Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique
Conselho para o Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais em África
مجلس تنمية البحوث الإجتماعية في أفريقيا
In the same section

Southern Africa: From National Liberation to Democratic Renaissance

Southern Africa Sub-Regional Conference, 18–19 October2003, Gaborone, Botswana

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in
Africa (CODESRIA) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It
will be recalled that the Council was established in 1973 out of the
collective will of African social researchers to create a viable forum
in Africa through which they could strive to transcend all barriers to
knowledge production and, in so doing, play a critical role in the
democratic development of the continent. As part of the series of
events planned to mark the anniversary, five sub-regional
conferences are being organised in Central, East, North, Southern
and West Africa. These sub-regional conferences will be followed by a
grand finale conference to be held at the Council’s headquarters in
Dakar, Senegal, in December 2003. The Southern Africa sub-regional
conference is scheduled for Gaborone, Botswana, on 18 and 19
October, 2003. Its theme will be: Southern Africa: From National
Liberation to Democratic Renaissance.

Southern Africa as a region has known some of the most interesting
political developments in the history of Africa. In the period prior to
the onset of formal colonial domination, the area was host to major
projects of state formation, dissolution and recomposition
characterised by interesting and well-documented experiments in
statecraft. Home to some of the most prolonged and vicious forms
of settler colonial rule, the sub-region was also the site for the most
systematic, institutionalised system of racism, racial domination, and
racially-based exclusion known in recent human history. Partly on
account of the racial structuring of opportunities integral to the
establishment and consolidation of colonial domination, the subregion
witnessed an intense intra-regional flow of labour to the key
mining and agro-business centres mainly located in South Africa.
The demographic outcomes associated with widespread labour
migration and the racially-based systems of labour control established
in the colonial mines and plantations had consequences not only on
the organisation of state power and rural society but also on that of
the family and citizenship; furthermore, they established the
foundations for the pattern of urbanisation that developed, including
the violence associated with it.

Given the violent history of the establishment of colonial rule and
white racial domination in the sub-region, it is not surprising that
Southern Africa was also one of the earliest sites of resistance to
foreign and minority rule in Africa. The African National Congress
(ANC) has the distinction of being the oldest liberation political party
in Africa; once adopted, its Freedom Charter fed into the pan-
African quest for the liberation of the continent from colonial
oppression. The example of the ANC and its Freedom Charter was
to inspire virtually all the other key nationalist politicians of the subregion
in their campaign for national liberation. Several of these
countries, such as Zambia, Botswana, and Malawi, were able to
achieve independence relatively earlier than others; for most of the
others, the struggle for liberation became a long-drawn-out and
increasingly violent affair which the East-West Cold War did a great
deal to complicate in the light of the strategic geo-political
advantages and mineral resources which the sub-region holds. Not
surprisingly, armed struggle became an important and almost
ubiquitous instrument in the quest for the termination of settler
colonialism and institutionalised racism; it was to play a major role in
delivering liberation first to the former Portuguese colonies of
Angola and Mozambique and then to Zimbabwe and Namibia, and
finally to South Africa, with the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in
1994 as the first president to be elected by South Africans of all
races and the first person from among the black majority to rule the

The achievement of national liberation and installation of majority
rule in Southern Africa was always considered as an important
project of the pan-African movement within the continent and in the
Diaspora. Not only were the key leaders of the sub-region active
participants in the pan-African meetings convened to discuss the
future of the continent and the black race from 1945 onwards; the
first set of African countries to attain their independence and all the
others that subsequently joined them were to offer solidarity and
material support to the Southern Africa liberation project. Indeed, the
mandate of the Organization of African Unity, at its foundation,
consisted in promoting continental unity and liberation; for the latter
purpose, the OAU set up a Liberation Committee which was a key
player in the struggle for independence and majority rule in
Southern Africa. Following the end of apartheid in South Africa and
the installation of a black majority government, Southern Africa has
been pre-occupied with efforts at democratisation, regional co-operation
and integration, and continental renaissance. The processes of
democratisation, regionalism and renaissance point to a determination
to create more open, inclusive and fair societies built on
representative governance, the inventive energies of the peoples
and a shared pan-African community. But it is a project confronted
by a host of historical and contemporary difficulties, including the
challenges of managing the complex equation of race, rights and
justice; the problem of post-liberation xenophobia; the persistent,
ever deepening problems of social exclusion; unresolved problems
of historical dispossession and present-day challenges of
representation; the structure of labour migration in the sub-region
and the unidirectional conquest of new economic terrains in the
sub-region by South African capital.

Participants in the proposed conference are invited to re-open
reflections on the Southern African component of the pan-African
ideal through the entry points offered by the sub-region’s struggle
for national liberation and the on-going quest for a democratic
renaissance which includes a greater investment of efforts in
regional co-operation and integration. In this connection, papers are
invited from scholars interested in :

- re-visiting the theories,
historiographies and experiences of national liberation;
- the various
ideological currents and contestations which underpinned the
struggle for liberation in the period before and after the publication
of the Freedom Charter, including the Black Consciousness
- the key actors and factors in the Southern African
liberation project;
- the labour processes that defined the colonial
labour economy, the political policies and responses which they
elicited, and the consequences which they had;
- the dynamics of
post-liberation statecraft, including the pursuit of truth and
reconciliation, affirmative action, black economic empowerment, and
various policies of social inclusion;
- the negotiation of post-liberation
identity and citizenship; the place of land in the political economy of
national liberation;
- the rise of post-liberation xenophobic tendencies,
the forces and factors that account for them and the responses they
have elicited;
- the problems and prospects of democratic renewal in
Southern Africa, including the change and renewal in Southern
African civil society;
- post-liberation economics and economic policymaking
as read from the point of view of a national liberation project;
- the search for regional co-operation and integration;
- the quest for an
African renaissance project and its connections to the pan-African
- Southern Africa and the NEPAD initiative;
- Africa in the foreign
policies of the countries of Southern Africa;
- and Southern Africa’s
Diaspora linkages.

March 26 2010