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Councillor’s Diary: Lessons from Cuba

Councillor’s Diary: Lessons from Cuba

The biggest tragedy during my visit to La Habana, Cuba is that a person with a really good education ends up being a prostitute or a mere taxi driver. While there might not be a problem with the above mentioned professions above, it is the reasons behind opting for those professions that worry me most.

The biggest tragedy during my visit to La Habana, Cuba is that a person with a really good education ends up being a prostitute or a mere taxi driver.

While there might not be a problem with the above mentioned professions above, it is the reasons behind opting for those professions that worry me most. Poverty has left Cubans with great education scrambling for the remains from tourists from across the world.

With Cuba’s economy solely being driven by tourism, one can understand the high rate of prostitution for example. However, the reality is; while tourists enjoy the best Cuba and the tourism hub, La Habana; the residents are trapped by strings of poverty. This partly because of the embargo restricting the country to grow economically.

The biggest tragedy during my visit to La Habana, Cuba is that a person with a really good education ends up being a prostitute or a mere taxi driver.

However, Cuba seems to be paying for their stance on what kind of government they would like to have. As a socialist led country, it becomes even more difficult for the country to also grow economically.

Let us look at what is inspiring about Cuba. The first thing is that, Cubanas know and understand who they are. Not only do they know and understand ‘The Revolution’; they also embody ‘The Revolution’. Men such as Che Guevara and Fidel Castro radiate pride in every Cubana’s life; they symbolise freedom for the many residents of La Habana.

This is inspiring because, it speaks of the kind of national pride which has been trickled down to every person. This is done through their free educational system, which is compulsory until the age of 16, and higher education is also free; although not compulsory. As early as children go to school, national pride is instilled in them. It is something that is carried out through life.

Now, imagine if South Africa had to show the same commitment. While, schooling may not be necessary compulsory to attend, but imagine a democracy that encourages schooling through motivation. To do this, it will require a lot of creativity and a will power to build a new culture of being hungry for education.

We should stand strong on the notion that, instead of renaming, we should look at naming new townships, street names and other facilities in our communities.

I may not necessarily agree with a lot of views by the government in Cuba, and I while I am heavily saddened by the way the residents of La Habana live; I am inspired by their understanding and embodiment of their identity as Cubanas. The way the nation preseves its history and heritage is nothing short of inspiring.

It brings me to the realisation that if South Africa was not hell bound on paying lip service and its leadership developed a political will to engage communities on the history of the country and our identity as South Africans; we could address the many issues of racial tensions we are going through. I am not convinced that the issue is which kind of government is implementing a culture of patriotism. I am, however, convinced that a Democratic government that advocates for patriotism will breed much greater success.

We should stand strong on the notion that, instead of renaming, we should look at naming new townships, street names and other facilities in our communities. This way we ensure that we encourage recognising our diverse nation with a diverse history which showcases the many people who have fought against oppression.

Let us take the positive out of Cuba, to build an inclusive and prosperous country.