Guerrilla radios in Southern Africa

Cover Guerrilla radios in Southern AfricaThe media have always played an important role in times of protest, struggle, and war. In recent times, social media have even strengthened this impact. This month’s Library Highlight Guerrilla radios in Southern Africa: broadcasters, technology, propaganda wars, and the armed struggle, edited by Sekibakiba Peter Lekgoathi, Tshepo Moloi, and Alda Romão Saúte Saíde, focuses on the special role of radio as the predominant medium during the struggle for national liberation in Southern Africa.

Guerrilla radios in Southern Africa

Despite the key role played by radio in the struggle of national liberation movements in Southern Africa, there has been limited research into this subject. This collective volume arose from two workshops held at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and Pedagogic University in Maputo, in 2017, attended by researchers and scholars primarily from Southern Africa.

After a brief introduction into the history of radio in Africa since the 1950s, the book focuses on guerrilla radio stations targeting particular colonial territories, arranged chronologically according to the year that each country attained independence. The featured radio stations are: Voice of Namibia (SWAPO); Radio Freedom (ANC); Angola Combatente (MPLA); Voz de Angola Livre (FNLA); A Voz da FRELIMO (FRELIMO); Voice of the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC); Voice of the Revolution (ZAPU/ZIPRA); and Voice of Zimbabwe (ZANU/ZANLA). The contributions explore how liberation movements used radio to address their supporters at home, without being physically present. They investigate the dynamics of propaganda and counter-propaganda, and show the effects that radio broadcasts had on liberation activists and supporters.

Researchers based their articles on archival sources including sound recordings of the guerrilla radio stations and interviews with former broadcasters and listeners. The book features some interesting pages on different archival collections on Southern African liberation movements and their radios.

More on radio in Africa in the ASCL Library collection

The ASCL Library collection holds several interesting books on radio and its social and political role in Africa.Cover Radio in Africa

The most comprehensive volume is Radio in Africa: publics, cultures, communities, edited by Liz Gunner, Dina Ligaga, and Dumisani Moyo, with contributions exploring the multiple roles of radio in the public sphere in Anglophone, Lusophone, and Francophone Africa. Several chapters highlight radio history and its role in resistance to oppressive regimes. Links to the new media and the importance of African languages are also highlighted.

Several studies are available on radio in Southern Africa. Radio soundings: South Africa and the black modern by Liz Gunner is the most recent and focuses on Zulu Radio. Broadcasting democracy: radio and identity in South Africa by Tanja Bosch explores how radio plays a role in the formation of post-apartheid identities in South Africa. Gogo Breeze: Zambia's radio elder and the voices of free speech by Harri Englund tells the story of Gogo Breeze, an elderly teacher who became a popular radio personality and addresses questions of free speech in Zambia.

Other country studies include: De la radio banane à la voix de la révolution: l'expérience radiophonique en Guinée by Bangaly Camara, on the role of radio in the national liberation struggle in Guinea; Survie d'une radio communautaire sénégalaise: le cas de Manoore FM à Dakar by Aude Jimenez, on a community radio station in Senegal; A history of broadcasting in South Sudan: with reference to Sudan, 1961-1992 by Victor Keri Wani; and Si Lomé m'était conté...: dialogues radiophoniques avec les habitants de la capitale du Togo (1987-1991) by Yves Marguerat and Tchitchékou Péléï, with transcripts of conversations of inhabitants of Lomé.

Other resources

Online articles

Radio as a form of struggle: scenes from late colonial Angola / Marissa J. Moorman. The Conversation (2019). (Free access)

The “Saucepan Special” and a radio revolution in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) / David Clayton.
University of Bristol, Connecting the Wireless Project (2019). (Part 1) (Part 2) (Free access)

Guerrilla broadcasters and the unnerved colonial state in Angola (1961–74) / Marissa J. Moorman.
In: The Journal of African History, vol. 59 no. 2 (2018), pages 241-261. (Restricted access)

Radio as a recruiting medium in Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle / Everette Ndlovu.
In: Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture vol. 12 no. 2 (2017), pages 52-58. (Free access)

Radio Freedom: a history of South African underground radio / By Chris A. Smith. The Appendix (2013)

From revolutionary to regime radio: three decades of nationalist broadcasting in Southern Africa / by Lebona Mosia, Charles Riddle and Jim Zaffiro.
In: Africa Media Review, vol. 8 no. 1 (1994), pages 1-24. (Free access)

Online audio and video

IISH Music Album: Radio Freedom.

Radio and Resistance in South Africa / Sekibakiba Peter Lekgoathi, interviewed by Peter Alegi and Peter Limb. Africa Past & Present, Episode 75 (2013).

The shortwave radio audio archive (keyword Africa)