Castro.
An error on the part of President Obama was the decision to meet with Cuban civil society groups and not allow First Lady Michelle Obama and his daughters to meet with Assata Shakur, an African woman warrior of the highest order, who needs to be removed from the US list of terrorists right away.
Back in September at the UN General Assembly President Obama moved at of the Waldorf Astoria now owned by the Chinese and located to the Palace where President Mugabe and his delegation have stayed for the last several years.
When President Obama moved to the Palace President Mugabe moved to the Waldorf Astoria, which showed President Obama’s lack of comfort being close to a head of state who represents a country he has tried to remove from power. When President Obama addressed the AU last year President Mugabe, the Chair of the AU at the time, was not present, while in Cuba President Obama mentioned an upcoming visit to Vietnam and his disagreements with China.
The African world starting with so-called African Americans should apply never seen before pressure for him to come to Zimbabwe, sit next to President Mugabe and call for the immediate lifting of US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe, if he admits as a president he is a lame duck and the fight is ultimately in the US Congress and the Senate our response will be simple, tell us something we don’t know.
- Obi Egbuna Jnr is the US correspondent for The Herald and external relations officer of ZICUFA (Zimbabwe-Cuba Friendship Association). His email is [email protected]