Swapo's Struggle for Namibia, 1960-1991, by Lauren Dobell
Since finishing the research for Swapo's Struggle for Namibia, 1960-1991, Lauren Dobell has been at work on a sequel, an extended analysis of Swapo's development policies as Namibia's governing party since independence.
Introduction by Colin Leys, London, 1998
It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to write a prefatory note to Swapo's Struggle for Namibia, 1960-1991. The range and depth of the research on which it is based belie its modest academic origins. Before undertaking fieldwork in Namibia in 1991 Lauren Dobell had already built up a formidable library of published and unpublished materials on Namibia and had established important personal contacts with representatives of Swapo in exile through her involvement in the anti-apartheid movement in Canada. She then spent seven months living and travelling in the country, collecting documents, conducting a vast range of interviews and - last but not least - unofficially attending sessions of what she rightly calls "the first truly national Congress" of Swapo, held in Windhoek in December 1991, as the only non-Namibian observer present. The resulting text - reduced to some 200 pages from an initial draft report more than twice that size, to comply with the requirements of a Masters thesis - clearly transcended that genre, and it is extremely appropriate that it should now be made available to a wider readership. Readers with a general knowledge of Namibian history will find it a highly readable but also thorough and accurate treatment of a topic that has lost none of its importance - or its fascination - in the ensuing decade. Specialists will discover a book that meets the highest standards of scholarship while also displaying an enviably smooth narrative style and unusual maturity of judgement. Swapo's Struggle for Namibia, 1960-1991 central thesis is that the diplomatic context of the Cold War was the constant and overriding determinant of the Swapo leadership's thinking about Namibia's future development. This may well be much truer, Dobell suggests, of most national liberation struggles of the period (1960-1990) than earlier literature tended to suppose. In Swapo's case it was particularly clear: Had it been possible to continue to wage the struggle from within, under the guidance of a committed internal leadership, as well as from without, Swapo might well have developed differently. But the crackdown on the internal leaders of the 1960s created a struggle waged more and more from without, whose primary resources were not those inside the country - the youth, the peasantry, the workers - but the financial, moral, material and diplomatic support offered by external allies. (p. 37) The Swapo leadership in exile was not only cut off from the people they represented inside Namibia, but actively worked to ensure that no significant Swapo leadership emerged inside the country with an agenda that might in any way conflict with the twists and turns of their diplomatic manoeuvres at the UN and in capitals on both sides of the Iron Curtain. In this, of course, they were effectively supported by the occupying South African regime, which consistently imprisoned, tortured and drove into exile successive generations of the country's most idealistic and talented young potential leaders. While in South Africa, for example, strong trade unions and community-based civic organisations insisted on the ANC's accountability to their allied memberships, the weakness of Namibian civil society contributed to the Swapo leadership's sense of political autonomy. The effect was to habituate Swapo as an organization to an almost wholly pragmatic, even opportunistic, approach to policy-making, in which absolutely everything was subordinated to ending South African rule and installing the Swapo leadership in an independent government. [...]
This is an excerpt from Swapo's Struggle for Namibia, 1960-1991, by Lauren Dobell.
Title: Swapo's Struggle for Namibia, 1960-1991
Subtitle: War by Other Means
Author: Lauren Dobell
Basel Namibia Studies Series 3
P. Schlettwein Publishing
2nd edition, Basel 2000
ISBN 3908193028 / ISBN 3-908193-02-8
Softcover, 17 x 24 cm, 175 pages
Dobell, Lauren im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Swapo's Struggle for Namibia, 1960-1991, analyses tne struggle of the South West Africa People's Organisation for the independence of Namibia.