Accepted paper:

Networkers and Gatekeepers: an outline history of the OAU African Liberation Committee, 1963-1970

Author:

James Brennan (University of Illinois)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the role of the OAU's African Liberation Committee in managing, policing, and legitimating the several liberation movements that resided in Tanzania, to show how formal and informal networking produced cultural solidarities and political conflicts.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the role of the OAU's African Liberation Committee in managing, policing, and legitimating the several liberation movements that resided in and near Tanzania during the 1960s. Exiled liberation movements, made up of both formal and informal actors ranging from established leaders to raw recruits, became bound together by radical new networking forces to produce a new political culture of shared discourse and practice, yet also a culture that could be re-purposed as tools of conflict and intrigue. Surveying disputes that arose among liberation movements from South Africa (ANC & PAC), Mozambique (FRELIMO, MANU, UNAMI and COREMO), and Zimbabwe (ZANU and ZAPU), this paper shows how the OAU's African Liberation Committee, through its financial and political levers of influence, attempted to resolve conflict between large movements, usually ineffectively; but also acted quite effectively to help marginalize or vanquish smaller movements and factions that had fallen out with larger movements. Utilizing hitherto unused source material from the OAU's African Liberation Committee archive, this paper argues that the most significant aspect of the Liberation Committee was its 'gatekeeping' role that often exacerbated internal conflicts within liberation movements - conflicts which proved far more destabilizing in the long run than did inter-party rivalries.

panel His17
Connected decolonisations: networked approaches to anticolonial struggles in Africa, 1950s-80s