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Introducing Southern African Liberation Struggles Edited by Hilary Sapire and Chris Saunders

Southern African Liberation StrugglesThis month UCT Press releases Southern African Liberation Struggles edited by Hilary Sapire and Chris Saunders:

There has been a recent outpouring of memoirs and biographies of the ‘great men’ of the southern African liberation movements. But the writing of critical reflective histories of these movements by non-partisan, independent scholars is still in its infancy. This collection of essays illustrates the intertwined histories of southern African liberation struggles and those of regional and international solidarity movements from the 1960s to the establishment of a non-racial democracy in South Africa in 1994, reflecting the new directions currently taken by ‘indigenous’ southern–African based scholars, and those writing from abroad.

Distinct from the polemical, hagiographic, justificatory or partisan accounts that have flowed since the inception of the liberation struggles, the essays probe beyond the heroic portrayals of armed
struggles and nationalist resistance to examine the fissures and tensions that existed within them. The essays also provide insights into the more troubling and darker aspects of the movements’
histories: human rights abuses perpetrated by the ‘liberators’; the important, if ambiguous, roles played by other southern African states which hosted, and provided succour for, the ANC and its
armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in exile; the support provided to the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) by the Lesotho government and the ways in which the fractious and personality-dominated politics of the organisation contributed to its weakness and ultimate eclipse by the ANC; the relationship between Muslims in Northern Mozambique and that country’s liberation movements.

These essays also seek to present more nuanced accounts of the solidarity movements that flourished alongside the liberation and exile movements, such as the British-based Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM), which in the 1970s found itself at odds both with international interest groups pursuing constructive engagement with the South African government and with elements in the country’s grassroots movements. Even this organisation, committed to the downfall of systemic racial domination in South Africa, was beset by its own tensions of race, and had a difficult relationship with Black Britons.

The collection’s uniqueness lies in drawing together internal and external struggles in exile. And it provides new insights into the relationships that exiles and guerrillas developed with host societies and solidarity organisations, both within the southern African region, and in the United Kingdom.

About the editors:
Hilary Sapire teaches imperial and southern African history in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the editor of the Journal of Southern African Studies and co-author of African Apocalypse: The Story of Nontetha Nwenkwe, a Twentieth-Century South African Prophet (Ohio University Press, 1999).

Chris Saunders is Emeritus Professor, Historical Studies, University of Cape Town. He has written widely on the history and historiography of southern Africa. He is author of, among other books, The Making of the South African Past (Cape Town and New York, 1988) and co-author with Rodney Davenport of the fifth edition of South Africa A Modern History (Macmillan, 2000). He has contributed to the Cambridge History of the Cold War, volume 3, and the Cambridge History of South Africa, volume 2, and the Oxford History of Historical Writing, volume 4 forthcoming.

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