Cuba: Island of Dreams Lost and Found – Part I
An email from a friend of a friends announced a trip to Cuba as part of a group I knew nothing about: the Tuskeegee Veterinary Medical Alumni Association. Of course, Tuskeegee University in Alabama — founded in 1881, with the legendary Dr. Booker T. Washington as its first president — has incomparable Old School Rules bona fides, so I was glad to learn that I could join TVMAA as an affiliate member and participate in their 2011 Scientific Conference. It was an chance to learn from a brand new group of people, removing yet another degree of separation between myself and the rest of humanity. The bonus was a visit to a place that’s been on my Bucket List for over 40 years.
We flew direct to Havana from Miami, Florida on a charter flight arranged by InsightCuba, the leading provider of legal people-to-people travel to Cuba. After changing the Euros I’d purchased in the U.S. into the CUC currency that is the only legal tender for foreigners on the island — giving new meaning to the exclamation “green go!” and the designation once reserved for unwelcome Americans: gringo — I rolled my bag through the throng of families greeting relatives on arriving flights, toward the two buses waiting for the TVMAA group. Before boarding, I took a snapshot of the first thing I saw:This Old School Rules classic mural of Che Guevara, is one of hundreds of images of the dashing, brilliant young hero of the Revolution found at literally every turn in Havana. I was reminded of the common thread that linked New World Africans throughout the Americas back in the day, when civil rights in the U.S. appeared to break the mold of cloaked and ugly secrets, challenging the notion expressed by the Last Poets, that “the Revolution will not be televised”. In the case of Cuba, the Last Poets were right. That’s the good news and the bad news. Experiencing first-hand — or at least on “live” TV — the befores, durings and afters of everyday people saying “no” to governance that doesn’t serve them, is valuable. Whether we understand the problems, agree with the solutions, recognize the leadership, speak the language — or not — it is important to know what Revolution means, because it’s been happening since prehistoric times, and is the reason we have Democracy.
Revolution is a dream that never dies. It wakes the dreamer — sometimes gently, sometimes fitfully, to action or just to observation — and returns to spur the slumbering mind whenever it is needed. Cuba is still living a dream. My small glimpse of its Revolution will not be televised, but it will be blogged about, because revolution is without question one of our Old School Rules.