The author of the Arabic-language book from which this excerpt has been translated, Ahmed Sa‘id (1925-2018), was from 1953 until the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War the inaugural director and main announcer of the Cairo-based Arab nationalist Sawt al-‘Arab. This radio was a crucial public relations instrumentfor the post-revolutionary Egyptian government and the by far most popular station in the Arab world in the 1950s-60s. Consequently, Sa‘id was a household name to Arabs.
While most Arabic books on non-Arab decolonization movements and, related, anti-imperialistmovements in the 1950s and 1960s concerned African states, there was much interest in other countries, too. One was Cuba, where a revolution that had started in 1953 succeeded on January 1, 1959. For realpolitik reasons Cuba early on became a Soviet ally, and eventually in the 1960s turned communist, though it continued to pursue a rather fiercely independent foreign policy including armed engagements in Africa, as Piero Gleijeses’ Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976 (2003) showed. Egypt, on the other hand, repressed its domestic communists, though entertaining considerable ties with the USSR and defining itself as a socialist state. Thus, when Sa‘id accepted a Cuban invitation to attend the revolution’s second anniversary celebration, it was not leftism that attracted him most. Rather, he in this book depicted Cubans as fellow fighters in a continuous revolution against US-led imperialism, a political battle superseding any cultural or linguistic differences.