On Saturday, November 26, 2016, we got the shocking news of the demise of our great revolutionary, Comrade Fidel Castro.
UPC joins Fidel Castro’s family, the government and people of Cuba, in mourning the loss of our great revolutionary. Comrade Fidel Castro symbolised Cuba’s contribution to the decolonization and independence struggles in Africa.
It was Fidel Castro and Cuba’s grand visions that gave the determination and body of steel to put up a strong fight at Cuito Cuanavale, in Angola. The battle started in August 1987 and was won a year later in March, 1988.
The battle of Cuito Cuanavale changed the entire history of decolonization and independence struggles in Southern Africa. The independence and sovereignty of Angola was now potentially secured, and the birth of Namibia was in the making. It was now very clear that the Republic of South Africa could no longer push on with its apartheid policies.
This practical political reality depended on, and, was hugely-influenced by the heroic decisions and actions of Fidel Castro and Cuba. That preserved Africa’s dignity.
In many ways, Fidel Castro stood very firmly on the African side, who were fighting for the continent’s liberation from colonialism and imperialism. When it meant speaking, he would raise a ferocious voice against a system founded on the false premise of racial superiority and segregation against black people!
When it meant going to war, he sent thousands of his citizens to fight for a just cause in Africa. Fidel Castro and Cuba sent thousands and thousands of freedom fighters to Angola who extinguished the threat from the apartheid forces and her imperial allies. This led to a rethink that culminated in Namibia’s independence, and the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa.
Comrade Fidel Castro nationalised key sectors of the Cuban economy in order to secure enough resources to invest in the key strategic sectors of education and health. Today, Cuba boasts 98 per cent literacy rates, with one of the best community-based health systems in the world.
As a sign of greater solidarity with the African continent, Fidel Castro and Cuba have been sending technical personnel as volunteers. The most recent example was during the Ebola threat/epidemic that spread across West Africa; Cuban medical volunteers were immediately dispatched.
As UPC bids farewell to Fidel Castro, let us pledge to continue to respect his legacy on key pertinent issues of safeguarding independence and sovereignty in Africa and promotion of equality and solidarity of our people.
UPC, therefore, joins all people of goodwill globally, in paying tribute and sending deep heartfelt condolences to his family and the people of Cuba upon the demise of a great international icon and man of a true, large heart!
Men suffer violence too
Every November 25 to December 10, activists against sexual and gender-based violence come out on the progress being made to eradicate these offences.
Yes, women, girls and children continue to stand out as the biggest victims with 56 per cent of women facing physical violence annually while 27 per cent face sexual violence annually.
But this does not label men safe. Olivier, a 46-year-old Congolese refugee, shared with other male gender-based violence survivors at InterAid Uganda highlighting the pain he lived with for years before he opened up during a private counselling session with a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) counsellor.
He was gang-raped and constantly beaten by his benefactors back in Congo. He mentions that his oppressors took advantage of the fact that it would be hard to believe that he is being raped as a man, until he managed to flee and seek refuge in Uganda.
Olivier is just an example of thousands of men worldwide facing different forms of sexual and gender-based violence just like women, children and girls.
This is reason for men to get on board and create awareness, talk about these issues and propose how best to support the male victims. Being a man and a victim of gender-based violence does not make you less of who you are in society, but, even better, a hero once you come out and speak strongly against the vice.
Acceptance is important for the male victim; accept that there is a problem, accept that it is your right to feel safe, accept that and believe that change starts with you coming out and silence will just endorse the vice.
Putting Mumbere in common prison was wrong
African presidents are at war with the International Criminal Court for not giving them immunity for their crimes because they claim to be leaders.
Surprisingly, Uganda, one of the leading advocates against ICC, has chosen to humiliatingly-imprison the cultural leader of the Bakonzo community in a common prison.
This action was avoidable and serves as a bad precedent in a multiethnic country like Uganda, which is still struggling to forge a new identity. Although I abhor crime in all forms, I still believe that the government overreacted and I concur with Col Kizza Besigye who objected to this invasion and suggested that security forces should have surrounded the palace and forced those inside to surrender.
In addition, after making the mistake of invasion, the government should not have made the second one of imprisoning King Charles Mumbere in a common prison. It would have been better if he was put under house arrest in his palace other than humiliating him.
Open letter to the opposition
I have been following the views and positions of political parties and their surrogates about the state of affairs in the country and how to deal with them.
The more I listen to them, the more I conclude that there is something wrong with them. I have come to realize that for most times, their arguments are premised on the assumption that the country is in an abnormal situation, politically.
Yet this is wrong. What most people do not realize is that the very reason government is giving for the presence of the issues happening in Uganda now are the same reasons the opposition would give if given a chance to be in leadership.
We must remember that the opposition are weak and highly-disadvantaged today mainly because of the undemocratic decisions that their leaders make without consulting their supporters. For instance, FDC has rushed to tackle and interfere with the issue of Makerere University as if it was the institution that invited them to come and fund its day-to-day activities.
Concerning the issue of Kasese, a lot has been said by the opposition, branding the current ruling party all sorts of names. Our opposition must realize that they are not involved in a competition in a casino or at the Olympics.
Rather, they are engaged with the soul and future of Ugandans; hence, all allegiance must be to the aspirations of the citizenry first, not to the interests of their parties and leaders.
Ugandans want peace-loving leaders and that, maybe, is the big reason NRM is always voted into power.
Kudos Kawaala health centre
I was at Kawaala health centre IV recently and was impressed by the services. The numbers were visibly-overwhelming, especially of the HIV/Aids patients, but the health personnel were there on time and offered the necessary assistance.
I was told they face some challenges in medical supplies but at least the commitment is there. Many people have the wrong impression of health workers but sometimes we need to interact with them to understand what they go through.