Symposium Announcement – Africa’s Unknown War: Apartheid Terror, Cuba & Southern Africa Liberation

September 27 & 28, 2013,

University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Mandela Fidel

* * *

Today the African continent has 55-independent countries. While no outside power directly holds sway over African territory (with the exception of French-ruled Djibouti), the issue of African independence is posed as sharply as ever. 2013 will mark the 25th anniversary of a landmark in the struggle for African independence and self-determination: the decisive defeat in Angola of the racist armed forces of the apartheid South African state by combined Cuban and Angolan troops. This led to the immediate independence of Namibia, accelerating the end of racist rule in South Africa. These events and Cuba’s extensive and crucial role in the struggle against apartheid South Africa, however, remain virtually unknown in the West.

Also forgotten is the apartheid regime’s regional war of terror, which set the context of Cuba’s intervention. Africa’s Unknown War: Apartheid Terror, Cuba & Southern African Liberation will commemorate the 25th anniversary, while elaborating apartheid’s reign of terrorism. The symposium will be held on September 27th and 28th, 2013 at the University of Toronto, in Toronto, Canada.

* * *

“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.”  – Nelson Mandela – 

* * *


Friday, September 27, 2013

Patria Es Humanidad: Homeland Is Humanity

Film screening, followed by panel discussion and Q&A

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Session One: Apartheid’s War of Terror

Detailed examination of apartheid South Africa’s regional terrorism and destabilization campaign

Session Two: Cuba & Southern Africa Liberation

Focus on Cuba’s internationalist contribution to the fight against apartheid

Session Three: Struggle & Liberation

Panel discussions with representatives from Angola, Cuba, Namibia and South Africa

Cultural Gala 

* * *

Among those scheduled to participate are:

*John Saul: Internationally acclaimed and honoured scholar on southern Africa and anti-apartheid activist. Professor Emeritus at York University (Canada), Saul is currently working on the book The Thirty Year War for the Liberation of Southern Africa, 1960-1990.

*Jorge Risquet: Cuba’s chief diplomat in Africa from the 1970s to the 1990s, who played a crucial role in the negotiations that ended South Africa’s illegal occupation of Namibia.

*Isaac Saney: Cuba specialist who teaches at Dalhousie University (Canada) and is author of the acclaimed, Cuba: A Revolution In Motion. He is currently finishing the book From Soweto to Cuito Cuanavale: Cuba, The War in Angola and the End of Apartheid.

*Various diplomats and representatives of liberation organizations from Angola, Cuba, Namibia and South Africa.


For more information, please send an email to:

or call Isaac Saney at: 902-494-1531.


Among the main sponsors are:

*Canadian Network On Cuba

*Caribbean Studies Program, University of Toronto

*James Robinson Johnston Chair of Black Canadian Studies, Dalhousie University

*A Different Booklist (Toronto)

*Taylor Report/CIUT-FM

*GRILA (Group for Research and Initiative in the Liberation of Africa)*

* * *

On Apartheid South Africa’s War of Terror

From 1975 to 1988, the South Africa armed forces embarked on a campaign of massive destabilization of the region. The loss of life was immense. The South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission stated that “the majority of the victims of the South African’s government attempts to maintain itself in power were outside South Africa. Tens of thousands of people died as a direct or indirect result of the South African’s government aggressive intent towards its neighbours.” South Africa’s war of terror was so devastating that in 1986 the late Julius Nyerere, then president of Tanzania declared:

“When is war not war?…When is terrorism not terrorism? Apparently when it is committed by a more powerful government against those at home and abroad who are weaker than itself…Those are the only conclusions one can draw in the light of the current widespread condemnation of aggression and terrorism, side by side with the ability of certain nations to attack others with impunity, and to organize murder, kidnapping and massive destruction with the support of some permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. South Africa is such a country.”

* * *

On Cuba and Southern African Liberation

Cuba is often described as the only foreign country to have gone to Africa and gone away with nothing but the coffins of its sons and daughters who died in the struggles to liberate Africa. More than 330,000 Cubans served in Angola. More than 2,000 Cubans died in defence of Angolan independence and right of self- determination. The 1987-88 military defeat of South Africa in Angola constituted a mortal blow to the apartheid regime, ending its dream (nightmare for the region’s peoples) of establishing hegemony in southern Africa as a means by which to extend the life of the racist regime. Cuba played the central role in those fateful events.

Nelson Mandela has underscored Cuba’s vital role. In 1991 he declared:

“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. We in Africa are used to being victims of countries wanting to carve up our territory or subvert our sovereignty. It is unparalleled in African history to have another people rise to the defense of one of us. The defeat of the apartheid army was an inspiration to the struggling people in South Africa!”

In 1994, he further stated:

“If today all South Africans enjoy the rights of democracy; if they are able at last to address the grinding poverty of a system that denied them even the most basic amenities of life, it is also because of Cuba’s selfless support for the struggle to free all of South Africa’s people and the countries of our region from the inhumane and destructive system of apartheid. For that, we thank the Cuban people from the bottom of our hearts.”

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Africa’s Unknown War – Apartheid Terror, Cuba & Southern African Liberation

1 Comment

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