About the project and the documentation
This resource provides finding aids of primary source materials that can be found at the different Nordic archival institutions, NGOs and archives of individuals who have been involved in the liberation struggles in Southern Africa.
The available materials are mainly in the Nordic languages, but where possible, English is indicated. The resource holdings include interviews with important actors, photographs, publications and posters and pins from 1960-1996. The finding aids are meant to facilitate information search on the Nordic countries' involvement in the liberation struggles and directs the information seekers to where the information can be found. It also makes available some archival materials in PDF for downloading.
Statements of fact or opinion appearing in articles published here are solely those of the authors and do not imply endorsement by the Nordic Africa Institute as an organisation.
According to the statement issued by the Swedish Data Inspection Board, the materials on this website meet with the Board's stipulated regulations.
The project started in 2003 and was completed in 2009.
The Nordic Africa Institute has for a number of years played an important role in documenting the Nordic involvement in the National Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa. In the present process of state building in Southern Africa, there is a search for history and its role in forming and reforming national consciousness. In this respect, it has become evident that the background materials that have been collected in the Nordic countries have an important role to play in filling the gaps that might exist in the search for a new "liberation history".
In 2003 the Nordic Africa Institute initiated a project to identify archives in the Nordic countries, that cover documentation on anti-apartheid resistance and the liberation struggle in Southern Africa, mainly South Africa and Namibia, during 1960-1990 (Other countries are covered, see below). Around this time, a large number of organisations in the Nordic countries e.g. government bodies, youth and church organisations, political parties and solidarity groups participated in the struggle. As a result, vast bilateral cooperation emerged and many well documented conferences and meetings were held in the Nordic countries and in Africa. Several visits to refugee camps in Africa and encounters with different leaders were also documented on videos, tapes and in pictures.
Another result was a website that works as an reference source. It was launched on 24 April 2007. The website liberationafrica.se was online until february 2020, when the content was migrated to be a resource material on this website, nai.uu.se.
Organisations in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have localized, catalogued and organized archives on the liberation struggle. The archival lists are available in a database, found here, that has been created to make the materials known and easily accessible for researchers, students and others who are interested in this part of the world history.
The project was concluded in November 2009 with a workshop held in Pretoria, South Africa.
Please acknowledge the Nordic Africa Institute and the author (when indicated) if you use interviews from this website, in the format:
Interviewee Name: interview by Author’s Name, date.
First published at https://nai.uu.se/library/resources/liberation-africa , Nordic Africa Institute.
Don Mattera: interview by Mardi Gray 9 April 2006.
First published at https://nai.uu.se/library/resources/liberation-africa , Nordic Africa Institute.
Please acknowledge the Nordic Africa Institute and the photographer (when indicated) + organisation if you use photos from this website, in the format:
Photo credits: Photographer Name, Organisation, via the Nordic Africa Institute
Countries in Africa
The countries that form part of the documentation project are South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. Material from and information on the particular areas can be found in the archives of the listed organisations and persons.
The countries in the Nordics are Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.
Partners during the project
The Nordic Africa Institute is collaborating with partners in the Nordic countries and Southern Africa who are working on identifying and preserving archives. The projects vary from organising existing material and digitalisation of documents to searching for new archives and preserving oral history. What combines them is an interest for preserving history, for safe-guarding a heritage for future generations.
The Finnish Country Committee on Archives on Anti-Colonial Resistance and Liberation Struggle in Namibia (AACRLS)
Primary objective: To document the Finnish support to the liberation struggle in Southern Africa with focus on Namibia through oral history, scanning documents and photos, identifying key persons. To repatriate documents and photos to the National Archives of Namibia.
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Project Coordinator: Liisa Hovila-Helminen, Mission Museum
Contact details: email@example.com
(visiting adress: Tähtitorninkatu, 18)
00141 Helsinki, Finland
Phone: +358 9 1297343
Fax: +358 9 1297353
As a part of Nordic cooperation within the Archives on Anti-Colonial Resistance and Liberation Struggle in Namibia, the AACRLS Finnish Country Committee works with 1) charting the sources of documents that exist in Finland, and their digitalisation; 2) beginning the collection of oral histories of Finnish participants in the struggle; 3) expert help in creating a system and organisation in Namibia for archiving the picture and other documentary materials collected in Finland.
Aluka (Princeton, New Jersey, USA)
Primary objective: Aluka was a not-for-profit international collaboration of educational and cultural institutions. The mission was to build a high-quality scholarly resource of materials from and about Africa. In 2008, Aluka became part of JSTOR, with Struggles for Freedom: Southern Africa now hosted on JSTOR's platform
The website includes a wide variety of high-quality scholarly materials contributed by Aluka’s former partners, ranging from archival documents, periodicals, books, reports, manuscripts, and reference works, to three-dimensional models, maps, oral histories, plant specimens, photographs, and slides. By aggregating these materials online, the Aluka collections link materials that are widely dispersed and difficult to access, opening up new opportunities for research, teaching, and broader public discussion. One of Aluka’s primary objectives is to provide African scholars and students with access to scholarly materials originally from Africa, but now out of their reach.
Aluka worked closely with partner organisations in Africa to build capacity in digitisation and the use of online materials for teaching and research. In some cases this included setting up digital labs and providing technical training in scanning and creating metadata records; in others, Aluka convened training workshops for librarians, archivists, faculty, and heritage professionals on topics related to digital imaging, preservation, and the use of online tools in the classroom.
ALUKA 2008 -
Struggles for freedom collection at Jstor
ALUKA - 2008
Location: Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Executive Director: Thomas Nygren
ANC in Maputo, Mozambique
Primary objective: To publish a book on ANC in Mozambique in English and Portuguese in South Africa and Mozambique respectively.
Location: Maputo, Mozambique
Duration of project: 2006-2008
Project manager: Nadja Manghezi (author)
Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Xenophobia has been growing for over a decade in South Africa, exploding in its most vicious form in recent years – and doing so against black foreigners in a country that is fighting racism. But worse, the victims are from neighbouring countries that, twenty years ago, gave up their own security, development and even lives to receive South Africans, victims of and fighters against apartheid. It angered me and provoked me to write this book. - From the preface
The Maputo Connection is an intimate history of the relationship between the ANC and the peoples of Mozambique, a reflection on the personal sacrifices that accompanied their support of South African freedom fighters and a profound gesture of respect to the country that understood that without the liberation of South Africa there would be no liberation of southern Africa.
Based on interviews with more than forty people from the ANC community in Maputo in the 1970s and 1980s, the book is a vivid record of the period of the South African liberation struggle as experienced in Mozambique. It charts the shifts in the relationship between the South African and Mozambican liberation movements - the African National Congress (ANC) and Frelimo - through the direct testimonies of the people in Mozambique who either belonged to the ANC or where closely associated with the movement.
The authenticity of the interviews and the stories that emerge as a result build a three- dimensional picture of life as it was experienced, conveying what the events entailed and what they felt like for the people involved.
About the Author
Nadja Manghezi lived in Mozambique in the early years of the country’s independence from Portugal. She and her husband Alpheus politically supported the new Mozambique, and participated in the exiled struggle of the ANC. She was part of the ANC Education Committee, and worked with the Women’s Section and the Cultural Group, while finding safe houses and cultivating links between potential hosts and underground activities.
From the website of the publisher Jacana Media, http://www.jacana.co.za.
Swapo Party Archive & Research Centre (SPARC)
Location: Windhoek, Namibia
Duration: 2003-2010. Contract with the Nordic Africa Institute 2005-2007.
SPARC, PO Box 1071, Windhoek, Namibia
Tfn +264 (0)61238364
Fax +264 (0)61232368
The Swapo Party Archive & Research Centre was started with the aim of collecting, recording and preserving the history of the Swapo Party. At the beginning of 2005, SPARC sent personnel to New York to collect materials from the former Swapo Mission to the UN. Almost all the materials consisting, printed materials, photographs, slides, negatives, films and videos have now been shipped to Namibia. The rest of 2005 and beginning of 2006 was concentrated on working with database systems and training staff to digitise the materials. In March 2006 SPARC received three (3) 20 ft containers that had been kept in a military base in northern Namibia for 16 years. These containers contained millions of documents: the accumulated materials from Swapo Head Quarters in Luanda and from all its offices around the world from their inception until Namibia's independence in 1990. The procedure to empty the containers follows a systematic order. First, the documents are removed, cleaned and dried. Thereafter the materials are temporarily packed in boxes which are taken to the SPARC storage at the National Archives of Namibia. There, each document receives an identification number and is duly scanned and saved under that number. Metadata are added to each post.
Previously, a television documentary about one of the war veterans, Jason Hamutenya Ndadi – Wanehepo - was produced. This was a result of the information obtained from the current SPARC database, interviews, photographs and video clips. With the successful completion of this documentary film, SPARC is encouraged to continue producing documentaries from its extensive archival materials.
SPARC has the capacity to interview and make video documentaries and will carry out comprehensive training of its staff in filming etc. The recording of oral history is of great importance to SPARC. A great part of the Namibian society relies on oral communication and history writing.
Part of SPARC's work that has been financed by the Nordic Africa Institute's Documentation Project has now been completed. The final report and earlier reports are available for downloading together with movie clips from the inauguration ceremony of the Swapo Party Archive & Research Centre (SPARC).
The NGO Solidarity with Southern Africa
Primary objective: To document the solidarity work and activism of the grass-root movement in Sweden as regards the struggle for liberation in Southern Africa. The civil society played an important role in forming Swedish foreign policy, and the project strives to safeguard the memories of this; to reflect on results; to stimulate academic research within the field; and to present an analysed picture of sectoral collaboration within Swedish society for future generations.
Duration of project: 2005-2007
Project manager: Bertil Högberg and the Africa Goups of Sweden
The History Project will in total produce six volumes in Swedish, one from each project and the sixth book will combine all five and show the interrelatedness and collaboration between movements. This volume will also be translated into English.
Africa Groups of Sweden – the book will reflect on occurrences, themes, breaking points, problems and successes. The roots of the Africa Groups can be found in local groups formed during the years of boycotting at the beginning of the 1960's, melting together on a national level in the 1970’s.
Isolate South Africa Committee – will tell the story of all the organisations active under its umbrella and the campaigns and boycotts ISAK succeeded in organising from 1979 to 1994.
Practical Solidarity – acted as an umbrella organisation for Emmaus Björkå, Emmaus Stockholm, the Gävle Biståndsgrupp and Bread and Fishes. These organisations, together with no longer existing ones in other parts of Sweden, carried out the very practical solidarity work of collecting material, clothes and money to send to various camps and organisations in the South.
Olof Palme International Centre – will coordinate the stories of the labour movement and the unions with the work of the Centre.
Christian Council of Sweden – the churches in Sweden were engaged from the very beginning on all levels in the anti-apartheid struggle.
Primary objective: To create a documentation centre based on the materials collected by Lucio Lara, in order to preserve and inform about the history of liberation struggle in Angola.
Duration of project: 2006-2010
Project manager: Wanda Lara and the Tchiweka Association
Location: Rua Comandante Stona, nº 124, Luanda, Angola
Contact details: Associação Tchiweka de Documentação ATD [email@example.com]
Francisco Sabino, interpreter, and Ms Wanda Lara, project coordinator for Tchiweka at the Archives and Digitalisation workshop in Namibia, 21-23 November 2006.
The project will be open to the public and make the archives available for research. The materials consist of manuscripts, photographs, letters, and publications etc. from the Lucio Lara collections. The project also aims at digitalising documents in order to make them more readily available. Parts of the documentation will be included in a second publication. The first publication contains annotated comments by Lucio Lara. The Tchiweka Centre External link, opens in new window. (in Portuguese) also aims at being a documentation centre to which private persons and organisations feel safe to donate their materials.
The work that the Nordic Documentation Project financed based on the Agreement (2007 - 2008) that was signed by Tchiweka Centre and the Nordic Africa Institute was successfully completed in 2008. The centre has published three volumes from the Lucio Lara collections. The books cover three different periods (up until February of 1961, 1961-1962, and 1963-1964).
Links to external websites
A collection of external websites of relevance to the liberation struggle in Southern Africa, including Centres and Research Institutes in Southern Africa and in the Nordic countries are listed below.
- Note: links that were no longer working in 2020 were removed.
- African Activist Archive External link, opens in new window. The African Activist Archive at the Michigan State University.
- Aluka External link, opens in new window. A not-for-profit international collaboration of educational and cultural institutions. The mission is to build a high-quality scholarly resource of materials from and about Africa.
- ANC The official website of ANC.
- Angola - Nos trilhos da independência. A project on perserving testmonies of the liberation straggle in Angola.
- Anti-Apartheid Movement Catalogue of the archive of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, 1956-98, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Also see the Forward to Freedom website.
- The Anti-Apartheid Movement: A 40-year Perspective The papers in this report bring together the recollections and reflections of participants in the AAM and contributions from academics, archivists and film-makers concerned with the history of the liberation struggle in South Africa and the anti-apartheid movement it inspired throughout the world.
- Commonwealth and Latin American Archives Project "Political Archives" A project sponsored jointly by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICS) and the Institute for the Study of the Americas (ISA).
- Digital Innovation South Africa (DISA) Southern African Freedom Struggles 1950-1994.
- Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) External link, opens in new window. Promoting Credible Elections and Democratic Governance in Africa.
- International Institute for Social History (IISH) External link, opens in new window., Anti-apartheid and Southern Africa Collection, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
- Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) External link, opens in new window., Namibia Public interest law centre.
- Liberation Archives – Fort Hare The Liberation Archives at the University of Fort Hare. Check the University's home page at http://www.ufh.ac.za/ External link, opens in new window..
- Namibian National Archives. The websites of the National Library External link, opens in new window. and National Archives of Namibia have been experiencing technical difficulties in reconnecting to the Internet and the website.
- Palme Center External link, opens in new window. The Olof Palme International Center (OPIC), Sweden.
- The Robben-Island Mayibuye Centre Archive External link, opens in new window..
- South Africa : Overcoming Apartheid, Building Democracy. This website presents first-hand accounts of the political movement in South Africa.
- South African History Online (SAHO) External link, opens in new window., a comprehensive online website on South African history and culture and a non-partisan people's history project.
- South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) External link, opens in new window. Official Website.
SWAPO Archive and Research Center SPARC.
- The South African Democracy Education Trust (SADET). (www.sadet.co.za)
- The University of Joensuu / The University of Eastern Finland External link, opens in new window..
- UWC-Robben Island Museum Mayibuye Archive External link, opens in new window.. Search the archive for art, artefacts, posters and banners, audiovisual material, historical papers, photographic archive and more.