Conference: The Politics of Armed Struggle in Southern Africa

Paper abstracts and biographies of speakers

Name

Koni Benson & Asher Gamedze

Organisation

University of Cape Town

Biography

Asher Gamedze currently cuts up most of his time between playing music, studying history, writing, and engaging in radical education work. He is interested in historical process, revolutionary politics, free jazz and other African musics. Presently his research and thinking is largely centred around: deconstructing the illusionary shrines of liberalism and radicalism in mainstream South African historical writing and education, studying music, as the vanguard of consciousness, in southern African liberation history, engaging with the largely silenced archive of southern African Black intellectual thought and engaging critically with the social organisation of historical silence.

 

Koni Benson is a post doctoral research fellow in History and at the African Center for Cities at the University of Cape Town where she is coproducing life histories of unfolding political struggles of collective resistance against displacement and for access to land and public services in South Africa’s past and present.  She is a history student and teacher and works with social justice organisations on African history, popular education, and collaborative research processes. She is the author ofCrossroads: I Live Where I Like, a graphic novel history series on women’s organized resistance to slum clearance in Crossroads South Africa, 1975-2015, (illustrated by the Trantraal Brothers and published by Isotrope Media 2014-2016), and the co-author with Faeza Meyer of Writing Out Loud: Interventions in the History of A Land Occupation (forthcoming 2016).  Her work has also been published by the Journal of Southern African Studies, African  Studies Review, Feminist Africa, Pambuzuka Press, Gender Place and Culture: Feminist Geography, South African Labour Bulletin, Zambezia, Khanya College Journal, ILRIG, Zmagazine, and various newspapers in South Africa, Canada, and Kenya.

Title

Re-politicising armed struggle: Notes towards an investigation

Abstract

In this paper we move toward a critique of contemporary discourses of armed struggle in South Africa. By highlighting the politics of the present moment of armed struggle in the country, we argue for a repositioning of the discussion within a framework of historical process that emphasises and interrogates continuities with the past state regimes rather than assuming that the early 1990s represent the end of the era of armed struggle. The assumption of the ‘armed struggle’ being a very particular time period, located exclusively in the past (ie. roughly 1960s-1990), hides and depoliticises historical processes of militarisation, power and struggle in South Africa that are of crucial contemporary importance. In order to arrive at our critique of this vacumisation we discuss three interrelated processes/themes.  Firstly, we discuss the fact that when liberation movements decide to arm themselves it is because the stat(us quo)e has already engaged them in armed struggle (it is just that, at that point, they themselves are not armed). Here we raise questions around who exactly is armed at particular moments, who is engaged in struggle for what political ends, and according to whose actions do we ascribe the label ‘armed struggle’? Second, we look at the 1980s and the era of transition as key to our understanding of the armed struggle. The militarisation of the police force in the 1980s, and the inheritance of that militarised apartheid state by the ANC as well as the demobilisation of liberation armies and the failures of integration of those popular forces with SADF in this period, all looked together, emphasise continuities between the armed forces of the state under apartheid/late colonialism, and under post-1994 democratic-fascism. Thirdly we look a few incidents and processes post-1994 that highlight those continuities. This raises questions around which struggles are considered legitimate and whose use of force is considered legitimate at particular historical moments. We argue here that, if we understand that the ideology and practice of the racist, classist and increasingly fascist ‘post-apartheid’ stat(us quo)e represents continuity rather than a departure from the ideology of the late colonialist armed forces and its apartheid state, it becomes possible to understand incidents of anti-Black violence such as the Marikana Massacre amongst others, as consistent within the historical process of armed struggle waged by the state. Today, Black people’s struggles and protests are still violently and brutally repressed by heavily militarised armed forces that struggling to preserve the status quo.

 

 

 

 

Name

Jonna Katto

Organisation

University of Helsinki

Biography

 

Title

Beautiful Mozambique Haptics of belonging in the life narratives of female war veterans

Abstract

Between 1964 and 1974 thousands of young people in the rural areas of northern Mozambique were mobilized by the guerrilla army FRELIMO to fight against Portuguese colonial rule. Hundreds of girls and young women also became engaged as guerrilla fighters in FRELIMO’s political-military campaign for national independence. My paper concerns the relationship between FRELIMO nationalism and the female bodies that it sought to represent and mobilize. It is based on twelve months of multi-sited fieldwork among Ciyaawo-speaking communities in northern Niassa between 2012 and 2014.

Drawing on Arnold Berleant’s concept of aesthetics, I explore the shifting senses of socio-spatial belonging in the life narratives of female ex-combatants. Aesthetic engagement, as Berleant argues, involves our whole body and all our senses in the active perception of the environment. As my analysis shows, aesthetic sensibility is deeply intertwined with the ex-combatants’ experiences of socio-spatial attachment/detachment. It influences the way belonging is negotiated at different scales (e.g. nation, province, village, family, and globe). Negotiations on one scale effect negotiations on another and cannot be isolated from each other. In the female ex-combatants’ narratives, the ‘national’ often intertwines with the ‘personal’ in a violent relationship, evoking what I call the haptics of the ‘bush’. Even today, as my paper argues, the aesthetics of the ‘bush’ and the aesthetics of home continue to be negotiated in relation to each other. Moreover, negotiating one’s relationship and belonging to landscape is a gendered practice. Gender, age and one’s social and economic position as a veteran together crucially shape the female ex-combatants’ sense of socio-spatial belonging. Thus though the category of ex-combatant closely binds these women to the state, their experience of Mozambique is not only mediated by the spatial politics of Frelimo nationalism. As my paper shows, the Mozambique that takes shape in the female ex-combatants’ narratives is not a homogenous, unified landscape; rather, it is perceived as consisting of multiple and unequal landscapes that are valued according to different scales of beauty.

 

 

 

 

Name

John Mwangi Githigaro

Organisation

St. Paul’s University, Limuru, Kenya

Biography

 

Title

(Re) visiting the Impact of Ethnic Divisions in the Armed Struggle in Zimbabwe

Abstract

At the heart of Zimbabwe’s armed struggle to achieve independence, were two competing ‘nationalist’ movements (ZANU PF & ZAPU PF) and their respective armies that aimed at liberating the country from white minority rule. These two factions drawing on narrow ethnic alliances were marked by rivalries in the armed struggle. This study’s central focus is to ask in what ways ethnic divisions impacted on the armed struggle in Zimbabwe. The ethnic divisions often became an agency of ‘tribalists’ take on a ‘nationalist’ path and with the goal of securing the ‘state’ from minority rule. The ethnic factionalism that arose created a disjointed focus on the armed struggle. Both ZAPU and ZANU were marked my struggles that only included ethnic divisions but went beyond it to include generational and ideological disputes. Both movements bequeathed for Zimbabwe from a very early stage, the politics of narrow ethnic alliances and which would entrench a ‘tribalized’ nation in the armed struggle period and beyond. These two rival factions thus lost the nationalist ethos they both espoused even as they waged the armed struggle. This study traces the ‘ethnic’ narratives and discourses that both sides of the political divide applied in the armed struggle as a way to situate their vested positions and their associated impacts. Taking on a historical approach, the study asks in what ways the Shona, Zeruru and the Ndebele inter-ethnic relations were shaped in the armed struggle.

 

 

 

 

Name

Tom Lodge

Organisation

University of Limerick/Ollscoil Luimnigh

Biography

Tom Lodge is Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Limerick.  Before moving to Ireland in 2005 he was Professor of Political Studies at Wits University where he worked from 1978.  His latest book is “Sharpeville: An Apartheid Massacre and its Consequences” (Oxford University Press, 2011).  He is at present writing a book about the history of the South African Communist Party.

Title

South African Armed Struggle: intentions and motives

Abstract

This paper will first focus on the strategic intentions of the leaders and founders of Umkhonto we Sizwe.  Was the decision to embark first on a sabotage campaign and subsequently guerrilla warfare prompted by a strategic conviction that a campaign of “limited violence” could serve as a form of pressure to induce a negotiated political settlement?  Or were some if not all of Umkhonto’s early leaders prompted by a more ambitious set of aims in which armed violence would create the conditions in which apartheid’s opponents could seize power on their own terms?  Or was there from the beginning an unresolved tension between reformist and more revolutionary objectives?  If this was the case, did the mix alter at different times during Umkhonto’s history?  And how were the intentions of armed struggle understood within Umkhonto amongst its rank and file at different times?  This paper will draw upon the ANC and SACP’s public and internal documentation, interviews and oral testimony, courts records as well as the published literature of memoir.   

 

 

 

 

Name

Paolo Israel

Organisation

University of the Western Cape

Biography

Paolo Israel was born in Rome, Italy. He studied Philosophy at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, where he graduated with a dissertation on oral style in traditional Italian storytelling. In 2001 he enrolled for doctoral studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudies in Sciences Sociales of Paris, with a focus on the anthropology of art and performance. Since 2002 he has carried out research in northern Mozambique on themes connected with dance, music, magic and history. His book, In Step with the Times: Mapiko Masquerades of Mozambique (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2014) charts the historicity of Makonde masquerades throughout the twentieth century. He has also written on traditional storytelling, orality, liberation songs, contemporary art, and witchcraft. He lives at works in Cape Town.

Title

Mueda Massacre: the Musical Archive

Abstract

Like Pidjiguiti in Guiné-Bissau or Baixa de Cassanje in Angola, the massacre that occurred in the northern Mozambican town of Mueda on 16th June 1960 has been inscribed in the nationalist narrative as the breaking point of anti-colonial unrest and the trigger of the armed liberation struggle. In the past twenty years several scholars have questioned the central tenets of the nationalist interpretation, especially idea that the stakes of the demonstration was political independence—a claim considered too lofty to be articulated by a mass of illiterate peasants guided by leaders enmeshed in ethnic organisations. Caught between the rhetorics of resistance and revisionism, the colonial archive and oral testimony, nationalism and ethnicity, the event itself has been rendered illegible.

 

To rescue June 16th from this deadlock this essay turns towards a different kind of historical material: song. Proceeding archeologically, it moves from songs that reproduce the official version; to more ancient songs that express some direct experience of the event, however layered and reformulated; to the songs that were sung at the time of the massacre. These songs pave the way to a reinterpretation of the massacre: from the point zero of a vanguardist history of national consciousness, to a utopian moment in which independence appeared as a possibility, however unclearly understood, the political imagination expanding beyond any consideration of objective constraint.

 

 

Name

Simon Stevens

Organisation

St John’s College, University of Cambridge

Biography

In 2016-17, I will be a Research Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge University. In September 2017, I will take up a Lectureship in International History at the University of Sheffield (UK). I studied for my undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Cambridge, and then completed my doctorate in History at Columbia University in New York. I am currently a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. My doctoral thesis, which I defended in October 2015, was entitled “Boycotts and Sanctions Against South Africa: An International History, 1946-1970.” I am currently preparing the manuscript for publication as a monograph. I have published in Diplomatic History and Humanity (forthcoming, 2016), and contributed chapters to The Breakthrough: Human Rights in the 1970s, eds. Samuel Moyn and Jan Eckel, and Comrades of Color: East Germany in the Cold War World, ed. Quinn Slobodian.

Title

“The ‘turn to armed struggle’ and the ‘turn to sanctions,’ 1960-1969”

Abstract

Scholarship on the “turn to armed struggle” in South Africa has flourished in the past decade. But the overwhelming focus on the adoption of violence as a central element of the strategy of the liberation movements has tended to obscure the other elements of that strategy. Those other elements include what I call the “turn to sanctions,” which occurred simultaneously, and which established campaigns for economic sanctions as one of the central forms of international anti-apartheid solidarity action. Meanwhile, the literature on global anti-apartheid activism – generally written by scholars with quite different regional and thematic specialisations – rarely engages directly with the relationship of external anti-apartheid campaigns to the newly-launched armed struggle. Though often treated as discrete subjects, however, internal and international anti-apartheid activities were components of a single strategy, and can only be fully understood when studied as such. Drawn from my current book project on the international history of anti-apartheid boycotts – which is based on research in more than seventy archives in six countries – this paper asks why leaders of the liberation movements came to believe after 1960 that UN economic sanctions were both desirable and feasible. And it analyses the shifting ideas within the movements regarding the specific role that sanctions could play in ending apartheid. I show that, initially, sanctions were generally perceived as a means of causing sufficient economic hardship to bring about a realignment in white politics, so that the National Party would be replaced in power by a more reformist white government that would be willing to negotiate with the opponents of apartheid. As the liberation movements turned to armed struggle, however, the purpose of sanctions came to be understood quite differently. Sanctions were now seen as a means of facilitating the armed seizure of power by degrading the state’s capacity to resist guerrilla warfare.

 

 

 

 

Name

Judy Seidman

Organisation

Freelancer

Biography

Judy Seidman is a freelance visual artist; she worked as a graphic artist with ANC in various frontline states from 1972 to 1990; member of Medu Art Ensemble (Gaborone) 1980 – 1985; with MK structures 1985-1990; has written extensively on visual arts and culture of resistance, including (as part of Posterbook Collective) Images of Defiance (1990); Red on Black, Story of the South African Poster Movement (2007).

Title

“National liberation is necessarily an act of culture”: Visual art of the armed struggle in Southern Africa

Abstract

The visual arts were fully represented within the culture of liberation that flourished within Southern Africa’s liberation movements.  However, relatively little has been written about visual arts representing the armed struggle.  This paper aims to explore the visual arts created around the armed struggle; and begin to position this within a broader understanding of the culture dynamics that emerged as part of Southern Africa’s liberation movements, and the armed struggle in particular.

 

It is widely recognised that music, poetry and dance were integral cultural expressions within the liberation movements; styles were developed and practiced within military camps, then adopted throughout “liberated zones”.  In contrast, the visual arts followed a somewhat different trajectory.  Military spaces and structures provided little or no capacity for practicing the visual arts.  Physically, there is no time and space to create works, no secure space for storage and exhibition, and little capacity for reproduction or distribution.  Security issues arose over representation of fighters – photographs and realistic portraits of active fighters potentially became a danger if taken by the enemy.  Thus, there are relatively few visual artists that produced artworks expressing their experiences while simultaneously participating in the armed struggle - the outstanding example being Thami Mnyele. This paper in part discusses direct (in some cases personal) experiences of the problems encountered in this situation, and solutions found for them.

 

Most visual art about the armed struggle was produced within the mass movements that supported the armed struggle, to mobilise support for liberation armies, and to commemorate successes and sacrifices (key examples include art by Medu, and the work of Malangatana and the murals of Maputo).  Another subset of visual artwork came out of solidarity movements, often adopting visual memes developed by other liberation struggles to Southern Africa.  One result of this was that “art critics” who felt uncomfortable with the alignment to socialist ideologies accused artists in Southern Africa of using images that repeated propaganda and clichés,  as opposed to drawing upon real experiences, beliefs and commitments, especially of the armed struggle.  These debates played out in styles, symbols, and content of the visual art produced; moreover, they may play a role in more recent silences over assessing this body of artwork around the armed struggle as part of our visual heritage.

 

In conclusion, this paper suggests that the lack of recognition accorded to the visual art of the armed struggle forms part of a broader failure to address the positive impact of the armed struggle in cultural practice and belief for our emergent, democratic societies.

 

 

 

 

Name

Miguel Junior

Organisation

Institute Military Technical Angola

Biography

Miguel Junior is Lieutenant General Angolan Armed Forces. He is Master of Military History and is PHD in History. He is also Professor of Military History at the Institute Military Technical Angola. And is the author of several books and many articles on Defense, Security and History.

Title

AGOSTINHO NETO AND THE ARMED STRUGGLE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA (ANGOLA, 1961-1979)

Abstract

The armed struggle in Southern Africa encompasses many particular and concrete situations. Therefore, the best way to understand the armed struggle in southern Africa is to consider each case in a timely manner and then incorporate them all. Thus, the focus here is the armed struggle in Angola. However, the armed struggle in Angola can also be treated as a whole or separately from, since in this country there were several movements of national liberation. But this text analysis focuses on the armed struggle led by the Popular Movement of Liberation of Angola (MPLA) under the leadership of Agostinho Neto. Soon we will examine, firstly, the armed struggle from 1961 to 1974 the MPLA and check the strategic thinking of Agostinho Neto over the national liberation struggle in Angola.

                But as the concept of the armed struggle is broad and embraces all forms of armed violence and to make use of the armed forces, then in the context of this approach there is also space to go over the wars experienced by Angola in the pre- and post-independence periods. Since this was a consequence of the internal conflict and the intransigent position of Angola over the last bastions of colonialism and the apartheid system. So, secondly, we will address the fundamental aspects of these wars more articulate with Agostinho Neto's ideas concerning the struggle against colonialism and apartheid in Southern Africa.

                These are the two central points of communication on Agostinho Neto and the armed struggle in Southern Africa.          

 

 

 

 

Name

Hugh Macmillan

Organisation

African Studies Centre, University of Oxford

University of the Western Cape

Biography

Hugh Macmillan is a historian who has published widely on the history of Southern Africa. His most recent books are The Lusaka Years: The ANC in Exile in Zambia (2013) and Chris Hani, a Jacana pocket biography (2014). His pocket biography of Jack Simons is in the press. He is currently a research associate at the African Studies Centre, University of Oxford and an extraordinary researcher at the University of the Western Cape.

Title

Jack Simons and armed struggle.

Abstract

I am about to publish a Jacana pocket biography of Jack Simons, following up one that I published on Chris Hani in 2014. Simons’s relationship with the ANC and MK in relation to armed struggle and political education is interesting and complex. He opposed the turn to armed struggle in 1961, together with Moses Kotane and Chief Albert Luthuli, allegedly under Quaker influence. With his wife Ray he may have later accepted the establishment of MK. In Lusaka in 1969 he played a major role as a mediator in defusing the crisis within MK following the failure of the Wankie and Sipolilo Campaigns, and the subsequent Hani Memorandum.  It was that that time that he began his first course in political education for freedom fighters. This had a significant influence on Hani’s political work in Lesotho betweeen 1975 and 1982. Between 1977 and 1979 Simons spent about nine months teaching political education courses in the MK camps in Angola. His camp diaries are a major source of information on life in the camps at that time. He consistently argued that more time should be devoted to political eduation and was always certain that the main role of MK people inside South Africa would be political, not military. The emphasis on the political was officially confirmed in 1979, following the visit of Tambo, Slovo and others to Vietnam, through the ‘Green Book’ on which Simons had some influence.

 

 

 

 

Name

Benny Moyo

Organisation

Mafela Trust

Biography

Certificate of Education, Bachelor of Education and Masters in Education, {Father was a member of the ZAPU national council} Poet and teacher, Board member of Mafela Trust

Title

Socialist internationalism and the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary army {ZIPRA} – a game changer

Abstract

After the sabotage operation by youth wing cadres of the National Democratic Party {N.D.P} of the early sixties ,the formation of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union [ZAPU] saw the first group of cadres sent for training in the then U.S.S.R and China. Among these cadres were those who were later constitute the Luthuli detachment, led by J. Dube and deputized by Chris Hani- a joint Z.A.P.U-A.N.C operation. Thereafter in the sixties, cadres were sent for training in various military disciplines in the entire socialist block-the U.S.S.R, Czechoslovakia, the Germany Democratic Republic, Romania, Yugoslavia, Poland and Cuba.  As the struggle intensified and qualitatively changed to assume a conventional form, Z.I.P.R.A crafted the final push and sent cadres to Romania and Yugoslavia to train tank and armoured cars fighters while some were sent to the U.S.S.R to train as M.I.G jet fighter pilots and different facets of regular warfare. Meanwhile in Zambia, Angola and Ethiopia there were East Germany, Russian and Cuban military advisers and instructors.

Meanwhile the weapons provided by the socialist countries particularly from 1978 onwards changed the whole complexion of the war. The surface to air missiles meant the Rhodesians could not continue to enjoy air superiority. Apart from the military hardware and support through international socialist solidarity Z.A.P.U/Z.I.P.R.A were able to access food, medical supplies, foot wear and scholarships for its cadres. Typically Z.I.P.R.A was structured along socialist lines with all units having a political commissar as the deputy commander.

Key words:- internationalism, socialist solidarity, military hardware

 

 

 

 

 

Name

Nkululeko Mabandla

Organisation

CAS, UCT

Biography

Returning to South Africa after political exile, Nkululeko Mabandla founded the People’s Learning Theatre Organization and worked as a consultant in the areas of management of change and organisational development. Nkululeko has also worked in the Film and TV industry as an actor, director and script writer.  In 2010, he went back to further his education which had been cut short by his anti-apartheid activism and completed an MA, with distinction, at UCT’s Sociology Department in 2012. Nkululeko’s thesis was entered into an international competition, sponsored by Leiden University’s (Netherlands) African Studies Centre (ASC-Leiden), and won the Afrika Thesis Award 2012, for the best thesis based on original empirical research on Sub Saharan Africa. His thesis, has since been published in book form in 2013. Nkululeko is a doctoral fellow at the Institute for Humanities in Africa. His current research is on Chinese traders in South Africa's rural towns.

Title

The 80s student movement and South Africa’s armed struggle

Abstract

Abstract: Resistance against the apartheid state violence was an uphill battle as asunarmed youth were met with the brutal armed force of its repressive machinery, resulting in death, arrests, or severe physical injuries and psychological harm. The killing of eleven year-old Hector Peterson in the 1976 Soweto students’ uprising demonstrated apartheid’s brutality towards unarmed black children. Young people grew up almost overnight. Following the criminalization of black organizations in the 1970s, and the deaths in detention of young black leaders. These included Mapetla Mohapi, Steve Biko and Lungile Tabalaza (in 1976, 1977 and 1978 respectively), the apartheid regime had gloated that it had crushed the liberation movement and importantly, the will of the people to resist.

 

This paper focuses on a group of comrades who cut their teeth in the 1980s Fort Hare University student boycotts and later became celebrated fighters and commanders of MK. It traces their political consciousness in the hot fires of revolt, fanned, among others, by the widespread resistance to the so-called ‘independence’ of the Transkei and the militant worker’s struggles led by the South African Allied workers Union (SAAWU) in East London. Based on primary and secondary accounts, as well as personal knowledge, the paper maps the MK military trajectory of these friends, including their involvement in one of the longest recorded shoot-outs between MK and the apartheid forces inside South Africa. 

 

The paper argues that apartheid state repression and propaganda failed to dissuade this youth from the path of revolution and in particular, from joining the armed struggle. It argues that the inter-sectional struggles of the 80s, involving students, workers and the community, gave the above students far-reaching political and organizational experience which enabled them to survive for long periods as underground operatives and success in their armed engagements with apartheid security forces. The contribution of the 80s youth to the South African struggle and, in particular, the armed struggle remains hidden. This paper intends to address this gap in the literature.

 

 

 

 

 

Name

Calisto Samuel Remedios Baquete

Organisation

 

Biography

 

Title

Genesis of Moviments of opposition to Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO) in period from 1960 to 1994.case COREMO.

Abstract

This work intends to study in a historical way the genesis of movements of opposition to Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO), in the period from 1960 to 1994, to understand the dynamics of the conflicting groups. Given that it is impossible to cover all the groups, the aim of this work will be COREMO. This study is aimed at analyzing the nature of the causes of antagonism among groups, political parties and armed movements in Mozambique, based on the deconstruction of “ethnic conflicts”, to show that the main reasons were of ethnic and economic dimensions. The working methodology mostly consisted, among others, in confrontation of memories, a number of studies, interviews, primary documents, inherent to correspondences, and reports from COREMO and PIDE∕DGS files.

First the analysis focused on the pre-colonial period, characterized by antagonism among ethnic groups, and dispersed resistance struggles, followed by colonial period, consolidation and divisions for leadership of nationalist movements. Further on it analyzes the armed struggles period until the ceasefire agreement, moments of conflicts, above all, the rival external and internal forces threatened by independence and creation of a new nation.

It also examines the apparent degeneration of COREMO and finally the reaffirmation stage of opposition parties and movements in the multi-party system period.

 

 

Keywords: COREMO, FRELIMO, Nationalism, Ethnicity and Political Movements

 

 

 

 

Name

Moloi, Tshepo

Organisation

History Workshop, University of the Witwatersrand

Biography

Tshepo Moloi is a researcher in the History Workshop

Research Group, University of the Witwatersrand. He is the author of A Place

of Thorns: Black political protest in Kroonstad Since 1976 (Wits University

Press, 2015). He has published on student politics in South Africa. He is

currently researching histories of resistance in Mpumalanga province in the

1980s and 1990s.

 

Title

“You have to think of tomato sauce”: The life and times of Thembuyise Simon Mndawe, an MK cadre

Abstract

On 8 March 1983 Mndawe was found dead in his cell at the Nelspruit Police Station. He was 21 years old.  In a brief period of two and half years, Mndawe helped to revive resistance politics in parts of the Lowveld region of the then eastern Transvaal (today’s Mpumalanga province). In 1980, while employed by the KaNgwane homeland government, he joined uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK, Spear of the Nation). He recruited young people and sent them out to receive military and underground training; was involved in the attack of the base of the South African Defence Force in Tonga. More importantly, Mndawe played a vital role in re-invigorating the ANC’s politics in KaNgwane during the land deal. In my paper I will attempt to demonstrate that when the members of MK recruited Mndawe they found him prepared; he was already conscious of the unconcealed discrimination and injustices prevailing in the country, or at least in his immediate surroundings. His reserved nature, Christian practices and employment made him an effective MK underground operative.

 

 

 

 

 

Name

Orleyn, Rithuli

Organisation

The Con Magazine, French Magazine

Biography

I’m Rithuli Orleyn, a contributing editor for The Con Magazine and a writer for French Magazine on art and politics called Afrikadaa. I’ve written for Mail and Guardian and Mahala portal. I’m cited as co-author for a postgraduate study paper on Social Determinants of HIV among Men who have Sex with Men in Cape Town (a paper yet to be published). I dabble in songwriting: my work features on two SAMA nominated albums by an artists who’s work, in film, garnered a nomination for Oscar awards.

 

As part of my activism vocation through Blackhouse Kollective Philosopher in Soweto Series vehicle, I have among internationally acknowledged luminaries convened and chaired public lecture events graced by Prof Charles Mills (USA), Prof Lewis Gordon (USA), Prof Janine Jones (USA), Prof Mogobe Ramose (RSA), and clinical psychologist Dr Umar Johnson (USA). These Philolosopher Series seek to marry activism to critical thought; rigorous and deep cognitive engagement. I am formally trained in Information System, Project Management and Business Analysis from Cape Peninsula University of Technology. I consider my formal trained invaluable for running a small activism establishment that needs to sustain itself through a model of 'low investment high returns.'

 

Title

Banished Struggle Memories Archived In Sound: Amagwijo As Discourse.

Abstract

 

“As Blacks we come to understand that we cannot enter into the structure of recognition as a being and incorporation into the community of beings without that structure collapsing…” So memorializing and archiving the armed struggle in song presents us with a way to reflect on the armed struggle archive, as distillation of the ensemble of the aesthetic, where Sound and Language are metonyms for what is excluded and what enjoys recognition and incorporation in the world as we know it, respectively. This condensing of Freedom and Oppression into placeholders, namely: Sound and Language, foregrounds underpinnings of suffering in a manner that foment a way to talk about Pan-African Black Consciousness ideology as counter-dominant narrative adequate to deal an iconoclastic blow to oppression qua black-suffering (Black suffering as defined in the lexicon of Fanonian or Steve Biko school of thought).

 

The collections of songs composed in exile by combatants coming from ideologically different movements (in the struggle against apartheid) weave psychic inheritance to experience of which Blacks have no recollection. The songs interrogate loss that locate Black existence in Fanon’s “Zone of Nonbeing”, where Black corporeality exists in a ferment characterized by suspension of ethical relations

 

 

We zone in on the ideological difference posited by APLA (PAC military wing) versus MK (ANC military wing) against the carnage of nine dispossession wars that took place in the Cape of South Africa between late 1700 and late 1800. This is a period dotted by gratuitous white violence which constructs a new, never before imagined, subjectivity— a Black subject defined by lack, erasure; a subject defined by equivalence to absence.

As we engage with this Black subjectivity whose speech is silent in the face of gratuitous violence that forms it, two dictums map our conceptual framework: 1) Word is first and foremost sound and 2) Where speech is forbidden noise or sound becomes discourse. We explore this discourse in the subtext of silence and discordant disruptive sounds of exile song collection.

 

 

 

 

 

Name

Chibango, Conrad

Organisation

Great Zimbabwe University

Biography

Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Religious

Studies at Great Zimbabwe University.

Title

‘LET MY PEOPLE GO’. A LIBERATION THEOLOGY PERSPECTIVE OF ZIMBABWE’S ARMED STRUGGLE

Abstract

The decision by the Zimbabwean nationalists to resort to armed struggle in the fight against the white minority regime of Rhodesia brought division in the society and even among Christians. Both the white minority regime on the one hand and the liberation war movements on the other hand, blamed each other for the war atrocities that left many dead. This paper discusses the theological justification of the Zimbabwean liberation war. Since about 80% of the population in Zimbabwe is Christian, it is essential to consider the theological legacy left by thus liberation war. The issue of whether going to war is right or not is not new in the history of Christianity. In the middle ages, Thomas Aquinas put forward the ‘just war theory’, a model which political leaders could use to decide whether it was right or wrong to go to war with any enemy. Based on the commandment ‘thou shall not kill’, is also another view but which accepts no circumstance in which any war can be justified. In the wake of oppressive regimes and poverty mainly experienced in the third world since the end of the 2nd World War, a theology based on the notion of liberation of the oppressed masses through both theory and activism, arose, beginning in Latin America. In South Africa, it took the form of Black Theology. In the light of Liberation Theology, this paper assesses the armed struggle in Zimbabwe in the light of Liberation theology. It is argued that liberation theologians would have supported the war but highlights that some atrocities committed by the liberation movements during the process did not merit justification.

Keywords: Liberation theology; just war theory; option for the poor; liberation war; social justice.

 

 

 

 

Name

Williams, Christian

Organisation

University of the Free State

Biography

Christian Williams studies Southern Africa’s liberation struggles and their aftermath through the experiences of Namibians who lived in Africa’s frontline states during the struggle years. He completed his Ph.D. in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan and was a fellow at the University of the Western Cape’s Centre for Humanities Research before moving to the Free State, where he now lectures in the UFS Department of Anthropology. Williams’ monograph, National Liberation in Postcolonial Southern Africa: A Historical Ethnography of SWAPO’s Exile Camps, was published in 2015 with Cambridge University Press.

Title

Exile Biography and Un-National History: The Story of Kaufilwa Nepelilo

Abstract

In the history of Namibia’s liberation struggle, Kaufilwa Nepelilo’s story is largely unintelligible. As one of hundreds of contract laborers to leave Namibia during the early 1960s in search of opportunities in postcolonial Tanzania, Nepelilo soon found himself living at Kongwa, the site of the first guerrilla camp granted to SWAPO and other liberation movements then supported by the OAU. A reluctant “freedom fighter” at best, Nepelilo’s account of life at Kongwa focuses not on preparations to liberate Namibia from colonialism but rather on escalating tensions between rank-in-file guerrillas and the camp command. Nepelilo’s story is not a classic “dissident” narrative either, however. In contrast to critical historiography, which introduces Kongwa in the context of SWAPO’s 1968 “Kongwa Crisis,” Nepelilo focuses on the inequities of camp daily life and recurring mundane conflicts over seven years. Moreover, he highlights events that he experienced personally and that have fallen outside historiography altogether, including confrontations at Kongwa after 1968, the imprisonment of Namibians in Tanzanian and Zambian jails during the early 1970s, and the repatriation of Namibians as “Angolan refugees” during the early 1980s. As I argue, such oversights in the literature reflect the social geography of exile and how this geography has been reproduced as national history in Namibia and other Southern African countries. Nevertheless, Nepelilo’s story has not been “silenced.” Rather, it has been narrated often among friends who share stories of their exile pasts to support one another in postcolonial Namibia. Through engaging with these stories, I not only present the biography of one former exile/guerrilla, but also suggest how new histories of exile and armed struggles may be written.

 

 

Name

Curry, Dawne

Organisation

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Biography

Dawne Y. Curry is an Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  She is the author of

Apartheid on a Black Isle:  Removal and Resistance in Alexandra, South Africa

Title

IN THE SPACE OF THE SEXWALE TRIAL:  ALEXANDRA’S INTERNAL UNDERGROUND AND ITS OILING OF THE MACHINERY

Abstract

In the midst of the forced removal process, former Robben Island political prisoner and widower Martin Ramokgadi continued life as an activist.  He resided at No. 57 11th Avenue.  In what appeared as a normal abode, lay dissembled a refuge for cell operatives belonging to the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation/MK).  At any one given time, Ramokgadi harbored at least two or three insurgents if not more at his place.  Two of his guests, whom a man named Albert picked up, assumed the code name of a fictitious baked good.  On the day that Albert visited the safe house, he brought along two sealed envelopes. Inscribed with the names John and Martin, one of the envelopes issued a directive, “I have come to collect the wedding cakes.”  This paper examines Alexandra’s contribution to the underground using the testimony contained in the Sexwale Trial records.  It argues that this primary source conveyed several themes crucial for understanding the underground movement.  These include:  mobility, gender, space, and training.  Through these records, Alexandrans and their collaborators turned the township’s square mile into a virtual ground for recruiting insurgents.  Not only did people like Ramokgadi and Jacob “Curry” Seathlolo create a South African version of the African American Underground Railroad that linked the township to other places within and outside South Africa, they also used the township to create an inscription of resistance on the landscape.  In spite of Alexandra’s geographical insulation, residents involved in the underground turned the township’s location into a political and military advantage.  They used the same streets that proponents of segregation and apartheid made to support their own endeavors.  Thus, this paper asks three overarching questions:  What did Alexandra offer as a township; what ways do the defendants in the Sexwale trial address resistance; and lastly, how did they respond to Alexandra’s geographical insulation?  In other words, how did space, race, and place play a role in defining how the Alexandra evolved within the township’s square mile? 

 

 

 

 

Name

Radebe, Zandi

Organisation

UNISA

Biography

My name is Zandisiwe Radebe. I am an academic at the

Department of Political Sciences at the University of South Africa. I teach

Political Philosophy at third year level. My research interests include

Decoloniality, Black consciousness and Critical Race Theory, Fanonian

Thought, Radical African feminist and Black Feminism. I am currently enrolled

for a PHD program at UNISA and my study focuses on the Negotiated Settlements

and the lived experiences of APLA and AZANLA combatants.

Title

Negotiated out of existence: Fanonian mediations on APLA and AZANLA combatants

Abstract

Fanon argues that, for the wretched of the earth, full humanity can only emerge through the effort to impose one’s existence onto another. That is to say, the resistance against the dehumanizing effects of colonial conquest leads to the dignity of the spirit and thus at the center of armed struggle is the quest for ontological resistance. In the context of South African therefore, where the Blacks are consigned in what Fanon called the ‘zone of nonbeing’ the armed struggle as carried out by “Poqo” which later became popularly known as the Azanian Peoples Liberation Army (APLA) and later the through the Azanian National Liberation Army (AZANLA) the was the highest expression of Black subject formation. The ability to pick up arms against the dehumanizing consequences of coloniality, is the first step towards decolonization; a process that seeks to give birth to new ways of Being, framed in new language qua new humanity. Fanon also observes decolonization cannot be born from a process of negotiated settlement between the colonizer and the colonised. Decolonisation emerges from the re-appropriation of power and the land through armed struggle. Negotiated settlements that become known as the South African ‘miracle’ transition from apartheid to peaceful democracy marked the fragmentation of

Black humanity. At the political level therefore, South Africa’s negotiated settlement culminated into the in the breaking of spirit of black resistance as carried by APLA and AZANLA. This study interrogates the gains made by post-apartheid South Africa, arguing that such gains are ontologically premised on Black erasure. Negotiated settlements in the context of the lived experiences of APLA and AZANLA combatants, culminated into dehumanization qua social death at the birth of ‘freedom’.

 

 

 

 

Name

MAKANYISA, ISHMAEL

Organisation

GREAT ZIMBABWE UNIVERSITY

Biography

Ishmael Makanyisa is a lecturer at Great Zimbabwe

University. I hold a Master's degree in African History from Midlands State

University in Zimbabwe. I am currently a permanent lecturer in the School of

Arts and Humanities and teaches History and Development studies. I have a

great passion on contemporary issues and past events and have publications on

these issues. I am also a PhD part time student in Development Studies with

Wits University

Title

The role of the media during the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe from 1966 – 1979

Abstract

The paper seeks to explore the role of media within and without Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) during the liberation struggle from 1966 to 1979. Both print and electronic media played significant roles in the struggle for independence in Southern Africa and Zimbabwe in particular. Propaganda by the media houses from both warring parties was on one hand used to impart the combatants with political education and moral support for them to remain resolute despite the heavy casualties often suffered from either side in the battle front. On the other hand, the media from the White Rhodesian regime was meant to discourage the civilian population from rendering material, information and moral support to the combatants hence, the masses were at the centre of the warring parties. The Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) used the Mozambican Broadcasting House through the voice of Zimbabwe tunnel whilst the Rhodesia National Army (RNA) used the Rhodesia Broadcasting House from within the country. The main thrust of the media from the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) side was largely meant to mobilise the masses through political education based on the Maoist literature. In order to thwart the efforts of ZANU (PF), the colonial regime in Southern Rhodesia made use of both the print and electronic media in her propaganda and the prime objective was to separate the civilians from the freedom fighters often referred to as ‘terrorists’. On methodology, the research largely dwells on oral interviews from former Rhodesian soldiers and ex-guerrillas whose majority are still alive today. Moreover, the focus group discussion also forms core of the methodology since the key informants on the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe were the rural masses whose majority is still around. However, desk research and archival materials can also be used to authenticate the data gathered from oral interviews. Thus, the paper argues that the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe was not only waged by the freedom fighters, civilian population, business community but equally important was the role of the media houses from both warring parties. Therefore, popularising only the combatants and other stakeholders at the expense of the media houses is a misrepresentation of historical facts.

 

 

 

 

Name

Passemiers, Lazlo

Organisation

University of the Free State

Biography

I am a PhD student at the Centre for Africa studies at the

University of the Free State. My thesis, ‘South Africa and the ‘Congo

crisis’, 1960-1965’, examines South African involvement in and

perceptions of the ‘crisis’ during Congo’s First Republic. I have

recently submitted my thesis and I am awaiting my results. In the meantime, I

have received a three year post-doctoral fellowship at the University of the

Free State on the condition that I pass my PhD.

Title

The PAC and SWAPO’s participation in the ‘Congo alliance’, 1963-1964

Abstract

After the May 1963 summit of the Organisation of African Unity in Addis Ababa, the President of the Republic of Congo, Cyrille Adoula, granted permission to a number of Southern African nationalist movements to establish their political and military headquarters in Congo. The purpose of this initiative was to transform the newly independent republic into a centre of African nationalism, and provide a base at Kinkuzu from which Southern African liberation movements could launch a coordinated offensive in their struggle for independence of the subcontinent. Both the Pan African Congress (PAC) and the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) participated in the Congo alliance. The alliance was the first time a Southern African liberation movement received permission from an African government to set up a military base in exile to train its recruits. It was also one of the first attempts by Southern African nationalist movements to join forces in order to liberate the subcontinent militarily. However, persisting leadership problems and bad logistical organisation and planning among its members, combined with the Congolese government’s own political instability, made the Congo alliance a short-lived affair. The current historiography has largly neglected this early episode in southern Africa’s armed struggle. By making use of interviews conducted with PAC members who were based in Congo, as well as a variety of new archival sources collected in South Africa, the UK, Belgium, and the United States, this paper comprehensively outlines the formation and breakdown of the Congo alliance and provides a detailed account of the PAC and SWAPO’s participation in it. In doing so, it documents the experiences of some of the PAC’s first military combatants. Such an examination furthermore illustrates the fluid relationship that existed between independent African states like Congo and Southern African liberation movements.

 

 

 

 

Name

Tembe, Joel das Neves

Organisation

Arquivo Historico de Mocambique

Biography

Joel das Neves Tembe; PhD in African History from SOAS;

Director of National Archives of Mozambique and Lecturers at Eduardo Mondlane

University. Research inteeres and some publications on Nationalism and

liberation struggle in Mozambique and Southern Africa

Title

The anti-Apartheid Struggle and Mozambican solidarity

Abstract

The anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa was one of the most important event of the last quarter of the XX century.  The struggle against apartheid was conducted within a regional context of decolonization armed struggles in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Namibia. From Tanganyika to battlefields in southern Africa the liberation movements shared friendship and solidarity. The southern region benefited from OAU and international solidarity in support of its struggle for freedom.

With the advent of independent states in the region, the role of Frontlines States was strengthened and solidarity against apartheid was intensified with neighbouring countries providing close military, logistics and political support to freedom struggle in South Africa.  Thus the last quarter of XX century witnessed a strong regional solidarity and confrontation by Apartheid regime against Mozambique and other countries in the region. The solidarity was built under historical relations and friendship foundations between bordering countries. This paper will discuss the experiences of anti-Apartheid solidarity by Frelimo’s government and Mozambicans in general. Sources will be drawn from interviews and local press.

 

Key words: anti-Apartheid struggle, frontlines states, Frelimo, solidarity.

 

 

 

 

Name

Eriksen, Garrett

Organisation

Stellenbosch University

Biography

I grew up in Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape working with

animals at a wildlife park until I left to study History at Rhodes

University. There my interest in military history was piqued and after

completing my Honours I went to Edinburgh University and completed an MSc in

African Studies where I produced the first film-based dissertation in

departmental history. Travelling has also always been a big love of mine and

to date I have visited 53 countries and hope to visit many more.

Title

Stories, Shadows and Dust: A filmmaker’s experience of documenting the stories of SADF veterans of the South African Border War.

Abstract

South Africa has a relatively well-documented history, however the South African Border War (1966 – 1989) is not as well explored as it could be. The experiential narratives of the South African Defence Force (SADF) soldiers who fought in this war opens new avenues of understanding South Africa’s turbulent past. In documenting their experiences, what does the filmmaker learn about Constructed Memories and the act of storytelling itself?

The purpose of this paper is to ask questions on subjective experience and Constructed Memory. How do the two relate and in what way do they relate to social media spheres and especially for those of the filmmaker and the film documentary? Specifically, how do these dimensions play out when the subjective experience pertains to the experiences of former SADF soldiers who fought in the Border War?

The experiential narratives contained in Constructed Memory can provide a different explorative avenue for historical events, that is to say, different views of the same war in this case. The accompanying documentary Stories, Shadows and Dust (links below) showcases the experiences of five former SADF soldiers, allowing the audience to share in their experiences and draw their own conclusions. This paper then seeks to explore the concept of their memory constructions against the backdrop of emotional contextual experience with specific focus on film media representations of the Border War.

This work is designed to shed light on why not only telling stories is important, as any Historian would tell you, but why their emotional context provides the human element; the element which allows one to connect with and understand; the element which constructs the memory and relives the story, passing it on to the next group or generation until it becomes a part of the collected social consciousness of the story-telling world that is human society.

300 words

 

 

Please see the links below to access the aforementioned documentary.

YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFQylqrQfDg

Vimeo Link: https://vimeo.com/148769096

 

 

 

 

Name

Hunter, Roland

Organisation

ANC

Biography

Roland Hunter is a specialist in the financing of city government services and city economic development.  While a national

serviceman in 1982/83 he was an ANC spy, and provided detailed operational

information on the SADF’s military destabilisation of frontline states,

especially Mozambique.  He was detained in December 1983 and spent the rest

of the 1980’s in prison.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission

subsequently granted him amnesty for his activities on behalf of the ANC.

Title

Destabilising liberated Southern Africa, destabilising apartheid South Africa

Abstract

In 1982 while undergoing compulsory military service, I was recruited into SADF Military Intelligence. For eighteen months I served in the Directorate of Special Tasks (DST), which was responsible for concerted destabilization campaigns in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and other countries. I was assigned to OP MILA, the operation to support RENAMO in Mozambique, which featured: ( a ) fully equipped operational and training bases from which RENAMO could mount its own  campaigns; ( b ) sabotage campaigns managed from DST; ( c ) monthly resupply operations (during which brand new AK47s sourced from Eastern Europe, ammunition, cordtex, and other military materiel (as well as seeds, pencils and other propaganda materials) were dropped into Mozambique); ( d ) radio and other propaganda support;  ( e ) monthly salary payments to RENAMO leadership cadres; ( f ) other ongoing logistical,  financial and propaganda support.

 

During this period I systematically collected classified documents and information, and supplied them to ANC contacts in South Africa and Botswana.   I also personally debriefed ANC agents in South Africa and Botswana.   The information was passed onto FRELIMO in Mozambique.

 

I was present during many of the key events of that period (1982 - 1983), including evacuations of military bases in RSA (because FAM had discovered their locations); and the interrogations of RENAMO personnel after its Secretary-General, Orlando Christina, was murdered in a camp north of Pretoria.  I was routinely involved in the administrative and financial procedures involved in supporting the SADF’s proxy forces in front line states.

 

The SADF supported rebel armies in the front line states throughout the 1980s, because such operations allowed a measure of deniability.  These operations can be seen as part of the much broader conflict sometimes referred to as the `cold war’.  The SA Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Pik Botha, played his part by insisting that it was ludicrous to suggest that South Africa was supporting rebel armies in its neighbouring states.   When Mozambique used the information I had supplied to confront its white-controlled neighbor about its destabilization programme, the result appears to have been the Nkomati Accord of 1984.  At that stage I was already in detention, and was shortly to be sentenced to a term in prison.

 

More than thirty years have passed since then, and much has been written about South Africa’s destabilisation of the region during the 1980’s.  My proposal is to contribute what appears to be a unique personal experience from within the SADF, with implications for understanding international proxy wars in the region as well as rivalries between military intelligence and the Security Police.

 

This contribution might most easily fit into `The ‘hot’ cold war and southern Africa’; `Documenting the experiences and life stories of military combatants’; `War and peace: the armed struggle and negotiations’ (though perhaps not the negotiations the organisers were contemplating); and even possibly `Resistance to military conscription and anti-war movements’.

 

 

 

 

Name

Dzimbanhete, Jephias Andrew

Organisation

Great Zimbabwe University

Biography

I am currently a History lecturer at Great Zimbabwe

University. I hold a D. Lit. & Phil. degree in History

Title

Sources about guerrilla activities in the Rhodesian countryside during Zimbabwe’s Armed Struggle: The Case of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) Field Reports

Abstract

This paper discusses the significance of one notable source of the activities of the liberation armies in the battlefield during Zimbabwe’s war of liberation. These were field reports that were compiled by the frontline guerrilla fighters. The focus is on the field reports assembled by the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), one of the liberation armies during the liberation war. The author had the privilege of perusing through the documents, which were housed at the Zimbabwe African National Union/Patritic Front (ZANU/PF) headquarters in Harare, when he was conducting fieldwork for his doctoral studies. Guerrilla activities included military operations, interaction between the rural populace and the fighters, sanctions on liberation fighters for wrongdoings or contravention of set rules. This study seeks to subject these documents to critical scrutiny as Zimbabwean liberation war historiographical sources.

 

 

 

 

Name

Hadebe, Samukele

Organisation

Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe

Biography

Dr Samukele Hadebe is a director at the Centre for Public Engagement, an independent

think tank on citizen participation in public policy processes in Zimbabwe. He

previously held a similar position at the Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe.

He worked as a principal director, Government of Zimbabwe 2010-2013 and previously

he was a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe (1995- 2009). He holds a doctorate in

linguistics and has published extensively in lexicography, Ndebele literature and

culture.

Title

Challenges in Memorializing ZPRA Legacy

Abstract

Inasmuch as history is the property of victors, so is memory. Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) is one of those liberation forces who did not win political power at the attainment of Independence in Zimbabwe. ZPRA’s war effort has largely remained an untold story or where reference is made it is often a footnote. The very sacrifice of ZPRA cadres and the role of their political wing Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) in the liberation of Zimbabwe has been subject of debate as claims by their competitors belittle their role. Zimbabwe’s official history says little and hence not much has been popularized on the contribution of ZPRA in the liberation struggle.

Efforts to recollect ZPRA history faces a number of challenges, chief among being the lack of war records that were confiscated after Independence and allegedly destroyed. It could be literally said that the destruction of the war records and the official narrative that marginalizes ZPRA war effort were meant to erase the memory of ZPRA legacy. The post-Independence fortunes of liberation movements seem to be crucial in determining how the liberation war is remembered or not remembered. ZPRA history could be said to be anecdotal to the histories of other liberation forces who eventually won power.

This paper intends to interrogate the post-war situation in Zimbabwe as significant in shaping the memory of ZPRA. Some post-war situations include the political turmoil and armed clashes between ZPRA and its sister liberation force –Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), the banditry in Matabeleland and Midlands, the Gukurahundi genocide, the Unity Accord and its aftermath. It shall be further argued that perhaps it might not be possible for many ordinary Zimbabweans to ever appreciate ZPRA war effort since it is perceived largely from the lens of the post-liberation era.  

 

 

Name

Chira Torcianti

Organisation

Istoreco

Biography

 

Title

The struggle continues.

Italian reception of liberation movement in Mozambique.

Abstract

During the '70s, Italian public opinion was seriously involved in liberation struggle in Mozambique.

In particular in Emilia region, communist party and leftist movements organized campaigns and  published magazines about this issue.

Reggio Emilia Hospital healed  Frelimo's wounded warriors; and a local family hosted Samora's son  Samito.

As to the cultural field, this struggle was represented as a continuation of italian resistance during the second world war, using a similar lexicon and imaginary.

"A luta continua" was the rallying cry of the Frelimo movement; but the same words  (Lotta continua) were the name of an italian far left extra-parliamentary organization, which at that time resumed and disputed  partisan legacy, so creating a spatial and temporal circuit.

The present paper deals with Italian support to Frelimo and representation of its struggle as prismatic reflex of italian experience and identity.

Main sources are Reggio Emilia - Africa Archives in Reggio Emilia and bibliographic funds from Cabral Centre in Bologna.

 

 

 

 

Name

Benneyworth, Garth

Organisation

 

Biography

Garth is a historian who specialises in South African military history with a particular focus on the Armed Struggle and the South African War (1899-1902). He is published on the Armed Struggle. In 2015, the Routledge Taylor & Francis Group chose his paper, Armed and Trained, Nelson Mandela’s 1962 military mission as Commander in Chief of Umkhonto we Sizwe and provenance for his buried Makarov pistol, as one of 12 publications under the category History to honour Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy. Garth developed a number of key post 1994 heritage projects, including the Nelson Mandela National Museum where he served as a Councillor, the Chief Albert Luthuli Museum and Liliesleaf. During 2001 to 2008, Garth pioneered the first ever archeological surveys and excavations on 7 Black concentration camp sites dating from the South African War (1899-1902), a subject of his PhD Degree.

Title

Bechuanaland’s aerial pipeline. State surveillance, repression and counter-insurgency, 1960-1964

Abstract

The road and rail pipelines operated by the liberation movements in Bechuanaland were known as the “road to freedom.’ An aerial pipeline enabled high value South African political refugees and freedom fighters to move through the Protectorate as fast as possible. This air bridge ran from Lobatse, via Kasane, then over-flew Northern Rhodesia to Mbeya, and then to Dar es Salaam before returning to Bechuanaland. It operated as a mini-airline called Bechuanaland Air Safari’s and was financed by Bechuanaland’s government and a local millionaire businessman. Set up to support the needs of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) this air bridge enabled SIS close surveillance of potential security issues within Bechuanaland, whilst simultaneously assisting organisations that would one day gain political power. The aerial pipeline further facilitated Britain’s ‘double game’ of  balancing its immediate interests with the Republic, versus its policy of ‘reinsurance’ which hinged on discreetly building contacts with the liberation movement leaders, while aligning to the longer term trends of changing political realities in Africa. This made it a key intelligence target for South Africa’s security establishment who needed to penetrate this air bridge as part of their clandestine operations in Bechuanaland. Through surveillance and informants, they could then interdict the movement and activities of key personnel involved in liberation struggle operations at that time. This paper examines the setting up and operation of this air bridge, some of its key personnel and pilots, surveillance operations by the South African Police and counter intelligence actions against them by the British authorities connected to supporting this pipeline.

 

 

 

 

Name

Jordan, Pallo & Maharaj, Mac

Organisation

 

Biography

 

Title

South Africa and the turn to armed resistance

Abstract

This paper focusses on the circumstances under which various political organisations, particularly the ANC and the SACP, in South Africa turned to the armed struggle as a means to prosecuting the armed struggle in the early 1960s. It looks at the setbacks and shortcomings that this shift in strategy and tactics suffered and the challenges that arose at the time.

 

From the perspective of the ANC and its allies its is important to appreciate that the armed struggle, if one may borrow the formulation by Clausewitz, is an extension of the political struggle.

 

The paper seeks to unravel some of the complex theoretical and empirical issues that were at play across the broad spectrum of organisations that regarded themselves as opposed to the apartheid system.

 

We focus on the features of the mass struggles in the fifties and the repressive actions of the State culminating in the massacres at Sharpeville and Nyanga, the imposition of the State of Emergency and the mass detentions that created a climate in which by 1960-62 almost all organisations that could lay claim to be part of the struggle had concluded that the time had arrived for armed resistance to apartheid. Even elements in the Liberal Party became involved in sabotage activities.

 

The paper draws together the range of groupings and organisations that entered this field in the early sixties, looks at the response of the State and the setbacks that these different efforts endured.

 

It concludes at the point where international solidarity becomes a significant force against the repressive actions of the apartheid state and the continuation of the liberation struggle depended on the regrouping of forces of the ANC and MK in exile.

 

 

 

 

Name

Skinner, Robert

Organisation

University of Bristol, UK

Biography

 

Title

‘Ignoring the temper of the people' - the ‘failure’ of non-violence in southern Africa, 1960-62

Abstract

In March 1962, members of ‘Africa Freedom Action’ waited in Mbeya, Tanzania, for the call to lead a peace march across the border into Northern Rhodesia in support of the Zambian anti-colonial movement. The call never came. What had been envisaged as a pacifist counter to the emerging agenda of armed struggle in southern Africa and a movement ‘vital to …  the fate of non-violence in southern Africa’ ended as little more than a footnote in the history of decolonization. 

 

But, between 1959-1962 international peace campaigners had established close links with African leaders, forging what seemed to be the basis for a transnational pacifist network. From anti-nuclear campaigns in Ghana through to the launch of a World Peace Brigade (WPB) - volunteers who would ‘would go to any area of tension in the world to practise moral “jiu-jitsu” on the warring inhabitants’ -  activists sought to place African struggles at the heart of the global peace movement. WPB members, including the anti-apartheid activist Michael Scott and the African-American civil rights campaigner Bayard Rustin, focused efforts on nationalist and post-independence leaders in Africa. In early 1962, they had taken part in the Pan-Africanist Conference of East, Central and Southern Africa in Addis Ababa, where they fostered the support of Kaunda. They launched Africa Freedom Action in the belief that Northern Rhodesia was the weakest link in the edifice of settler colonialism in southern Africa, but also in the hope that Kaunda’s support for non-violent action might act as a counter to the advocates of armed resistance in the region.

 

Along with the planned march, the group entered into discussions with Nyerere to establish a training centre for WPB volunteers. But instead, the camps that were established in Tanzania by 1964 served volunteer MK fighters. The ‘fate of non-violence’ had been sealed. But this history reveals something of the counter-narratives of the movements for liberation in southern Africa, and that far from being an inevitable development, the armed struggle developed in a complex interplay of nationalist and transnational politics. These unfulfilled peace campaigns nevertheless disclose the regional and international webs that helped give form to southern African liberation movements as they took shape in the 1960s.

 

 

 

 

Name

Vinson, Robert Trent and Benedict Carton

Organisation/s

The College of William and Mary and

George Mason University

Biography

Robert Trent Vinson is Cummings Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at the College of William and Mary.  He is the author of several books and articles, including The Americans are Coming!: The Dream of African American Liberation in Segregationist South Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2012), Before Mandela, Like A King: The Prophetic Politics of South African Anti-Apartheid leader Chief Albert Luthuli (Athens: Ohio University Press, forthcoming) and, with Benedict Carton, Zulu Diasporas: South Africa, the United States and Black Liberation.

 

Benedict Carton is the Robert T. Hawkes Professor of History and Africa Coordinator of the African & African American Studies Program at George Mason University, Virginia, USA.  He received his PhD in History from Yale and taught at the University of Natal (now U. KwaZulu-Natal), where he was twice a Fulbright scholar. He is the author of Blood from Your Children: Colonial Origins of Generational Conflict in South Africa (2000) and co–editor of Zulu Identities: Being Zulu, Past and Present (2008).  His recent essay on armed struggle,  'Forgetting Apartheid: History, Culture and the Body of a Nun' (with Leslie Bank), appeared in AFRICA 86,3 (2016). Carton’s next book with Robert Vinson is titled, “Shaka’s Progeny, A Transnational History: Zulu and Americans in the Arc of Racial Justice, 1820-2000.” 

Title

Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Use of International Non-Violence in South Africa’s Turn to Armed Struggle

Abstract

Albert Luthuli, ANC president from 1952-67, and Africa’s first Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1961, was one of the most renowned and respected African leaders of his era. His personal charisma, moral authority, and stirring vision of racial reconciliation and a non-racial, democratic South African rainbow nation made him a popular leader and potential head of state.

 

On December 16, 1961, as Luthuli returned to South Africa from Oslo, Norway, where he had just accepted his Nobel Peace Prize, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) initiated sabotage attacks in several South African cities, initiating the ANC’s turn to armed struggle that raised several questions: Did Luthuli, who had so eloquently defended Ghandian non-violent principles, now advocate violence? Had he been disingenuous in Oslo about his commitment to non-violence? Or was he a victim of an internal coup, with more militant ANC members like Mandela unilaterally steering a new course? Did he support MK and the turn to armed struggle? Or was his position on non-violence and armed struggle far more nuanced than previous scholars have indicated?

               

South Africans, and scholars of the anti-apartheid movement, continue to debate the turn to armed struggle, fuelling a vibrant historiographical debate in South African history that features several contrasting claims.  For instance, the South African intellectual and anti-apartheid activist Raymond Suttner has argued that Luthuli viewed MK and the turn to armed struggle as “just means” to achieve a post-apartheid state. In contrast, recent Luthuli biographer Scott Couper has argued that Luthuli maintained a principled non-violent stance that led to his marginalization in the ANC.  The historian Stephen Ellis affirmed Couper’s view, adding that South African Communist Party members (including Mandela) dominated MK and the strategic direction of armed struggle.  The historian Paul Landau modified Ellis’ claims by emphasizing the ANC’s leadership role in the turn to armed struggle and tracing a decade-long preparation for armed struggle within a Luthuli-led ANC that had an official policy of non-violence.  President Zuma’s claims at a 2010 Luthuli Memorial Lecture that Luthuli not only sanctioned the armed struggle, but also named MK, and public outcry about Couper’s arguments, reminds scholars that there is also a parallel, sometimes overlapping and frequently passionate public discourse about the role of Luthuli and Mandela in this iconic turn to armed struggle.   What was Luthuli’s position on armed struggle? What was the role of Mandela, himself a future winner of a Nobel Peace Prize winner, in this pivotal moment in South African history? How is Martin Luther King, Jr., famous for his American Civil Rights activism, relevant to this South African anti-apartheid story?  Based on a forthcoming biography of Luthuli, this paper uses new archival sources to answer these questions and advance the historiography in this contentious, controversial area of South African liberationist history.

 

 

Name

Langa (née Grobbelaar), Retha

Organisation

University of the Witwatersrand

Biography

Retha Langa (née Grobbelaar) is currently completing her PhD degree in Heritage at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her thesis focuses on the deployment of struggle songs as active heritage in political battles in contemporary South Africa. Retha successfully applied for her Master’s degree to be converted into a PhD in 2013. She has an Honours degree in History from the University of the Witwatersrand (with distinction) and a BPhil degree in Journalism from Stellenbosch University.

Title

An unruly counter-monument to the armed struggle: The revival of song as a weapon in

contemporary South Africa

Abstract

Struggle songs have been resuscitated as a potent weapon in volatile political battles in postapartheid

South Africa. Many struggle songs are recalled and repurposed to mobilise support or

humiliate opponents. This dynamic deployment of song takes place in the context of the country’s

struggle past becoming an increasingly lively battlefield for conflicts between political rivals. Views

on the role of song during the armed struggle, specifically the notion of song as a weapon of

struggle, will be examined and compared with its utilisation in post-apartheid South Africa in search

of an answer to why songs composed under the oppressive conditions of apartheid continue to have

such a visceral impact today. A range of contexts were studied, including the deployment of song at

the elective conference of the African National Congress in 2012 and a museum exhibition on the

function of song during apartheid. The court transcripts of the “Dubul’ibhunu” trial between

AfriForum and Julius Malema in 2011 were analysed against the background of the scholarly

literature on song and the armed struggle. Focus groups will also be held to gain a better

understanding of people’s memories of the role of song during the armed struggle. Song is

harnessed as an uncontrollable, unpredictable weapon in the heat of political clashes in ways that

form a vibrant counter-monument ─ in the sense used by James Young ─ to the armed struggle. This

study of song furthermore also casts light on people’s ideas about what history should do, who has

the right to claim ownership of it in contemporary South Africa, and why some existing

commemorative projects to the armed struggle are experienced as alienating.

 

 

 

 

Name

Munguambe, Clinarete

Organisation

Universiity of the Western Cape

Biography

EDUCATION  Feburary  2016..     Student at the UWC, Master in History December 2007       BA-Honors in History, Eduardo Mondlane

University   WORK EXPERIENCE  FEBURARY 2012  UNTILL NOW  Research Assistant at the History Research Center (CPHLLN) in Maputo December 2007- May 2009 Research Assistant in the Research Project “Methods and Results of Health

Campaigns in Mozambique, 1975 1985”,Karonlinska Institut. March to November

2007 Research Assistant in the Research Project “The Development of the…

Title

Nationalism and Exile in an Age of Solidarity: Military cooperation between ZANU and FRELIMO in Mozambique (1975-1980)

Abstract

My article attempts to examine the political and military cooperation between Frelimo and ZANU, as soon as Mozambique independence. It analyses the ways in which Frelimo supported ZANU’s struggle for liberation of Zimbabwe. I argue that the political and military support that Frelimo offered to ZANU, can be seen as one of element in a matrix of mutual cooperation and assistance that tied the liberation movements of Southern Africa together during the struggle for independence and against white minority regimes. This cooperation was motivated in part by feelings of reciprocal identification of one cause by another, as well as by moral values such as justice, friendship and brotherhood. The political and military support that Frelimo gave to Zimbabwean liberation movement was also extended to Mozambican’s ordinary people, particularly those who lived in the border areas in Manica, Tete and Chicualacuala. It is important emphasis that this was all facilitated by Frelimo’s revolutionary ideology and justified by its political propaganda, which argued forcefully that the liberation of Mozambique would not be complete as long as Zimbabwe remained under white minority rule. The building of sense of solidarity was made much easier by the common ancestry, language and culture of those Mozambicans and Zimbabweans living in the border zones. The article is based on the analyses of archival material, newspapers, mainly the daily Notícias, Tempo, Southern Africa Magazine and Zimbabwe News as well as few interviews with Frelimo militants and Mozambicans people who had contact with militants of this nationalist movement.

 

 

 

 

Name

Sandwell, Rachel

Organisation

University of the Witwatersrand

Biography

Rachel Sandwell is an FQRSC Fellow at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research. Her work focuses on histories of women in the

liberation struggle, and histories of feminism.

Title

“Our Sisters in the Liberation Struggle”: ANC Women and International Anti-Colonial Struggle (Themes: Gendering the armed struggle; socialist internationalism and the armed struggle)

Abstract

This paper will examine the ways that ANC women representatives, in dialogue with African and other international groups, theorized the armed struggle. During the ANC’s time in exile, particularly in the decades of the 1960s and 1970s, small numbers of high-profile ANC women represented the organization at a series of international organizations, including the All-Africa Women’s Conference, the AfroAsian People’s Solidarity Movement, and the Women’s International Democratic Federation. These organizations, and their conferences and meetings, which took place at sites across Africa and beyond, ranging from Cuba to Mongolia, constituted a network where ideas of anti-colonial resistance were exchanged, and solidarities built. These groups promoted, in their written material and conference speeches, a particular theory about the necessity and justness of anti-colonial armed struggle. Using official ANC administrative archives, personal correspondence files, and published memoirs, this paper will explore how ANC women participated in these organizations, what they brought to them, and what they derived from them. It will therefore demonstrate two things. First of all, women in the ANC played an important role in connecting the ANC with diverse other anti-colonial movements, in Africa and beyond. And secondly, women’s organizations played an important role in providing both ideological and practical support to international anticolonial struggle, including explicitly armed struggle. ANC women’s work in this time period provides an important corrective to other historical accounts of international women’s organizations, which have tended to focus on women’s peace movements. Recovering the existence of these alternative solidarities reminds us of a different politics, which held that peace could only come through struggle.

 

 

 

 

Name

Grilli, Matteo

Organisation

University of the Free State

Biography

Matteo Grilli is a historian specialized in the history of modern Africa, dealing in particular with the history of decolonization and

Pan-Africanism. He obtained his BA in History at the University of Rome in

2008 and he completed his MA in “Afro-Asian Studies” at the Univ. of

Pavia in 2010. In 2015, he completed his PhD at the Univ. of Leiden and the

Univ. of Pavia (Joint-PhD program). In 2016, he joined the International

Studies Group of the Univ. of the Free State as a post-doctoral fellow.

Title

Nkrumah’s role in the armed struggle in Southern Africa (1960-1966)

Abstract

Between 1957 and 1966 Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana provided African liberation movements with funds, political support, and military training. In Nkrumah’s estimation, Southern Africa was a key battle ground for Africa’s future and the harsh confrontation with White settlers led him to abandon non-violence as a strategy. Both South African political refugees and members of nationalist parties of South Africa’s neighboring states were hosted in Ghana. Although Nkrumah officially pushed for a united front, the PAC not the ANC was given a leading role in Ghana’s anti-apartheid plans, leading South Africa towards socialism and Pan-Africanism. From a military perspective, Poqo maintained its collaboration – although not always fruitful – with Accra. This paper aims to reconstruct the transnational military network that was built by Ghana. As Jeffrey Ahlman has shown, Accra’s military involvement in the region still requires more research. Specifically, Ghanaian weapons were transported across the region, often being routed through the vast net of embassies that Nkrumah had created in Africa. Information on this routes can be either found in the Ghanaian and British papers or they are provided by informants I interviewed who witnessed these events. Based on newly available sources from the Ghanaian archives, Ghana’s involvement in the armed struggle in Southern Africa will be discussed to determine the extent to which Ghana’s Bureau of African Affairs contributed to liberation in Southern Africa between 1960 and 1966. Moreover, the competition with the OAU Liberation Committee will be analyzed.

 

 

 

 

Name

Mujere, Joseph, Fontein, Joost & Sagiya, Munyaradzi Elton

Organisation

University of Zimbabwe

Biography

Joseph Mujere is a senior lecturer in the History Department at the University of Zimbabwe. He is also Research Associate in the Society,

Work and Development Institute (SWOP), University of the Witwatersrand. He

holds a PhD (History) from the University of Edinburgh. His research

interests include migration, belonging, citizenship as well as media and

society. Some of his articles appear in journals such as South African

Historical Journal, Journal of Southern African Studies, Africa and Journa

Title

“Those who are not known, should be known by the country” Patriotic history, liberation heritage and the politics of recognition in Gutu district, southern Zimbabwe

Abstract

The politics surrounding the memorialisation of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle has long been manifest in the highly elitist, exclusivist and partisan, and hierarchical system of district, provincial and national heroes acres that forms the backbone of state commemoration. After 2000, this was deeply intensified with a new narrowed nationalist historiography that Ranger labelled ‘patriotic history’ (2004), through which ZANU PF arrogated to itself the liberation credentials by which it continued to effectively marginalize any political opposition. ‘Patriotic history’ is a term that has found considerable purchase amongst Zimbabweanist scholars over the last decade. However, ten years on from Ranger’s seminal article, there remains a lacuna of studies focusing on what purchase ZANU PF’s ‘patriotic history’ has had in specific contexts and locales, and what kinds of alternative commemorations it sometimes afforded and enlivened. The tendency has been to critique the predominance of a few ZANU PF spokespeople and eccentric ideologues, rather than explore what ‘patriotic history’, afforded other, long muted, localist agendas, or how it gained traction in specific material and imaginative contexts. Examining renewed efforts in the late 2000s  by war veterans, relatives and survivors to monumentalize two war-time massacres sites in southern Zimbabwe, this paper explores the localized politics of recognition with which ‘patriotic history’ was entangled, through which it gained local saliency and traction. Based on interviews at Kamungoma and Hurodzavasikana massacre sites, we explore the complexity and complicity of different ‘agencies’, actors and agendas involved to examine how ZANU PF’s renewed historiographical project re-fuelled local efforts to remake communities and landscapes marked by violence and death, and gain recognition and recompense for losses and sacrifices made. Unlike elsewhere where war veteran-led exhumations reflect the failures of state commemoration what is striking at Kamungoma and Hurodzavasikana is the relative absence of unhappy spirits or problematic human remains. Although hasty burials, landscapes unsettled by the mingling substances of bodies and soil are part of the story, at these sites the metonymy of past violence is more affective in the scarred bodies of survivors, in the failed futures of youth and kin lost, and of recognition delayed or denied.

 

 

 

 

Name

Mangashe, Patrick

Organisation

University of Fort Hare

Biography

Recuited into the ANC in 1977,joined MK in 1978, underwent

military training from 1979 to 1983. Infiltrated back inside in 1986, based

in the Border region. Joined the NIA in 1985, presently reading for my

History Masters with the University of Fort Hare.

Title

The armed struggle, the underground and mass mobilisation in South Africa’s border region between 1986-1990 through the experiences of MK cadres

Abstract

The ANC’s decision to embark on armed struggle came in the wake of similar armed risings by colonised people in the post-war period, in the continent and elsewhere in the world. Whilst acknowledging this background as a general reflection of the world’s political complexion of the time, this paper will look at South Africa’s particular conditions. It will look at the road the ANC travelled towards the actual decision to take up arms and examine whether the oppressed people in South Africa were ready for this path. The Vietnamese experience (Five Fighting Factors) will be used as a ‘formula’ to determine if the ANC’s own armed struggle stood any chance of success at the beginning of the 1960s.

The purpose of the underground was to enable the ANC’s political message (its ideology) to take root and spread in the country, by creating clandestine organisational networks capable of sustaining this work whilst avoiding the eye of apartheid’s political police. This clandestine network was to also therefore act as the bedrock on which the armed struggle would rest, its main support. The paper will also look at the extent to which the underground was able to deliver on these ‘key performance areas’.

The South African political reality points to the masses mobilised independently of the underground, seen in the rise of independent black trade unions, the UDF and later the MDM coalition, is there any contradiction?

We will try to answer this question by looking at the example of the relationship between the underground and mass mobilisation in the then Border Region during 1985-1990, drawing on own personal experience and that of other MK cadres.

 

 

 

 

Name

Mudzimu, Asa

Organisation

Rhodes University

Biography

I am a student doing MA in African History at Rhodes University, South Africa. I completed Honours in History degree with the

University of Zimbabwe. After that worked as a History teacher in Harare

before I became a Teaching Assistant at the University of Zimbabwe, History

Department. I have many research interests including the legacy of

colonialism, medical history and the liberation struggle.

Title

Convivialities, violence and deprivation: War and everyday life in guerilla camps in Mozambique and Zambia

Abstract

The key thrust of the paper is to paint a mosaic of life in the rear camps of Zimbabwean guerrilla war of independence. Life in the rear camps constituted a critical position in the sustenance of the Zimbabwean liberation struggle. The importance of the rear camps had been attached to the training of the Zimbabwean army and the basic duty of transporting war necessities to the front. Apart from this logistical position, the rear camps had a rich convivial and introverted circumstances which, like the events at the front, shaped the flow of the liberation struggle. Most of the time was spent in the rear camps in Mozambique and Zambia, and these camps which were not only all about war, violence and bombing were as important as the front. The structure of these rear camps, the concept of the parade as well as food rationing depict a somewhat desirable and adorable location in the reconstruction of the liberation war meta-narratives. In light of this, the study examines the everyday life relating to the social events in the rear camps. It locates this in the broader debates and narratives surrounding deprivation and disease outbreaks arguing that the everyday life in the rear camps was part and parcel of the liberation struggle which also impacted on its outcome. The study will therefore often sustained by inter-disciplinary context, including numerous photographs, secondary sources as well as oral interviews.

 

 

 

 

Name

Ndimande, Jefferson

Organisation

Solusi University, Zimbabwe

Biography

I studied History as well as Literature in English for my undergraduate degree in Zimbabwe, and then later on took up Peace and Conflict Studies at postgraduate level. Currently I am with the Department of History, Peace and Conflict Studies where I teach courses in Conflict Theory, Peacebuilding, Human Rights to mention but a few. My research interests range from the International relations of liberation movements, borderlands and the Zimbabwean liberation war with a particular focus on the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) which was the armed wing of Zimbabwe’s African Peoples Union (ZAPU). Narratives of the history of liberation movements tend to capture the exploits of the ‘great men’ those who perhaps were leaders and commanders, yet leaving out the ‘little men’ who without them, there would not have been the foot soldiers, in this respect, I am also influenced by the life histories approach which empowers the subaltern to tell his or her story, to bring them into the grand narrative. I am greatly influenced by an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the past and lately have been ‘experimenting’ with integrating linguistics in order to unfold and understand more about the past. I am also influenced by the ideas of Michel Foucault and Gayatri Spivak’s concept of the subaltern, this contribution perhaps is a reflection of what currently inspires me.

Title

The Subaltern Speaks: ZPRA Women Combatants and the Liberation War in Zimbabwe

Abstract

The paper explores women’s role as combatants in one of Zimbabwe’s liberation armies- the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZPRA).  The paper employ a gender lens as a theoretical backdrop as well as the life history approach to unpack and explore the ZPRA’S women roles as combatants in Zimbabwe’s war of liberation. The paper utilises personal interviews with both ZPRA male and female combatants as well as written sources such as newspapers and archival material to explore the contribution of female combatants. Zimbabwe’s liberation war’s historiography is a contested narrative dominated by contradictions, tensions, silencing and othering. Space on the liberation war has been occupied and filled by the official ruling party narrative which appropriates the ruling ZANU PF party the major role in the liberation of the country. Further to that, the historiography of Zimbabwe’s liberation war has been androcentric, a narrative told from a masculine perspective where women are on the margins as the subaltern. The paper argues that women were not passive actors in the struggle, they were not just couriers, caregivers, nurses or combat wives and mothers, instead they were active on the frontline, some rose up the ranks to become trainers and commanders fighting to liberate their country. The papers’ novelty is to broaden and widen the discourse on the war of liberation, moving it away from the dominant-male and masculine narrative, to one of inclusivity where the voice of women are heard and their experiences captured. It further highlights that attitude towards accepting women as combatants were influenced by different time epochs as well intensity of the struggle.

 

 

 

 

Name

Tafira, Kenneth

Organisation

Archie Mafeje Research Institute

Biography

Hashi Kenneth Tafira is a researcher at Archie Mafeje Research Institute, University of South Africa. He holds a doctoral degree in

Anthropology from University of the Witwatersrand.

Title

Armed Liberation Struggles in Southern Africa and the Global Geo-Political Order: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Angola.

Abstract

The armed liberation struggle in the Southern African countries of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Angola got into full swing from 1960. The struggles coincided with the post World War Two inception of the so-called Cold War pitting western capitalist countries and the socialist Eastern Block, with the Soviet Union at its headship. As the West and the East ideologically, politically and economically competed for control of the global geo-political order where they played a silent war, Southern Africa experienced a hot war. The socialist block supported the liberation movements in form of material, financial and weaponry while the West aided counter-revolutionary and reactionary insurgents. Since 1488 when Bartholomew Diaz circumnavigated the Cape and 1652 when Jan Van Riebeeck founded the colonisation of South Africa, and 1795 when the British arrived at the Cape, the Southern African region has been incrementally and gradually assuming strategic and geo-political importance in global order. Indeed Southern Africa, unlike other parts of Africa, experienced a large contingent of settler colonialism, who stationed in the region and made it their home. Western imperial capital set up base and extracted labour, resources and wealth which the region is endowed. These factors would determine the nature, form, direction and outcome of the liberation struggle. Having patterned out this background, it is the intention of this paper to analyse how the global geo-political order influenced the armed struggle. Secondly I look at how and why Southern African armed liberation movements failed to inflict military defeat on their erstwhile colonial masters. Thirdly I explore how this led to the nature of the post-colonial and post-Soviet order.

Key words: liberation struggle movements’ geo-political colonial armed

 

 

 

 

Name

Bolliger, Lennart

Organisation

University of Oxford

Biography

DPhil Candidate in International Development at the University of Oxford

Title

The Post-War Life Trajectories and Historical Narratives of Black Namibian and Angolan ExKoevoet and 32 Battalion Members

Abstract

Histories of southern Africa’s liberation struggles have been primarily written in the frame of the

nation and have thus largely neglected the significant role played by transnational and inter-regional

connections in shaping those struggles. In this paper, I explore the complex and seemingly

paradoxical dynamics of ‘national liberation’ through the case of black Namibians and Angolans, who

were recruited into the South African police counter-insurgency unit, Koevoet, and the South African Defence Force’s 32 ‘Buffalo’ Battalion, and now reside in South Africa. I argue that the initially temporary ‘alliances’ between these soldiers and South Africa’s security forces assumed a degree of permanence in the form of new and enduring military identities and loyalties. These often contradictory identities and loyalties have remained salient in influencing the history and politics not only of southern Africa as many ex-Koevoet and 32 Battalion members have served as ‘private security and military contractors’ in the region as well as in other parts of Africa and the world. By analysing the post-war life trajectories and historical narratives of these soldiers, I bring into the focus the transnational character of the liberation struggles and the painful legacies of the conflicts’ ‘internalisation’ along familial, ethnic, racial, political and ideological lines.

 

 

 

 

Name

Magadla, Siphokazi

Organisation

Rhodes University

Biography

I am a Lecturer and PhD Candidate in the Political and

International Studies department. Her PhD examines the state assisted

integration of female ex-combatants into civilian life in post-apartheid

South Africa.

Title

‘Women are stronger than men’: silence as misrecognition of and resistance by women ex-combatants in post-apartheid South Africa

Abstract

The feminist literature on the gendered nature of post-war demobilisation highlights the socio-political circumstances that contribute to women’s limited participation in these state led processes. It makes visible that women are often under pressure to silence their identity as combatants in order to re-enter civilian life without the negative stigmas that are attributed to women with a military past in the aftermath of war. Feminists have shown that this undermining of combatant identity has material and symbolic implications as women combatants lose out on the benefits that are meant to assist combatants to better transition into civilian life. It also contributes to women’s erasure in post-war narratives about their contribution to war efforts. The paper examines the silence of women’s narratives in the literature on ex-combatant civilian integration in post-apartheid South Africa. I show that, as elsewhere, the dominant narrative positions ex-combatants as a potential security threat to the state and society - while failing to explain why women ex-combatants have largely not used their military training to hold their communities ransom for their post-war marginalization. I extend on Motsemme’s work (2004, 2011) which theorises black women’s silence during apartheid and in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as, 1) resistance against the state and, 2) as reproducing the dominant narrative that women’s ‘strength’ allows them to withstand violence and socio-economic hardship. Drawing on interviews with women who participated in the non-statutory forces of the national liberation movements in South Africa, I argue that women have been expected to silently transition to civilian life as testament of their strength as women. The interviews also reveal that women articulate their silence as evidence of their better coping capacity compared to their male counterparts. I argue that it is important for feminists to theorise this ‘language of silence’ as both resistance and misrecognition.

 

 

 

 

Name

Bottoman, Wonga Welile

Organisation

Private - former MK Cadre

Biography

My name is Wonga Welile Bottoman. I was born at Orlando East in 1961 and left the country to join Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1980. In 1994 I qualified as an Electronic System and Information Engineer – Sheffield Hallam University – and returned to South Africa. I worked for a year as an Engineer-in-Training at Phalabora Mining Company, followed by a year and four months at Iscor (PTY) in Vandebijlpark. In 1998 – 2005 I joined Telkom SA (PTY) as an IT Specialist at. In 2006 I set up own software development company, Elektron Office. In 2010 I self-published my memoirs titled The Making of an MK Cadre. I have subsequently been involved in promoting books written by former MK soldiers.

Title

THE IMPACT OF THE NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT ON LIBERATION FORCES SOLDIERS

Abstract

The paper will seek to investigate the reality of the negotiated settlement in the backdrop of the dominant battle cry ‘Victory or Death, We Shall Win!’

Political education was the main course taught to Umkhonto Wesizwe cadres. Its rationale was to produce revolutionaries, politically conscious cadres as opposed to automatons and mercenaries. The central theme of the education was the theory of a two-stage revolution: National Democratic Revolution (NDR) and Socialist Revolution. The Freedom Charter encapsulated the NDR programme. The socialist programme was espoused along the lines of the International Socialist Revolution as promoted by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Whilst the armed component of the four-pronged strategy - Underground Work, Mass Mobilisation, Armed Struggle and International Support - was the rallying call of the ANC, actual achievements of that component lagged the grounds gained by the other three components: the anti-Apartheid movement (International Support) grew into the largest solidarity movements the world had ever seen; Mass mobilisation reached a peak with the formation of United Democratic Front (UDF) and Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) - overwhelmingly the masses inside the country aligned themselves with the cry ‘Freedom In Our Lifetime’; Underground workers virtually read and learned the same politics taught in military camps in Angola; but in 1989 MK camps were moved out of Angola to Tanzania and Uganda, further away from South Africa.

In that military configuration, could the terms of the negotiated settlement compare with terms as might be envisaged by the ‘Victory or Death’ slogan? The paper will interrogate the thoughts of the combatants twenty six years after suspension and subsequent cessation of armed struggle. It will seek to find out to what extent had the goals of NDR been realised and the prospects of the second stage of the two-staged revolutionary theory.

 

 

 

 

Name

Mohale, Gabriele

Organisation

Historical Papers Research Archive, University of the Witwatersrand

Biography

Gabriele Mohale is an archivist at the Historical Papers Research Archive at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Originating from the German Democratic Republic, she studied and worked in the printing industry for 11 years, when she got married to a South African living in exile in GDR. She left for Tanzania in 1990 joining her husband who then returned to South Africa in 1991.

She worked at the ANC Headquarters until 1994 and later took up employment at the University of the Witwatersrand. Over the years she graduated with a Bachelor of Information Science from the University of South Africa (UNISA) and a Masters in Heritage Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Title

“What comes after the struggle…?”

Abstract

Some of the leading independent archives in South Africa, particularly University archives such as Historical Papers at Wits University, have been documenting the struggle against Apartheid, including the armed struggle, prior to 1994 through collections of activists, civil rights organisations, political formations, trade unions and political trials against enemies of the Apartheid state. However, the archives of South Africans in the anti-Apartheid struggle outside South Africa, being the archives of exile, consist to a large extent of collective collections generated by the main role players in exile such as the African National Congress and the Pan Africanist Congress. What seems to be absent from the narrative of exile, apart from oral accounts of memories in the form of interviews, are individuals’ own documentations of the armed struggle. That is not surprising, giving the covert nature of the armed struggle. Using the extensive collection of Ronnie Kasrils at the Historical Papers Research Archive, this paper wants to bring out some of the items which are representative for aspects of the armed struggle, particularly in the MK camps in Angola, following the Youth uprising in 1976 in Soweto and other townships. In doing so it also wants to investigate possible reasons behind the absence of similar archives, and at the same time wanting to encourage others to contribute every bit of trace there is, for future generations to see and to understand the road which they travel beyond the borders of their home country.

 

 

 

 

Name

Dombo, Sylvester

Organisation

Great Zimbabwe University

Biography

Sylvester teach history at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo School of Arts and Humanities. His research interests include media democracy, land

reform, religion and politics.

Title

Running out of time? An evaluation of ‘Capturing a Fading National Memory Project’ in Zimbabwe

Abstract

In Zimbabwe, the history of the liberation struggle is very important. In this vein, the Zimbabwean government in 2007 launched an ambitious program to capture the memories of people involved in the liberation struggle; both veterans and collaborators. It was pointed out that 27 seven years of independence posed a great risk to the preservation of the country’s liberation history as participants were either dying or losing their memories. Resultantly, the government in collaboration with the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, the National Archives of Zimbabwe and the History Department at the University of Zimbabwe launched a program called Capturing a Fading National Memory. This article evaluates this program; how it was planned and executed. It also looks at the representativeness of the informants and their subjectivities. The article basically looks at the challenges in executing oral history project in a country then suffering serious economic and political challenges. How did the operating environment affect the end product? With the benefit of hindsight, what can we learn from the recent turbulence in ZANU PF as those formerly regarded as liberation icons are now seen as having played no part in the struggle. Was capturing a fading memory enough or we need a second volume of the same programme representing views of the present?

 

 

 

 

Name

Hlongwane, Ali Khangela

Organisation

City of Johannesburg

Biography

Ali Khangela Hlongwane works for the City of Johannesburg as Head of Museums and Galleries. He holds a Ph.D. in Heritage and an MA in Public Culture and Biography and Society both from Wits University. Hlongwane is co-editor with Sifiso Ndlovu and Mothobi Mutloatse of Soweto 76- Reflections on the liberation struggles. Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of June 16, 1976 and editor of Footprints of the “Class of 76”: Commemoration, memory, mapping and heritage. He has published in various journals including the Pan African Journal, Journal of African Cultural Studies and Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies. His research interests are in heritage, memory, commemoration and the life histories of Pan Africanist Congress activists (veterans).

Title

The Place, Image and Legacy of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA) as reflected in Azania Combat and in contrast to the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Final Report.

Abstract

In this paper I am reflecting on the place, image and legacy of the military wing of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) initially known as Poqo and later renamed the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA) in 1968. I will do this by investigating how APLA’s place, image and legacy is framed in the oral testimonies of PAC activists, in their autobiographical writings, in the various publications of the PAC particularly Azania Combat. In the conclusion I will further reflect on how this legacy and memory is framed and reflected in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

 

By studying the Azania Combat and other relevant PAC publications and comparing them with the final TRC report I intend to engage with how the PAC and its ideologues have over the years fashioned the rationale behind the PAC’s adoption of armed struggle, their campaigns, armed operations and networks from 1961 until the suspension of armed struggle in 1993 and the advent of the TRC. The paper will explore the archive, history and memory of the PAC’s armed struggle in four significant periods, the Poqo era; the advent of APLA in 1968; the post 1976 period; and the 1980s leading to the suspension of armed struggle. 

 

At its founding in 1959 the PAC like all other South African liberation movements did not set out to engage in armed struggle. APLA, The Azanian People’s Liberation Army, Submission to the TRC’s Armed Forces Hearings, This route was only taken up subsequent to the banning, imprisonment and banishment of the organisation’s leaders and members. The organisation’s route to armed struggle takes on an approach described variously as insurrection, terrorist and over years evolves to embrace ideas of armed struggle or guerrilla warfare in ways that will be demonstrated in the body of the paper through the four periods identified as the Poqo era; the advent of APLA in 1968; the post 1976 period; and the 1980s leading to the suspension of armed struggle.

 

 

 

 

Name

Sadomba, Frederick

Organisation

zimbabwe open university

Biography

currently senior lecturer and chairperson in the department

of peace, leadership and conflict resolution at the zimbabwe open university.

areas of interest include defence and security, peace studies, national

security, human security, gender and con

Title

PSYCHO-SOCIAL STRAINS OF TRANSITION FOR ZIMBABWEAN EXCOMBATANTS AND ITS EFFECT ON PEACE-BUILDING AND POST CONFLICT RECOVERY  1980-2016

Abstract

The work examines Zimbabwe’s struggle from the harmful effects of the war against colonialism. Appropriate trauma interventions must be grounded in Zimbabwe’s complex history as well as incorporate Zimbabwe’s constructs of  trauma and healing. Zimbabwe’s long history dates back to the  Portuguese, Germany expeditions and the subsequent British colonisation in the 1890s. This work aims at surveying the extent to which traumatic events are a feature of life in Zimbabwe and aims to provide a comprehensive research that documents the pervasiveness of traumatic events on post conflict recovery and reconstruction. Before  Zimbabwe gained her independence in 1980, thousands of Zimbabweans were members of armed formations and participants in the war of liberation. Former combatants numbering about 100 000, who had been operating under an environment  of “kill or be killed,” laid down their arms and anxiously waited for the Commonwealth supervised election. The much awaited , independence finally came in April  1980  after a bitter, widespread and protracted struggle. The struggle pitted the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) and the Zimbabwe African People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) against the Rhodesian Security Forces (RSF). The two guerrilla forces faced a formidable enemy, which was strongly supported by apartheid South Africa, and the Portuguese in both manpower and equipment . 1980. By 1978, the RSF had a battle-hardened army well suited to counter guerrilla warfare.  In short,  fighting a ferocious war with the RSF who were well motivated and equipped and did not particularly observe laws of armed conflicts in prosecuting the war, left open and invisible scars on the surviving ex-combatants. Thus bitter liberation war left a legacy that is powerful and uneasy as the “terror” and “violence” recreated in the memories of the ex-combatants, which they are unable to forget some  36 years after independence.

 

 

 

 

Name

Bridger, Emily

Organisation

University of Exeter

Biography

Emily Bridger is currently a final year PhD candidate in History at the University of Exeter. Her current research explores the involvement of female children and youth in the anti-apartheid struggle in Soweto during the 1980s. This research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and by the University of Exeter. Her previous research has been published with Gender & History and The Journal of World History.

Title

Gendering the Underground: Female Comrades and the Armed Struggle in Soweto, 1984-1990

Abstract

As South Africa’s struggle against apartheid entered its final, turbulent decade, the country’s students and youth became the vanguards of the liberation movement. In Soweto, as in many other townships, underground MK operatives formed increasing links with local youths during these years, providing crash courses in how to use hand grenades and AK47s, and establishing paramilitary units.  Meanwhile, youths not directly recruited by MK also took up more rudimentary arms in response to the ANC’s call to make the country ungovernable. In existing academic literature, these “comrades” – as young activists came to be known - are overwhelming depicted as male, with little attention paid to the experiences of young female activists. 

 

Drawing on over fifty oral history interviews with former comrades, this paper explores the gendered nature of the armed struggle in Soweto. While combat roles within military units were generally reserved for males, young women and girls played important roles carrying out surveillance and smuggling arms. They also attest to being involved in more sporadic forms of political violence, including attacking police and local councillors, and punishing suspected gangsters and informers. In exploring the involvement of female comrades, this paper also addresses issues of memory and dominant historical narratives. While male interviewees tend to keep secrets about their involvement in the underground, female interviewees are much more forthcoming with their participation in the armed struggle – even in acts not directly sanctioned by the ANC. This demonstrates how such women, whose involvement in the struggle has been continually written out of dominant historical narratives in South Africa, seek to have their voices heard and fit societal notions of ideal combatants by narrating, and even overemphasising, their individual contributions to the armed struggle.

 

 

 

 

Name

Mthembi, Fumani

Organisation

Knowledge Pele

Biography

I am the managing director of Knowledge Pele, the research and development subsidiary of the Pele Energy Group. Highest education level:

MA Science and Development.

Title

From Commissar to Obscurity: The Role of Disorganisation in The Struggle For Liberation

Abstract

Popular perception would have us believe that liberation was won through organisation. Indeed, high levels of organisation were required to manage a globally dispersed set of people working towards a common goal. In addition, there is an increasing effort to place emphasis on the multiplicity of organisations that contributed to the struggle for liberation. However, the notion that those organisations engaged in the struggle were inherently organised in their actions or modes of operating is seldom explored. This paper seeks to deal directly with this question by unpacking the life of Fannie Pakhola. Fannie Phakola joined the movement for liberation as a teenager and soon found himself in exile. At the peak of his service to the movement, Phakola served as an MK commissar in Angola. However, upon the unbanning of the ANC, Phakola, along with many of his comrades, arrived home to no money, no leadership, no plan. They had fallen through the cracks, along with their experience and training. This paper thus reveals a seldom articulated aspect of the struggle for liberation: organisational disorganisation. In particular, it explores this question and its implications in the context of post-apartheid South Africa. At the level of the individual, the paper asks whether good men and women were possibly lost to the transformation project as a function of disorganisation? By implication and perhaps more fundamentally, the paper asks whether the conditions surrounding the transition and the material form of ‘victory’ led to a type of disorganisation that has been detrimental to the continuation of the struggle for genuine liberation?

 

 

 

 

Name

Maringira, Godfrey

Organisation

University of the Western Cape

Biography

Godfrey Maringira is a VolkswagenStiftung Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of the Western Cape. His areas of

interest include the ethnography of war, Veterans life in the aftermath of

conflict and Military landscapes

Title

‘Underground Operations’: Azania People’s Liberation Army guerillas in South Africa

Abstract

The liberation struggle in South Africa, was fought in the townships. However, very little scholarships acknowledges the ways in which ‘underground operations’ were coordinated in the townships against the apartheid government forces. This paper examines underground operations by APLA guerillas, in particualr their hidden activities in the fight against apartheid forces. The paper is based on life stories of APLA ex-combatants now living in the townships of Gugulethu, Nyanga east and KTC settlements in Cape Town.

 

Keywords: Azania People’s Liberation Army, ex-combatants, military identity, liberation struggle, South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name

Dale T. McKinley

Organisation

 

Biography

 

Title

Umkhonto We Sizwe: A critical analysis of the armed struggle of the African National Congress

Abstract

The early dominance of an ANC leadership comprised of the black petty bourgeoisie and traditional chiefs was tied to a strategy of non-violence and incorporation. The result was that the ANC was unable (and/or unwilling) to respond to the more militant struggles that were being waged against increasing racial and capitalist oppression. In turn, this failure created the conditions for a reactive turn to externalised and armed struggle.

 

By ruling out the possibilities and potentialities of long-term internal mass mobilisation and organisation and opting for armed propaganda (which, under the objective conditions at the time, logically could only end up being externally based) to stimulate the same, the ANC and SACP situated the context and content of that struggle outside the masses.

 

A brief review and analysis of the ANC’s key documents and then organisational (internal) as well as practical (external) activities related to the armed struggle from the late 1960s until the early 1980s cumulatively shows that an armed propaganda campaign could only realistically be used as a new pressure tactic for a larger accomodationist strategy that would increasingly rely on international conditions and actors for sustenance.

 

As a result the internal mass struggles inside South Africa took place without much organisational basis, direction or discipline, leading to much of their revolutionary potential being squandered. The key ingredients for a potentially insurrectionist seizure of power in the South African context - strategically organised, armed and nationally consolidated organs of people's power - were absent.

 

Given the generally stressed state of the external organisation and the international pressures it now faced, a negotiated settlement was really the only route the ANC could take. It would now utilise mass and armed struggle for two specific purposes: to act as pressure levers on the apartheid state in the lead up to future negotiations; and to ensure that the mass base was involved in the macro-strategy of a negotiated settlement..  Necessarily then, the possibilities of an armed, revolutionary, people’s ‘seizure of power’ with the potential to lay the foundation for a fundamental political and socio-economic transformation in South Africa, never saw the light of day.

 

 

 

 

Name

Henning Melber

Organisation

 

Biography

Henning Melber graduated in Political Sciences (PhD) and Development Studies (habilitation). He had joined SWAPO as a son of German immigrants in 1974 and was exiled from 1975 to 1989. He was Director of the Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit (NEPRU) in Windhoek from 1992 to 2000 and then re-located to Uppsala/Sweden to become the Research Director of the Nordic Africa Institute (2000-2006) and subsequently the Executive Director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation (2006-2012). He is a Senior Advisor to both institutions, Extraordinary Professor at the Department of Political Sciences/University of Pretoria and the Centre for Africa Studies/University of the Free State and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies/University of London. He is co-editor of the Africa Yearbook (Leiden: Brill), managing co-editor of Africa Spectrum and editor-in-chief of the Strategic Review for Southern Africa.

Title

Armed Liberation Struggle and the Post-colonial Narrative in Namibia

Abstract

The South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO of Namibia) had a unique status among anti-colonial movements. Fighting South Africa’s illegal occupation of South West Africa/Namibia, dubbed by the United Nations as a “trust betrayed”, it resorted to armed struggle in the 1960s. SWAPO was subsequently recognized as “the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people” by a United Nations General Assembly resolution since the mid-1970s. The political culture in Namibia since Independence in 1990 is much characterized by the dominance of SWAPO as a former liberation movement and its official history cultivated. This paper summarizes the stages and relevance of the armed struggle and its relevance for the liberation of Namibia. It contrasts the heroic narrative of SWAPO’s claim to have liberated Namibia through the barrel of the gun with some of the ‘hidden histories’ related to the armed struggle and its realities, which do not have much visibility in the official historiography.

The paper thereby seeks to contribute to a more nuanced assessment of the country’s patriotic history as regards the role of the armed struggle and its relevance in the post-colonial political culture.

 

 

Last updated : 10-Aug-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 03-Nov-2016