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Southern African Liberation Struggles

Southern African Liberation Struggles

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There has been a recent outpouring of memoirs and biographies of the ‘great men’ of the southern African liberation movements. But the writing of critical reflective histories of these movements by non-partisan, independent scholars is still in its infancy. This collection of essays illustrates the intertwined histories of southern African liberation struggles and those of regional and international solidarity movements from the 1960s to the establishment of a non-racial democracy in South Africa in 1994, reflecting the new directions currently taken by ‘indigenous’ southern–African based scholars, and those writing from abroad.
The essays probe beyond the heroic portrayals of armed struggles and nationalist resistance to examine the fissures and tensions that existed within them and thus provide insights into the more troubling and darker aspects of the movements’ histories: human rights abuses perpetrated by the ‘liberators’; the important, if ambiguous, roles played by other southern African states which hosted, and provided succour for, the ANC and its armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in exile; the support provided to the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) by the Lesotho government and the ways in which the fractious and personality-dominated politics of the organisation contributed to its weakness and ultimate eclipse by the ANC; the relationship between Muslims in Northern Mozambique and that country’s liberation movements.

The book also seeks to present more nuanced accounts of the solidarity movements that flourished alongside the liberation and exile movements, such as the British-based Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM), which in the 1970s found itself at odds both with international interest groups pursuing constructive engagement with the South African government and with elements in the country’s grassroots movements. Even this organisation, committed to the downfall of systemic racial domination in South Africa, was beset by its own tensions of race, and had a difficult relationship with Black Britons.

The collection’s uniqueness lies in drawing together internal and external struggles in exile. And it provides new insights into the relationships that exiles and guerrillas developed with host societies and solidarity organisations, both within the southern African region, and in the United Kingdom.

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