The Nordic Africa Institute

Archives in Norway

As early as in 1953, the Norwegian National Union of Students decided to include South African students - victims of racial discrimination - in exchange programmes and scholarships. However, public opinion continued to be rather weak until the South African Chief Albert Luthuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961. At this point in time the Norwegian public became exposed to extensive media coverage on the situation of the oppressed black majority in South Africa and the South Africa Committee, formed in late 1959, started to receive broad support from all sections of society.

In the early 1970s Norway began contributing to humanitarian and legal assistance to refugees and victims of apartheid, and support for the liberation struggle gradually grew. Norwegian anti-apartheid movements emerged, and liberation movements made their first ties with Norwegian solidarity organisations and official authorities in Norway. One such organisation was the Namibia Association in Elverum that came to involve about 80% of the people in the little town of Elverum. After the UN/OAU conference in Oslo in 1973, direct support to liberation movements in South Africa, Namibia, Southern Rhodesia and the Portuguese colonies was included as a separate budget line in government spending. Another major player in the solidarity movement was the church. The main organisational vehicle was the Council for Ecumenical and International Relations – Church of Norway. Due to their perceived “neutral” position with respect to these issues, the churches were used as a conduit by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to clandestinely channel money to opposition forces inside South Africa. One can conclude the Norwegian support to anti-apartheid movements with the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to De Klerk and Mandela in 1993.