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Archives and Special Collections: Freedom Road and its Intersections

Call for papers


Freedom Road and its intersections: the struggles for the liberation of Southern and central Africa and their interconnections


One-day workshop hosted by the Stirling University Archives and the Division of History and Politics, University of Stirling, Stirling, 15 June 2019, 09:00-20:00


In 2014 the Stirling University Archives became the repository for the unique collection of papers and photographs of Peter Mackay. Mackay (1926-2013) was a key figure in the independence, anti-settler and postcolonial democracy movements in several Southern and Central African countries such as Nyasaland/Malawi, Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Northern Rhodesia/Zambia, Angola and Namibia between the late 1950s and the 1990s. He preferred to work behind the scenes, promoting instead the African nationalists leading the various movements to the extent that Terry Ranger noted in his preface to Mackay’s We Have Tomorrow: Stirrings in Africa, 1959-1967 that ‘[Mackay] has gone unnoticed in the whole vast literature of African nationalism in Central Africa and the liberation war in Zimbabwe’.

The Mackay Archive contains a comprehensive record of Mackay’s journalism, political activism, travel, photography and charitable work. It is a unique collection in part because of the large number of topics it deals with, its vast geographical coverage across Southern and Central Africa, and the thousands of photographs that provide a visual record of the enormous environmental and social changes the regions underwent from the 1950s onwards.

The collection highlights in particular the many interconnections between the various freedom, liberation, anti-settler and pro-democracy struggles in Southern and Central Africa between the 1950s and the 1990s which more often than not get obscured by historical narratives that continue to focus mostly on country specific struggles and processes. The Mackay Archive documents some of these untold and unexplored interconnections in minute detail, including Mackay’s involvement in the ‘Freedom Road’ that ran between Francistown and Lusaka. As many sources note, Mackay became a human trafficker, of the more honourable variety, transporting and smuggling freedom fighters from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique into Zambia for military training, while also transporting and distributing weapons to the many exile camps.

To celebrate this collection as well as promote academic research into the many interconnections between political activists and movements in Southern and Central Africa in the latter half of the Twentieth Century, the Stirling University Archives and the Division of History and Politics are hosting a one-day workshop called ‘Freedom Road and its intersections’.

We hereby invite proposals for presentations that explore the interconnections between the various liberation struggles (including both anti-colonial and anti-settler movements, and post-colonial struggles for democracy) in Southern and Central Africa from the c.1950s - c.1990s. Presentations should run for a maximum of 20 minutes. Please submit proposed titles and abstracts of up to 300 words to Rosie Al-Mulla at by 27th May 2019. All submissions are welcome but we would particularly encourage participation by graduate students presenting their research.

This workshop will conclude in the evening with the screening of a documentary on the 1967 Mwanza War. This documentary by Paliani Chinguwo and the Malawi Lost History Foundation sets out to correct the official narrative promoted by the authoritarian regime of Dr Hastings Banda in Malawi on the short ‘war’ that broke out in October 1967 in the Mwanza district in Malawi between a small group of armed men operating under the umbrella of Ufulu Umodzi Malawi Party, led by the former Minister for Home Affairs Yatuta Chisiza, and the Malawian security forces. The Peter Mackay Archives contributed material to the making of this new documentary and we are delighted to show it in the UK for the first time.

The workshop programme will be as follows:

09:00 – 13:00  Registration, opening, presentations, tea/coffee.

13:00-14:00     Lunch and visit to the Stirling University Archives to view some of the material in the Mackay collection.

14:00-17:00     Presentations, tea/coffee

17:30               Drinks reception

18:00               1967 Mwanza War screening


The workshop takes place at the Stirling University, Stirling, FK9 4LA

Workshop:                  Lecture theatre A.96, Pathfoot Building,

Lunch:                        Pathfoot Dining Room, Pathfoot Building

Archives:                    Stirling University Library and Archives

Drinks reception:        Pathfoot Dining Room, Pathfoot Building

Film screening:          Lecture theatre A.96, Pathfoot Building, Stirling University

There is no charge for attendance of the workshop and the screening of the UK premier of the Mwanza War documentary in the evening. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Division of History and Politics to cover all catering costs.

We are unable to offer assistance with travel costs to the University of Stirling.

Owing to the generosity of the Stirling Fund we are able to offer accommodation to a limited number of participants. Please contact the organisers by 4 June 2019 if you require accommodation in Stirling.


Rosie Al-Mulla (Stirling University Archives,

Phia Steyn (Division of History and Politics,

Peter Mackay Archive: