With the screening of a documentary that traces the shared history of South Africa and Cuba, featuring footage of meetings between Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro, a political-cultural act began this Wednesday afternoon, to mark the centenary of the birth of the renowned leader of the struggle against apartheid.
The act to commemorate Mandela’s legacy was held in the town of Cojímar, with the presence of South African students who recently graduated as doctors on the island, and leaders such as Salvador Valdés Mesa, first vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers; Roberto Morales Ojeda, member of the Party Political Bureau and minister of Public Health; José Ramón Balaguer, member of the Party Central Committee Secretariat; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ana Teresita González Fraga; and Alfredo González Lorenzo, deputy minister of Public Health.
Special guests also included Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of the Presidency of South Africa, and Thaninga Pandit Shope-Linney, ambassador of that nation to Cuba, as well as representatives of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, the Party and the African diplomatic corps accredited here.
“Just days after having commemorated the birth of Che, we also commemorate Mandela’s centenary, an example of how much can be achieved when defending just causes with perseverance and determination,” stated Rector of the University of Medical Sciences of Havana, Luis Alberto Pichs.
Pichs noted that one of Mandela’s clearest ideas was his recognition of the need for the educational development of youth and, in that sense, he explained that the training of South African doctors in Cuba has been on the increase ever since it began, as a result of collaboration between Fidel and Mandela.
On behalf of the recent graduates set to return to South Africa to demonstrate what they have learned over the past six years of studies, one student stressed: “We are overwhelmed with gratitude to Fidel and Mandela, two world leaders who created this program in 1997 to boost the training of South African doctors, with the Cuban approach to preventive medicine, for which highly qualified professionals are required.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma noted that discipline, responsibility, patriotism and love of humanity were the values learned by South Africans studying in Cuba. She also recalled the shared history of the two countries, highlighting Cuba’s crucial support for African independence struggles. She stressed that Cuba “was side by side with us when we tried to correct our health system,” and also expressed her gratitude “to the Cuban people, to President Miguel Díaz-Canel, and to our heroes Fidel and Mandela.”
Cuban Deputy Minister of Public Health, Alfredo González Lorenzo, noted the spirit of struggle of the South African leader, reflected in his continued denunciation of apartheid throughout his many years of imprisonment. Stressing that the new graduates were soon to “serve their people,” he added that this was an example of what can be achieved despite limitations.