Caribbean Political Economy

Debating Cuba-Caribbean, Esteban Morales, Norman Girvan

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Do Cubans see themselves as part of a Caribbean family? Are there historical, social and cultural reasons for a ‘Caribbean Cuba’ and how does the Caribbean appear in the Cuban imaginary? How is this conditioned by attitudes to race in Cuban society? A conversation taking place within Cuba and between Cuban and Anglo-Caribbean scholars…

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Cuba acknowledges the persistence of racial prejudice despite progress, James Early


This statement from the Cuban government about the unfinished struggle against racism, despite many advances against racism in the material and spiritual lives of Cuban Afro-Descendants by the policies of the Revolution, could be a critically important juncture at which Cuban citizens, especially those of Afro-Descent, and the Cuban government, can become central players in the Continental wide ideological and political discourses and policies of Afro-racial-cultural identity and related discrimination, participatory democracy and integration of the Caribbean and Latin America…

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James C. Early

Fidel Castro on the persistence of racial discrimination in Cuba Compiled by Pedro Perez Sarduy

A worldwide Battle of Life and Death, Part II Alberto Jones

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Alberto Jones is an Afro-Cuban of Jamaican origin who runs the Caribbean American Children Foundation in Palm Coast, Florida

Historically, anti-Cuba groups based in Florida and Europe have systematically accused the Cuban government of being racist…

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We Stand With Cuba! African American Declaration in Continued Solidarity with the Cuban Revolution

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Cuban expatriate Carlos Moore and the other signers of the December 1, 2009 ACTING ON OUR CONSCIENCE: DECLARATION OF AFRICANAMERICAN SUPPORT FOR THE CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE IN CUBA do not speak for or represent the vast majority of Black radicals/progressives, nor the sentiment of the masses of African Americans in the United States. .

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Challenges of the Racial Problem in Cuba, Esteban Morales

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esteban-moralesDr. Esteban Morales is Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of Havana and a member of the Commission,  Against Racism and Racial Discrimination of the National,  Union of Cuban Writers and,  Artists–UNEAC. This article first appeared in Spanish in Temas,,  Cuba’s leading social sciences,   journal, No. 56, octubre-diciembre, 2008, pp. 95-99.,  ,  It,  summarises,  a book, ,  Desafí­os de la problemática racial en Cuba, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, 2008; which is also being translated,  for publication in English.

There are very few contemporary writings on the subject of race in this country and the ones that do exist are by-and-large found in magazines, especially Temas and Catauro [1] There have been more publications abroad dealing with the subject on a contemporary basis…

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Related articles

‘Race still an issue in Cuba’: Interview with Esteban Morales, Patricia Grogg, Al-Jazeera

Color Cubano An Interview with Esteban Morales (In Spanish)

African-American Declaration on Race in Cuba and Cuban Response

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On November 30,2009 a group of 60 prominent African-American scholars, artists and professionals published a ‘Declaration of Support for the Civil Rights Struggle in Cuba’ in which they made a number of serious charges about the treatment of Cuba’s Black population. The statement drew a quick response in the form of a ‘Message from Cuba’ signed by nine prominent Cuban writers, intellectuals and artists.

Click here for African-American Declaration on Cuba

Click here for Message From Cuba in Response

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Human Rights in Cuba: A missed shot on the wrong flank Pedro de la Hoz

Laying the groundwork for another 1912 Alberto Jones

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Letter from Jamaica: Rex Nettleford, Barry Chevannes, Rupert Lewis and Maureen Warner-Lewis

Open Letter to Carlos Moore from Pedro Perez Sarduy

UNESCO Honours Cuba and Cubans AfroCuba Web

AfroCuba Web The African presence in Cuba

Reflections on Race and The Status Of People of African Descent in Revolutionary Cuba, by Eugene Godfried

UNESCO Honours Cuba and Cubans

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From AfroCuba Web UNESCO grants medals to Cuba and to Cubans, 6/09

Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaí¯ (left), Benin’s Ambassador to UNESCO and Chairman of the UNESCO Executive Board, arrived in Cuba on 6/16/09 and attended a number of ceremonies. At several of these, he gave out medals. We have numerous photos of the main ceremony, where the recipients are mostly people who have long been featured on AfroCubaWeb.

According to the UN office in Cuba, those who received a medal include:

– Alicia Alonso, Medalla Mahatma Gandhi
– Dr. Rogelio Martí­nez Furé, Medalla Toussaint L’Ouverture
– Dr. Miguel Barnet, Medalla Simón Bolí­var
– Dra. Nancy Morejón, Medalla Ví­ctor Hugo
– Dra. Jean Stubbs, Medalla Toussaint L’Ouverture
Pedro Pérez Sarduy, Medalla Ví­ctor Hugo
Gloria Rolando, Medalla Federico Fellini
Familia Baró de Jovellanos, Medalla Toussaint L’Ouverture
Manuel Mendive, Medalla de la Diversidad Cultural
– Dr. Tomás Robaina, Medalla Toussaint L’Ouverture
Asociación Cultural Yoruba de Cuba, Medalla de la Diversidad Cultural
– Abel Prieto, Ministro de Cultura de Cuba, Medalla Ví­ctor Hugo
– Republic of Cuba, Medalla de la Diversidad Cultural

Yoruba Andabo played for the guests. See our UNESCO medals – photo gallery.

Ambassador Yai has been a distinguished scholar for many years, he is considered a Guillen scholar and has traced many of Nicolas Guillen’s styles back to the literary styles used in the Oyo Empire in Nigeria.

Ambassador Olabiyi Yai Remarks

Reception hosted by the Director of UNESCO Havana Office, Mr. Herman Van Hoof, on the occasion of the visit to Cuba of the Chairman of the Executive Board, Ambassador Olabiyi Yai. 14-19 June 2009.

In his introductory remarks, he stated the following:

“As Chairman of the Executive Board of UNESCO, I am pleased to honour you today with the following medals in recognition of your efforts to promote peace, equality, cultures values, and to fight all forms of discrimination and exclusion wreaked in particular on descendants of enslaved people. While Cuba has contributed significantly to the reinforcement of UNESCO’s program and goals in you country and the region, little has been done to acknowledge your significant contribution. This awarding ceremony is therefore a symbolic gesture to a selected number of you as part of UNESCO’s good intention to encourage you in your tireless efforts for peace, freedom and fundamental rights.”

The following Cuban experts were honored:

, · Alicia Alonso received the Gandhi medal. The medal was issued at the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, India’s ” Father of the Nation” and the world’s advocate of non-violence, peace and tolerance.

, · Four experts were honored with Toussaint L’Ouverture medal: Rogelio Martinez Fure, Jean Stubbs, Familia Baro de Jovellanos, Tomas Robaina. The medal was designed to reward an outstanding achievement that, in keeping with the spirit and action of Toussaint L’ouverture, has made a lasting contribution to combating racism in the political, literary and artistic fields. A black divisional general, Toussaint L’ouverture is the hero of the Haitian independence, symbol of the struggle against slavery and racial discrimination.

, · Miguel Barnet was honored with Simon Bolivar medal, in acknowledgement of his actions and activities that contributed to the freedom, independence and dignity of peoples and to the strengthening of a new international economic, social and cultural order.

, · The Victor Hugo medal was given to Nancy Morejon, Pedro Perez Saduy, Abel Prieto, in acknowledgement of their writings, which contribute significantly to the protection and promotion of the rights of man/woman and the oppressed.

, · The Federico Fellini medal was given to Gloria Rolando in acknowledgement to her notable efforts to boost the art of film.

, · Manuel Mendive and Asociación Yoruba de Cuba received the World Decade for Cultural Development medal, commonly known as the cultural diversity medal in recognition of their work for the promotion of cultural diversity.

These remarks were delivered in fluent Spanish, to the surprise and delight of Cuban officials who were present.


La visita a Cuba de Olabibi Babalola Joseph Yaí¯: Reconocimiento de la UNESCO a Cuba y a intelectuales y artistas cubanos 6/19/2009,  ONU Cuba:,  “El reconocimiento de la UNESCO y de sus paí­ses miembros a Cuba y a prestigiosos intelectuales y artistas cubanos por su infatigable labor cultural en beneficio de la humanidad expresó el Embajador Olabibi Babalola Joseph Yaí¯, Presidente del Consejo Ejecutivo de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, Ciencia y Cultura y Delegado Permanente de la Repíºblica de Benin ante esa organización, en una ceremonia en la sede de la UNESCO en esta capital. El encuentro fue presentado por el Representante de la UNESCO en Cuba y Director Regional de Cultura para América Latina y el Caribe, Herman van Hooff, quien resaltó la importancia de la visita oficial a Cuba del Embajador Yaí¯ y sus conversaciones con altos dirigentes cubanos, intelectuales y artistas. Asimismo, subrayó el gran agrado con que la institución acoge la presencia en Cuba de tan distinguida personalidad.”

Slave Route Museum Inaugurated in Matanzas, Cuba 6/17/2009,  Juventud Rebelde:,  “The Afro América exhibition was opened during the inauguration featuring 105 educational posters and 14 African sculptures donated by Cuban artist Lorenzo Padilla.”

Concede la UNESCO a Cuba Medalla de la Diversidad Cultural 6/17/2009,  Trabajadores:,  “Olabiyi entregó a Abel Prieto, miembro del Buró Polí­tico y ministro de Cultura, la Medalla de la Diversidad Cultural de la Unesco, en reconocimiento a la posición de Cuba contra los prejuicios y estereotipos que aíºn prevalecen debido al estigma de la esclavitud, y a una actividad cultural encaminada a distinguir el proceso de transculturación y mestizaje en nuestros pueblos. Al agradecer el gesto, el titular cubano de Cultura reconoció que tiene un gran valor, sobre todo porque el Museo se vincula con la filosofí­a del Consejo Nacional de Patrimonio de que un museo no es un almacén de piezas, concebidas como algo arqueológico que pertenece al pasado, sino que esas instituciones culturales deben verse como instrumentos educativos, vivos, en manos de la comunidad, de maestros y escuelas.”

Otorga la UNESCO a Cuba medalla de la diversidad cultural, 6/16/09


Abel Prieto, ministro de Cultura de Cuba, recibió en la ciudad de Matanzas la Medalla de la Diversidad Cultural, que otorgó a la Isla la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (UNESCO).

Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yai, presidente del Consejo Ejecutivo de la UNESCO, entregó el reconocimiento a Cuba, que “sobresale en la defensa de raí­ces e identidad nacional y es ejemplo de ello para el mundo”.

La ceremonia de entrega de la medalla aconteció en la inauguración oficial del Museo Nacional de La Ruta del Esclavo, enclavado en el otrora Castillo de San Severino, sitio fundacional de la urbe matancera, a unos 100 kilómetros al este de La Habana.

El dirigente de la UNESCO, oriundo de Benin, en ífrica occidental, destacó la contribución de Cuba a la alfabetización en ese continente y en la lucha por la liberación contra el colonialismo, al tiempo que felicitó la idea de instituir aquí­ este museo, reflejo de la triste etapa de la esclavitud.

Abel Prieto, miembro del Buró Polí­tico del Partido Comunista de Cuba, dijo a la AIN que la condecoración quedará en el museo y constituye un reconocimiento a la polí­tica cultural del paí­s.

El ministro elogió la idea de la UNESCO en defensa del patrimonio cultural de la humanidad, y dijo que Cuba asume como práctica polí­ticas inscriptas en documentos de esa institución, como el ví­nculo de instituciones culturales con escuelas y comunidades, por muy intrincadas que estén.

A la ceremonia, asistieron dirigentes polí­ticos y del Gobierno de la provincia de Matanzas, además de destacadas personalidades de la cultura cubana e integrantes del cuerpo diplomático acreditado en la Isla, fundamentalmente de paí­ses africanos e iberoamericanos.

[La UNESCO ortogo a Cuba la Medalla de la Diversidad Cultural y a Abel Prieto la Medalla Victor Hugo.]

Cuba Elected to UNESCO Committee on Cultural Diversity, Cuba Now, 6/17/09

The island received the largest number of votes (61) after Canada (63) during an electoral process in Paris. UNESCO also granted Cuba the Cultural Diversity Medal during a ceremony in central Matanzas province.

Cubanow.- Cuba was elected by huge majority to the Intergovernmental Committee of the Convention for the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Diversity with the UN Education Science and Culture Organization UNESCO.

During the election of representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Paris, France, Cuba got 61 votes and Brazil 57; for the Asian region, China and Laos were elected; Albania and Bulgaria were chosen to represent Eastern Europe, Jordan and Tunisia for the Middle East and Cameroon and Kenya were elected representatives for Africa. Canada and France were elected among the highly developed countries.

Cuban ambassador to UNESCO, Hector Hernandez Pardo described Cuba, ´s election as an extraordinary result that proves the acknowledgement of the island, ´s consecration to the issue.

Cuba obtained the majority of votes after Canada, which got 69 votes, said Hernadez Pardo who also noted that despite the failed and obsolete isolation policy practiced by Washington against the Caribbean nation, Cuba always had impressing support. The election of Cuba expresses strong support of the cultural policy of our country, he said.

UNESCO adopted the Convention for the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Diversity in 2005 despite the opposition of the United States and Israel and following huge debates.

Meanwhile, Cuban Culture Minister Abel Prieto received in central Matanzas province the Cultural Diversity Medal granted by UNESCO.

The president of the executive council of the UN organization, Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yai gave Cuba the important distinction, for its outstanding defense of its national identity and roots and for being an example for the world.

The ceremony took place during the inauguration of the National Museum located at the San Severino Castle, the founding site of Matanzas city.

The UNESCO executive underscored the contribution of Cuba to fighting illiteracy in Africa and to the struggle against colonialism. He praised the idea of opening the museum, which is called ” La Ruta del Esclavo” (The Slave, ´s Route) which recalls the sad story of slavery.

Abel Prieto said that the medal will be displayed at the museum and that it constitutes an acknowledgement to the Cuban cultural policy. He added that Cuba practices the policies stated in UNESCO documents, such as the relationship between cultural institutions and schools or communities, no matter how remote they can be.

The ceremony was attended by Communist Party and government officials in Matanzas province as well as renowned figures of the world of culture, members of the diplomatic community, particularly from African and Ibero-American nations.

June 17, 2009, 11:27 am–


Nicolás Guillén, poet (1902-1989), on AfroCubaWeb, cites Olabiyi Yai as a Guillen scholar.

Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yai – Biography
Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yai is Chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board
Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaí¯ elected Chairman of UNESCO Executive Board, 11/07

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Mimetism Weapon in the Cuba Hate Industry, Alberto Jones


alberto-jonesAlberto Jones is an Afro-Cuban of Jamaican ancestry who runs the Caribbean American Children Foundation in Palm Coast, Florida

At this late stage of the fifty year old US-CUBA political strife, reasonable individuals would assume that those charged with inflicting pain, suffering and destruction on the Cuban people, would have concluded that their despicable task have come to an end, that the game is over, and as good sportsmen, they would retreat to their burrows and accept defeat with dignity.Doing what is right would have earned these Cuba-haters at least a few milligrams of sympathy, but it is now clear, that such principles are not part of their genetic make-up nor their life values.

Today, we were introduced to Dr. Jose Azel’s treatise. ‘Fidel Plays the Race Card’, Cuba Transition Project 6/16/09 ctp.iccas@MIAMI.EDU in which his mimetic, new found love for Afro-Cubans living in Cuba without family members overseas sending remittances, broke his heart. He is also profoundly offended by Castro casting himself once again as Robin Hood, with sinister overtones.

What this opportunist fails to include in his article, is that he is part of this multi-pronged effort to incite racial division, strife and a potentially dangerous racial confrontation without lines of demarcation, in such a highly mixed society.Like many others bent on squeezing out every penny out of US-AID, CIA and front foundations willing to pump millions of dollars into every fake organization purporting to be fighting the Cuban government, they are required to present a bio, a body of dirty work against Cuba to support their job application and approval.

Clever, educated and able to use some extra cash, why should Dr. Azel not build up his standing among his peers and future employers, by regularly compiling and publishing tendentious fact sheets as others do?

Key in this chain of command is Mr. Frank Calzon, who has not being indicted as yet, notwithstanding his closest aid, Felix Sixto sits in prison for the next six years, for depleting and pocketing nearly half a million dollars earmarked for their ‘Freedom Fighters’ in Cuba.

Still, the most disgraceful trait of this band of opportunists, is their shameless attempt to exploit real, unresolved problems that seriously affect the wellbeing of tens of thousands of Afro-Cubans, by pretending to be their benefactors, when most who are familiar with our convulsive history since our forceful arrival on these shores, are acutely aware of who our real tormentors are.

Beautifully laid out, are Dr. Azel’s bio-statistics of the Cuban government breakdown, is sublimely presented to draw a parallel with the racist, apartheid South Africa government, which by the way, most of them wholeheartedly supported and many fought alongside their defense forces.

Pitifully invoking the name of their newly coined poster boy, Dr. Elias Biscet and proudly reminding us of his Presidential Medal of Freedom, I wonder, as so many other Cuban dissidents who decided after time to set up shop in south Florida, if Dr. Biscet will be a welcome guest in his neighborhood, his home or as other Afro-Cubans, he will be confined and forced to find refuge in Allapath, Overtown, Parramore, Cabrina Greens or any of the hundreds of Ghettos reserved for Blacks and other minorities across the United States?

Has Dr Azel evolved at such an astronomic speed, that he no longer thinks and acts like his proud ancestors, who brag of having kept their puppet President Fulgencio Batista out of their exclusive Havana Yacht Club, Nat King Cole forced to use the kitchen door at the Hotel Nacional to perform, or when the Kasalta restaurant marked the border, beyond which, Afro-Cubans could not go after dark, without being escorted out Miramar by their private security guards?

Can any of these south Floridian, right-wing Cuban-Americans, suddenly enamored with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and staunch supporters of the Civil Rights Movement, present any document, pictures, newspaper articles or oral history, demonstrating that any one of them supported or was ever near any of these history changing developments in the early 60’s, when they enjoyed privileges denied to all blacks in the United States?

Although Cuban-Americans since the early 60’s had wide access to radio and print media in the US, never, did anyone of these upper class, rich, powerful individuals, with ample access to the highest level of the US government, ever uttered a word on behalf of blacks, whose flesh was ripped apart by attack dogs, lynched by supremacists, incarcerated in mass and murdered with impunity.

Thanks, but no Thanks, is all we can say to Dr. Azel and thousands like him, who are skillfully resorting to mimetic tactics, trying to inflame our sentiments, fight the Cuban government and hand them in a silver platter, a country they have proven to be genetically unfit to fight for by themselves.

June 18, 2009

Apology to the Congressional Black Caucus, Alberto Jones

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Alberto Jones is an Afro-Cuban of Jamaican ancestry who runs the Caribbean American Children Foundation in Palm Coast, Florida,   alberto-jones

Please allow me to express my disgust and apologize publicly to the United States Congressional Black Caucus on behalf of Cubans in general, Afro-Cubans in particular and especially in the name of those lured to Cuba from the English Speaking Caribbean islands at the turn of the XX Century, who were subjected to brutal racism, segregation, exploitation and forced to live in Soweto-type slums across that country….

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Review of Carlos Moore’s PICHÓN, Walterio Lord Garnés and David González López

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Walterio Lord Garnés [Havana, 1948] and David González López [Havana, 1947] are collaborators attached to the Centro de Estudios de ífrica y Medio Oriente in Havana and to the University of Havana’s Cátedra ” Amí­lcar Cabral” de Estudios Africanos. They have written dissertations at home and abroad and published works about African and Afro-Cuban cultures in Cuban and foreign publications. Because Walterio Lord’s father was born in Barbados, since birth he was affectionately/jokingly called,  Pichón de barbadense or Pichón de jamaiquino. David González recalls that, because his grandfather came from the Canary Islands, his father was affectionately/jokingly called Pichón de isleño.

Carlos Moore’s most recent book, Pichón, A Memoir, is bound to generate as much controversy as his previous Castro, the Blacks, and Africa. Not constructed as an academic work, it seems in many ways a lot more like a novel. Since several chapters are devoted to passages of the author’s life outside of (and frequently having little to do with) Cuba, the subtitle ” Race and Revolution in Castro’s Cuba” can only be explained as a marketing device. Cuba, nevertheless, is present, by hook or by crook, in pretty much every passage…

Click here for review of Pichón

Open Letter to Carlos Moore from Pedro Perez Sarduy


A comment on Carlos Moore’s previous work by Pedro Pérez Sarduy,a prominent Afro-Cuban scholar, who divides his time between Cuba, the UK and the U.S. Originally published in Cuba Update, Summer 1990.,   Supplied by kind courtesy of Isaac Saney.

It took me a while to respond to CUBA Update’s request for a review of your new book Castro, the Blacks and Africa. There was so much to respond to. In the end, I decided instead to write this open letter, in the hopes that it reaches you in your Caribbean retreat of Fort-de-France or Pointe-a-Pitre….

Full text of Pedro Pérez Sarduy’s Open Letter to Carlos Moore

Las Criadas de la Habana ("The Maids of Havana") by Pedro

, Las Criadas de la Habana, ("The Maids of Havana") by Pedro

Afro-Cuba: An Anthology of Afro-Cuban Literature, Edited by Jean Stubbs and Pedro Perez Sarduy

Afro-Cuba: An Anthology of Afro-Cuban Literature, Edited by Jean Stubbs and Pedro Perez Sarduy

Race in Cuba: Public Lecture Announcement, Carlos Moore

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An ethnologist and political scientist with two doctorates from the prestigious University of Paris-7, France, CARLOS MOORE was banished for three decades from his native Cuba as a result of his opposition to the racial policies of the Castro regime. Fluent in five languages, he lived and worked in many lands throughout his 34-year exile, and traveled extensively on ethnological research projects in South-east Asia, Africa and the South Pacific…


African Stalingrad, by Isaac Saney


The Cuban Revolution, Internationalism, and the End of Apartheid

Latin American Perspectives, Issue 150, Vol. 33 No. 5, September 2006 81-117

Isaac Saney

Isaac Saney

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Cuban Revolution continues to be the various internationalist missions it has sent to other countries. From the earliest years ofthe revolution, Cuba has sent thousands of doctors, teachers, and other personnel on humanitarian assignments to various countries (see, e.g., Erisman, 1991). In the mid-199Os, for example, Cuba had three times as many doctors as the World Health Organization serving abroad and providing free medical treatment (Castro, 1996: 30-31)….However, the most dramatic manifestation of Cuba’s internationalism is little known in the West: the island’s crucial role in securing the independence of Namibia and ending racist rule in South Africa.

Read African Stalingrad

Extended comment by Trevor Watt