Cuba reconnects with Africa

13 September 2010

Cuban ambassador Angel VillaRenewed friendship: Cuban ambassador Angel Villa.

Cuba has enjoyed links with Africa for many years, yet there seem to be many lessons that Africa - South Africa in particular - can still learn from the Caribbean country, suggested Angel Villa, ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to South Africa.

In his recent lecture at UCT, Reconnecting Shared Histories: Cuba and Africa, Villa outlined achievements in his native country that have enabled it to achieve social indicators that are on par with those of most first world countries, despite relative poverty and the long US economic blockade.

These, he noted, include Cuba's success in eradicating institutional and historical forms of racism (it is still proactive about addressing race issues), its collective approach to politics (described as the essential part of socialism), and the implementation of pro-poor policies (Cuba was declared free of illiteracy way back in 1961), among other achievements.

"Literacy is the essential human right - after obtaining education you can decide on your own, otherwise someone will tell you what to do."

Villa's talk marked the closing of the Cuban poster exhibition, Humanity Has Moved On, which chronicled the many important milestones towards independence in Africa. Humanity was a collaboration between the Friends of Cuba Society (FOCUS), UCT's Centre for African Studies and Chimurenga magazine.

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