Liberation Struggle: History project comes to fruition


A project to document the history of the liberation struggle in southern Africa will be launched at the 34th SADC Summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

The project, known as the “Hashim Mbita Project” is being spearheaded by Hashim Mbita, who was Executive Secretary of the Liberation Committee of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) for 20 years from 1974 until after South Africa gained majority rule in 1994.

The Liberation Committee, which was established at the founding summit of the OAU in 1963 to support the decolonisation process diplomatically and materially, was formally decommissioned in August 1994 with a closing report titled, “Mission Accomplished”.

The participating countries to date are Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Incoming SADC chairperson, President Robert Mugabe, will launch the Hashim Mbita Project during the 34th regional summit.

SADC secretariat head of public relations, Leefa Penehupifo Martin, said that the regional bloc is excited that Zimbabwe is hosting the 34th Summit as she has been on the forefront advocating for the liberation of colonised countries since 1980.

Addressing journalists on the sidelines of a meeting of the Finance Committee of senior’s members of the regional bloc at Elephant Hills Resort, Martin said after attaining its independence in 1980, Zimbabwe quickly turned its attention and helped other countries attain independence.

She said the leadership role by Zimbabwe was evident from the time the organisation was formed in 1980 as the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), which was the forerunner of the socio-economic cooperation leg of today’s SADC.

“The summit is the first in Zimbabwe in as many years despite the fact that she has been there since 1980 when SADCC was formed. As a result, the region is happy that Zimbabwe is hosting and taking over the chair,” she said.

“Zimbabwe has always been playing its leadership role in the past years.”

Martin said the fact that President Mugabe was going to launch the Hashim Mbita Project was a milestone for the regional bloc.

Martin said, “President Mugabe who would have assumed the chairmanship of the bloc will launch the Hashim Mbita project, a documentation of the history of the liberation struggle of the region since Zimbabwe was at the forefront, and assisted many countries which are free today.”

For more than 30 years, the committee operated from Tanzania where that country’s first president, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, and the Tanzanian people gave it their full support.

Nyerere, who died in 1999, was a founding father of the OAU and the first chairperson of the Frontline States, which established the Southern Africa Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC), that later became Sadc.

In his inspirational address to the national researchers working on the project in 2005, Mbita said the “decolonisation struggle which engulfed the African continent during the last 60 years was basically one, though fought in various parts and against different colonising powers.”

Thus, the need to “record the inspiration, commitment, determination, sacrifices, means, strategies and experiences gained at different stages became apparent,” he said.

He said this venture is “the first such collective undertaking of this magnitude in Africa. There is a lot that has been written about Africa mostly by non-Africans. Hence looked through alien lenses.

“SADC has now afforded you African scholars a unique opportunity to record our history in the right perspective.

“We who are here today have either lived to witness the process of the liberation particularly from the 1960s or are just beneficiaries of that struggle. Whichever the case, we owe it to posterity to contribute in availing future generations with objective accounts of that history and leave in documents and data for further research,” Mbita said.

Describing SADC as a grouping of former Portuguese, German, Boer and British colonies, he said “their transition to freedom and the coming to being of SADC is what was before the researchers to record.

“First as victims, second as defiant people and third as victors.”

“The stages that this process went through covered agitation, political organisation and eventually physical confrontation.

“The birth of the Frontline States as a dependable rear base and victory which saw the establishment of SADC as an organ for economic transformation and consolidation of the regional security, peace and defence must be carefully examined.

“What, for example, would this region be had there not been the likes of Presidents Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Sir Seretse Khama as well as the uncompromising leaders of national liberation movements of the time?” – Chronicle/

August 2014
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