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Paper prepared for the conference, Africa in World Politics, 1
The University of Texas at Austin, March 25-27, 2011.


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Global support for South Africa during and after apartheid:
how a history of Nordic solidarity was created and used by social movements and governments

By Hans Erik Stolten, Centre for the Study of Equality and Multiculturalism, University of Copenhagen.

South Africa’s first genuinely democratic elections in 1994 marked the end of prolonged liberation struggles in large parts of Southern Africa. There were links from the Nordic countries to this freedom struggle in the form of humanitarian and political support, and popular boycott actions.

History was used extensively in the struggle against apartheid and the then passionate debate on the use of history in the fight for freedom and democracy was to some degree influenced by international solidarity and by exiled academics.[1]  

The history of the international anti-apartheid movement has since long been established as a recognised field of research as several conferences on the subject have shown.[2] However, it is still an urgent matter to collect the remaining documentation and record the oral history from people who were involved, while it is still possible.

It is important for the Nordic countries, among other western nations, that the history of their anti-apartheid movements should be recorded, but it is probably even more important for the peoples of Southern Africa to have access to those records to be able to understand their history. This global history is also part of their national heritage. For people in South Africa who for generations were denied access to their own history, as well as access to the history of the solidarity with their struggles, the history of the anti-apartheid movement takes on profound importance. 

Tina Sideris, who was a member of the Oral History Project of the South African Institute of Race Relations in the 1980s, has argued that the informal nature of some popular organisations led to the non-existence of records and archival storage of the organisations’ activities.[3]

Important steps have been made by former activists engaged in history, for instance by the British AAM Archive Committee, to encourage the preservation of the written and oral records of the solidarity movement.[4] Also in the United States, a number of initiatives have been implemented over the years.[5]

Both researchers and librarians at the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala, Sweden, where I worked as Danish Research Fellow for some years, have a long tradition for dealing with the history of solidarity.[6] With Tor Sellström as the coordinator, the institute published a comprehensive book series on Nordic solidarity with Southern Africa.[7]

At the termination of my own research project at NAI, an extended research workshop was convened, venued at the Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen. The heading of the conference was: Collective Memory and Present day Politics in South Africa and the Nordic Countries. As it turned out, several contributions on the history of anti-apartheid solidarity were presented. I am working on an anthology, which will contain these and other contributions, and a critical survey of some of these will form part of this paper together with analyses of other works on the subject. The picture drawn will necessarily be selective and fragmentary.

In retrospect, everybody will agree that apartheid was an inhuman system, and the international solidarity with South Africa during the years of struggle could therefore today appear uncontroversial and as a matter of course. Periodically, it was actually a rather unproblematic and rewarding task to raise the public opinion. Feelings were easy to catch just after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, the Soweto uprising in 1976, and the murder of Steve Biko in ‘77. The suppression of the township rebellions in the mid-late 1980s was also met by broad condemnations all over the world. But to maintain a sustainable movement for support over long periods of time from the 1950s to ‘90s, often under strain from established circles, demanded great persistence.

Solidarity did not stop with de Klerk’s formal abolishment of apartheid in 1990. The complex transitional period saw disagreements between some of the international solidarity movement’s players and the democratic movement within South Africa. Yet solidarity during this turbulent period was very important and research is still thin on how it was possible to sustain popular support during the shifts of policy necessitated by the pressures the negotiators faced during this time.

The development of a historiography of solidarity began long before 1994, but there are still histories to be written and they will not be simple ones since there were divisions within the AAMs, the Western governments, and within the African National Congress itself. For instance, it is my impression that the Nordic organisations, especially the Danish, were somewhat more independent in their relations with the ANC than, for instance, the British AAM was.

After the victory over an evil and powerful regime, many veterans engaged in the struggle through many years of hardship felt a justified need for enjoying the sweetness of triumph, and it has to be said that some of the more internal accounts of freedom struggle and solidarity history have been rather uncritical. Others on the other hand have had an artificially “objective” approach or tried a purely empirical methodology. The writing of this history in itself could be seen as a still needed continued solidarity.

Globalisation and social movements

One of the reasons that research in South African matters is so appealing can be found in the fact that the problems of that country in many ways resemble global problems. South Africa could be illuminating for understanding recent cases of protection of privileges on a transnational scale (for instance cases of migration), which has parallels to its special form of internal colonialism.

An issue, which will predictably be part of the debate on international, social movements in the future, is the problems surrounding what has been called “global apartheid”.[8] To which extent, in which way, and in what speed should rich (mostly white populated) countries share their opportunities and wealth with poor (mostly black, brown, or yellow) third world peoples? The solidarity with South Africa gave rise also to that kind of questions.


Globalisation is hardly anything new, however. Peoples in most corners of the world have been linked for centuries by multifaceted social, politi­cal, and cultural exchanges. Some of the interconnected patterns currently attrib­uted to new global forces have been working on a minor scale for centuries.[9] The same exalted sense of limitlessness in which business people now speak of the new global economy, also coloured nineteenth-century debates of global financial flows, while discussions on possibilities in new computer technologies of­ten parallel the enthusiasm that welcomed the steam engine. Modernity has long been global, cultures have long interacted, and local consumption has been affected by imported products and possibilities since before silks and spices travelled over land from Asia to Europe and long before the European colonial expansion.

Even so, the new perception of globalisation mirrors real changes in the way we experience the world. Rapid flows of news, technological knowledge, and commodities give new immediacy to events far across the globe and make national economies increasingly vulnerable to international pressures. Including those coming from social movements.

The global organisation of production is, however, uneven and incomplete, and some areas are far more linked to financial power centres than others. Capital has a new sense of its own mobility, while governments seem still more concerned about whether state policies will attract or deter pernickety, interna­tional investors, and while advanced industrial areas remain central to global production, most of Africa, despite much focus on Chinese investments, still remains comparatively marginal.[10]  

Globalisation is not only an elite process, however. It also involves dias­poric ethnic/national communities or communities of activists, who work on issues of inter­national human rights.[11] Even for remote, local actors, the transnational, public sphere takes on new importance as a source of new resources, ideas, and support.[12]

In contrast to members of most other new or old social movements, such as trade unions; citizen’s rights movements; women's liberation movements; peace movements; or environmental movements, participants in western solidarity movements can only seldom portray themselves as directly affected victims of conflict or repression. On the contrary, the notion that some fellow countrymen, or in fact everybody, in the western native country profits by the exploitation of the third world is often more or less directly integrated in the foundation of solidarity movements.[13]

Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, some might have had an underlying expectation that a broad series of combined victories for the liberation- and solidarity moments could have led to fundamental changes in both the South and the North, but that kind of determinism has long been dwindling.

It is of course possible to argue that an oblique and unequal world is also an unstable world, which produces social fugitives and terrorism for instance. It can also be argued for that more wealth would transform countries now poor into better trading partners. Viewed realistically however, it must be considered as a problem that successes for the international solidarity movements, at least in a medium-term time frame, will inflict higher living costs on people expected to be involved in the protest.

Mobilisation of a broad host of followers therefore cannot be produced out of self-interest, but has to be created on the basis of a genuine moral appeal. Solidarity cannot be experienced as a necessity by the single participant, but must be learned and realised.

Unfortunately, a growing part of western populations are already feeling uneasy by the potential costs of solidarity and are favourable to all kinds of demarcations against foreigners and importunate cultures.

Despite treads back to before the fourteenth century, the modern globalisation process is probably still in a rather early phase, and even the researcher is often stuck in a tradition of nationalism or localism. The modern nation-state, nationalism, and the discipline of history have had an intense, complex relationship.[14] During the nineteenth century, the great wave of European nationalism was accompanied by the rise of history as a professionalised key discipline in universities and schools. Reshaped nation-states in nineteenth century Europe actively promoted historical research and a “powerful alliance was forged between historical scholarship and officially approved nationalism” as Tosh puts it.[15]

Many of the same mechanisms, although less clear-cut, could be observed in the newly decolonised nations in second half of the twentieth century. In the case of the transformed South African state, discursive projects in nation building since 1994 have also been exercises in explaining different combinations of national history, class, and race.[16]

Under the current state system, most social movement activists seeking to change existing reality still tend to frame their demands in national terms as a way to appeal to policymakers. In such expressions of interest, local nationalisms are often superior to universalistic claims. However, in many cases, the persistence of national identities within global social movements may not reflect national limits to activists’ visions, but simply a realistic understanding that the institutional frameworks through which political aspirations must be channelled are still primarily national ones. In a world where global goals can best be met through national states, activists may think globally, but act locally, working in both spheres, using both identities simultaneously and strategically. Abdul Minty has expressed his role as an exile and leading member of the British AAM like this:

“Acting in partnership with the British people we were able to build this powerful movement … there were also those activists in Britain who resented the leadership role of South Africans in what they considered to be an essentially British movement.”[17]

In her inspiring analysis, Gay Seidman flirts with the thought that globalisation could be halted by social movements:

“..it is worth remembering that this .. is neither inevitable nor irre­versible. The history of the international labor movement is replete with examples of the resurgence of nationalism: despite a rhetoric of internationalism, national unions tend to frame identities and issues in ways that assume that workers in dif­ferent countries stand in direct competition with each other, reinforcing a nation­alist worker identity rather than an internationalist one. For over a century, the in­ternational labor movement has struggled with the problem of how to balance national labor movements’ local concerns with those of a broader international worker movement.”[18]

This problematic is still topical. Some Nordic labour movements involved in transitional aid to South Africa would have liked to see more of the resulting job creation happen in their own countries.
[19] And it is true that globalisation often appears to be the result of a hegemonic project, a process largely impelled by those who are powerful and wealthy, and that global social move­ments, on the other hand, often seem to embody local resistance to that project, but Seidman also realise that:


“The shared networks, shared information, shared strategies-above all, the shared sense of moral con­nectedness and the construction of an identity that extends beyond national bor­ders suggest that somehow activists in these movements are increasingly likely to define their concerns in a way that is emphatically not limited to the single territorially defined community.”[20]


The feeling of solidarity, however, does not yet include large scale migration. Even left-wing parties still need to protect the domestic poor against competing intruders. Sometimes, national labour movements are under severe pressure from right-nationalist parties to accept anti-migration measures and differential labour market treatment that show similarities with South African influx control and labour laws of former times, which served the protection of white workers standards. It could be argued, of course, that the first is a legitimate defense of a nation-based welfare society, while the latter served to keep the indigenous majority-population away from the resources of their nation.

Theory of liberation and social movements theory

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, there was a lively, academic debate on how to characterise the system of suppression in South Africa. The intensity of this scholarly discussion reflects the growing political struggle in the country during late apartheid as well as the liberation movements’ urgent need for a precise theory that could support the freedom struggle. This had importance for both internal mobilisation and international solidarity.

One aspect of the debate on solidarity strategies, which is only considered directly by few, but nevertheless is underlying the assumptions of many analyses, is the theory of colonialism of a special type, which was developed by radical historians with relations to the ANC to describe the South African situation.[21] The specific trait, which separates internal colonialism from “normal” colonialism, is simply that the colonial power (in the case of South Africa identified as the dominating, partly racially defined, social group) is located within the same geographic territory as the colonised people. The adherents of the model often emphasise that the underdevelopment of the exploited ethnic or racial groups within the state boundaries is reproduced through mechanisms of cultural domination, political suppression, and economic exploitation almost similar to the global mechanisms, which have apparently created welfare and prosperity in the highly developed, western, industrialised countries through the plundering of their colonial satellites. The radical-revisionist historians tried to prove that during the 20th century, this kind of internal ultra-exploitation was made possible through the abuse of the pre-capitalist forms of agricultural production in the reserves, Bantustans, and homelands.

This radical analysis also had implications for the international solidarity movement. It was precisely the colonial character of the apartheid regime, which made its lacking legitimacy unique and made it fundamentally inconsistent with international law. The pragmatic, western, liberal understanding of South Africa through many years as an autonomous and legitimate state with unfortunate imperfections could have reduced the freedom struggle to an effort for human rights inside the limits of the existing social order and thus turned the regime into the main agent of lasting but insufficient reforms. Anti-apartheid movement acceptance of this position of “constructive engagement” would have reduced the status of the freedom struggle to less than a fully evolved, national liberation struggle and thereby crippled the potentials for popular mobilisation.[22]

The nearly complete international isolation of the apartheid government, which was eventually established, was strengthened by the awareness of the colonial character of the regime. The decision of the ANC to take up arms depended on the lacking legitimacy of colonialism, and the subordination of the armed struggle to the strategy of mass mobilisation, was also made possible by the widespread support of national liberation. The radical academics helped to enhance this vision at a critical point in history.[23]

Just as important to the analysis of solidarity history are developments in social movements theory. Social movements’ activists have long been aware of the way global dynamics and transnational audiences might support or constrain their causes. More aware than many academics. While activists have often acknowledged the importance of universal rights in the way they understood and framed issues, academics have generally been more cautious especially in terms of their views of popular, collective action. Academic research in social movements has often focused on construction of collective identities and mobilisation processes, often starting the analysis on the individual level, explaining participation or abstention,[24] or using a case study approach to examine how local constituencies mobilise around specific issues. Even though discourses of shared global moralities and the asser­tion of universal norms have distinguished social movements from at least the eighteenth century, social movement theories have tended to view the world through local col­lective identities, campaigns, organisations, and strategies.[25]

Activists themselves have long appealed for global visions of common humanity and for common universalistic values to build international constituencies for local movements: the antislavery campaign as much as modern human rights movements relied on international discomfiture and pressure for its efficacy.[26] International appeals and cross-border activism are not new. For centuries, activists have sought help abroad and internationalist activists have worked across borders: French activists aided the American Revolution, African-American missionaries reported on King Leopold’s regime in the Congo etc.[27]

This accentuates some of the methodological challenges posed by research in transnational movements. Neither a locally oriented case study approach, nor a focus on pursued goals would reveal the extent to which participants assumed a transnational identity or viewed their actions as oriented toward far-reaching objectives.

The international appeal of some social movements also makes it necessary to consider the hierarchical, interest based character of global society. For instance, it raises the question to both activists and academics whether the request for international funds limits local activists to is­sues that fit with the aims of the donors.

The history of solidarity

The whole area of liberation theories and strategies is still quite underinvestigated by historians. It seems that while, especially after 1990, more historical studies of concrete solidarity cases have emerged,[28] only few theoretical or principled works have been written on the theme of North-South political solidarity as such. Lager analyses with departure in the history and interests of trade unions, political parties, and social movements are still in short supply.

During recent years, several works dealing theoretically with globalisation,[29] aid policy,[30] South-South relations,[31] or even critically with NGO participation in nationbuilding,[32] have been published, while most works on political solidarity movements have been limited to concrete case studies. Maybe because the reasons for solidarity usually seems rather obvious or maybe because the empirical history of a larger range of movements of international solidarity has to be established first.

In a deeper theoretical study of the history of solidarity, the search for sources would have to reach back at least to the Age of Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Some of the earliest noticeable acts of solidarity with suppressed, indigenous populations and imported slaves should, nevertheless, be found in missionary circles,[33] even if studies of this area have given a very mixed picture, since the mission also functioned as infiltrator and ideological child rearer in the interest of western colonialism.[34]

Great Britain’s nineteenth century ban on slave trade should probably be seen also in the light that England as the most industrialised country could have competitive and ideological advantages in imposing a new world order based on (more or less) free labour on countries not yet ready for this. Nevertheless, the comprehensive anti-slavery campaign in both England and elsewhere must be regarded as a genuine, early solidarity movement. (Parallels could be drawn to, for example, child labour campaigns and working environment standards of today, which have the same kind of mixed effects when forced on third world countries).

A more recent source of solidarity was the working class internationalism that began to emerge after the 1848 revolutions, missed by the Paris communards in 1871 and by the social democrats before the First World War, activated again by Comintern after 1921, and later again in another fashion by the Socialist International.[35] Internationalism might have been especially visible in colonial and postcolo­nial settings, because activists in Asia, Latin America, or Africa are especially aware of the way global forces affect their possibilities.

Some of the early, white, anti-racists in South Africa; members of the International Socialist League, defined their domestic struggle as internationalism. In their weekly paper, The International, they wrote in October 1915 that an internationalism that did not include full rights for the native working class would be shameful and that the white workers had to be liberated together with the natives.

The importance of the Communist International, and after the Second World War of the Eastern Bloc, for the anti-colonial struggle, should not be underestimated.[36] (To which extent the outcomes were god or bad actually deserves new research). Even if it often seems convenient to forget it; until second half of the twentieth century, leading western countries held large parts of the world occupied and racism was the normal standard.

In the days before the developed welfare state, when living conditions for workers in the west were less different from their classmates elsewhere, and for the most part, only the upper classes enjoyed exotic products, shared class-consciousness might actually have been more natural than nowadays, when also the average western consumer benefits from cheap imported raw materials and other forms of value transfers from the South.

In 1927, one of the South African Communist Party’s (CPSA) coloured leaders, James La Guma, took part in a conference in Brussels organised by League Against Imperialism, where Marcus Garvey’s slogan “Africa for the Africans” was suggested.[37] From there he travelled to Moscow, where he became the promoter of Comintern's strategy for South Africa, which came to demand “an independent native South African republic”. This strategy, which saw blacks as the main force for change in the country, divided the domestic communist party at first, but later paved the way for cross-racial cooperation.[38]

Many social democratic parties were founded, not as national parties, but as sections of the First International, as most communist parties were established as sections of the Third International after the First World War. Since the mainstream socialist and social democratic parties often took government responsibility in western countries, their solidarity (especially in NATO member states) often had to be less unambiguous than that of the left wing. However, trade union control and government involvement also went hand in hand with greater economic possibilities and the Nordic social democratic parties and unions implemented a more low-voiced, and often indirect, but very extensive aid to a wide range of freedom organisations in Southern Africa.

Even so, a striking feature of the time after the fall of the Berlin Wall was the decline in popular political solidarity with the third world. The 1990s were marked by a higher degree of eurocentrism and inward-looking individualization.[39] Focus was on the immediate near area and on areas of strategic interests, while brutal conflicts in Africa got less attention, after this continent had lost the importance it had during the Cold War confrontations. Many conflicts seemed more chaotic and difficult to label than before. Intra-African resource conflicts stretching across colonial borders, triggered by the withdrawal of Western and Eastern Bloc stakes, made it less obvious, who to protest against.

Large parts of the intellectual left wing in Western Europe had an idealistic expectation that democratic socialism would gain popular strength and unselfish solidarity would bloom when liberated from the double burden of communist dominance and anti-Soviet ideological attacks. Many got disappointed though. The breakdown of the “real existing socialism”, and of many communist parties and communist influenced organisations, also had seamy sides, such as loss of alternative power bases, organisational discipline, and political education. For many countries and peoples in Eastern Europe, this development resulted in political democratisation and greater freedom of choice, but for social movements in general, the outcome was organisational and political weakness, even if the objective need for social critique were growing, partly due to the imposing of neo-liberal policies. The Danish social democratic historian, Søren Mørch, expressed it this way: “The price of insurance against social upheavals has gone down”.[40]

The triumph of neo-liberal globalisation meant that transnational companies spearheaded a new confidence in trade more than in aid, which promoted foreign investment and control instead of political support of national solutions (despite much talk of partnership and local ownership).

This development also had some brighter elements though. Since NGOs were no longer considered a treat to the system, more ordinary development aid were canalised this way, which resulted in paid activist positions and more professionalism. But then again, this tended to make the organisations more dependent of the national foreign ministries than of grassroots mobilisation. Nowadays Nordic trade unions do not use their own funds for political solidarity; instead, they profit from state funding by running development projects.

The anti-apartheid movement

The anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s and 1980s was a truly transnational social movement, and its history illustrates well, why global movement practices could force theorists to rethink basic assumptions about identity, resources, and targets of collective action.

Many critical questions are waiting to be asked. How was it possible for the international anti-apartheid movement to develop effective campaigning organisations throughout 35 years (and especially during the very difficult period of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the liberation movement was effectively destroyed inside South Africa)? Was it a special philosophy or ideology, or were it the policies or practices of the movement? Was it the particular mix of local anti-imperialist activists supplied with South African exiles determined to liberate their country? Was it the loyalty among the activists? Was it its internationality working in continuation of a long anti-colonial tradition?

What was it that enabled the anti-apartheid movement’s comparatively small organisations, which for most of their existence were rather unpopular in the governments’ corridors of power, to be capable of exerting considerable international influence?

As Seidman has documented, activists developed a global, anti-racist identity that transcended, even challenged, state borders. Participation in the movement changed the way many ac­tivists viewed politics at home and added a global dimension to discussions over any kind of discrimination.[41]

The anti-apartheid movement in England for instance, staffed to a large degree by South African expatriates and exiles, but with strong ties to Britain’s Labour Party, took on a more visible militancy in 1980s. British participants, like their American counterparts, were certainly responding to events inside South Africa, but the movement’s ap­peal was also strengthened by a deepening concern about racism at home. In the case of New Zealand, participation in the anti-apartheid movement also was connected to domestic, aboriginal politics.

In America, many white par­ticipants joined the anti-apartheid movement to protest against the South African race system, but as they started to identify with an antiracist transnational movement, they also began to look more critically at the domestic racial situation. Many black civil rights activists in USA claimed that participation in anti-apartheid activism, particularly influences from ANC’s developing “non-­racialism”, and its gradual opening to white membership after 1969, prompted a rethinking of separatist attitudes toward white participation in antiracist movements. A new collective identity was constructed, giving participants a sense of belonging to something far broader than the local or national groups in which they participated.

Even when participants in Italy and France focused on local state or even local university policies, the overall concern was with the transnational expression of opposition to South Africa's apartheid policies.

Even if it was less obvious than in most other cases due to informal structures and “activist democracy”, there were also elite members and followers in most AAMs. The inner network of activists for whom the anti-apartheid movement gave an important part of their identity was often easy to point out. With national and international ties to other parts of the movement and with a higher knowledge on the history of anti-apartheid struggle, they often had amazing influence on the movements’ discourses.

Activists included the South African diaspora concerned about events in their home country, trade union leaders, socialist party officials, left-wing intellectuals and students, civil rights activists, church people, liberal do-gooders, and many others.

Pillars of solidarity

Kader Asmal, who was a founder member of both the British and later of the Irish AAM, and served as minister of education in the new South Africa, has explained some of the reasons for the strength of the anti-apartheid movement:

“There is a wonderful story to be written of Dutch men and women, of Danes and Swedes and Irish and English men and women, and Americans who went to South Africa, and came back as unsung heroes and heroines. One day that story has to be written, because they were in the best traditions of international solidarity.”[42]

One source of strength was the relationship between the national AAMs and the freedom movement within South Africa. The earliest of them, the British Boycott Movement, was set up in 1959 in response to the African National Congress's call for international support for its campaign for a boycott of products produced by firms which supported the ruling National Party in South Africa. After Sharpeville in March 1960, the symbolic boycott became a demand for the total isolation of South Africa and for the imposition of comprehensive sanctions by the United Nations. When the African National Congress and other movements in Southern Africa embarked on armed struggle, most of the AAMs sought to explain and support this strategy. However, although they often had a special relationship with the ANC, the AAMs were neither conceived as nor acted as exclusively ANC support groups. The AAMs were regarded as national NGOs, but in a way the AAMs was actually part of the liberation of Southern Africa, even if for instance the Danish South Africa Committees at several occasions stressed their independence to the local ANC-office.

One pillar of strength was actually the determination of most AAMs to ensure that they had a broad domestic appeal. The AAMs’ essential quality was to be mass movements inside their own country. From the beginning, their aim was to educate people about the evils of apartheid. In England the International Defence and Aid Fund was set up for this purpose. It played a unique international role in the struggle and it was one of the most important areas for Nordic government funding during late apartheid, despite that it also worked for revealing the hypocritical duplicity of Western governments. Guided by considerations for the domestic business community and strategic interests, they continued to give practical support to apartheid in the form of trade relations.

Boycotts and sanctions therefore were another essential element in the international movement's strategy. Economists and economic historians will continue to argue over the extent to which sanctions distorted the South African economy and over how heavily economic difficulties weighed in de Klerk's decision to come to the negotiating table, but former apartheid cabinet members have openly admitted that disinvestment effectively helped immobilise apartheid.

One further pillar was the international anti-apartheid movement’s innovative work with international institutions like the UN and the Commonwealth that made them respond to pressures from non-governmental bodies, democratising them and making them more accountable.

The life of a Nordic AAM

What then were the characteristics of the popular, political, solidarity organisations? Patrick Mac Manus, the former chairperson of the Danish Anti-Apartheid Movement, has stated that Landskomiteen Sydafrika-Aktion (LSA, later AK) found itself in a “distributing frame” between the irritability and aversion of the established political system and the strains stemming from the organisation’s own wild-growing, partly uncontrollable mobilisation of engaged youth.[43] The activities of the movement alternated between levels of the desk and of the street, between blockades and conferences, between paroles of the street theatre and substantiated requests to the government about a change of policy. The aim was to bring the liberation struggle into ordinary peoples’ everyday life by creating a broad participation, which exceeded the narrow forms of the traditional political system. Mac Manus estimates that the movement succeeded in the sense that only very few Danes were not moved by the basic optimism of freedom struggle and international solidarity.

The detection work and later the supervision of sanctions (a task the Danish government did not perform) required skills in statistics, business accounting, and corporate structures.

Even if there was broad understanding for actions, which aimed to discredit any kind of support to the illegitimate South African regime, it was the clear desire of the LSA to avoid forms of action, which, if generalised, could have isolated the movement. This often became a theme of discussion between leadership and activists. Also the question of political broadness, common touch, and real influence versus demonstrative marking of thorough socialist perspectives, together with a possible widening of the agenda to support of other kinds of liberation movements or to saving the world in general, lead to internal conflicts. Lack of patience and expressionistic attitudes to politics among the activists sometimes put the leadership in the role of a social educator. Through reading of historical texts in study groups and subcommittees, the movements closed in on its official aim of “democratic, non-violent traditions and a high level of information”. As Mac Manus argued in a Danish newspaper:

“It is the task of a solidarity movement to develop moral and material support inside the society and culture of which it is part. The democratic achievements of this society are the breeding ground for the activities of the movement, even if its aim is to create understanding for a struggle, which is fought under considerably different conditions. We do not live in Soweto; we do not die in El Salvador. Every denial of this difference will lead to escapism and sectarianism”.[44]

The substance of most political protest is to a high degree of symbolic nature. The aim of the boycott campaign against Shell in Danmark was not only to undermine the apartheid economy, but just as much to demoralise, isolate, and weaken the legitimacy of the regime, and Mac Manus finds that it actually suffered a political breakdown even before the macroeconomic costs had become unbearable. There was always a balance to consider. The objective was to undermine illegitimate power structures of state and capital - not to destroy the basis of life for the people.

Also in their precise aims and means, solidarity organisations had to be particular. In the case of LSA in Denmark, undisciplined protests in 1989, including a break-in at the South African Embassy, gave the right wing an excuse for demanding severe counter action. At one point 21 members were arrested in a police raid, and the police tried to deploy severe laws of internal security, which could give up to six years of prison.[45] The public debate over this event has parallels to current discussions on “War against terrorism,” as the ANC was then still labelled a terrorist organisation by the American government.

Patrick Mac Manus has in his account of the Danish AAM some provoking thoughts, which questions the relevance of future solidarity movements.[46] The relation, where a solidarity movement could be seen as an external dimension of a liberation movement’s national struggle, may be out-dated simply because the possibilities of national liberation policies as such seems to have reached an end. The many adverse experiences in the area of postcolonial development policy, causes him to conclude that the potentials for autonomous nation state advance might have reached its limits.

Global structures seems to be in the foreground as a condition for any kind of development, and without democratic reforms of these structures, most national reform attempts seems to be without lasting perspective. Therefore the solidarity movement of today must be an international movement focused on the worldwide political and economic structures of neo-liberal globalisation and on what is more and more frequently named “global apartheid”. In this clash between contrasting globalisation projects, the task of the oppositional movement is nevertheless essentially the same: To create empathy, to make people identify with others, to question the legitimacy of an established order under which people suffer. Or as some Germans have put it “Solidarität ist die Zärtlichkeit der Völker”.[47]

The trade union support

One of the best accounts of the history of the international trade union anti-apartheid support is still Roger Southall’s book from 1995.[48] Southall focuses on the conflicts and dynamics of the Western-dominated International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). Simultaneously, he gives details of the rise of trade unionism in South Africa and the links between the international and the national scene.

In one sense, Southall recognises that international labour proved beneficent and effective. On the other hand, his account exposes contradictions, as when presenting the role of the ICFTU, the American federation AFL-CIO, and the British federation TUC in a critical light, seeing them in a role that at best can be described as dubious. It seems that it was only when it was realized by these reformist organisations that failure to come forward with assistance to genuine African unions, and later on to COSATU, would leave the field to others that the ICFTU came strait. It was first after COSATU’s strength gained decisive momentum and depth that these international labour bodies started realising that they could not ignore it.

Southall describes the British TUC’s historical links with the white trade unions, the disastrous involvement of ICFTU with the anti-socialist trade union FOFATUSA, the battles of the ICFTU against the ANC-allied SACTU-unions, the preference to co-operate with apartheid-like trade unions such as TUCSA/SATUC, and later their preferences for the so-called independent unions, and to some extent for UWUSA, Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Inkatha-allied union, in attempted manipulations of the South African labour scene.

The Americans bended the principles of the ICFTU by using US-state money in their South African work and withdrew from the organisation in the controversy over this, and they did not come back until 1982. The so-called Nordic Five (in this connection Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden) chose to fund COSATU directly, instead of through ICFTU channels. While the ICFTU, AFL-CIO, and TUC get much attention in Southall’s analysis, little explanation has been given to the fact that the Nordic Five chose to break with the multilateralism of the ICFTU. Considering that for years, the majority of COSATU's funding, as well as large proportions of the money channelled through the internationals, came from the Nordic Five, it seems strange that nobody apparently have gone deeper into this. It is Southall’s view that in contrast to other international bodies, the Nordic Five did not act directly to push their own politics upon their South African comrades. The overall result was, he concludes, a relative, consistent even-handedness, which sought to foster unity. Later discoveries have changed that pleasant picture slightly. 

AAM research has current political significance

As “independent”, liberal, journalistic approaches more and more dominate the media scene in South Africa and elsewhere and the alternative black press has almost disappeared,[49] we are allowed to forget the momentous role that radical and socialist forces played in the destruction of apartheid, and these forces are frequently accused for having pursued unrealistic strategies and for trying to employ “either/or-solutions”.

It is now easily forgotten that during the power constellations just before 1990, the national compromise would have been impossible without approval from the South African left, including the communists. As it turned out, these people were very well aware of the difference between national democratic revolution and socialist revolution. In their theory of revolution in two phases, they did not expect the latter for some time, but orchestrating the strong mix of national, ethnical, and social mobilisation was absolutely necessary to get rid of apartheid. A fact that economic liberals still only recognise reluctantly and did not attribute much to. On the record, more conservative historians have never given much credit to the use of history for creating the necessary idealism for liberation struggle and solidarity, but of the record, history is always used in such fundamental conflicts, and in practice the writer to some degree has to choose side.

In a process of reconciliation, it is perhaps understandable that some people wish to forget the past, to move beyond it, to let bygones be bygones. However, true reconciliation cannot be based upon ignorance. History may be dangerous and divisive but unawareness is potentially even more disruptive. Or as Shula Marks has said in a lecture:

“..in a society as deeply divided as South Africa, it is doubtful whether even the most conservative historian could harbour the illusion that history is somehow a set of neutrally observed and politely agreed upon facts. For all the contestants in contemporary South Africa there is a quite conscious struggle to control the past in order to legitimate the present and lay claim to the future.”[50]

Intellectual encounters between competing streams inside South African social science, especially the great debate between the liberal and the radical-revisionist schools of thoughts, have also marked the writing of solidarity history. This last-mentioned theoretical controversy had its principal background in divergent views of the relationship between South Africa’s economic development pattern and the race policies of its shifting governments over time, but also reflected conflicting opinions of contemporary political situations and expectations for the future. Since the early 1990’s, the lack of alternative, critical views together with converging conceptual tendencies have influenced the history profession, and the ideological “thumping” nowadays often seems somewhat constructed. Nevertheless, de-ideologised, post-modern trends have only found delayed and weakened response in South Africa, which could be partly caused by the lasting effects of apartheid’s prolonged upholding of an obsolete social structure. The working class solidarity of the industrial society has not yet been superseded by the individual, intellectual qualifications of the information society. This could be one of the reasons that the discussion between liberal and Marxist influenced actors on strategies for concrete social mobilisation still feels relevant here. And why research in the history of solidarity is still undergoing vivid development.

Researchers will continue to discuss the influence of the anti-apartheid movement on the liberation struggles and transformation processes in Southern Africa – and its importance for choices in Nordic foreign policy during the Cold War period. No doubt, there will still be some conservative researchers in respected Northern academic centres, who will not be able to spot the direct impact of the movement and will not understand the complex relationship that developed between these two sides of the struggle. There will also be those who will try to romanticise the movement in such a way that its internal problems and external difficulties are not fully considered. At a symposium held in 1999 to mark the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement, Abdul Minty had critical remarks on some of the early post-liberation writing surrounding the movement:

“I have even seen accounts of movements in other countries recently which, through careful selection of material, exclude vital information so as to make the final product one of self-adulation.”[51]

The formation of popular consciousness, which was a fundamental condition for a successful political struggle both in South Africa and in the solidarity movement, had more important sources of inspiration than the social science intellectuals of course. The relationship between the masses and the organisations stood in the centre of this process.

It is a fundamental truth that history is created by people, but the notion that this happens mainly through an unbound and equal application of individual acts of willpower seems rather idealistic to me. During South Africa’s freedom struggle, history was to some extent created though collective initiatives from the freedom movement and from the solidarity movement. The formulation of that kind of viable strategies and the calculation of political room for action demands both theoretical insight and structural analysis. Preconditions such as empathy and knowledge of the needs of the masses could originate directly from experiences with the authoritarian system and from political organising. But the structural analysis does not rise spontaneously and should therefore be a high priority for historians and other researchers who wish to contribute with a differentiated understanding of the possibilities of solidarity.

Contributions on Nordic solidarity history

New works on Nordic solidarity emerges regularly. A recent PhD from Roskilde University deals broadly with cases of Danish history of solidarity.[52] Since most of these works are dedicated to a domestic audience of former activists, they are, unfortunately, rarely written in English.

As mentioned, a number of papers from my NAI-project conference in Copenhagen focused on solidarity with Southern Africa. I have taken a closer look at some of this material that may contribute to a Nordic history of solidarity. The contributors include professional historians, trade union officials, and solidarity movement leaders. None of the papers could be called uncritical. Some of them, however, claim to represent an impartial view, while others could be seen as pieces of special pleading. The latter are just as relevant as long as they are balanced with conflicting outlooks. Even if my critical comments to the contributions in most cases have been discussed with the authors for the aim of establishing a continued debating environment around solidarity history, the following evaluations of the contributions are entirely my responsibility, of course.

Christopher Morgenstierne’s paper African freedom struggle – in Denmark is partly a spin-off from his prolonged work with the Danish part of NAI’s immense project on Nordic solidarity history.[53] Morgenstierne outlines Danish policies, building his project on several years of studies in the archives of the Danish Foreign Ministry and of Danish NGOs.[54] He objectively focuses on the official foreign policy of the 1960s and ‘70s, while the important NGO-campaigns of the 1980s are somewhat underinvestigated. The author makes a clear distinction between popular boycott and official sanctions. Morgenstierne's research results includes a chronological account of the Danish anti-apartheid aid and he outlines interesting connections between different kinds of support, while only few lines are drawn to the broader surrounding Danish political reality.

Håkan Thörn’s Solidarity across borders: anti-apartheid as a global social movement is a very ambitious attempt to examine motive powers and organisational forms in the international solidarity movement through illustrating case studies, construction of definitions and general analysis.[55] The aim of Thörn’s project is to investigate how a global solidarity issue, the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, was articulated in two national contexts - Sweden and England - during the period 1960-1994. Thörn convincingly covers angles from the important British Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM), the UN Special Committee against Apartheid, the International Defence and Aid Fund (IDAF), comparisons between exile situations in London and Stockholm, together with the internal conflicts of Swedish solidarity policy. This is done through new research and stories of the efforts of centrally placed solidarity personalities. Also, the contribution of churches across borders is included. Different forms of transnational action are theorised. Thörn claims that it is actually difficult to establish a clear “inside” and “outside” of the South African situation because of the strong mutual influence across borders.

The Danish conflict researcher Bjørn Møller responded with a discussant contribution to Håkan Thörn’s paper.  Møller’s critique benefits from his great expertise in international relations and conflict resolution. It contains several general considerations on the work and positions of international NGOs during globalisation and their ambivalent relationship to governments.

Thörn did in his counter critique share Møller’s critical assessment of "civil society romanticism" (i.e. that NGOs are progressive per definition) but he did not find it relevant for his own account, since he himself has elsewhere criticised automatic linking of NGOs and democracy.[56] Thörn also disavowed the suggestion from Møller that he could have been inspired by an ideology claiming that NGOs will more or less replace the nation state, because the latter is generally fading away, or more specifically in cases of so-called failed states.

Møller stresses the importance of the anti-apartheid NGOs during the struggle, but he attempts to see their strength relative to other factors such as the crumbling of the outer defences of South Africa, the mounting internal contradictions of the apartheid regime, and the end of the Cold War.

Steen Christensen’s paper The Danish debate on support to the African liberation movements gets around in the periodically fierce debate on the solidarity issue in Denmark, dealing polemically with cabinet responsibility, party politics, left-wing blind activism, right-wing anti-communism, trade pragmatism, and Danish trade union solidarity.[57] Founded in his long experience as social democratic, international leader, Christensen’s middle position defence places the subject of solidarity in a Cold War context. It is useful to be reminded on what late stage in the struggle for democracy that liberal and conservative parties were against any kind of efficient support.

Christensen’s paper has its main focus on Danish political circles concerned with assistance to African liberation movements, including parliamentary discussions and their outcome, financially and politically, held together with the broader political debate in Denmark, particularly the ideological ramifications. The centre of attention is the Danish assistance, starting with the general support given by various social democratic ministers during the 1960s. Special emphasis is given to the political climate on the left in Denmark in the late 1960s - including the social democratic party, which was instrumental in shaping the course of Danish foreign policy. Some critical interest is focussed on the 1975-attempt of the Danish liberal minority government to change the direction of this policy in a Danish foreign policy environment, which had until then been characterised by a high degree of unanimity. Finally, the paper looks at the domestic aspects of the political debate concerning the liberation movements - as an extension of the bitter political debates on the left concerning solidarity strategies towards Vietnam and, to a lesser degree, Chile. This is treated as a pronged debate between the various factions of the new left, the communists, and the social democrats. The paper dissects the weak spots of the left wing in Denmark in a revealing way, even if the discrete influence of the Communist Party might be underestimated. Through changing implementations of popular front strategy, DKP was initiator to, and organiser of, quite a few broad solidarity movements to a degree that many of them were labelled as communist cover organs by the right wing.

In this paper, support from Eastern Bloc countries to the freedom movements is viewed more as a problem than as contribution to the liberation struggle. Heavy analytical weight is placed on parliamentary politics, and the importance of grassroots organisations might be somewhat underestimated, which could also be the case with the debate over sanctions and the role of the Danish left in this political struggle against de facto private sector support of apartheid. However, the article also contains reliable self-insights in the social democratic universe and acknowledgements on the problematic role of NATO.

Christensen’s pragmatic realism does not value left idealism for the mobilisation of solidarity as very important, which might help to explain the rather unobtrusive role of the Danish social democrats in the popular, street based solidarity work. Some will probably question Christensen’s assessment of the apparently rather low level of socialist beliefs in the democratic movements in South Africa in contrast to more true and widespread nationalist feelings as being wisdom after the event.

The article also raises the question of the concept of solidarity as such. Should it be seen as one-sided charity, or did both social democratic governments, trade unions and the left have hidden agendas in their policy of support?

A contribution by Morten Nielsen, The anti-apartheid struggle in Denmark, occurred as a discussant reaction to Steen Christensen’s paper. The author writes from his background as long-time leader and organiser of Africa Contact,[58] the former Danish anti-apartheid movement. The commentary by Nielsen could be seen as a rather rough debating piece of special pleading from the grassroots level.[59] Nielsen has the courage (some would probably say rudeness) to ask some of the inconvenient questions which official interpretations and most media have allowed us to forget under the hail-fellow-well-met attitudes after the new regime was installed in South Africa.

Nielsen seems to think that others have stolen the palm of victory in the anti-apartheid struggle, which ought to belong to the popular movements. This kind of mistrust is quite normal in post-conflict situations and, in this case, at least partly justified. In conversations with certain people from the Danish Foreign Ministry, from the Danish social democratic labour movement, from Swedish Sida, or with engaged Russian Africanists for that matter, their role in the liberation of Southern Africa in each case often seems rather exaggerated.

No single agent can claim ownership over history though, and that goes for the solidarity movements too. And for the ANC for that matter. Without long term structural changes, which brought parts of business in opposition to apartheid, and without Gorbachev’s dismantling of the threat of communism, the national compromise that constituted victory, would have been far from certain.

Against his background as an activist organiser, Nielsen provides a range of strategic explanations to why the solidarity movement managed to get broad popular support. He throws light on the consequences of the small-minded, tactical considerations of the Danish, established political parties, and he invites the historians to make use of activist experiences and of the archives of the NGOs.

Anti-communism was an integrated part of the sanctions debate. Some of the Danish contributions reviewed here are influenced by the fact that the ideological discussion over guilt and shame in connection with the Cold War is still very open and far from over in Denmark. Some of those, who took their first steps on the left wing as uncompromising hardliners, identifying unreservedly with the Soviet security-defined suppression of Eastern Europe or with individual terrorism (without any comparison), have made U-turns, apologised, and distanced themselves. On the other hand, many socialists, who were mainly engaged in Third World solidarity are generally proud of that side of their efforts and are not inclined to bow their necks to the neo-liberal ideological unification of today.

The Danish contributions are also marked by the fact that a major overall study of the history of the Danish solidarity movements still remains to be done. Despite being critical to certain elements of these papers, I value them as being of high quality and I would like to see them published at some point together with similar Nordic contributions.

Outcomes of freedom struggle and international solidarity

Through generations of exploitation, buttressed by massive political suppression, values and wealth in the South African society has been distributed extremely uneven, and in many respects, this situation remains unchanged. More than half of the black population probably lives under the poverty limit.[60] Either because they are unemployed, underemployed, have informal jobs, or live as subsistence farmers.

South Africa belongs to the group of higher middle income countries and is among the richest in Africa, however the average income are still several times as high for whites than for blacks.[61]  According to UN’s Human Development Index, white South Africa is in line with Spain, while black South Africa remains at the bottom, and when it comes to spread of property, polarisation has not changed significantly either, even if a black elite has been fostered, and the black middle class continues to grow.[62] With BNP growth rates only at a few per cent, the economy still shows serious lacunas. Unemployment has been increasing for years, the interest for direct investment is modest, and the currency has been weakened incessantly until the global recession made the gold price rise. Nevertheless, everybody seems to assume that South Africa will be able to play an important and respected role in the international community and in Africa in the future.[63]

The ANC leadership has prioritised national reconciliation and economic stability as most necessary, and has been willing to almost any compromise with the world of finance to avoid national disruption. A relatively tight financial course with a strictly limited deficit will most likely be upheld.[64]

A severe impediment to foreign investments is the high level of violent crime and presidential moral admonitions have had no effect here. During late apartheid, 40 per cent of the labour force was excluded from society (not just discriminated in society) and left to its own fate in the often brutal communities of the townships and homelands. It was, in reality, this development, which made South Africa ungovernable for the old regime. The only way to reduce crime and secure a coherent society would be to provide ordinary work for a larger part of the population. Nothing points in the direction that this could happen with the present policy. ANC’s previous critique of the business world for not being able to reform its own mind-set for the common good has been toned down.[65] “New thinking” enforced by the backlash for the socialist perspective has caused also the revolutionary cadres of the ANC leadership to administer an adapted social-liberal policy containing a strange mix of idealistic and neo-liberal elements, including accept of the uncontrolled spread of South African capital all over Africa.

It has been a rather common viewpoint in western neo-classical liberal economic thinking that growth and effective social redistribution do not harmonise well with each other. Growth has mostly been defined as a measurable increase in GDP. In such a correlation, social development and poverty reduction are often reduced to humanitarian relief for those who suffer worst. Contrary to this, the ANC government’s first restoration plan, RDP, saw development and redistribution in its totality as an integrated process, and as a collective responsibility. This social perspective was to a large degree abandoned with the following structural adjustment inspired growth plan, GEAR, and the later BEE-plans have not made much of a difference.

On this background, there is a profound need for some kind of continuation of the solidarity movement and for a continued engagement from the former activists in order to uphold the pressure for a fulfilment of the ideals of the liberation struggle. To relate to this is an important task for solidarity history.

The transitional aid of the Nordic countries

After 1990, and especially after 1994, political solidarity changed to other, more official and direct forms of aid, even if many of the former, international, anti-apartheid organisations continued their activities as private aid organisations, consultants, friendship societies, contact organs, or service providers.

From time to time, especially in the first 5-10 years after 1994, official interest in the matters of the new South Africa from the surrounding world has in fact been rather high. From the Nordic countries’ side, it has at times been marked by a turbid compound of philanthropic aid and business interests.

During the transformation process under which the former liberation movement expanded its grip over society, the Nordic governments succeeded in establishing their respective traditions/histories of support by following up the popular, political solidarity with a continued, more official, transitional aid and by pointing out their own national merits in a favourable light.

Goodwill was extended, which have already shown to be worth its weight in gold. This development has hardly been to the disadvantage for South Africa, but it has probably been even better for the donor countries.[66] A kind of Janus Head of solidarity, one could say.

Through five hundred years of colonialism, Europe has appropriated the riches of Southern Africa. Nevertheless, a rather discouraging picture of stagnating aid from the EU-states to the region can be drawn, which only makes the question of unjust trade relations so much more pressing. Trade and custom agreements between South Africa and EU have not given the country an especially favourable status, either regarding access to the European market or in relation to the protection of its own import-sensitive areas. 

Top western businessmen have expressed worries that South Africa are facing economic difficulties, because it is hard to imagine other competitive export goods than the present, which mainly are minerals, fruit, vegetables, and vine. Seen from the leading western countries, the South African production industry is not fully competitive as regards productivity and wage level.[67] Self-isolation during apartheid and the lack of new input during the years of sanctions left South Africa behind. On the other hand, the need for modernisation and know-how opened possibilities for Nordic export.

The Nordic Countries’ transitional aid for South Africa has not differed significantly from that from other western countries, even if proportions have been a little more passable.[68] Their “Country Strategies” towards South Africa were built on thorough analyse work in their respective foreign ministries and areas of priority were harmonised after consultations with the South African government according to a “partnership” ideology. The areas officially ranging highest on the aid agenda were democratisation, human rights, and violence control, together with pilot projects for land reforms, education, and support to small black businesses.

It was argued from the start, however, that support of civil society organisations and efforts for equalizing social gaps was too vague and casual. Social disparity in South Africa still corresponds rather precisely to race lines and without support for very solid redistribution policies, all forms of socio-economic, differential treatment and subsequent race discrimination could continue into an uncertain future.

Moreover, poverty-orientation of the aid should probably have been increased properly by a continuation and further development of the former anti-apartheid funding policies for the organisations of marginalised groups and for the former underground black press, so that these forces could have continued their social pressure and build-up of black consciousness. South Africa’s main problem is not that the country is very poor, but that the welfare is unequally distributed.

On top of that of course, the recurrent debate over the corporate sector aid continues, especially over the business-to-business part, which implied a direct invitation to Nordic companies’ involvement with aid funds. Extensive resources were allocated to trades and industries, less to preparations for land reforms. Despite politically correct declarations of intent, too many funds flowed into the cash boxes of big Nordic companies and too few actually helped job creation in micro-businesses in South Africa. Follow-up and control of company use of subsidies was superficial and long term real investment has been infrequent.[69]

A breach between intentions and realities can be traced in the transitional aid of the Nordic countries.[70] Officially, it has all been about positive employment effects in South Africa, but in reality “more important” considerations have been in play. For the Nordic manufacturing enterprises, the bargain has been over state subsidised profits; for the Nordic trade unions, not only international solidarity, but also workplaces at home and reformist influence on the industrial scene in South Africa were at stake. Even the Nordic NGOs can’t be considered unselfish. Their idealistic mobilisation of former times increasingly became mixed with professional considerations concerning career positions and prestige.[71]

The Nordic aid strategies might also have relied too much on confidence in the results of a purely institutional conversion marked by traditional western civilisation and modernising attitudes. Support for rehabilitating centres for victims of torture and for truth commissions is worth much veneration, but it does not cure anonymous structural violence or blind counter violence, caused by the frustrating powerlessness of poverty. Most of us can agree in the ideals of universal human rights, but many western NGOs might have unrealistic expectations to the practical implementation of western style democracy in poorer areas and some western governments might even have an interest in confirming their superiority by promoting solutions impossible for the partner country to effectuate.

I might risk my neck and argue that democracy as we define it at the moment in the West is not an original state of affairs given by nature (or by our moral superiority), but rather a luxury that the riches countries in the world have been able to allow themselves in the course of the last one hundred years, since they can now afford to satisfy the majority of their population (partly on the expense of third world peoples). In less developed countries, where the poor majority of natural reasons will be fundamentally unsatisfied, a stable democratisation process can be difficult to sustain - as tendencies towards growing defeatism, political demoralisation, and cases of low attendance in local politics have shown also in South Africa. This is not in any way an argument against representative democracy in South Africa, which was to some degree what the freedom struggle was about. It is just not enough. Much more focus on social human rights, on organising the unorganised, and on practical support to local social movements are needed to support long term democratising.

The Nordic governments’ competitive use of solidarity history

Since the mid-1960s, the Nordic countries have, parallel to the expansion of development aid, built a solid tradition for research in third world issues. Enclaves of progressive Africa research have appeared at many different institutes and centres with groups of engaged researchers within many different disciplines. NAI in Uppsala, Padrigu in Gothenburg, CMI in Bergen, NUPI and CDE in Oslo, IDS in Helsinki, and CAS and DIIS in Denmark could be mentioned as dedicated centres, but there are many others.

Despite the broad engagement of these institutions in Africa generally, it must be said that the history of international solidarity with South Africa has not been a prominent subject either for university researchers, applied policy institutions (sector research), or foreign ministry employees - except for a short period of time, namely from when the breakdown of apartheid became an obvious perspective for everybody and until 10 years later, when South Africa was again regarded as “just another country”.  

Gradually, however, quite a lot of scattered attempts to investigate motive powers and organisational forms of solidarity have appeared, and despite the recognition that the South Africa research in the Nordic Countries remains on a modest quantitative level, it is actually about time to advertise for a historiographical survey for this field of research.

A special concern regarding the writing of solidarity history has been the question of the co-operation between Nordic institutions in the area of African Studies. The cooperation between the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala, Sweden (NAI) and Danish institutions for instance has not always been unproblematic, and it is an ungrateful task to map that kind of tensions that involves both differing foreign policy interests and competition in academia. It seems to me that there are a number of factors which have from time to time contributed to a less than optimal atmosphere between the institutions of these two countries.

One reason could be that Danish students and researchers simply place less weight on having a Nordic orientation than their colleagues in the other Nordic countries. They have relatively good possibilities for fieldwork in Africa, and they have increasingly found EU and US connections relatively more relevant than Nordic. Signals from the right-liberal Danish government have some responsibility for escalating this development.

A more specific problem lies in the fact that NAI, in contrast to most other shared research institutions, does not belong under the Nordic Council, but resides more directly under a foreign ministry agreement that secures a Swedish financial and political dominance. In the area of policymaking activities, NAI is hardly a genuine Nordic institution. Sadly enough, it would, on the other hand, not have had such a high profile and generous funding over the years, had it been purely a research institution.

In a situation where the transitional aid for Southern Africa appears to be rather unambitious, a strategy where the proud traditions of earlier times are used to supply the image of donor countries might be to the advantage of these countries.

In the case of solidarity history, it has already shown possible to build the legend, that the anti-apartheid support of the Nordic countries was especially protracted, loyal, and heroic. However, despite that Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark can call attention to particular areas where they came first with support to anti-apartheid activities; it was only after prolonged political pressure from domestic solidarity movements that the Nordic countries, in the last years before 1990, became champions regarding sanctions policies against the apartheid regime. A change of policy that domestic business opposed to the end. The later, official writing of this history has, in combination with the transitional aid, shown to be an asset for Nordic export industries.

For traders of Nordic products, South Africa has the advantage compared to many other countries in the South that 20 per cent of the population have the same patterns of demand as middle class Europeans, even if the majority lives in poverty, and in the years after 1993 Nordic export to South Africa rose significantly.[72]

Trade delegations from Nordic countries headed by cabinet ministers and royalties repeatedly visited South Africa to discuss combinations of aid and export. Sometimes even former de facto enemies of the freedom struggle have been embraced by the South African government in a way that undermines the history of solidarity.

At the opening of the South African Maritime Training Academy at Simonstown, 9 September 2003, for instance, former state President Thabo Mbeki gave his sincere thanks to the Chief Executive Officer of the biggest Danish industrialist, AP Møller-Maersk,[73] Jess Søderberg, for supporting the academy:  


“I met the leadership of AP Møller-Maersk as they prepared to take over Safmarine, I remember the commitment this leadership made to participate in a meaningful way in the development of our country. This indicated to us that as the Danish people had stood with us during the struggle for our emancipation from apartheid, so were they determined to continue working with us to ensure that our democratic victory opened the way to a better life for all our people. Accordingly, it is most inspiring for me to be here today, to see the how faithfully AP Møller-Maersk has kept its word. With all-weather friends such as these, we cannot but succeed.”[74]

The sad fact is that the Danish anti-apartheid movement through many years had to fight against the de facto support that Maersk ships gave to the apartheid regime by transporting parts of its trade. In the crucial years of struggle of the mid-1980s, Maersk was actually the largest transporter of oil to South Africa. 

One Danish export attempt that did not succeed despite the efforts of Crown Prince Frederik (who is a naval officer, fully trained in the Danish version of Navy Seals, “Frømandskorpset”) was aimed at selling Danish corvettes in hard competition with other countries (Maersk, by the way, then owned one of the largest Danish shipyards, which was later disposed of). Sweden had more luck. As part of an arms deal, which is still very controversial in South Africa, the Swedes got an order from the South African government, which included a portion of JAS Gripen fighter planes.[75] Most people from the former solidarity movements would probably agree that South Africa had very little need for these advanced jetfighters and that the many billions of rand would be better spend on poverty reduction. Economic promises in the shape of extensive, but unreliable, counter purchases spoke for the deal. So did the history of solidarity.

It is an intriguing question, if the more convincing documentation of Sweden’s solidarity history has played any role in the matter of export goodwill. For some, this may seem trivial, others may see it as pure speculation, but actually it is worth an independent historiographical study in its own right.

There were real differences in Danish and Swedish foreign policy. Sweden’s was more independent during the time of apartheid and still is. Sweden directly supported the ANC. Denmark only indirectly and discreet. (In the story of the Baltic countries under Soviet dominance, the picture was in some respects the other way around). On top of that comes that the Swedish aid follow up has at times been quite massive.[76] But there were also differences in the way in which history was used. In the possibilities, in the levels of consciousness, and in the resources allocated for the purpose.

As mentioned before, the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala was used as base for the coordination of an extensive programme, which intended to document solidarity with the whole of Southern Africa as this had developed in each of the Nordic countries. The contributions from each individual country were funded by its foreign ministry, but Sweden had the most glorious past, the most laurels to gain, and most money for the project. In short, the Swedes had a better opportunity for taking their history seriously.

The result of the Norwegian part of the project was a good-quality anthology edited by the experienced Africanist Tore Linné Eriksen, which examined most sides of Norwegian support for Southern Africa.[77] The Finnish contribution ended as a decent empirical representation of the policy of that country.[78]

The Danish contribution was limited in size and scope with its main emphasis on source critical analysis of foreign ministry archives, while the strong Danish NGOs got less attention.[79] Danish voices later expressed the suspicion that the Swedish side had not been directly unsatisfied with the rather low Danish profile. The fact is probably that there, from the beginning, was a certain animosity or carelessness in the Danish Foreign Ministry towards a project which partly consisted of the history of popular movements’ oppositional achievements.

The more harmonised agreement between NGOs and Foreign Affairs Department gave the Swedes a better hand. The experienced and hard-working Swedish coordinator of the overall programme was financed favourably through several years under which he focused mostly and with good workmanship on writing three quantitatively strong volumes plus collecting a massive archival material for the Swedish side.[80]

It has been said that NAI in this connection mostly functioned as a policy making centre for the Swedish development agency, Sida.[81] The departmental intrigues, which surround this case will probably remain a mystery, but the Danish frustration of being taken hostage in a joint Nordic institution, which they were unable to use in the same way as the Swedish part, was clearly expressed at the programme’s conference at Robben Island.[82]

In October 2003, the results of the project were profiled at a conference on Swedish solidarity history organised by NAI, the Olof Palme International Centre and Swedish trade unions among others.[83] The Swedish aid minister and the deputy secretary general of the ANC attended, and Cyril Ramaphosa and other nouveau riche, former South African trade unionists were invited.

Simultaneously an even higher profiled English conference on the same theme was initiated by the South African High Commission in London with the aim of using the bonds of popular international solidarity developed during the anti-apartheid struggle in a new attempt to accelerate stagnating trade and investments.[84] Twelve South African cabinet ministers attended this conference with British and European partners. This London Solidarity Conference was also attended by an array of senior corporate, parastatal and government officials. Its official aim was to "reconnect" with former members of British and European anti-apartheid movements, as the South African Foreign Affairs Department said. It was also aimed at forging closer links with “new partners” in the country's reconstruction and development efforts:


"The conference will examine ways and means to mark the tenth anniversary of democracy in South Africa in 2004, while looking at international solidarity, new partnerships and collaborations between South Africans, British and Europeans to push back the frontiers of poverty and under-development."[85]

Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma lead the South African delegation. South African delegates also included Mike Spicer of Anglo-American and several government director generals. Speakers included former British Anti-Apartheid Movement executive secretary, Mike Terry, and Hillary Benn, then Secretary of State for International Development.

At the earlier 1999 AAM-conference at South Africa House in London, Baroness Castle of Blackburn opened an exhibition on the history of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. As president of the AAM in 1961 and as Minister of Overseas Development in Harold Wilson’s government from 1964, she embodied the treads between solidarity movement and Labour government.[86] At this conference, also Gus Macdonald, Minister of Trade and Industry, and the first editor of Anti-Apartheid News, together with Lord Hughes of Woodside, symbolised the links between AAM and the established political system.

There is little doubt that history of solidarity will be used intensively also in the future. It may even be a good idea for Danish exporters to sponsor Danish solidarity history discretely.

Irony aside, this small paper of course leaves many outstanding questions. How have different forms of friendly pressure and support, along with lack of alternatives, influenced political and economic choices in the new South Africa? Why did social democratic and official government attitudes in the Nordic countries change in favour of more and more direct support to the liberation movements despite scepticism from leading Western partners? To what extent did Nordic anti-colonialism rest on the anticipation that small, export-oriented, non-colonialist states could gain from the breakaways of new nation states from former colonial powers and apartheid supporter countries? More disbelieving popular voices may claim that Nordic politicians from the late 1980s needed to make friends with possible new leaders, but that these friendships for a long time were estimated as less important than trade, profitable for domestic companies. And that this implies a cynical, de facto support of apartheid South Africa.

It is worth remembering, however, that other Western countries have had worse problems, living up to their declared democratic intentions than the Nordic, as Shula Marks have stated:

“This meant that in Britain, unlike in the Scandinavian countries where government assistance to the anti-apartheid struggle was generally far more direct and material, or even in the United States where the vested interests were far less strong and internal domestic politics dictated a very different strategy, the [British] Anti-Apartheid Movement was, and indeed had to be, a people's movement.”[87]

An overwhelming majority of visitors coming to Southern Africa nowadays would probably say that they agreed with the anti-apartheid struggle. One has to wonder, why it took so long for South Africa and the region to become free of colonialism, when the whole world seems to have been supporting them all the time.

The fact is that the international community, including the Nordic countries, did not give Lutuli, Tambo, and Tutu the whole range of boycott, isolation, and militant support they wanted, until victory was almost certain. It was mostly later, when the ANC-dominated government needed to secure continued support and investment, when the West wanted to gain unlimited access to the growing South African middle class market, and when the alternative of socialism did not exist any longer, that we could all agree in making South Africa the darling of the world.


[1] Stolten, Hans Erik, “History in the new South Africa: an introduction”, in Conference Book Publication: Hans Erik Stolten (ed.), History-Making and Present Day Politics. The Meaning of Collective Memory in South Africa, NAI, 2007. 

[2] Just to mention a few of these conferences: Peace and development in Southern Africa: Can the experiences from South Africa be used in the rest of Africa?, May 11th 1995, The parliament, Copenhagen; Nordic Solidarity with the Liberation Struggles in Southern Africa, and Challenges for Democratic Partnerships into the 21st Century 11-14 February 1999 in Cape Town; AAM Archives Committee Symposium held at South Africa House, London, 25–26 June 1999 (this conference was addressed by a message from the President of South Africa); The University of KwaZulu-Natal International Anti-Apartheid Conference 10-13 October 2004 in Durban; Seminar on Memory, Archives, and Human Rights, Copenhagen and Malmo June 4-5, 2009.

[3] Quoted on the website of the Workers Museum, The labour Movements Libraries and Archives, Copenhagen, Denmark, http://net.aba.dk/aba (approached 2004, new address www.arbejdermuseet.dk).

[4]Marks, Shula, in Gurney, Christabel (ed.), The Anti-Apartheid Movement: A 40-year Perspective, Conference Report: South Africa House, London, 25-26 June 1999, London, AAM Archives Committee, 2000.

[5] African Activist Archive at the African Studies Center, Michigan State University (www.africanactivist.msu.edu).

[6] The Simons Papers, for example, now located at the University of Cape Town, were organized by Annica van Gylswyk at NAIs library. At the moment NAI is building up a database entry to the archives of the Nordic anti-apartheid NGOs.

[7] Sellström, Tor, Sweden and National Liberation in Southern Africa: Volume 1: Formation of a Popular Opinion (1950-1970), Uppsala, Nordic Africa Institute, 1999; Sellström, Tor, Sweden and National Liberation in Southern Africa: Volume 2: Solidarity and Assistance 1970-1994, Uppsala, Nordic Africa Institute, 2002; Sellström, Tor (ed.), Liberation in Southern Africa - Regional and Swedish Voices: Interviews from Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, the Frontline and Sweden, Uppsala, Nordic Africa Institute, 1999; Soiri and Pekka Peltola, Finland and National Liberation in Southern Africa, Uppsala, Nordic Africa Institute, 1999; Eriksen, Tore Linné (ed.), Norway and National Liberation in Southern Africa, Nordic Africa Institute, 2000; Morgenstierne, Christopher Munthe, National Liberation in Southern Africa: The Role of the Nordic Countries. Denmark, A Flexible Response - Humanitarian and Political, Nordic Africa Institute, 2003.

[8] Bond, Patrick, “South Africa and Global apartheid. Continental and International Policies and Politics”, Discussion paper, 25, NAI, 2003,

[9] Arrighi, Giovanni, The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins of Our Times, London, Verso, 1994; Wallerstein, Immanuel, Utopistics or Historical Choices of the Twenty-First Century, New York: New Press, 1998.

[10] Harvey, David, The Condition of Postmodernity, an Inquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, Cambridge, Blackwell, 1990.

[11] Keck, Margaret E. & Kathryn Sikkink, Activists beyond Borders. Advocacy Networks in International Politics, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1998.

[12] Seidman, Gay W., “Adjusting the Lens: What do Globalizations, Transnationalism and the Anti-Apartheid Movement Mean for Social Movement Theory?” in John A. Guidry, Michael D. Kennedy, and Mayer N. Zald (eds.), Globalizations and social movements: culture, power, and the transnational public sphere, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, 2000.

[13] Michael Bommes und Albert Scheer, “Mobilisieren durch Moralisieren. Über den Anti-Rassismus der Dritte-Welt-Bewegung”, Blätter Des Iz3w, 201, 1994.

[14] Smith, Anthony, The Nation in History: Historiographical Debates about Ethnicity and Nationalism, University Press of New England, Hanover, Mass., 2000, pp. 28-51, 76-77.

[15] Tosh, John, The Pursuit of History, 2nd edition, Longman, London, 1991, pp. 3-4.

[16] Bundy, Colin, “New Nation, New History? Constructing the past in post-apartheid South Africa” in Conference Book Publication: Hans Erik Stolten (ed.), History-Making and Present Day Politics. The Meaning of Collective Memory in South Africa, NAI, 2007.

[17] Abdul Minty in Gurney, Christabel (ed.), The Anti-Apartheid Movement: A 40-year Perspective, Conference Report, South Africa House, London, 25-26 June 1999, London, AAM Archives Committee, 2000.

[18] Seidman, Gay W., “Adjusting the Lens: What do Globalizations, Transnationalism and the Anti-Apartheid Movement Mean for Social Movement Theory?” in John A. Guidry, Michael D. Kennedy, and Mayer N. Zald (eds.), Globalizations and social movements: culture, power, and the transnational public sphere, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, 2000, p. 355.

[19] Simply my own impression from participating in meetings in the Danish so-called Resource Base for the transitional aid to South Africa.

[20] Seidman, Gay W., Op. cit., p. 354.

[21] Wolpe, Harold, “The Theory of Internal Colonialism: The South African Case“ in Oxaal/Barnett/Booth (eds.), Beyond the Sociology of Development, London, 1975. Also Slovo, Joe, ”South Africa - No Middle Road“ in Davidson/Wilkinson, South Africa: The New Politics of Revolution, London, 1976. The theory of colonialism of a special kind was embedded in SACPs party programme from 1962, but the issue of inner colonialism were also raised by liberal scholars as in Furnivall, John Sydenham, Colonial policy and practice. A comparative study..., Cambridge University Press, 1948; Markquard, Leo, The Story of South Africa, London, Faber and Faber, 1968.

[22] Malapo, Ben, “Marxism, South Africa and the Colonial Question 1-2“, African Communist, No. 113 / 114, London, 1988.

[23] Hind, Robert J., “The Internal Colonial Concept“, Comparative studies in Society and History, 26/3, 1984; Wolpe, Harold, Race, Class and the Apartheid State, Paris: Unesco, 1988.

[24] Crossley, Nick, Making sense of social movements, Open University Press, 2002. 

[25] Seidman, Gay W., “Adjusting the Lens: What do Globalizations, Transnationalism and the Anti-Apartheid Movement Mean for Social Movement Theory?” in John A. Guidry, Michael D. Kennedy, and Mayer N. Zald (eds.), Globalizations and social movements: culture, power, and the transnational public sphere, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, 2000.

[26] Keck, Margaret and Sikkink, Kathryn, “Historical Precursors to Modern Transnational Social Movements and Networks”. Chapter 2 in John A. Guidry, Michael D. Kennedy, and Mayer N. Zald (eds.), Globalizations and social movements: culture, power, and the transnational public sphere, University of Michigan, 2000.

[27] Hochschild, Adam, King Leopold’s Ghost, Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

[28] de Boer, Stefan, From Sharpeville to Soweto: Dutch Government Policy towards Apartheid, 1960–1977, Netherlands Archives Committee, 1999; Lawrence, David, The anti-apartheid movement in Britain, Thesis (M.Phil.), University of Oxford, 2000; Gurney, Christabel (ed.): Anti-Apartheid Movement: 40-Year Perspective, AAM Archives Committee, London, 2000; Melber, Henning und Reinhart Kössler, “The West German Solidarity Movement with the Liberation Struggles in Southern Africa. A (Self-) Critical Retrospective” in Ulf Engel/Robert Kappel (eds.), Germany's Africa Policy Revisited, pp. 103-126, Munster/Hamburg, LIT, 2002; Stolten, Hans Erik, “Om Solidaritetshistorie” in Larney, Nielsen, Mac Manus, Gunnarsen (red.), Aktivister mod apartheid, København, SAK, 2004.

[29] e.g. Bond, Patrick, Against Global Apartheid: South Africa Meets the World Bank, IMF, and International Finance, Juta Academic, 2002.

[30] e.g. Tjønneland, Elling N. and Pundy Pillay, A joint review of Norwegian - South African development cooperation 1995-2001, CMI Report R 2003:1, 2003, http://www.cmi.no/public/2003/R2003-01.htm.

[31] e.g. Thomas, Darryl C., The theory and practice of Third World solidarity, Westport, Conn., Praeger, 2001.

[32] e.g. Cooley, Alexander and James Ron: “The NGO Scramble: Organizational Insecurity and the Political Economy of Transnational Action”, International Security, vol. 27, no. 1, Summer 2002, pp. 5-39.

[33] Moodie / Philip, Correspondence between Donald Moodie and Rev. John Philip. 1841, South African Library: MF. 720; Ross, A., John Philip (1775-1851): missionaries, race and politics in South Africa, Aberdeen University Press, 1986.

[34] Majeke, Nosipho, The Role of the Missionaries in Conquest, Johannesburg: Society of Young Africa, 1952; Villa-Vicencio, Charles: Trapped in apartheid: a socio-theological history of english-speaking churches, Maryknoll, N.Y., Orbis Books, 1988.

[35] Kössler, Reinhart and Henning Melber, Globale Solidarität? Eine Streitschrift, Brandes & Aspel, Frankfurt am Main, 2002.

[36] Especially important were probably the International Department of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee, The Department for African Countries in the Soviet Foreign Ministry, and the Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee. See, for example, South African Communist Speaks 1915-1980, Inkululeko Publications, London, 1981.

[37] On the "Back-to-Africa" leader, Marcus Garvey, see, for example, http://www.marcusgarvey.com.

[38] The communist party was for long periods one of very few South African organisations, where a teamwork could occur on equal basis between, for instance, the African Mbeki, the Indian Muslim Pahad, and the white Jew Kasrils. ANC only gradually opened itself to non-African membership beginning in 1969. See Ellis, Stephen and Ttsepo Sechaba, Comrades against Apartheid: The ANC and the South African Communist Party in Exile, London, James Currey, 1992.

[39] Christensen, Steen, Mod undertrykkelse - for frihed: Socialdemokratiet og befrielsesbevægelseme i Afrika, Latinamerika og Asien efter 1945, Fremad/AB, 2001, p. 15.

[40] Mørch, Søren, Den sidste Danmarkshistorie. 57 fortællinger af fædrelandets historie, København, Gyldendal, 1996, pp. 434-435. My translation.

[41] Seidman, Gay W., “Adjusting the Lens: What do Globalizations, Transnationalism and the Anti-Apartheid Movement Mean for Social Movement Theory?”, in John A. Guidry, Michael D. Kennedy, and Mayer N. Zald (eds.), Globalizations and social movements: culture, power, and the transnational public sphere, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, 2000.

[42] Asmal, Kader, “Making hope and history rhyme” in Gurney, Christabel (ed.), The Anti-Apartheid Movement: A 40-year Perspective, Conference Report: South Africa House, London, 25-26 June 1999, London, AAM Archives Committee, 2000.

[43] Mac Manus, Patrick, ”Mellem kreativitet og kriminalisering. Landskomiteen Sydafrika-Aktion 1986-1990” in Kathrine Toftkær Larney, Patrick Mac Manus, Gorm Gunnarsen og Morten Nielsen (red.), Aktivister mod Apartheid - Dansk Solidaritet med Sydafrika,Sydafrika Kontakt, København, 2004. This is an anthology with departure in papers from a seminar organised by Gorm Gunnarsen at the English institute at the University of Copenhagen, around the 25th anniversary of the Danish Anti-Apartheid Movement, LSA/SAK/AK.

[44] Patrick Mac Manus, ”Vor fælles menneskelighed”, Det fri Aktuelt, 10 May 1989.

[45] Criminal Act paragraph 114, nowadays called the terrorism act.

[46] Mac Manus, Patrick, Op. cit.

[47] ”Die Zukunft der Solidaritätsbewegung: Tema, Internationale Solidarität”, Blätter Des Iz3w, pp. 23-46, 1994.

[48] Southall, Roger, Imperialism or Solidarity. International Labour and South African Trade Unions, Cape Town, UCT Press, 1995. Reviewed in African Studies, Vol. 56, No. 1, 1997 by Liz Torres.

[49] Switzer, Les and Mohamed Adhikari (eds.), South Africa’s Resistance Press. Alternative Voices in the Last Generation Under Apartheid, Ohio University Center for International Studies, Africa Series, No. 74, 2000; Human Rights Commission, Faultlines: Inquiry into Racism in the Media. A SAHRC Report, August 2000, http://www.sahrc.org.za/faultlines.pdf; Gurney, Victoria Brittainin, “Western media: mirroring whose reality?” in Christabel (ed.), The Anti-Apartheid Movement: A 40-year Perspective, conference report from South Africa House, 25-26 June 1999, London, AAM Archives Committee, 2000.

[50] Marks, Shula, “’Half-ally, half-untouchable at the same time': Britain and South Africa since 1959”, in Christabel (ed.), The Anti-Apartheid Movement: A 40-year Perspective, Conference Report: South Africa House, London, 25-26 June 1999, London, AAM Archives Committee, 2000.

[51] Minty, Abdul S, “The Anti-Apartheid Movement – what kind of history?” in Gurney, Christabel (ed.), The Anti-Apartheid Movement: A 40-year Perspective, Conference Report: South Africa House, London, 25-26 June 1999, London, AAM Archives Committee, 2000.

[52] Bjerregaard, Karen Steller, ”’Et undertrykt folk har altid ret’. Solidaritet med den 3. verden i 1960’ernes og 1970’ernes Danmark”, Institut for kultur og identitet, Afdeling for historie, RUC, 2010.

[53] Morgenstierne, Christopher Munthe, National Liberation in Southern Africa: The Role of the Nordic Countries. Denmark, A Flexible Response - Humanitarian and Political, NAI, 2003. More on this book later in the paper. Also, see my review of this book on H-SAfrica, May, 2005: Stolten, Hans Erik, “Danish Anti-Apartheid History”, 2005, www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=283201128698177.

[54] Morgenstierne, Christopher, “African freedom struggle – in Denmark”, conference paper, http://www.jakobsgaardstolten.dk | History conference 02 | Links to papers on international solidarity and social movements… | Christopher Morgenstierne's paper on African Freedom Struggle...

[55] Thörn, Håkan, “Solidarity Across Borders. Perspectives on Anti-Apartheid as a global social movement”, conference paper, http://www.jakobsgaardstolten.dk | History conference 02 | Links to papers on international solidarity and social movements… | Håkan Thörn's paper on Solidarity...

[56] Thörn, Håkan., Globaliseringens dimensioner: Nationalstat, världssamhälle, demokrati och sociala rörelser, Stockholm, 2002.

[57] Christensen, Steen, “The Danish Debate on Support to the African Liberation Movements and the General Danish Political Debate in this respect”, conference paper, http://www.jakobsgaardstolten.dk | History conference 02 | Links to papers on international solidarity and social movements… | Steen Christensen's paper on the Danish debate...  

[58] Previously known as Landskomiteen Sydafrika Aktion/LSA/Sydafrika Kontakt/SAK. Present website: http://www.afrika.dk.

[59] Nielsen, Morten, “The Anti-Apartheid Struggle in Denmark. A Response to Steen Christensen ”, http://www.jakobsgaardstolten.dk | History conference 02 | Links to papers on international solidarity and social movements… | Morten Nielsen's response...

[60] Hendricks, Fred, Fault-Lines in South African Democracy. Continuing Crisis of Inequality and Injustice, Discussion Paper, No 22, Nordic Africa Institute, 2003; May, Julian (ed.), Poverty and Inequality in South Africa: Meeting the Challenge, Cape Town, David philip / Zed Books, 2000; Terreblanche, Sampie, A History of Inequality in South Africa 1652 - 2002, University of Natal Press, 2003.

[61] Bhorat, Haroon / Murray Leibbrandt / Muzi Maziya / Servaas van der Berg / Ingrid Woolard, Fighting Poverty. Labour Markets and Inequalily in South Africa, Cape Town, UCT Press, 2001; Carolyn Jenkins and Lynne Thomas: The Changing Nature of Inequality in South Africa, UNU/WIDER, Finland.

[62] Desai, Ashwin, We Are the Poors: Community Struggles in Post-Apartheid South Africa, Monthly Review Press, 2002.

[63] The assessment of the present situation depends from where you choose to see it of course. There are many examples of success-stories too. Se for example the bestseller: Bowes, Brett and Steuart Pennington (eds.), South Africa. The Good News. 27 chapters on the remarkable progress achieved since 1994, South Africa - The Good News (Pty) Ltd., 2002 and the follow up book More Good News.

[64] National Budget Review: Foreword and Table of Contents, Government of South Africa, http://www.polity.org.za/pol/budget/; Estimates of National Expenditure / Budget Review / Budget Speak, RSA, National Treasury.

[65] In the first of ANC’s yearly internal reports after the change of power, it was criticised that the owners of capital mostly were thinking in short term advantages; that they cheated with their revenues, customs and taxes; and did not engage in a nationbuilding that included the poor. Simultaneously a powerful macroeconomic authority to secure national interest and foreign investments was sought for in vain.

[66] Sweden for instance, exported for 3,31 billion rand to South Africa and imported for 736 million rand from there in 2002 according to South African Yearbook 2002/03 p. 333.

[67] Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Profile: South Africa, London, 1999-00; Barnes, Justin, Competing in the Global Economy: The Competitiveness of the South African Automotive Components Industry, Centre For Social and Development Studies, Durban, 1998; My own interview in the Danish Chamber of Commerce.

[68] Danida, Country strategy for South Africa: strategy for Danish-South African development co-operation, Danish Foreign Ministry, 2002; Förslag till strategi för utvecklingssamarbetet med Sydafrika, Sida, Stockholm, 2003; Elling N. Tjønneland and Pundy Pillay, A joint review of Norwegian - South African development cooperation 1995-2001, CMI Report, 2003:1, 2003, http://www.cmi.no/public/2003/R2003-01.htm;  Hearn, Julie, “Foreign Aid, Democratisation and Civil Society: A study of South Africa, Ghana and Uganda”, Discussion Paper, 386, IDS, Sussex, 1999.

[69] Danida, Country strategy for South Africa: strategy for Danish-South African development co-operation, 2002; Danida, Evaluation-Business-to-Business Programme Denmark-South Africa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2000; Danida, Business to Business programme for South Africa: Basic requirements for content of training programmes, Copenhagen, 2000; Danida, Evaluation: Danish Transitional Assistance to the Republic of South Africa, Copenhagen, 1998; Danida, Programme Document: Danish-South African Business-to Business Programme, Copenhagen, 1995.

[70] Danida, Analysis of the Spin-Off effects of Danish Development Support (in Danish), T&B Consult, Copenhagen, Oct. 1994.

[71] In my opinion, this can be read out of publications like this: Bentzen, Niels / Cole, Josette / Sogge, David, Funding for transformation in times of transition. A report of a midterm review of the INTERFUND/Ibis Transitional Development Assistance Programme in S.A. 1994-98, Ibis, 1998.

[72] Udenrigsministeriet (Danish Foreign Ministry), Markedsorientering Sydafrika og Sydafrika Markedsprofil, 1995.

[73] Maersk (AP Møller-Mærsk in Danish) is, among other things, probably still the world’s largest container shipping company. It is still owned and controlled by Mr Møller. Søderberg was Møller’s deputy and successor as managing director.

[74] Address of the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, at the opening of the South African Maritime Training Academy, Simonstown, 9 September 2003.

[75] http://www.gripen.com/index_2.asp.

[76] The official state visit of the Swedish prime minister, where a jumbo jet was filled up with a delegation of several hundred spearheaded with some of Sweden’s best pop-stars appeared nevertheless as something of an overkill and partly a failure.

[77] Eriksen, Tore Linné (ed.), Norway and National Liberation in Southern Africa, Uppsala, the Nordic Africa Institute, 2000.

[78] Soiri and Pekka Peltola, Finland and National Liberation in Southern Africa, Uppsala, the Nordic Africa Institute, 1999.

[79] Morgenstierne, Christopher Munthe, National Liberation in Southern Africa: The Role of the Nordic Countries. Denmark, A Flexible Response - Humanitarian and Political, Uppsala, the Nordic Africa Institute, 2003.

[80] Sellström, Tor, Sweden and National Liberation in Southern Africa: Volume 1: Formation of a Popular Opinion (1950-1970), Uppsala, the Nordic Africa Institute, 1999; Sellström, Tor, Sweden and National Liberation in Southern Africa: Volume 2: Solidarity and Assistance 1970-1994, Uppsala, the Nordic Africa Institute, 2002; Sellström, Tor (ed.), Liberation in Southern Africa - Regional and Swedish Voices: Interviews from Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, the Frontline and Sweden, Uppsala, the Nordic Africa Institute, 1999.

[81] Even if NAI has had a joint Nordic Programme and Research Council, the Swedish Director and the Swedish Foreign Ministry are the ultimate decision takers.

[82] Førde, Bjørn, ”Konference om kampen mod apartheid på Robben Island”, MS-revy, Vol. 2, 1999, online www.ms.dk; Report of the Conference Nordic Solidarity with the Liberation Struggles in Southern Africa, and Challenges for Democratic Partnerships into the 21st Century 11-14 February 1999, Organized by The Robben Island Museum, The Mayibuye Centre and The Nordic Africa Institute.

[83] Conference: Sydafrika, Sverige och solidariteten, 24-25. oktober 2003 i Norrköping. Organisers: Olof Palmes Internationella Centrum, Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, LO- TCO Biståndsnämnd i samarbete med Arbetets museum och Tema Etnicitet, Linköpings universitet.

[84] Conference: 10 Years of Freedom. Venue Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London, www.southafricahouse.com/CelebSA_2.htm (approached 2004).

[85] Statement from South African Foreign Affairs Department, http://allafrica.com (approached 2004).

[86] Baroness Castle of Blackburn in Gurney, Christabel (ed.), The Anti-Apartheid Movement: A 40-year Perspective, Conference Report: South Africa House, London, 25-26 June 1999, London, AAM Archives Committee, 2000.

[87] Marks, Shula, “’Half-ally, half-untouchable at the same time’: Britain and South Africa since 1959”, in Christabel (ed.), The Anti-Apartheid Movement: A 40-year Perspective, Conference Report: South Africa House, London, 25-26 June 1999, London, AAM Archives Committee, 2000.

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