The Nordic Africa Institute

Hidden treasures in the library


Crates of forbidden political pamphlets, railroad songs, and early climatological maps. The NAI library is a treasure trove for academics and others interested in Africa. Discover some of them here.

The song Tazara from 1975 by the group Chambeshi Lifers celebrates the first decade of Zambia’s independence. The Tazara Railway, opened in 1975, linked Zambia´s copperbelt with the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and was the only route to reach the sea without having to transit white minority-ruled territories in Rhodesia and South Africa. It was also China´s first major infrastructure project on the continent.

Search our catalogue for hundreds of hours of music on 165 CD/LP albums. External link, opens in new window.

This Agroclimatological Atlas from 1972 illustrates the state of climate, the agricultural practices and the social ecosystem built around it in the northern states of Nigeria. For today´s researchers on climate in the region, a comparison of this atlas with a most recent one will provide information on how the climate has changed over the decades and how people have adapted to these changes.

We have 290 map resources published before 1980 that can be used for climate change analysis. External link, opens in new window.

The Black Consciousness Movement was an important voice in South Africa in the 1970s. Steve Biko was one of its founders and leading intellectuals. Like many others he paid the ultimate price for resisting the apartheid regime. Biko was murdered in police custody in 1976.

In the NAI library you can find 8 editions of the movement’s journal and 25 books by and about Steve Biko. External link, opens in new window.

A map from 1973 that shows the distribution of people in the Sahel countries in times of drought. Also today, rural populations are victims when rainfall shortage causes pockets of drought. They face serious loss of livestock due to lack of pasture, and are in some cases forced to move elsewhere for the dry season.

Take a look in the NAI library´s extensive collection on pastoralist group’s in the Sahel. There is also a section dealing with droughts in Africa. External link, opens in new window.

Fiction can be an outlet for minority voices and has its place within a social science library. It also adds layers to social science subjects. Walking with shadows by Jude Dibia came out 2005 and was the first novel in Nigeria to give a voice to the LGBT minority.

See our other fiction titles with the same theme External link, opens in new window. or browse our fiction collection from or about Africa with over 4 600 titles. External link, opens in new window.

The Namibian independence movement Swapo published a lot in exile in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The material was clandestinely circulated in Namibia and shared globally in the solidarity movements. This was not easy given that the small population was kept under heavy surveillance. Therefore, publications promoting Swapo had most impact in the exile community.

The NAI library has 178 Swapo publications and 97 books about the liberation movement in Namibia. External link, opens in new window.

New pass laws for Black South Africans were introduced by the minority government of the National Party at a time when the term Apartheid was replaced by “separate development”. They still had the purpose to contain Black South Africans in Bantustans and control movements. This leaflet by the civil rights group Black Sash promoted awareness and information motivated by an anti-Apartheid drive.

The library holds 1635 titles about the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa External link, opens in new window.

Biafra was a secessionist state that separated from Nigeria in May 1967 and existed until January 1970. Shortly after Biafra declared independence, Nigeria declared war on Biafra. This State of the Nation speech delivered by Biafra leader Lt.-Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu came out amidst the civil war, which eventually resulted in defeat for Biafra and the reunification of the two states.

The library keeps 151 titles on Biafra and 4 boxes with 254 pamphlets External link, opens in new window..

Haute Volta (Upper Volta) gained independence from France in 1960. In 1966 came the first military takeover, as the first in a long series of coups d’état that would follow over the coming decades. The military officer Thomas Sankara came to power through a coup in 1983 and renamed the country Burkina Faso, which means “Land of Incorruptible People”.

The NAI Library has 44 titles onThomas Sankara but also some official prints from the Sankara government and a big collection of research on military coups in Africa. External link, opens in new window.

Voice-over artist: Nolwazi Mahlangu,