An interesting an offensive revelation from Che Guevara, a man who was a much-loved and respected communist leader not just in Central and South America, but here in Africa too.
However, as the writer of the piece where I came across this text noted says, Guevara had written this during a time where he had had no previous contact with black people (Argentina has a terrible history when it comes to the treatment of black people), not that this excuses his words. Wouldn’t be publishing this post if it wasn’t important for this to be known. But unlike Gandhi, Guevara sought a remedy for his ignorance, and not in a stereotypical “eat, pray love” fashion. The young doctor would later travel his native continent, an enlightening experience for the soon-to-be revolutionary that saw him use his skills as a medical student to help those in need. Guevara also went on to make speeches like this that stood in stark contrast to the above statements, become an outspoken critique of apartheid in South Africa, and eventually find himself being an instrumental component in a complex fight in Congo and other parts of the African continent.
In the same speech delivered at the United Nations in 1964 were he spoke out against colonialism, racism, capitalism, imperialism and apartheid, Guevara said this about the United States and the country’s treatment of the Black population, still relevant today:
"Those who kill their own children and discriminate daily against them because of the color of their skin; those who let the murderers of blacks remain free, protecting them, and furthermore punishing the black population because they demand their legitimate rights as free men—how can those who do this consider themselves guardians of freedom?"
History is, at the very least, incredibly complex. Reiterating Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, we can easily fall prey to the “danger of a single story" if we don’t delve further into the propagated singular narratives, whether romanticized or not. If anything, this is also a firm case of why we should stop referring to Thomas Sankara as the "African Che Guevera”. Although they share many similar influences, the histories of the two men are very different.
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