Apartheid's Transnational Soldiers: The Case of Black Namibian Soldiers in South Africa's Former Security Forces

Apartheid's Transnational Soldiers: The Case of Black Namibian Soldiers in South Africa's Former Security Forces

Author: 
Bolliger, Lennart
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2017
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
Journal of Southern African Studies
Source: 
Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 43, No. 1, February 2017, pp. 195-214
Abstract: 

Histories of southern Africa's liberation struggles have been primarily written in the frame of the nation and have thus largely neglected the significant role played by transnational and inter-regional connections in shaping those struggles. In this article, I explore the complex and seemingly paradoxical dynamics of 'national liberation' through the case of black Namibians who were recruited into the South West African Territorial Force (SWATF), and the South African police counter-insurgency unit, Koevoet, during Namibia's war for independence. I argue that the initially temporary 'alliances' between these transnational soldiers and South Africa's security forces assumed a degree of permanence in the form of new and enduring military identities and loyalties. These often contradictory identities and loyalties have remained salient in influencing the history and politics of post-independence Namibia, as ex-SWATF and ex-Koevoet members have continued to invoke them in attempts to claim full citizen and war-veteran status in Namibia and South Africa. By analysing the post-war politics and historical narratives of two veterans' organisations of former SWATF and Koevoet members, I bring into focus the transnational character of Namibia's liberation struggle and the painful legacies of the conflict's internalisation along familial, ethnic, racial and ideological lines.

Country focus: 

CITATION: Bolliger, Lennart. Apartheid's Transnational Soldiers: The Case of Black Namibian Soldiers in South Africa's Former Security Forces . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , 2017. Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 43, No. 1, February 2017, pp. 195-214 - Available at: http://library.au.int/apartheids-transnational-soldiers-case-black-namibian-soldiers-south-africas-former-security-forces