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The Archives of the Pan Africanist Congress and the Black Consciousness-Orientated Movements1

  • Brown Bavusile Maaba (a1)

On 19 September 1998, Professor Sibusiso Bhengu, the South African Minister of Education, officially opened the National Arts and Heritage Cultural Centre (NAHECS) archives at the University of Fort Hare. This archive houses documentation from three former liberation movements: the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, the Azanian People's Organization and the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania. Bhengu, from 1991 to 1994 the first black rector of Fort Hare, had signaled a new era for the university.

It was during Bhengu's administration that the university received ANC archival documents, firstly from the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO), the ANC school in Tanzania during the exile period between 1978 and 1992, followed by other documents from ANC missions in different parts of the world. The arrival of these sources, which are lodged in the University Library, was followed by the official opening of the ANC archives on 17 March 1996 by Deputy President Thabo Mbeki of behalf of Nelson Mandela. Even before they were officially opened, the university had begun to receive scholars who combed the documents in an effort to reconstruct the history of the exiled liberation movements. Fort Hare historians also utilized the archives.

The presence of the ANC archives at Fort Hare seems to have inspired Mbulelo Mzamane, Bhengu's successor as Vice Chancellor, to state that Fort Hare should be a home for all South African liberation movements' archival material. Soon, sources from the three liberation movements were sent to the university and the former Centre for Cultural Studies (CCS), now NAHECS, took charge of the documents. While these papers were being sorted out, a building was being constructed on campus to house the papers.

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I would like to especially thank Prof. Sean Morrow, formerly Director of the Govan Mbeki Research and Development Centre, now Department of History, University of Fort Hare, and Prof. Tim Stapleton, Trent University, Canada, for their advice. I would also like to thank the staff of the National Arts and Cultural Centre (NAHECS) for making research material available, and for their comments. These include Prof. Themba Sirayi, the Director, and the archivists, Festus Khayundi, Noludwe Lupuwana, and Punky Kwatsha. Thanks also for comments from Bulelwa Metuse.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

S. Morrow , “The African National Congress Dakawa Development Centre in Tanzania, 1982-1992,” African Affairs 97 (1998), 497521.

R. Davies et al., The Struggle for South Africa, 2 (London, 1988)

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History in Africa
  • ISSN: 0361-5413
  • EISSN: 1558-2744
  • URL: /core/journals/history-in-africa
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