Framing A New Liberated AfricaFeeding the desire to construct new African worlds through apertures and shutter speeds.
Liberation politics produced new African leaders and personalities, new role models and new responsibilities. This series of images from two private archives at the Basler Afrika Bibliographien depicts a bygone Africa—then, new, and renewing itself.
At a first glance, archive collections from journalists or press officers suggest the dominance of the camera. However, some journalists’ audio and manuscript collections point to various approaches—not all journalists worked with a camera, not all with a tape recorder.
“I focused on what interview partners said,” Ruth Weiss recalled. The South African journalist covered liberation and early post-colonial politics in southern Africa between the late 1960s and the 1980s, in Lusaka, Luanda, Dar Es Salaam, and Harare. For her, the tape recorder, the pencil, and the notebook were crucial in order to produce newspaper articles and radio features. “I could not handle both a recorder and a camera”, she said. Her archives are principally an audio and manuscript archive and the images in her collection were randomly acquired, at times handed over to her by press officers, fellow journalists or state presidents themselves.
Other journalists worked with a photographer or worked mainly as photojournalists, producing vast image archives. Their negative archives can be read as visual diaries of liberation, independence, and post-colonial politics in progress. Guests at social events, in turn, had their private cameras ready for snapshots, all feeding the desire to construct new African worlds through apertures and shutter speeds.
Curated by Heidi Brunner, Dag Henrichsen, Susanne Hubler Baier, and Lisa Roulet from the Basler Afrika Bibliographien (BAB) Archives Team. BAB is the largest Namibia documentation centre outside Namibia. Its vast Southern Africa library and archive holdings are mainly used by scholars working on Namibian historical topics with its website providing information ranging from catalogues, books, comics, posters, photographs, and audio-visual recordings from Namibia.