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Henning Melber Presents Understanding Namibia, an Exploration of the Nation’s Trials and Triumphs

Understanding NamibiaNew from Jacana, Understanding Namibia: The trials of independence by Henning Melber:

On 28 November 2014 Namibians will hold their fifth democratic parliamentary and presidential elections. Since independence in 1990, Namibia has witnessed only one generation with no memory of colonialism – the ‘born frees’, who voted in the 2009 elections – and the overwhelming dominance of the former anti-colonial liberation movement, SWAPO, has remained undisturbed. This is the context the book Understanding Namibia sets out to unpack, exploring the achievements and failures of the country, and contrasting the narrative of a post-colonial patriotic history with the socio-economic and political realities of the nation-building project.

Henning Melber investigates whether, notwithstanding the relative stability prevailing to date, the negotiation of controlled change during Namibia’s decolonisation could have achieved more than simply a replacement of those in control.

‘Henning Melber has unrivalled knowledge of Namibia since independence. This significant book offers an up-to-date and thoroughgoing analysis of the country and its prospects.’ – Christopher Saunders, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and co-author of South Africa: A Modern History.

While those in power declare their support for a free, fair and just society, the limits to liberation are such that emancipation from foreign rule has only partially been achieved. As a scholar activist who was part of the anticolonial movement, Melber demonstrates this painful journey and the limits to liberation.

About the author

Henning Melber, the son of German immigrants to Namibia, joined SWAPO in 1974. He was Director of the Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit (NEPRU) in Windhoek, Research Director of the Nordic Africa Institute and Executive Director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, both in Uppsala. He is Senior Advisor to the Foundation and Extraordinary Professor at the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria and the Centre for Africa Studies at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Book details


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