P065 – Liberation in Southern Africa: Transnational Aspects of Collective and Other Forms of Mobilisation
9 July, 16:00 – 17:30

Saunders Chris / University of Cape Town
Fonseca Helder / University of Evora


Liberation struggles in southern Africa have usually been viewed through the prism of national and organizational histories. The success of those struggles, however, often depended on movements and people from different countries in the region getting together in different ways. This panel will focus on such inter-regional connections, both between liberation movements and in terms of forms of collective mobilization across national borders. It will also consider what the consequences of such connections have been for post-liberation regionalism. In some cases, it may be asked why such connections were not greater than they were, for example between the African National Congress of South Africa in its years of exile and the South West Africa People’s Organisation, or when people from South Africa and Namibia lived together in exile.

Luta de Libertação na África Austral: aspectos transnacionais
As lutas de libertação na África Austral tem sido geralmente analisadas pelo prisma das histórias nacionais e das organizações. Todavia, o sucesso daquelas lutas dependeu amiúde de movimentos e pessoas de diferentes países na região, conjugados de diferentes formas.
Este painel centrar-se-á nestas conexões inter-regionais, quer entre movimentos de libertação quer em termos de formas de mobilização colectiva para além das fronteiras nacionais.
Considerar-se-ão também as consequências que tais conexões tiveram para o regionalismo pós-libertação. Em alguns casos, podemos perguntar porque tais conexões não foram mais intensas, por exemplo, entre o ANC-SA (African National Congress of South Africa) nos seus anos de exílio e a SWAPO (South West Africa People’s Organisation) ou quando pessoas da Africa do Sul e Namíbia viveram juntos no exílio.


Paper 1

Saunders Chris / University of Cape Town

Transnational connections and mobilization in liberation struggles: the Namibian case / Conexões Transnacionais e mobilização nas lutas de libertação: o caso Namibiano

During the liberation struggles in southern Africa the liberation movements not surprisingly focused on their own particular struggles and saw those struggles in nationalist terms. Too much of the subsequent historiography has continued in this vein, seeing particular struggles in relative isolation from others and not tracing the transnational and other regional connections that were so important in mobilising support for these struggles. A start has been made to break away from the limitations of the existing historiography, in, say, the biographies presented by Colin Leys and Susan Brown in Histories of Namibia, and most recently in a section of an issue of the Journal of Southern African Studies. While the JSAS articles throw valuable light on particular transnational connections involving the Namibian liberation struggle, they do not see the wider picture. This paper will therefore attempt to analyse the connections between the Namibian liberation movements SWAPO and SWANU and others, most notably the MPLA, UNITA and the ANC, in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, to show how important those connections were in mobilising support; why SWAPO was so much more successful than SWANU in this regard; and why the connections were not greater than they were, given the common struggle against the apartheid regime.

Paper 2

Tornimbeni Corrado / University of Bologna

Nationalism and Internationalism in the Liberation Struggle in Mozambique. FRELIMO’s regional and international fronts and the political solidarity in Italy / Nacionalismo e Internacionalismo na Luta de Libertação em Moçambique: as frentes regional e inte

In the early 1960s, Frelimo was ‘taken by hand’ by the ANC and other nationalist organisations of Southern Africa in Algeri and other political milieus in the African continent. Afterwards, however, the visibility that reached at international level led it to a preeminent position among its allies in the region. The Frelimo’s leadership that consolidated in the early 1970s probably derived its main strength from its international status: it is in the international context that this leadership found crucial resources to put into effect its modernist vision, and the political networks developed within the context of the Cold War played a major role in securing power to Frelimo after the Carnation Revolution in Portugal.
This study addresses the Italian solidarity networks supporting the liberation struggle in Mozambique, which gained a prominent role in Europe by the early 1970s. Three main aspects emerge from this investigation: first, the differences between some features of the nationalist struggle in the ‘internal front’ and the paradigms through which it was presented and understood in the ‘international front’; second, the exceptional ability of FRELIMO leaders to ‘internationalise’ its internal priorities; third, the peculiar amalgam of political and civil subjects that grouped together behind FRELIMO’s cause and that didn’t fell in necessarily with the schemes of the Cold War.

Paper 3

Fonseca Helder Adegar / University of Evora

Liberation Movements Training Camps in Southern Africa as Nationalists and Transnational spaces (1961-1974). / Os Campos de Treino dos Movimentos de Libertação na África Austral como espaços «nacionalistas» e «transnacionais» (1961-1974)

No início dos anos 1970s, os países africanos independentes que contornavam a «África Branca» acolhiam um rede de campos de refugiados e guerrilhas onde milhares de pessoas partilhavam uma experiência comum de exílio e luta. Adicionalmente, as redes de colaboração entre os Movimentos de Libertação presentes e as iniciativas pan-africanistas proporcionaram condições para que refugiados e guerrilheiros com diferentes origens coloniais partilhassem o exílio em alguns campos de acolhimento comuns.
Apesar da importância destes campos tanto na reunião, recrutamento, mobilização e organização da luta armada contra as autoridades coloniais assim como na construção das identidades nacionais e das solidariedades regionais, este tema atraiu ainda pouca atenção quer dos cientistas sociais quer dos historiadores.
Revisitando as abordagens qualitativas da historiografia dedicada ao assunto e procurando expandir a compreensão da magnitude destas experiências comuns, a ambição desta comunicação é a de inquirir sobre o caracter «nacional» ou «transnacional» dos campos de treino da Africa Austral como espaços sociais/comunitários.

Paper 4

Larmer Miles / University of Oxford

Kennes Erik / RMCA, Tervuren

The Katangese ‘Tigres’ in the Angolan independence war, 1974 – 1976 / Os “Tigres” Catangueses na Guerra da Independência de Angola, 1974-1976

During the three-sided conflict for control of Angola that took place following the Portuguese coup of 1974, a significant but largely unrecorded role was played by the Katangese ‘Tigres’. The former rank-and-file troops of the Katangese secessionist state, who had since 1967 fought with the Portuguese colonial army in its war against Angolan nationalists, sided in 1974 with the Marxist MPLA in its ultimately successful efforts to win control of Angola and gain recognition as its legitimate government. This paper documents the political basis of the Katangese forces’ alliance with the MPLA and the role they played – alongside MPLA forces and Cuban troops – in the conflicts of this period. It is argued that understanding the military and political role played by and the underlying motivation of these Katangese groups sheds new light on the un-national liberation of Angola and contributes to a growing understanding of the role of non-state armed forces in a range of conflicts in central and southern Africa hitherto characterised as largely ‘national’ in character, as well as parallels between colonial and post-colonial regimes.

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