When he died in June 2021, Kenneth Kaunda was widely hailed for his support for Southern African liberation movements. This paper considers the case of Namibia and the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) and asks how Kaunda went about trying to bring about the liberation of Namibia in the 1970s and 1980s. He initially let SWAPO military operations take place from Zambia. SWAPO had its headquarters in Zambia in the 1970s, and many thousand Namibian refugees settled in Zambia. In international fora Kaunda gave SWAPO full support, and he backed the establishment of a United Nations (UN) Institute for Namibia in Lusaka. But he was willing to engage with the apartheid regime to try to facilitate the UN process towards independence for Namibia, he ended SWAPO’s military activity from Zambian soil, and he intervened decisively against democratic forces in an internal crisis in SWAPO. Though he continued his personal attempts at mediation in the early 1980s, they achieved little, and his most important contribution to Namibia’s liberation was probably the influence he wielded as a key figure in the meetings of the leaders of the Frontline States.
"Kaunda and the Liberation of Namibia: Towards an Assessment,"
Zambia Social Science Journal: Vol. 9:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.cornell.edu/zssj/vol9/iss1/5