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Re-Fidel Castro and Nigeria’s Democracy

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(FILES) This file photo taken on July 21, 1998 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro pointing to the exit door of the Cuban parliament as he addresses foreign press correspondents working in Cuba 21 July accusing them of "discrediting socialism, demoralizing the Cuban revolution by using lies and schemes of all sort" during the parliament's opening session in Havana. AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUE

(FILES) This file photo taken on July 21, 1998 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro pointing to the exit door of the Cuban parliament as he addresses foreign press correspondents working in Cuba 21 July accusing them of “discrediting socialism, demoralizing the Cuban revolution by using lies and schemes of all sort” during the parliament’s opening session in Havana. AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUE

It was the great wordsmith, William Shakespeare who wrote the immortal lines, ‘The evil that men do live after them.’ Permit me also to add that ‘the good that men do, also lives after them.’ These truisms can better be understood when one considers the life and times of Fidel Castro who passed on recently at a ripe age of 90. For Western countries like the USA, the late Fidel Castro may not be the best of men. But for those who are apt at placing the social needs of the masses above every other, Castro remains a man to beat. To them, he remains a hero-of sort.

Castro, a Cuban politician and revolutionary, governed the Republic of Cuba for 47 years as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2006. Most part of his life, Castro was an ardent enemy of capitalism and a strong promoter of socialism. For his anti-capitalism posture, he fell out of favour with the West and all those that thrived on free market economy. Notwithstanding the numerous embargoes placed on his country, Fidel Castro forged ahead to bring relative comfort and peace to his people and this is the area that concerns me most. I am not attempting here to condemn capitalism or uphold socialism as the best form of human enterprise, I am, however, more interested in how well he was able to give Cuba citizens access to good standard of living. Let’s look at three of his most laudable achievements: He was credited as being able to bring excellent education, social services and medical care to all of his people. In a third world country like Nigeria, these three items remain a luxury. Yet under a man many considered an outlaw, these basic infrastructures received prime attention. Indeed, the legacies he left behind are still much functional today.

Fidel Castro, an ardent believer in communism, may not be a saint by all standards, but facts on ground show that majority of his people enjoyed a reasonable standard of living under his leadership. He reminds one of Mamman Ghaddafi of Libya before he was killed. Now, how does this relate to our country Nigeria? We practice democracy as a form of government, which should allow people to have a good say in their destiny. Unfortunately for us, this form of government, which thrives alongside capitalism has failed in providing steady growth and development in the lives of the people, nor in their social amenities. We claim that ours is a progressive economy but in the real sense of the word, we are retrogressing by the day.

You don’t necessarily have to behave like others, or gain their approval to be fulfilled. You must learn to be original and creative to bring out the best in you. Must we continue to practice democracy in the manner we have been doing over the years without corresponding response? Is it not time we evolve our own peculiar form of government that would adequately provide for the citizenry like Fidel Castro did?

• Very Rev. Msgr. Osu, Director, Social Communications



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