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Namibians adore the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro here in Namibia where a street was named after him in the capital Windhoek.

The news of Castro’s death at the age of 90 on Friday was received with profound sadness and deep grief, the ruling party Swapo secretary for information Helmut Angula said in a statement Saturday.

“During the difficult times of our struggle for independence, Commandant Fidel Castro provided our people with hope, inspiration and impeccable leadership,” Angula said.

To millions, Angula said, Castro was more than just a man but a symbol of the struggle for freedom, justice, equality and human dignity.

“His selfless sacrifice inspired revolutionaries in all corners of the world to fight relentlessly for justice, freedom and human dignity. He leaves us with a wealth of legacy and great vision to strive for self-reliance and well-being for the people of our country,” he further said.

Angula said Castro will be remembered for the immense sacrifices paid by Cubans under his command in Namibia’s fight for freedom especially the rescue operation during the attack on Namibian refugee camp at Cassinga, Angola, in 1978.

President Hage Geingob, in his condolence message Saturday, also described Castro as a father, a brother, an uncle and a friend.

“Our own victories and losses in the struggle for our independence against apartheid South Africa, are inextricably linked to the international solidarity of the Cuban people through diplomatic, military, and people to people interface,” he said.

Geingob also recalled how in May 1978, South African Defense Forces attacked defenseless Namibian women and children in exile at a Swapo camp at Cassinga, Angola.

“Again, it was the gallant Cuban forces who rushed to our rescue. Cuban soldiers lost their lives in this process due to land mines planted by our enemies. It’s in the same year, Fidel offered education to more than 3,000 Namibian children who survived the Cassinga attack,” he said.

“In short, the unwavering commitment of Fidel to our freedom led to the destruction of apartheid in Namibia. True to his revolutionary heart, Castro had no other interest other than the liberation of the oppressed,” he said.

“He had no interest in the natural resources of a free Namibia as his view was that Cubans did not come to collect gold or diamonds, all they had to do was return the remains of their fallen comrades.” said Geingob.

Another politician, Theo Ben-Gurirab, who served as Swapo representative to the United Nations, said Castro’s boldness expedited Namibia’s independence struggle.

“If it were not for Cuba, Southern Africa could have been a very different region right now,” Gurirab said.

Geingob said Sunday that he will be accompanied by two former Namibian presidents, Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, as well as the ruling party Swapo’s secretary general Nangolo Mbumba to Cuba for Castro’s memorial service in Havana.