Angola is one of several African countries where the passing of Fidel Castro has been felt keenly. To mark its reverence for the Cuban leader, the country yesterday unveiled its newest motorway in his honor. Officials presented the ”Comandante em Chefe da Revolução Cubana Fidel de Castro Ruz Motorway” in Luanda province in a naming ceremony.
“We’re not just looking at a former president, a friend head of state, but above all at a political personality whose vision, clear thinking and perseverance in his ideas and performance placed him.. in the position of leader of the Cuban Revolution,” said Manuel Hélder Viera Dias, Angola’s minister of state and head of the country’s Security Office, at the ceremony.
Ironically, Cuban president Raul Castro is proposing a measure to prevent streets being named after him, or statues of him being erected because his late brother “rejected all types of manifestations of a personality cult.”
The Cuban revolutionary’s legacy in Angola as a friend to independence and anti-colonial movements has remained untouched by the repressive methods he deployed in his own country. Outside of Cuba, the majority of schools and streets named in Castro’s honor are in Africa. In South Africa, where Castro supported the anti-apartheid movement, several streets are named after him. In Namibia’s capital of Windhoek, one of its main commercial streets is named after him.
In Angola, already home to a primary school and an avenue in the capital named after Castro, his reputation is especially strong. When South Africa’s apartheid government, aided by the US, attacked the country in 1975 for harboring independence activists from the African National Congress, Castro sent 36,000 troops. They pushed South African soldiers back while also training Angolan fighters. Angola, now home to a small community of Cubans who stayed, claims to owe its independence from Portugal, gained that year, to Cuban support.
The road named after Castro has symbolic value, according to Dias. During one of Angola’s critical battles for independence in 1975, it was used as a route connecting the frontline to soldiers in the rear guard.