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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Lubango and After: 'Forgotten History' as Politics in Contemporary Namibia
Authors:Saul, John S.
Leys, Colin
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:Namibia
Subjects:national liberation movements
History and Exploration
Politics and Government
Law, Human Rights and Violence
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3557366
Abstract:This article examines the considerable efforts made by some Namibians (notably the 'Breaking the Wall of Silence' committee) throughout the 1990s to keep alive the issue of the SWAPO leadership's alleged abuses of power when in exile. These activists' key focus has been the torture and killing of many innocent cadres (labelled 'spies') of SWAPO in the movement's detention centre at Lubango, Angola, in the 1980s. The article reviews the difficulties such critics have had - within both the formal political arena and within civil society (including the churches, so important a sphere of Namibian life) - in setting the record straight about such events and/or in obtaining any kind of redress of grievances. The chief obstacles have been the unwillingness of the SWAPO leadership to allow its own record in exile to be opened up to public scrutiny and, indeed, its active role in discouraging any such outcome. The leadership's advocacy of the wisdom of silence on these matters has tended to be cast in terms of the presumed imperatives of 'reconciliation', but it is argued here that this policy may have at least as much to do with the leadership's seeking to hide the blood of the past that it has on its own hands. The article alludes to the possible applicability of such models as South Africa's process of 'Truth and Reconciliation' to resolving such issues, and to the considerable challenge of realizing any such outcome in the immediate future in Namibia. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]