The Nordic Africa Institute


Stories from some people involved in the liberation movement.

People in the Nordic countries took a personal stand in the struggle against apartheid and for liberation in Southern Africa. Hundreds and thousands were active in their home countries and participated in demonstrations, fundraisings and boycotts. Children used their schools to raise awareness and to create things to send to the refugee camps; artists gave away the surplus from their gallery incomes; others inspired their colleagues to donate material. In some cases whole villages were involved. Some people even left their comfortable lives and families to go to Africa and volunteer. For many, this became a turning point in their lives.

We have collected some of their stories on this site. To show what lies behind the archives, to show the globalisation of solidarity that started decades ago and the impact the struggle in Southern Africa had on people on the other side of the world.

Diary from Somafco 1986 - 1988
By Elsa-Maria Bergström

I landed at Dar es Salaam Airport on the last day of the year in 1985. It was +28 C, quite a shock as I was coming straight from Moscow where it was -32 C. A temperature difference of 60 degrees…

I worked as a nurse at Somafco 1988 - 1991
By Karin Persson

I had a streak of defiance in me. As a teacher in Sweden, I often heard 'there is no point in trying', or 'calm down Karin, you are not in Africa now'…

Story from Somafco
By Carl-Olof Selenius, Africa Groups of Sweden

Why did I get involved? I wanted to get my hands on another illegitimate regime. I saw the superpowers' attempts to dominate the world behind the conflicts of that time. It was a statement against the division of the world into different blocs, against the cold war…

The Racehorse

So it was decided. ANC became the proud owner of a Swedish racehorse with the appropriate name 'Never Despair'. The children of Somafco had their own horse to dream about and cheer on for several years…

Toys to Kwanza Zul

It became a work of solidarity from child to child, not just a charity project. Teachers and students started looking for information on Namibia, apartheid and racism and it was decided that all the children should make something practical to send to Kwanza Zul.

Notes in reply

A response to the personal stories published here. Mpho Monare's story about SOMAFCO "Reflections of a Liberation Struggle Child!"