Pamphlets make a difference in research
The institute’s library holds a large collection of pamphlets, which many researchers and documentary film-makers have found invaluable. A large part of the collection dates back to the liberation struggles in Africa, and many of the documents survive only at the Nordic Africa Institute.
Five hundred and thirty cardboard boxes are piled up in the library’s basement. Each is filled with up to 100 documents of various sorts – pamphlets, brochures, essays, posters, leaflets and telegrams. There are also many photographs. Most of the documents were published in Africa by various liberation movements.
“Leaders of the liberation movements often came to the Nordic countries to attend meetings and conferences. A big part of the collection stems from such events. Also, aid workers from the Nordic countries brought back material from Africa and handed it over to the institute,” head of the NAI library Åsa Lund Moberg says.
Several researchers and documentary film-makers have shown an interest in the collection. Lately, the material on PAIGC (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde) – the liberation movement of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde – has been in particular demand.
“We have collected this kind of material ever since the institute was founded in 1962. Back then, our main purpose was to gather documentation on African countries. Research became an objective later. The NAI library has always been devoted to finding material from outside conventional channels. We still are, in the sense that we not only buy literature about Africa, but also make a real effort to find books produced in Africa, since it is important for us to offer the perspectives of African authors,” Lund Moberg explains.
The website www.liberationafrica.se serves as a guide to material in Nordic archives about and from liberation movements in Southern Africa. It is a tool for researchers and others for finding relevant archive collections. After navigating the webpage, many users have contacted the institute for further help and in doing so have been led to the pamphlet collection. There are similar collections in other libraries with an African interest, but because the Nordic countries were neutral meeting points during the liberation struggle, much of the material ended up at the Nordic Africa Institute.
“By large, the material donated directly from Africa or from countries of exile is unique. This is why such documents are not on loan. People must come here to consult the collection. If necessary, they can make copies,” Lund Moberg notes.