As the three day sixth African Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba winds up this Wednesday in Abuja Nigeria, organizers of the meeting say they are pleased with the turn of events as the massage has been clearly sent to the America government on the need to lift its sixty year old economic ban on Cuba.
As part of the activities slated to mark the 6th meeting, delegates and Nigerian workers were scheduled to embark on a peaceful protest to the American Embassy in Nigeria, but that did not happen, rather, they opted for a symbolic convergence on the Unity Fountain through major streets in the Nigeria Federal Capital Territory.
Mr Owei Lakemfa, the Chairperson, Public Committee of the 6th edition of the Movement, told Voice of Nigeria that the programme was altered to ensure the safety of the foreign delegates to the event.
“There is no change of plans. We are still matching through some street in Abuja, we have a lot of foreigners among us, and we will want to avoid as much as possible any bad image that might-you know-about Nigeria.
“Ordinarily, if any body has anything about us matching, because the Nigerian Constitution has already given us the right to movement and we don’t have take permission from anybody, ordinarily, as Nigerians, we can confront any obstacle, but when we have invited people from 28 other countries among us, we need to be more careful.
“And so if the Americans are already jittery and the Nigerian security are not sure, I mean security that is, are not sure of what will happen, its better we resolve it in that symbolic way. Just match through some street in Abuja, go to the Unity Fountain, have a rally there and that will be it,” Mr Lakemfa said.
Asked if he was satisfied not making it to the American Embassy for the protest, Mr Lakemfa said that as human beings, it was only logical that the right thing that would ensure the safety all be done, insisting that the development did not in any way take the shine off the meeting and the purpose it aims to achieve.
He said that the meeting has been a huge success as the last three days had been focused on Cuba and in solidarity with them saying that most Cubans are Africans, so it is not out of place for Africa to devote the time and energy it is devoting towards the emancipation of Cuba to trade with any country it wants as well as have the sovereignty to her economy and relate as it wishes with the rest of the world.
According to Mr Lakemfa, the issues in contention are simple.
“What are the issues, we think every country has the right to decide its destiny, and so we do not think that the United States has any business trying to decide the destiny of Cuba.
“ We think that every country has the right to trade with anybody, and so for 60 years now, America has ensured that other countries can not trade with Cuba.
“It has ensured that Cuba cannot buy basic medicines or equipment and we are against that, we think it’s not the business of anybody to decide what any other country can do including Nigeria.
“And so, freely as Africans, we have come together in Nigeria, we have a total of 29 countries available, who have come together to say pleas allow the Cubans to live their own lives peacefully, that’s all,” he said.
At the opening of the meeting on Monday, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC who is also the President of the International Trade Union Confederation ITUC, Comrade Ayuba wabba said that the inspiration for the Cuba Africa Regional Meetings and Conferences is to re-emphasize and consolidate the age-long friendship, solidarity and historical ties between the people of Cuba and Africa.
The motivation for these meetings, according to him, is to affirm international support and solidarity with Cuba and demand respect for Cuba’s right to self-determination and sovereignty and their right to pursue the political system of their choice.
“For the working-class people of Africa, the friendship and solidarity with Cuba is special. The role played by Cuba under the revolutionary leadership of Comrade Fidel Castro in the emancipation of many African countries from the iron grip of imperialism remains evergreen in our memories.
“The flourishing of trade unionism in Africa took a quantum leap upon the liberation of the continent from colonial powers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, time will fail me to mention the blood and sweat shed by the Cuban government and people for mother Africa. In the hey days of colonial rule, Cuba did not sit on the fence. Cuba was vocal and involved in ridding our continent of foreign economic adventurists and opportunists.
“Cuba sent its soldiers at its own expense to Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. Cuba’s support for the African National Congress remains a watershed in the revolutionary strides against the forces of occupation and injustice on the mother continent.
“I make bold to say that without the intervention of Cuba in the liberation wars on the mother continent, many of us gathered here today would still be in one jungle or another fighting guerrilla battles.
“But Cuba happened and our wars ended sooner than later. Cuba happened and our chains got broken sooner than later. Cuba happened and we can now recollect with nostalgia our collective strive and victory against forces that at a time appeared too overwhelming and invincible”, the NLC President said.