SWAPO: The People Armed


SWAPO, the South West Africa People's Organization, was the principal movement fighting for majority rule in Namibia, as the South Africa-administered territory of "Southwest Africa" was known by progressives. A German Colony from 1886-1914, it became a League of Nations Mandate in 1914 under the protection of Great Britain. By 1945, however, South West Africa/Namibia and other formed League of Nations Mandates were transformed into United Nations Trust Territories, and South West Africa was transferred to the custody of South Africa. In 1960 SWAPO was founded and soon thereafter became a home for democratic forces seeking to gain greater autonomy for Africans in matters that concerned them. Instead, the South African government extended apartheid to South West Africa, curtailing African participation in any level of self-determination. As in South Africa, reform-minded leaders were routinely harassed, detained, arrested, tortured and assassinated. By August 26, 1966, the year that the United Nations revoked South Africa's United Nations Trust, SWAPO voted to launch its own armed struggle. This poster commemorates that decision.