Cuba Revolution Day still needs to be reflected upon

11Jan 2022
The Guardian
Cuba Revolution Day still needs to be reflected upon

EVENTS which hugely influenced the political trajectory of African countries at the time of nationalist politics can be identified as including India’s independence in 1947 (though its acrimonious partition and movement of millions of people on a religious and tribal-

-basis to cross the Indus River is a blot on the global psyche). The other was the Chinese Revolution on October 1, 1949 and twin events ten years later, that is, independence of Ghana in 1957 and the Cuban Revolution, January 1, 1959. Each of those events had far reaching implications on what is possible for countries aspiring to independence - or to revolution.

Africa in general and Tanzania for that matter was massively influenced by those events, despite their cohort of unavoidable contradictions when taken as role models. India’s independence drive (marked on January 26) was led by a non-violence philosophy espoused by Mahatma Gandhi, but his assassination at the time that British India was being partitioned left a stain on the legacy. The Cuban model was one of standing up to a great power next door and surviving, not just because of assistance from abroad but popular faith in the revolution, a situation that has lasted to this decade – in part similar to the CCM role.

There are other ways in which the Cuban example can be compared to the situation in Tanzania, namely that the Zanzibar Revolution, while it had practical links with the leaders of revolutionary China, saw in the Cuban example first an illustration of a mainly urban revolution. The model did not fit in every aspect as Cuba started from some marshlands (like the National Resistance Movement led by Yoweri Museveni in Uganda) and later took the capital. But there were features of insurrection that the early 1960s Zanzibar revolutionaries made a point in starting with them, and unlike perhaps in Cuba, in this case it succeeded.

What is good about this model, in like manner as the popularity of the African National Congress in South Africa and with some limitations the NRM ruling party of our neighbours, is that the more popular the point of departure of a political system, the less it will be amenable to reform. India has not really succeeded, among countries of South Asia, to move its economy on a dynamic plane, as it has vast pockets of cutting edge technology, and inability to change agro-sector systems. Changing it to a market basis and let land be absorbed by industry worked elsewhere but not in India, despite various attempts.

The recent tumult in the ruling CCM is an illustration of why it won’t be easy to build an economy of individuals as Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has been explaining, on the strategy of sixth phase policies generally. While only five percent of Americans live on agriculture and the US is the leading agricultural power in the world, reforming land and agriculture itself is impossible in India, South Africa, Nigeria, etc. Countries descend into chaos as communal groups tussle over land and want power to cede more to themselves.