Dean Najam talks to BBC TV on Fidel Castro

Adil Najam talks to BBC World TV News
Fidel Castro dies at age 90.

Dr. Adil Najam, inaugural Dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, was interviewed by BBC World TV News (November 26, 2016) hours after the death Fidel Castro who ruled Cuba for half a century. Castro, who died at 90 after a prolonged illness, was known for his fierce defiance of the United States.

Asked to comment on how the Cuban revolutionary was viewed by the world at large, and especially by those outside of the Western hemisphere, Najam said that for much of the world, “Fidel Castro was Cuba.” Although hated by his detractors as passionately as he was loved by his admirers, he was, according to Najam, “a defining figure of the second half of the last century.”

Najam pointed out that for many in Asia and Africa, the myth of Fidel Castro was bigger even than the man. More importantly, it “the myth was manufactured and carefully manicured by the Fidel himself.” In this respect, he was ahead of his time. “Well before the age of social media and the crowd sourcing of image, Fidel Castro crafted his own image -in particular as the defiant leader of a very small country (Cuba) standing against the mightiest power of his time (USA) like no one else dared to.”

Najam also commented that for many in the world he was an icon much more than a real political influence. Much of the world knew little about Cuba and less about his own policies in that country. They reacted instead to “how he used the world stage to project his country’s persona – a persona crafted in his own image.” However, for current generations he had already become a “historical” figure because he had been effectively out of control or influence for many years now.

Adil Najam is the inaugural Dean of Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies and former Vice Chancellor of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), in Pakistan. He is a past winner of MIT’s Goodwin Medal for Effective Teaching, the Fletcher School Paddock Teaching Award, and the Stein Rokan Award of the International Political Science Association.