Hip-hop activist marks Cuba's solidarity with Mandela

Issue 
Hip-hop producer, activist and writer Carlos Martinez.

On June 27, as Nelson Mandela was reported to be lying in hospital on life support, London-based activist and hip-hop producer Carlos Martinez released the track "Madiba’s Message".

The instrumental, which samples a speech from the South African leader, was released to mark 25 years to the day since the army of apartheid South Africa was forced to start withdrawing from Angola, having been defeated in battle by a joint Angolan-Cuban force. Here, Martinez describes the track in his own words, taken from his radical hip-hop blog, Beat Knowledge. Martinez also wrote a longer article on the Angolan-Cuban victory here. You can hear and download the track below.

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Today marks 25 years since the army of apartheid South Africa was forced to start withdrawing from Angola after 13 years’ intervention in that country’s civil war, having been defeated in battle by a joint Angolan-Cuban force. Over the course of 1975-88, nearly 400,000 Cubans volunteered in Angola, mostly as soldiers but also as doctors, nurses, teachers and advisers. This is one of the greatest historical examples of revolutionary internationalism. When Nelson Mandela visited Cuba a year after his release from prison, he made an emotional speech in Havana in recognition of Cuba’s contribution to the liberation of southern Africa. That speech is sampled in this track.

“This is revolutionary Cuba; internationalist Cuba; the country that has done so much for the peoples of Africa. The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice unparalleled for its principled and selfless character. From its earliest days, the Cuban Revolution has itself been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people.

"We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious imperialist-orchestrated campaign to destroy the impressive gains made in the Cuban Revolution. We too want to control our own destiny… Long live the Cuban revolution.”

Fidel was overcome with emotion on hearing Madiba’s speech. In his own speech, he said:

“It would not be right for us to emphasise Cuba’s modest contribution to the cause of the South African people, but on hearing Mandela’s speech, compañeros, I believe that he paid the greatest and most profound tribute that has ever been paid to our internationalist fighters. I believe that his words will remain, as if they were written in gold letters, as a homage to our combatants. He was generous, very generous; he recalled the epic feat our people performed in Africa, where all the spirit of this revolution was manifested, all its heroism and steadfastness…

“We knew – how could we not know! – that those events [in Angola] would have a profound effect on the life of South Africa itself, and this was one of the reasons, one of the motives, one of the great incentives that pushed us on. Because we knew that once the problem in Angola was resolved, the forces that were fighting against apartheid would also benefit from our struggles.

“But have we said it this way before? No, never, because we believe that above and beyond the enormous support from abroad … the decisive and determining factor behind the ANC’s successes was the heroism, the spirit of sacrifice and struggle of the South African people led by the ANC.

“This man, in these times of cowardice and so many things, has come to tell us what he told us this afternoon. It is something that can never be forgotten and it reveals the human, moral and revolutionary dimension of Nelson Mandela.”

Please enjoy and share the track! Long live Cuba and long live free Africa! The legacy of Nelson Mandela lives forever!

Below, Martinez's track with radical rappers Rebel Diaz, celebrating the late Hugo Chavez. Read about it here.

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