Two new books co-edited by Jocelyn Alexander examine liberation movements in Southern Africa

28 January, 2020

Professor Jocelyn Alexander is co-editor of two new edited volumes exploring the history of liberation movements in Southern Africa.

Lest We Forget: Histories of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZPRA), draws together a series of interviews with participants in Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence conducted over a number of years by Mkhululi Sibanda, Assistant Editor of Sunday News.

The interviews offer insights into the earliest sabotage efforts and armed attacks, the moments of division and rebuilding, and into the means by which a formidable army was trained, armed and deployed with the help of an international cast of supporters.

Sibandi’s interviews range over grand strategic questions and key battles that have barely been explored in print. They also offer an insight into the personal journeys, motivations and tribulations of individuals who set off from their rural villages and township homes to join the struggle, knowing only a little of the challenges that were to come during the war and its aftermath.

The book brings together the interviews with related articles by experts and participants to produce a far richer picture of the origins, nature and extent of the independence struggle than has hitherto existed.

Pathisa Nyathi, Jocelyn Alexander and JoAnn McGregor (eds) (2019) Lest We Forget: Histories of the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZPRA), AmaGugu Publishers

The second volume, Transnational Histories of Southern Africa’s Liberation Movements, offers new perspectives on southern Africa’s wars of national liberation, drawing on extensive oral historical and archival research.

Assuming neither the primacy of nationalist loyalties as they exist today nor any single path to liberation, the book unpicks any notion of a straightforward imposition of Cold War ideologies or strategic interests on liberation wars. This approach adds new dimensions to the rich literatures on the Global Cold War and on solidarity movements.

The contributors trace the ways that ideas and practices were made, adopted, and circulated through time and space through a focus on African soldiers, politicians and diplomats. The book also asks what motivated the men and women who crossed borders to join liberation movements, how Cold War influences were acted upon, interpreted and used, and why certain moments, venues and relations took on exaggerated importance.

The connections among liberation movements, between them and their hosts, and across an extraordinarily diverse set of external actors reveal surprising exchanges and lasting legacies that have too often been obscured by the assertion of monolithic national histories.

Jocelyn Alexander, JoAnn McGregor and Blessing-Miles Tendi (2019) Transnational Histories of Southern Africa’s Liberation Movements, CRC Press