Liberation and Democracy in Southern Africa

This project was conceptualised and coordinated by the Institute’s Research Director Henning Melber, who was assisted by Nina Klinge-Nygård. It was undertaken between 2001 and 2006 and had at its centre the relationship between liberation from foreign rule and the consolidation of democracy in a political, sociological and socio-economical perspective. Its main focus was to empirically investigate and analytically reflect on related issues in the Southern African region. Particular emphasis was on the former settler colonies of Zimbabwe and Namibia as well as South Africa. The aim was to gain insights into the scope and limitations of social emancipation in the region governed by previous liberation movements. The specific constellation of the liberation struggle in Southern Africa might have resulted in a particular obstacle on the way towards genuinely democratic structures, institutions and foremost individuals. To explore and investigate the limits and possibilities by means of case studies in a comparative and regional perspective was the main goal of the project.

A network of activities established contacts and links with institutions and individual scholars committed to similar research topics in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. In particular, collaboration with a number of agencies such as the Namibia Institute for Democracy (NID) and the University of Namibia (UNAM) as well as the Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) at the University of Cape Town and the Democracy and Governance Project of the South African Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) had been established and resulted in continuous forms of collaboration and interaction, not least the collaboration in seminars and conferences jointly organised in Windhoek and Cape Town. Regular visits to the Southern African region for several weeks at least once a year were used for knowledge creation and dissemination activities such as lectures, panel debates, seminars and conferences, often in direct collaboration with local organisers. Details on these and other related activities are recorded in the Institute’s annual reports for 2001 to 2006. These also show that the coordinator undertook numerous other activities beyond the defined scope of the LiDeSA project in recognition of his other tasks and assignments as research director.

The project officially ended in October 2006, when the coordinator resumed office as director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation. An evaluation of the project was undertaken during the end of 2005 and presented in early 2006. It came to a positive judgement. Some of the recommendations could still be implemented (such as the focus on socio-economic aspects of transition to Independence in Namibia), while others (such as a monograph on Namibia and an involvement of scholars from Angola and Mozambique) could not be pursued further. Several results will be published still in 2007.

Among the direct printed results of the project and other activities by the research director were a total of 17 Discussion Papers and 4 Current African Issues published by the Institute between 2001 and 2007. During his employment at the Institute, the coordinator of the LiDeSA project published some 75 chapters in books, some 75 articles in journals, around 250 other texts in journals, magazines and newspapers and 20 book reviews. He guest edited issues of the Austrian Journal for Development Studies, the Journal of Contemporary African Studies and Afrika Spectrum. He was also responsible for the following books:

Namibia 1990 – 2000. Eine analytische Chronologie. Windhoek: Namibia Scientific Society 2002, 157 pp.

With Reinhart Kössler: Globale Solidarität? Eine Streitschrift. Frankfurt/Main: Brandes & Apsel 2002, 171 pp.

As editor and contributor: Namibia – Grenzen nachkolonialer Emanzipation. Frankfurt/Main: Brandes & Apsel 2003, 224 pp.

As editor and contributor: Re-examining Liberation in Namibia. Political Culture Since Independence. Uppsala: The Nordic Africa Institute 2003, 149 pp.

As editor and contributor: Limits to Liberation in Southern Africa. The unfinished business of democratic consolidation. Cape Town: HSRC Press 2003, 231 pp.

As editor and contributor: It is no more a cry. Namibian Poetry in Exile and Essays on Literature in Resistance and Nation Building. Basel: Basler Afrika Bibliographien 2004, 99 pp.

As editor and contributor: Genozid und Gedenken. Namibisch-deutsche Geschichte und Gegenwart . Frankfurt/Main: Brandes & Apsel 2005, 204 pp.

As editor (with Andreas Mehler and Klaas van Walraven) and contributor: Africa Yearbook 2004. Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara. Leiden and Boston: Brill 2005, 495 pp.

As editor (with Roger Southall) and contributor: Legacies of power: Leadership change and former presidents in African politics. Cape Town: HSRC Press and Uppsala: The Nordic Africa Institute 2006, xxvi + 350 pp.

As editor (with Andreas Mehler and Klaas van Walraven) and contributor: Africa Yearbook. Volume 2. Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara 2005. Leiden and Boston: Brill 2006, 511 pp.

As editor and contributor:   Transitions in Namibia – which changes for whom? Uppsala: The Nordic Africa Institute 2007 (forthcoming).

During his employment at the Institute, the coordinator also served as a vice-president to the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutions (EADI) between 2003 and 2006 and represented the Institute in the African-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies (AEGIS). He has been vice-president to the International Network of Genocide Scholars (INOGS) since 2005, served as a board member of the Informationsstelle Südliches Afrika (ISSA) in Bonn, was a member of the editorial advisory boards of Peripherie – Zeitschrift für Politik und Ökonomie in der Dritten Welt and of Afrika Spectrum and co-edited (with Reinhart Kössler) the ISSA Wissenschaftliche Reihe with IKO Verlag (Frankfurt/Main) and the Perspektiven Südliches Afrika with Brandes & Apsel (Frankfurt/Main). Since 2005 he had also been a member of the Programme Board for Research on Poverty and Peace of The Research Council of Norway.

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