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Socialismes en Afrique

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Françoise Blum
, 
Héloïse Kiriakou
, 
Martin Mourre
, 
et al.

Première partie : doctrines et corpus. 2 : en marge du pouvoir : contestations

Struggling Against “The Exilic Condition of the Postcolonial World”: The Socialist League of Malawi

Sebastian Pampuch

Texte intégral

  • 1 Power (2010: 46–47, 81) lists a few political actors who were influenced by Marxism, while Andrew R (...)
  • 2 For the supportive role that Malawi played for South Africa, see Miller (2015); for the negative ro (...)

1A contribution on Malawi in a volume dedicated to socialism is inevitably linked to exile. While for the majority of the political actors involved in the struggle for national liberation socialism was not a real option, Nyasaland’s independence as Malawi in 1964 resulted in the stable dictatorship of Hastings Kamuzu Banda, a notorious anti-communist (Short 1974: 239; Mhone 1992: 4).1 Banda established diplomatic relations with apartheid South Africa and Portuguese-ruled Mozambique while refusing to recognize diplomatically a socialist country such as the People’s Republic of China. He demonstrated not only a unidirectional Western orientation, but also a quite unique interpretation of pan-Africanism.2 However, Banda’s reactionary politics were carried out during a time when there was still a popular belief in a widespread African revolution that could barely tolerate the continuation of European settler regimes and colonial rule. Thus, his authoritarian pro-Western style faced the resistance of several of his ministers, a historical event later to be known as the “Malawi Cabinet Crisis” (Baker 2001; McCracken 2012: 429–453). As a consequence, a considerable number of Malawians, including most of the ministers, were driven into exile. Especially in Tanzania, with its strong commitment to Africa’s full liberation, an exiled Malawian opposition emerged that had to be taken seriously by Banda. It is the history of this exiled opposition’s most radical fraction, The Socialist League of Malawi, or Lesoma, that allows us to inscribe a part of Malawi’s then deterritorialized opposition into the broader field of African socialisms and national liberation movements in southern Africa.

  • 3 For Malawi’s hosting of some of Zimbabwe African National Union’s members, which changes little in (...)

2Recent scholarship on the latter has convincingly questioned the concept of national liberation by stating that “the notion of a single one-way journey from tyranny to national liberation has arguably restricted the development of a more open-ended, fragmented and inclusive set of conflict histories in southern Africa” (White, Larmer 2014: 1271). This was followed by a call for more research on the transnational histories of national liberation movements, identifying as a methodological key problem that most of these movements “do not have easily accessible archives or any archives at all” which required “creative solutions” (Alexander, McGregor, Tendi 2017: 3–4). The problem of sources from exile movements which operated on a transnational scale together with the notion of national liberation’s restrictiveness with its underlying assumption of independent nation states as an end in itself, I would argue, may also have prevented an earlier inclusion of Lesoma into such scholarship on southern African liberation movements as well as into scholarship on African socialisms (Friedland, Rosberg 1964; Pitcher, Askew 2006; Englund 2008: 41). Lesoma’s story reminds us of the Banda regime’s oppressiveness and thus broadens Malawi’s picture within these struggles as drawn by Kings M. Phiri (2014).3

  • 4 Mwaungulu’s former wife gave me his private estate. This essay is part of my Ph.D-project, “Postcol (...)

3Methodologically, this essay on an almost-forgotten Malawian opposition movement also required “creative solutions.” It builds on mainly two sources that—this is important—emphasize a perspective from abroad. First, I use the estate of the late Malawian Mahoma Mwaungulu (1932–2004), who was Lesoma’s representative in the German Democratic Republic (GDR).4 The estate includes correspondence with other exiled Lesoma members in various countries in and outside of Africa, especially in the Soviet Union, as well as internal and official writings and pamphlets from Lesoma. Archived files from the GDR covering the years from 1975 to 1987, as well as files from the Soviet Union covering the years from 1976 to 1984, on the other hand, offer an external view of the party which, when combined, creates a broader and comparative perspective. Of the limited literature that gives some information about Lesoma, one book stands out: the recently published Malawi’s Lost Years, edited by the party’s founding member Kapote Mwakasungura and Doug Miller, a Canadian expatriate and Lesoma activist (Mwakasungura, Miller 2016). However, what began as a project to write down the party’s history, resulted in a book that again only briefly discusses Lesoma. Instead, it collects voices of Malawians—having been exiles and Lesoma members or not—who in one way or another fell victim to the Banda regime and/or actively opposed it. The two authors see therein a necessary reaction to the ongoing glorification of the Banda regime in contemporary Malawi, an observation shared by many other Malawian intellectuals (Chirambo 2009; Chirwa 2007: 166–183, 194–197; Mapanje 2011). This is a position I can only agree with. Furthermore, Mwakasungura and Miller’s initial idea of writing down Lesoma’s history resulted in several interviews conducted between Miller, Mwakasungura, and other former Lesoma members in Malawi. They generously gave me this rich and exclusive material so that I could also use it for this essay.

  • 5 Thanks to the anonymous reviewer(s) of an earlier draft for the inspiring critique.

4In what follows, I will try to show that Lesoma was as much a political tool against the Banda regime from outside as an association of exiles that ensured social ties and encouraged the schooling and settlement of its members in the African socialist regimes, the Soviet Union, and Eastern and Northern Europe. Thus, it served as much as a political formation for its members to fight against the Banda regime as to find networks to survive in exile. To demonstrate this twofold significance, I will outline the party’s background and formation, give some insights into its political program, the internal structure and leadership, and highlight some of its achievements as well as the party’s formidable international relations.5

Lesoma’s foundation: political fragmentation, early socialist involvements and strategic positioning

  • 6 Many Malawian refugees first lived in Pangale camp near Tabora (Mwakasungura, Miller 2016: 101).

5The Cabinet Crisis of 1964 provoked an exodus of Banda’s opponents into the neighboring countries. Tanzania, with its generous policy towards refugees, became the main destination for Malawian exiles.6 Among them were most of the ex-ministers who had revolted as well as younger university graduates from socialist countries, such as Mwaungulu. In order to truly understand Lesoma, it is crucial to point out that the party was formed by the younger generation who filled the political void left by the disunity and fragmentation of the elder generation such as the ex-ministers.

  • 7 Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv (SAPMO)-BArchiv (Germ (...)

6Around 1967, a split occurred between the political leaders in exile. The three former ministers involved were Kanyama Chiume and Henry Masauko Chipembere, as well as Yatuta Chisiza. At that time, the Pan African Democratic Party (PDP) led by Chipembere served as the main party uniting the Malawian exiles. In one of their later writings from 1984, Lesoma’s steering committee blames Chiume as the key person responsible for the split, claiming that he repeatedly questioned the political integrity of Chipembere.7

  • 8 Mwakasungura states that the other opposition leaders, together with those of their own followers w (...)
  • 9 Mwakasungura also refers to the intellectual and political legacy of Henry Masauko Chipembere and D (...)
  • 10 Interview transcript (unpublished) from Doug Miller interviewing John Jando Nkhwazi and Kapote Mwak (...)

7Without Chipembere’s backing, and for reasons the Lesoma paper does not further explain, Chisiza, who had studied in China and thereafter had served as Banda’s personal bodyguard, then started a guerilla campaign in Malawi inspired by Che Guevara’s foco groups that ended with his violent death by Malawian security forces.8 In a certain way, Chisiza’s resoluteness can be seen as the forerunner of Lesoma’s political spirit.9 But what is more illuminating about his failed incursion is that it lays testimony to an early socialist involvement in the formation of an effective Malawian opposition: Chisiza and his small group had all received military training in socialist countries. Moreover, as Miller and Mwakasungura assert, the total number of Malawian exiles who in the second half of the 1960s were trained by socialist countries must have been much larger: “All the ex-ministers had cooperated in sending militants to Algeria, China or Cuba for military training” (Mwakasungura, Miller 2016: 193; Baker 2001: 279–284). Even the host country Tanzania is said to have offered such training for Malawian exiles to increase their capacity of self-defense against the threats from Banda’s forces.10

  • 11 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, p. 00090.

8The years in Tanzania following Chisiza’s death, and Chipembere’s final departure to the US at the end of the 1960s, are described as a period of stagnation. Especially after the Central Committee of the PDP finally broke up, a political vacuum appeared (Mwakasungura, Miller 2016). The remaining ex-ministers started to group loyal supporters around themselves, thus dissolving the former sense of unity while slowly establishing several opposition groups. Lesoma’s steering committee argued that “[…] what was born as Lesoma in 1975 was a resurrection of the unity of the opposition forces that had existed before the Chipembere/Chisiza split of 1967 and the PDP split of 1969/70.”11 It further states that it was the official founding of their party and its rapid success among the exiles that not only filled this political vacuum but also motivated more moderate ex-ministers like Orton Chirwa to establish their own parties, namely the Malawi Freedom Movement and the Congress for the Second Republic. So, who were the founders of Lesoma and why did their political views differ from those of renowned politicians like Chirwa? Mwakasungura and Miller explain it as follows:

[…] times had changed from the 1950s and inspired by their hosts and the wars of Southern African liberation, Lesoma had adopted a socialist programme which neither Kanyama Chiume nor Orton Chirwa could have accepted. Ideologically they were probably just as distrustful of socialism as Dr Banda was. (Mwakasungura, Miller 2016: 194)

9Lesoma, the only political organization of Malawian exiles with a distinctly Marxist-Leninist outlook, was the political outcome of a younger generation of Malawian exiles not only disappointed about the clashes of the former ministers but also inspired by their environment: Julius Nyerere’s pan-Africanism and his experiments with socialism, the Mozambique Liberation Front’s (Frelimo) successful liberation struggle, and the presence of other southern African liberation movements on Tanzanian soil. Adding to this is the influence of earlier experiences made in countries like Algeria, China, Cuba, and the Soviet Union, where some exiles had received university degrees or, as already mentioned, political and military training.

  • 12 In 1971, Havanna’s Tricontinental published an article titled “Malawi: Neocolonial State.” To a cer (...)

10According to this logic, Lesoma adopted the language and attitude of national liberation movements and matched them to the specifics of its own situation. The party transformed its nationalist claim to oppose the Malawian government to the more universal claim to oppose a neocolonial puppet regime of the West.12 Hence, in writings and speeches, Lesoma insisted on the relevance of neocolonialism to counter the paradox of struggling against the independence leader of a black African nation. To better illustrate this strategy, it is worth quoting in length from a 1977 volume of Kuchanso, Lesoma’s political organ:

  • 13 Quoted from Kuchanso, pages 4–5. This volume together with several Lesoma membership cards are arch (...)

We must be aware that Banda alone, without the active and massive assistance which he receives from his masters in South Africa, Britain, the United States, and West Germany would not have kept our people in political bondage and social and economic misery for so long. This is why we must perceive and pursue our struggle within a broader political and ideological context engulfing the Southern Africa battlefront. The entrenchment of a neocolonial fascist state in Malawi poses a genuine threat to the consolidation of national independence and the peaceful, social, and economic progress along the socialist road of development which our neighbors in Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania have chosen. For the same reason, the fascist Banda regime’s open political, economic, and military collaboration with the racist and colonial regimes in Zimbabwe and South Africa creates immense obstacles to the liberation struggles of our brothers in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.13

11While the accusation of economic misery must be contrasted with Malawi’s relatively economic stability achieved by the Banda regime, Lesoma’s reference to neocolonialism corresponds with argumentative strategies from national liberation movements. As Ackson M. Kanduza writes about the latter, “the revolutionary nature of violence was presented […] as having potential for a total destruction of the […] oppressive state system. The successor state would not be neo-colonial, like those African states that had ended colonial rule in the 1960s” (Kanduza 2013: 147–148).

  • 14 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, p. 00092.
  • 15 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, p. 00079.
  • 16 Ibid., p. 00080.
  • 17 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, p. 00082.

12Lesoma had to repeatedly justify its struggle and to explain its causes. Of particular significance is the emphasis on being a national opposition movement—the legitimate representative of all Malawian people—and not primarily a movement of refugees that could hardly claim to represent the majority of the Malawian people, however harsh Banda’s repression in the country actually was. To secure unity, a controversial ex-minister such as Chiume was excluded from membership meanwhile an ex-minister like Orton Chirwa, who was still seen as a man of integrity, was asked without success to join Lesoma.14 Mwakasungura, who had fled Malawi in 1964 as a student activist, was one of the four founding members of Lesoma. A second founding member was known to be a former member of the PDP. Lesoma’s then still provisional steering committee included two survivors of Chisiza’s guerilla campaign. In 1974, the committee wrote the party’s manifesto.15 Naturally, it called for the overthrow of Banda’s dictatorship and the socialist restructuring of Malawi’s national economy.16 And concerning African unity and international cooperation, it claimed something that retrospectively sounds oddly nostalgic and confusing: Lesoma’s ambitious objective was “to rehabilitate Malawi’s dignity and rightful place at the Organization of African Union and the United Nations and particularly to play an active role towards promoting the African revolution and international solidarity.”17

  • 18 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, clipped newspaper article from The Guardian, 24 December 1979 (no title inclu (...)
  • 19 GARF (State Archive of the Russian Federation), TASS (Soviet Union’s news agency) dossier on genera (...)
  • 20 Answers to questions sent to Mwakasungura by the author, 14 March 2016.

13The total number of Lesoma members can only be estimated. In an interview with The Guardian in 1979, Lesoma’s first national chairman spoke of 15,000 active supporters inside the country and in exile.18 A German scholar estimated the number of Lesoma members at several thousand (Meinhardt 1997: 98) while a France Presse article estimated the number in 1979 as between 1,000 or 2,000.19 Although predominantly composed of male members, the party also had female members. Among the letters from Mwaungulu’s estate, I found evidence of definitely one Malawian woman who became a Lesoma member in Europe and subsequently received a scholarship for a socialist country. As far as I can conclude from the correspondence, she ended up studying medicine in Bulgaria. Her case also suggests that the chance for a scholarship motivated young Malawians to join the party. Mwakasungura stresses that Lesoma was a serious socialist party with corresponding structures that included a Women’s League.20

Leadership

  • 21 On political radicalism in northern Malawi, see also Owen Kalinga (2010).
  • 22 MCP stands for Malawi Congress Party, follower of the Nyasaland African Congress (the Malawian inde (...)

14Although in its speeches and writings Lesoma rejected individualism and leadership culture, the tragic figure of Attati Mpakati, first national chairman of Lesoma, deserves our attention. As a person close to Chipembere, Mpakati had been a regional secretary in the Nyasaland African Congress and left Nyasaland in 1961 after detention (Mpakati 1973: 33; Uwechue 1996: 459). John McCracken briefly mentions him as Flax Musopole’s “fellow left-winger” and writes that Musopole, in 1959 a leading figure in the anti-colonial uprisings in northern Malawi, started a correspondence with Mpakati when the latter studied in Leningrad (McCracken 2002: 85; McCracken 2012: 436).21 Unlike Musopole, whose puzzling “transition from Marxist freedom fighter to MCP loyalist” (McCracken 2002: 85) McCracken seeks to understand, Mpakati did not only receive an offer to study in the Soviet Union but also had the chance to realize it.22

  • 23 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, minutes of a meeting between Mpakati and Oelschlägel, GDR embassy Dar es Sala (...)
  • 24 That a lot of Lesoma’s leading members were from the North, especially from Karonga district, is no (...)

15Mpakati studied economics in Leningrad in the early 1960s thanks to the connections the Tanganyikan African National Union had with the Soviet Union. He even married a Russian and was father of two Soviet children. Afterwards, he continued his academic career in Sweden and earned a PhD from West Germany’s University of Bremen with the thesis “Problems and Prospects in Economic and Social Development of Tanzanian Society” (Mpakati 1977). Mpakati was appointed at the United Nation’s Institute for Namibia in Lusaka and also worked for the Reserve Bank of Mozambique in Maputo (Uwechue 1996: 459). When Mpakati contacted an East German diplomat in Dar es Salaam in 1975 to ask for assistance for his party, the diplomat later described him as a serious and reliable person fully aware of politics.23 In addition to his competence in economics and his international networks, another reason for Lesoma’s steering committee to make Mpakati the party’s first national chairman was his origin from the Mulanji district in the Malawian South, unlike the majority of the leading members who were from the North. Hence, the party’s decision to nominate Mpakati as its chairman reveals an early awareness of the danger in an overrepresentation of Northerners in leading positions.24 It took Mpakati almost three months to accept the offer.

16From the 1970s until the early 1980s, some Lesoma briefings and articles authored by Mpakati and an interview with him were published in Western journals such as the Review of African Political Economy and Race & Class, but also in the Tanzanian African Review, and the pertinent organ of international communism, the World Marxist Review (Malawi Socialist League 1975; Mpakati 1979; Mpataki 1980; Searle 1980; The Socialist League of Malawi 1981). Mpakati was an astute observer of the postcolonial condition who mingled theory with political practice. In search of an appropriate path for Africa’s development, he was equally concerned with history and economics, moving between Africa, the Soviet Union as well as Northern and Western Europe. One of his earlier writings cites an illustrious mixture of thinkers like Karl Marx, Oskar Lange, Kwame Nkrumah, Marshall Sahlins, and Jean-Paul Sartre. In this writing, he even expressed some skepticism about the Soviet Union:

[…] Malawi has the right to obtain foreign aid from the socialist countries. While it may be true that some other African states have suffered under Soviet aid motivated by Soviet imperialism, there is no reason why this should affect economic relationships with smaller countries of the socialist camp (Mpakati 1973: 56).

  • 25 This and the following information from the files referred to in footnote 23 differ from the inform (...)
  • 26 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, minutes of a meeting between Mpakati and Hollender, Maputo, 2 November 1978.
  • 27 Personal talk on the telephone between Mwakasungura and the author, 6 March 2016.

17Nevertheless, considering Banda’s obsession to eliminate him, Mpakati must have been the incarnation of all the evil that communism meant for the Malawian president. Around 1976, Mpakati had the invidious task of moving a part of Lesoma’s headquarters from Tanzania to a much more insecure Mozambique; Tanzania tolerated Lesoma but prohibited the party from acting in public.25 Meanwhile, its office in Dar es Salaam was supposed to focus on Lesoma’s international and Tanzanian relations, Mozambique was thought to become the clandestine base for making stronger connections to Lesoma’s cells within Malawi. As a document from the GDR further states, the party also tried to convince Frelimo to provide military training for its cadres, but Mozambique had little interest in straining its difficult relations with Malawi while a civil war was going on and is said to have kept a close eye on that base.26 It was in Maputo where a letter bomb dismembered both of Mpakati’s hands in 1979. In 1982, Banda had put enough pressure on Zambia, where another base of Lesoma existed, to expel Mpakati; in 1983, the manhunt came to an end with the fatal shooting of Mpakati in Zimbabwe. His old comrade Mwakasungura says that Mpakati’s Malawian family branch is almost nonexistent and that his Russian family migrated to Sweden.27

18The assassination of its leader undoubtedly had an unsettling effect on Lesoma. Written in an emotional tone, the authors of a Lesoma paper from 1984 omit—or do not yet know—that Banda had also kidnapped other opponents like Orton and Vera Chirwa and sentenced them both to death. The argument reveals symptoms of temporary exhaustion, if not despair. Rhetorically asking if Lesoma is just like the other Malawian opposition groups, it emphasizes:

  • 28 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, “Malawi: The present and the future: Our assessment,” paper by Lesoma’s (...)

Well we know for sure that the government of President Banda does not put us at par with other opposition groups. He does not persecute nor murder their leadership. […] And now, […] the government of Malawi has again dispatched to neighboring countries several specially trained murder squads in an attempt to assassinate the entire Lesoma leadership, either through letter bombs or by shooting as happened to our late leader.28

  • 29 As far as I can determine, Lesoma had a Youth Movement, a Student’s Movement, and a Women’s League.
  • 30 The loosely allied group of states was formed to isolate apartheid South Africa on the continent. I (...)

19Yet, an even more interesting statement seems to be part of a speech that representatives of Lesoma’s Youth Movement29 gave in the mid-1980s at a gathering of the Pan African Youth Movement (PYM). It not only criticizes the Frontline States30 but also switches Lesoma’s profile from being a national opposition movement to the perhaps more realistic notion of being a movement of exiles and refugees. It states:

  • 31 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, paper by Lesoma Youth Movement, p. 00106. A letter from Lesoma to the So (...)

We should also address ourselves to the question of refugees in Africa. How can PYM help the OAU in reducing the number of refugees from independent African countries, etc. Very unfortunately, the African press has also remained silent on the evils of neo-colonialism, hence dictators like Dr. Banda have managed to remain in power without their evils being exposed. Even the press of the Frontline States have decided to keep a low profile on the deteriorating political, social and economic situation in Malawi.31

20What Lesoma’s Youth Movement is complaining about here reveals the ambiguous situation the party had to deal with. It was obvious to everyone that “White Africa’s Black Ally” (Ross 1967) hindered the further decolonization of southern Africa and the development of its newly independent states while the political options available by countries like Tanzania or Zambia to counter Banda’s politics were rather limited. And Lesoma members depended on nothing more than on the countries which hosted them. If Lesoma’s Youth Movement was disappointed by the hesitant and ambivalent way the Frontline States dealt with Malawi, how were Lesoma’s relations to the socialist world in the North?

An unhappy affair: Lesoma’s man in the German Democratic Republic

21Banda’s first attempt to eliminate Lesoma’s national chairman is a good starting point to look closer at the relations between Lesoma and the GDR. As it is well known, the GDR was an important political actor from the Eastern bloc in southern Africa (Schleicher 1998, 2014; Fonseca, Dallywater, Saunders 2019). In early 1980, two closely related events took place in East Berlin. One occurred in the office of the GDR’s Solidarity Committee, which was responsible for the coordination of the support for liberation movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. A conversation between the Committee’s proxy secretary-general and Mwaungulu was summarized as follows:

  • 32 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, minutes of a meeting between Krause and Mwaungulu, Berlin, 6 February 1980, t (...)

[…] the Solidarity Committee will show no activities to support Mr. Mwaungulu’s search for a working place. It was further communicated to him that […] his claim for a renewal of his residence permit will not be supported […]; instead, the Solidarity Committee appreciates his departure to an African country of his choice.32

  • 33 That Mpakati did not enter the GDR in early 1980 is at least what can be concluded from the corresp (...)
  • 34 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, letter from Mwakasungura to the GDR’s Solidarity Committee, Dar es Salaam, 27 (...)
  • 35 Interview between Willi Sommerfeld and the author on 11 November 2010.

22The same day when Mwaungulu was kindly asked to leave the GDR, the diplomatic channels between East Berlin and the GDR’s embassy in London ran hot. Obviously, the objective was to impede Mpakati’s entry to East Germany. After having been wounded by Banda’s letter bomb in Maputo, Mpakati was flown to London for medical treatment. From there, he planned to fly to East Berlin where Mwaungulu had spent years in exile and had tried to organize further medical treatment of his chairman. However, as documents from the GDR indicate, Mpakati never reached East Germany; a fax from the GDR’s Solidarity Committee to the GDR’s embassy in London states that the medical treatment for Mpakati had been prepared for November 1979 but Mpakati did not arrive; at the time, it saw no possibility for treatment.33 Two years after this incident Mwaungulu was expelled to West Berlin. From 1975 until 1980, the GDR had trained two more Lesoma members in professions such as mechanical engineer and educationist,34 printed several official party documents like its provisional constitution, the party’s manifesto and membership cards as well as Lesoma’s organ “Kuchanso,” not unlike the much better known African National Congress’s “Sechaba” and the South West Africa People’s Organisation’s “Namibia Today.” A former member of the GDR’s Solidarity Committee remembers printing of these Lesoma documents. Since there existed no diplomatic relations between the GDR and Malawi, it was unproblematic and did not demand higher authorization from the GDR’s Central Committee for International Affairs35 (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Cover of Lesoma’s organ “Kuchanso” (vol. 4, 1977), printed in the GDR. “Kuchanso” means “New Dawn” and “Mpumbulu” means “Revolution”. (Mwaungulu private estate)

Fig. 1. Cover of Lesoma’s organ “Kuchanso” (vol. 4, 1977), printed in the GDR. “Kuchanso” means “New Dawn” and “Mpumbulu” means “Revolution”. (Mwaungulu private estate)

23Mwaungulu’s life-story is one of global entanglements, which further illustrates Lesoma’s characteristic as an exile movement. Mwakasungura describes him as a true internationalist who was familiar with many leaders of groups like the African National Congress, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union, the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola, and the South West Africa People’s Organisation. As a young Malawi Congress Party member from Karonga, Mwaungulu came to the GDR in 1960 via Accra, where he had been a student in Kwame Nkrumah’s study group and worked in George Padmore’s Bureau of African Affairs. It was in Ghana where he received a scholarship from the GDR. He then studied in East Germany before returning to independent Malawi, became another victim of the Cabinet Crisis, and then fled to Tanzania.

  • 36 The marriage was possible thanks to an affidavit written by the Malawian labor unionist Ghiza Mkand (...)

24In a life-story interview that a German student of African studies conducted with Mwaungulu in 2000, he recounts his political affiliation with a Malawian exile movement in Tanzania between 1964 and 1967 without further precision (Theuerkauf 2000). He also recounts that during this period he spent several months in Cuba for political training and that after returning to Tanzania he disagreed with his party’s strategy of guerilla incursions, which he criticized as hopeless undertakings. The party had then decided that he should return to the GDR to strengthen international relations. He succeeded to do so in 1967 with the help of his East German wife, which he had been able to marry during his first stay in Germany,36 and the GDR’s African Students Union. Hence, it must have been during his Tanzanian years between 1964 and 1967 that Mwaungulu became politically associated with other exiles from Karonga district such as Mwakasungura, which finally led to his membership in Lesoma.

  • 37 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, Letter from Mwakasungura to the Socialist Unity Party’s Central Committee in (...)

25Parallel to Mpakati’s contacting of the East German diplomat in Dar es salaam, in a letter from 1975, Mwakasungura presented Mwaungulu to the GDR’s International Relations Department of African Affairs as a member of Lesoma’s steering committee.37 The importance that Mwaungulu played for Lesoma and the latter played for him becomes obvious in another letter written by Mwakasungura on the occasion of his comrade’s yearly procedure to get his residence permission renewed:

  • 38 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, Letter from Mwakasungura to the Socialist Unity Party’s Central Committee in (...)

It was agreed that the Socialist Unity Party and the Government of the GDR be informed of the fact that comrade Mahoma is so far the only member of Lesoma and the only Malawian in the whole of the socialist countries there and that until such time that Lesoma will be in a position to post someone else, his representational services in the GDR and the other socialist countries are extremely necessary.38

  • 39 Mwaungulu was a progressive exile in the best sense defined by Francis Njubi Nesbitt, even though N (...)

26However, the second time that Mwaungulu came to the GDR, he came as a stateless exile. His expulsion in 1982 marked the end of any closer relations between the GDR and Lesoma. In the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), always a generous sponsor of the Banda regime, he would become the first Malawian asylum seeker recognized by the FRG and a well-known activist in the African Community.39 What is meaningful about his inner-German expulsion, and the effort it took Mwaungulu to secure his status in the FRG, is the way that matter was treated in the conversations Mwaungulu had with other Lesoma members abroad who helped him to get a document from Tanzania that he urgently needed for identification. For example, only two months before their national chairman Attati Mpakati was fatally shot in Zimbabwe, one of Lesoma’s students at Moscow’s Patrice Lumumba University wrote to Mwaungulu:

  • 40 Letter from Moscow to Mwaungulu, 30 January 1983 (Mwaungulu private estate).

We want to assure you that we shall follow your example. From you we have learnt that the only way to live is to understand our positions as refugees. Your life here has taught us that persevere [sic] problems is the best way to strengthen relations with all those who understand our cause.40

27Hence, Mwaungulu’s exile experience led younger Lesoma members to reflect upon the underlying political causes for their own fragile status.

  • 41 PA AA, MfAA, M 31, ZR 2378/89, bilateral relations between the GDR and Malawi (German Federal Forei (...)
  • 42 For a more detailed account on the GDR’s economic involvement in Mozambique, see Döring (1999).

28At least two factors in the early 1980s influenced the GDR’s decision to cut all ties with Lesoma. First, it was the time when Malawi became a member of the Southern African Development Coordinating Conference and changed its foreign policy into a rapprochement to its neighboring countries. In 1981, Mozambique became the first socialist country which established diplomatic relations with Malawi. Joaquim Chissano, then Mozambique’s foreign minister, suggested the GDR to do the same. Consulting its Soviet ally in this matter, the GDR considered it a useless step as long as Banda remained in power.41 Second, the GDR was economically involved in the Mozambican borderland to Malawi, where the East German state participated in a coal mining project. It would serve as an important source of foreign currency for the GDR’s declining national economy just at the time when railway damages caused by the Mozambican civil war seemed to have made Malawi a feasible transit country for transportation (Künanz 1993: 182).42

  • 43 The assistance Cuba provided Lesoma needs further investigation. Mwaungulu states that he was polit (...)
  • 44 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, p. 00037, letter Marama to Ziegler, 15 January 1986.

29Mwakasungura describes the material assistance provided to Lesoma by the socialist German state as relatively small in comparison with the assistance provided by countries like Tanzania, Soviet Union, Zambia, and Cuba.43 The GDR’s solidarity committee organized the printing of at least three volumes of Kuchanso with a run of 500 copies of each volume as well as the party’s manifesto and its membership cards, not to forget the apprenticeships for two more Lesoma members. From the late 1970s until the mid 1980s, the Lesoma Youth Movement tried in vain to convince the GDR to revive its support.44 But in spite of the skepticism Mpakati raised in his essay from 1973, the Soviet Union stands out as the socialist country in the north with the strongest solidarity for Lesoma and its respective student organization Masule.

  • 45 E-mail from Vladimir Shubin to the author, 6 December 2015. A Russian author took Lesoma as an exam (...)
  • 46 Several of these documents contain handwritten notes from Soviet officials to add the corresponding (...)
  • 47 Doubts about Lesoma’s chances to generate a change of government in Malawi are being expressed with (...)

30While Mwakasungura emphasizes the Soviet Union’s solidarity with Lesoma, Vladimir Shubin, who worked for the Soviet Union’s Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee, draws a more pragmatic picture of it. Shubin remembers Mpakati and that some contacts with Lesoma were maintained, mostly by the Solidarity Committee, but that no serious assistance was provided except scholarships.45 That these scholarships were of great significance for Lesoma becomes obvious not only through the personal letters from Lesoma’s Soviet graduates in Mwaungulu’s estate but also through Mwakasungura’s estimation that at least thirty Lesoma members must have studied in the Soviet Union. Scattered documents from the Soviet Union’s Solidarity Committee give more detailed insight into the dimension of the Soviet Union’s solidarity with Lesoma.46 Compared to the East German support, the Soviet support was higher and continued over a longer period; but just like their East German allies, the Soviets had little or no faith at all in the possibility of a change of government in Malawi in the near future.47

  • 48 GARF, P-9540, file 405 B, Memos and Information from the Soviet Embassies in Africa, 17 January–1 D (...)
  • 49 GARF, P-9540, file 447, Memos and Information from the Soviet Embassies in Africa, 29 December 1978 (...)
  • 50 GARF, P-9540, file 447, Memo of a talk between Nkvasi, Lesoma’s secretary for diplomatic contacts, (...)
  • 51 GARF, P-9540, file 481, Letter from J. Jukalow to A.S. Dzasochow, 27 December 1980, p. 1; file 499, (...)
  • 52 GARF, P-9540, file 499, Memos from Talks, Information and Letters from the Soviet Embassies in Afri (...)

31In 1976, Lesoma handed over two volumes of Kuchanso to the Soviet embassy in Tanzania where they were sent to the Soviet Union’s Solidarity Committee.48 It shows the relevance which the GDR’s printing of Kuchanso had for Lesoma. Requests for university places in the Soviet Union are first mentioned in a letter from Mpakati from June 1979.49 Only one month later, Lesoma asked for more professional training facilities for its members, and if a convalescence stay in the Soviet Union could be organized for the injured Mpakati together with his Russian wife.50 Although J. Jukalow, who worked in the Soviet embassy in Tanzania, argued in 1980 that the high number of stipends given to Lesoma members was disproportionate to Lesoma’s activity, a document from 1982 indicates that since 1976, more than fifty Lesoma members had received a stipend to study in the Soviet Union; this number even tops Mwakasungura’s estimation.51 Lesoma did not tolerate misconduct of its members abroad: in 1982, Mwakasungura asked the Soviets to send two of Lesoma’s students back to Tanzania—one because of thievery, the other one because of unauthorized visits to the embassies of Ghana, Nigeria and other African countries in the Soviet Union.52

  • 53 GARF, P- 9540, file 481, p. 24-25: Letter from Mwakasungura to A.S. Dzasochow, translated into Russ (...)

32The party succeeded in participating in a remarkable number of international conferences of the socialist and non-aligned bloc. The breakthrough in the international arena came with the participation of Mwakasungura and Mwaungulu in the World Peace Council’s 1977 conference in Lisbon against Apartheid, Racism and Colonialism in Southern Africa, where the two exiles were proudly listed as official representatives of Malawi (Portuguese National Committee 1977: 170). Requests to the Soviet Union for financial support to cover the travel costs further suggest Lesoma’s participations at the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization’s conference in Aden 1981 and the International Conference in Solidarity with the Frontline States and Lesotho in Lisbon 1983.53 Considering Lesoma’s official outposts in Western Europe after Mwaungulu’s expulsion from the GDR, the party could still count on three representatives respectively located in England, Finland, and West Germany, however limited their individual agencies might have been.

Conclusion

  • 54 Considering Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, Mwakasungura emphasizes the role of Lesoma members as m (...)
  • 55 Against the background of the Soviet Union’s demise, and the corresponding lack of radical socialis (...)

33Similar to what Gerald Chikozho Mazarire recently wrote about the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), Lesoma can best be understood as an “international animal,” an offspring of exile that survived for almost three decades thanks to the support of the African states neighboring Malawi as well as of the wider world (Mazarire 2017: 103–104).54 Lesoma existed until 1991, when the party, together with two other exiled opposition movements, merged into the United Front for Multiple Democracy (UFMD).55 In 1994, when the first democratic elections in Malawi were held, the UFMD virtually disappeared from the election results.

  • 56 Besides Frank Mkandawire, the book lists two more exiles, but neither had any former affiliation wi (...)

34However, during the process of transformation, Mwakasungura, Lesoma’s long-standing secretary-general, is said to have become “a key player as a member of the Transitional National Consultative Council […] and helped to draw up the New Malawi Constitution.” Later he served as High Commissioner to Zimbabwe. Unsurprisingly, Mwakasungura and Miller mention anti-communism as one of the many problematic legacies of the Banda era that made the life of returning exiles difficult (Mwakasungura, Miller 2016: 208). The profile of the Malawi cabinet and members of parliament from 1996 seems to confirm this observation; it lists only one politician who was once affiliated with Lesoma, an affiliation that only lasted from 1975 to 1981 (Kaunjika 1996).56

  • 57 However, Dunduzu Chisiza died in 1962. On rumors about his death see Power (2010: 156-176).

35Lesoma’s emergence in 1974/75 and its dissolution in 1991 as a socialist-oriented national opposition movement in exile builds on a twofold heritage. First, it links to the legacies of three elder Malawian politicians, namely Chipembere and the Chisiza brothers. These three politicians were among those responsible for bringing Banda into power but soon turned into his most serious opponents.57 Thus, Lesoma’s emergence can be seen as an attempt to reconcile the early oppositions’ failure which resulted in the Malawian exile. Second, Lesoma was inspired by the pan-African and internationalist environment in Tanzania, as well as by Frelimo’s successful liberation struggle, and the experiences that some of its early members had already made with the wider socialist world. This pre-exilic and exilic heritage is discursively translated into Lesoma’s socialist program and the claim to be a national opposition movement while at the same time universalizing this claim through the insistence of struggling against a neocolonial regime par excellence. In the late 1970s, Lesoma’s step into the international arena and contacts with socialist countries, such as the Soviet Union or the GDR, proved quite successful and promising. But already in the early 1980s, Lesoma had to deal with the assassination of its chairman and Malawi’s rapprochement to its neighboring countries.

  • 58 Information given by Mwakasungura.

36However, contrary to the aggressive rhetoric directed against the Banda regime and Western imperialism in general, or expressions of sympathy for Yatuta Chisiza’s failed guerrilla campaign and an interest in military training, I could not find any evidence of violent actions led by Lesoma or within the party. It would therefore be misleading to conceptualize Lesoma only as a socialist movement that worked seriously toward an overthrow of the Banda regime. The party’s insistence on the damage neocolonialism brought to the African cause, and the role corrupted elites played in it, not only recalls Nkrumah’s book about the last stage of imperialism (Nkrumah 1971). It also anticipates what Thandika Mkandawire, himself a Malawian exile who is said to have been a close friend of Mpakati,58 concluded as a distinguished Nyerere Lecturer in 2013 while reflecting on fifty years of African independence:

In terms of reflection and research, we ought to revisit some of the earlier concerns in Africa over inequality and neo-colonialism. The irony is that, today when the features of both structural dependence and class differentiation are most pronounced in our societies, much less attention is being paid to these issues in scholarly work. (Mkandawire 2013: 62)

37Lesoma’s discourse was a vanguard discourse, applied by the party to justify its struggle as well as to understand the internal and external factors that allowed Banda’s regime to convert the warm heart of Africa into the reactionary center of the south. It made classical concepts of national liberation look anachronistic long before the liberation of all African countries and the end of apartheid was secured.

38To really understand Lesoma’s achievements, we need to keep in mind the significance that the unfulfilled dream of a People’s Republic of Malawi is one issue, meanwhile, the steady organization of a considerable number of exiles and refugees, and the task to improve their daily lives, is another matter. Several documents in Mwaungulu’s private estate show that the party was also concerned with more pragmatic and less prestigious projects like “The Malawi Refugee Concrete Block,” or international campaigns to collect second-hand clothes for newly arriving refugees. Lesoma members knew only too well what “the exilic condition of the postcolonial world” (Zeleza 2005b: 2) truly meant. Regarding just the students who were sent abroad thanks to scholarships from the Soviet Union or other friendly states, Lesoma was a quite effective organization in a very positive sense: it arranged higher education for a remarkable number of young Malawians while only one single university existed in their homeland.

39But Lesoma’s intentions and modus operandi are much better summarized in a letter Mwakasungura wrote to comrade Mwaungulu in West Berlin who, actually, stayed in Germany for the rest of his life. Armed with nothing more than another scholarship, in 1983 Mwakasungura travelled to a research institute in Norway to work on a critical analysis about the rural economy of Malawi (Mwakasungura 1986). From Norway, he wrote the following:

  • 59 Letter from Mwakasungura to Mwaungulu, Norway, 23 October 1983 (Mwaungulu private estate).

Back home the situation is still extremely volatile and anything can happen. In spite of the extremely complex situation in which we have to operate, there is something to comfort us in that the Party now does have roots inside, and in a way functioning and drawing more and more people into the fold. The Govt is perhaps spending half its energy having to cope with the infectious spread effect of Lesoma and that is no small achievement for a party without a bank account and a single full-time cadre. The neighbors, too, while recognising our growing influence and the inevitability for forming the next government in Malawi, are as jittery about our independence of mind and singleness of purpose as Banda is afraid of our power over the people. Historians will have trouble writing the history of Malawi and the part Lesoma played over this period.59

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Notes

1 Power (2010: 46–47, 81) lists a few political actors who were influenced by Marxism, while Andrew Ross emphasizes some early networks between migrants from Malawi (then Nyasaland) and their leftist compatriot Clements Kadalie from the South African Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (Ross 2009: 33–34). For an affirmative US-perspective on Banda’s anti-communism, see Munger (1969: 27–28).

2 For the supportive role that Malawi played for South Africa, see Miller (2015); for the negative role it played for Mozambique, see Robinson (2006: 278–295) and Hedges (1989). For a discussion of alternative foreign policy strategies through a comparison between Malawi, Zambia and Botswana, see McMaster (1974: 162–176). For Banda’s interpretation of pan-Africanism, see Kayange (2012: 17–23).

3 For Malawi’s hosting of some of Zimbabwe African National Union’s members, which changes little in the general role of Malawi as a reactionary regime in the region, see also Mazarire (2017: 89–90); Maluwa (1992: 348, 365–366).

4 Mwaungulu’s former wife gave me his private estate. This essay is part of my Ph.D-project, “Postcolonial Exile in a Divided Germany: Biographical Case Studies” (working title), Department of European Ethnology, Humboldt-University Berlin. It reconstructs and analyzes the life stories of African exiles in the GDR who remained in Germany after 1990 and contextualizes them within Germany’s debate about its socialist past.

5 Thanks to the anonymous reviewer(s) of an earlier draft for the inspiring critique.

6 Many Malawian refugees first lived in Pangale camp near Tabora (Mwakasungura, Miller 2016: 101).

7 Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv (SAPMO)-BArchiv (German Federal Archive) DY 24/14413, “Kontakte der FDJ mit der sozialistischen Liga Malawi (Lesoma),” 1978–1987, p. 00088–00092: “Malawi: The present and the future: Our assessment,” by Lesoma steering committee, 3 March 1984, here p. 00092. Chiume’s autobiography does not cover this period (Chiume 1975).

8 Mwakasungura states that the other opposition leaders, together with those of their own followers who were militarily trained, first wanted to participate in the guerilla campaign but later refused to do so. Unpublished interview transcript from Doug Miller interviewing Kapote Mwakasungura, Lesoma History: The Missing Link, 17 January 2010, Karonga, Malawi.

9 Mwakasungura also refers to the intellectual and political legacy of Henry Masauko Chipembere and Dunduzu Chisiza, the younger brother of Yatuta Chisiza (ibid.). Regarding the importance which Chipembere played as one of Banda’s most capable opponents, see Chipembere and Rotberg (2001) and Baker (2008). Dunduzu Chisiza became famous for his book Africa: What lies ahead? (Chisiza 1962). Foreseeing the future conflict after Malawian independence, he wrote on page 21 that it is “almost a universal tendency in the less developed regions of the world that if the ruling party is pro-West, the opposition will be pro-East.” Regarding the latter, he stated that “communism has a reputation for thriving on persecution” from which he concluded that “the policy of aligning with the West creates a burning issue for communists and so long as they have a legitimate issue to fight, ‘firmness,’ persecution, only add fuel to the flame. Paradoxical as it may sound, the safest way of aligning with the West is not to align with the West.”

10 Interview transcript (unpublished) from Doug Miller interviewing John Jando Nkhwazi and Kapote Mwakasungura, 12 November 2013. Considering Nyerere’s refusal of military overthrows within independent African states, such training must have been possible only in the early years and only for a short period. Mwakasungura states that Lesoma later succeeded to send a small group of men for military training to the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon (see ft. 9).

11 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, p. 00090.

12 In 1971, Havanna’s Tricontinental published an article titled “Malawi: Neocolonial State.” To a certain degree, this development of Lesoma’s discursive strategy parallels the African National Congress’s success to transform the more nationalist claim to struggle against the South African apartheid regime to the more universalist claim to struggle against colonialism (Lee 2010).

13 Quoted from Kuchanso, pages 4–5. This volume together with several Lesoma membership cards are archived in the GDR’s document file SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, Beziehungen zur Malawi Liga 1975–1980.

14 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, p. 00092.

15 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, p. 00079.

16 Ibid., p. 00080.

17 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, p. 00082.

18 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, clipped newspaper article from The Guardian, 24 December 1979 (no title included).

19 GARF (State Archive of the Russian Federation), TASS (Soviet Union’s news agency) dossier on general foreign policy informations, 4459, file 3497, Malawi, 3 February 1983–28 December 1983, p. 3–5: Situation in Malawi (France Presse article translated into Russian), p. 4.

20 Answers to questions sent to Mwakasungura by the author, 14 March 2016.

21 On political radicalism in northern Malawi, see also Owen Kalinga (2010).

22 MCP stands for Malawi Congress Party, follower of the Nyasaland African Congress (the Malawian independence movement).

23 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, minutes of a meeting between Mpakati and Oelschlägel, GDR embassy Dar es Salaam, 23 September 1976.

24 That a lot of Lesoma’s leading members were from the North, especially from Karonga district, is noteworthy. Beside Mpakati, Lesoma’s steering committee thought about asking the exiled Malawian poet, academic and former diplomat David Rubadiri to become its first national chairman; the committee dropped this idea because of Rubadiri’s Northern background (see ft. 8). One reason for the high number of Northerners links back to colonial times: the North was economically less developed but had more missionary schools and a higher number of well-educated Malawians compared to other regions. As McCracken states, “a high proportion of the best educated Malawians of the independence generation ended in exile” (McCracken 2012: 448). On the question of tribalism see Chirwa (1998: 52–69).

25 This and the following information from the files referred to in footnote 23 differ from the information given to me from Kapote Mwakasungura; he states that his party had its headquarters in Tanzania all the time and that Nyerere had no problems with Lesoma.

26 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, minutes of a meeting between Mpakati and Hollender, Maputo, 2 November 1978.

27 Personal talk on the telephone between Mwakasungura and the author, 6 March 2016.

28 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, “Malawi: The present and the future: Our assessment,” paper by Lesoma’s steering committee, 3 March 1984, p. 00092.

29 As far as I can determine, Lesoma had a Youth Movement, a Student’s Movement, and a Women’s League.

30 The loosely allied group of states was formed to isolate apartheid South Africa on the continent. It existed from the 1960s to the 1990s and finally included Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

31 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, paper by Lesoma Youth Movement, p. 00106. A letter from Lesoma to the Soviet Committee of Youth Organization mentions the participation of members of its Youth Movement at the PYM meeting in Libya in 1983. GARF, P-9540, file 530, Correspondences with the Organizations for the Solidarity with the Asian and African Countries and Private Persons in African Countries regarding Questions of Friendship and Cooperation, 1984, p. 22–23.

32 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, minutes of a meeting between Krause and Mwaungulu, Berlin, 6 February 1980, translated by author.

33 That Mpakati did not enter the GDR in early 1980 is at least what can be concluded from the corresponding GDR files. Mwaungulu’s ex-wife says that Mpakati visited her family in the GDR several times (personal talk between Gisela Mwaungulu and the author).

34 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, letter from Mwakasungura to the GDR’s Solidarity Committee, Dar es Salaam, 27 December 1977. Documents in the same file indicate that the GDR had earlier accepted one Malawian trainee sent by Masauko Chipembere in 1969.

35 Interview between Willi Sommerfeld and the author on 11 November 2010.

36 The marriage was possible thanks to an affidavit written by the Malawian labor unionist Ghiza Mkandawire during the latter’s visit in the GDR in August 1961; Mkandawire had been invited by the GDR’s Labor Union. SAPMO-BArch DY 42/1307, FDGB-Gewerkschaft Handel, Nahrung und Genuss, “Njassaland” files.

37 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, Letter from Mwakasungura to the Socialist Unity Party’s Central Committee in Berlin, International Relations Department of African Affairs, Dar es Salaam, 12 July 1975.

38 SAPMO-BArch DZ 8/186, Letter from Mwakasungura to the Socialist Unity Party’s Central Committee in Berlin, International Relations Department of African Affairs, Dar es Salaam, 17 July 1977.

39 Mwaungulu was a progressive exile in the best sense defined by Francis Njubi Nesbitt, even though Nesbitt developed this concept in an exclusively Western setting. As summarized by Paul Zeleza, “the progressive exiles seek to use their space of exile to develop a dignified pan-African identity by unabashedly promoting African knowledges and participating in the liberation struggles of both the diaspora and their countries of origin” (Nesbitt 2002: 70–75; Zeleza 2005a: 225). For an in-depth analysis of Mwaungulu’s life story see Pampuch (2020, forthcoming).

40 Letter from Moscow to Mwaungulu, 30 January 1983 (Mwaungulu private estate).

41 PA AA, MfAA, M 31, ZR 2378/89, bilateral relations between the GDR and Malawi (German Federal Foreign Office Political Archive).

42 For a more detailed account on the GDR’s economic involvement in Mozambique, see Döring (1999).

43 The assistance Cuba provided Lesoma needs further investigation. Mwaungulu states that he was politically trained there for six months in the second half of the 1960s; he also recounts a meeting with Che Guevara in Dar es Salaam in the 1960s (Theuerkauf 2000). In 1978, the New African wrote about Cuban training for Lesoma members, who were flown from Mozambique to Havana (Cuban Training for Malawian Exiles 1978: 12).

44 SAPMO-BArchiv DY 24/14413, p. 00037, letter Marama to Ziegler, 15 January 1986.

45 E-mail from Vladimir Shubin to the author, 6 December 2015. A Russian author took Lesoma as an example for a revolutionary-democratic party which struggles against its country’s capitalist path of development, comparing Lesoma with the Kenya People’s Union (Chirkin 1985: 180).

46 Several of these documents contain handwritten notes from Soviet officials to add the corresponding attachments to a dossier on Lesoma; neither me nor the subject specialist at the GARF have found it.

47 Doubts about Lesoma’s chances to generate a change of government in Malawi are being expressed with detailed information on Malawi which W. Solodownikow from the Soviet embassy in Zambia wrote to A.S. Dzasochow, dated 18 May 1981. GARF, P-9540, file 481, Memos from Talks, Information and Letters from the Soviet Embassies in Africa, 27 December 1980–22 November 1981, p. 146–157. The last traces from Lesoma which I found at the GARF is a foulder containing three documents. One expresses the party’s condolence about the death of Yuri Andropov (fourth general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party), dated 11 February 1984; the second expresses the party’s gratitude to the Soviets for having facilitated two Lesoma cadres to undergo a five months political orientation course at Moscow’s Comsomol Institute followed by a request for ten more of such places for a whole year, dated 10 February 1984. The third document by Grey Kamuyambeni (who followed Mpakati as Lesoma’s national chairman) informs more generally about Lesoma’s continuing struggle against the Banda regime. GARF, P-9540, file 530, 1984, p. 21, 22–23 and 24–26.

48 GARF, P-9540, file 405 B, Memos and Information from the Soviet Embassies in Africa, 17 January–1 December 1976, p. 250: Letter from J. Naumow, consultant of the Soviet embassy in Tanzania, to the ASSK, 27 September 1976.

49 GARF, P-9540, file 447, Memos and Information from the Soviet Embassies in Africa, 29 December 1978–21 December 1979, p. 163: Letter from P. Jevsukow, Soviet embassy in Mozambique, 12 June 1979.

50 GARF, P-9540, file 447, Memo of a talk between Nkvasi, Lesoma’s secretary for diplomatic contacts, and W. Mamonjko, third secretary of the Soviet embassy in Tanzania, 9 August 1979, p. 214–215.

51 GARF, P-9540, file 481, Letter from J. Jukalow to A.S. Dzasochow, 27 December 1980, p. 1; file 499, Memos from Talks, Information and Letters from the Soviet Embassies in Africa, 28 January 1981–24 December 1982, p. 17: Letter from J. Jukalow to A.S. Dzasochow, 30 January 1982.

52 GARF, P-9540, file 499, Memos from Talks, Information and Letters from the Soviet Embassies in Africa, 28 January 1981–24 December 1982, p. 192–193: Letters from J. Jukalow to A.S. Dzasochow, 9 September 1982, and from Mwakasungura to the ASSK, 8 August 1982. One of the students studied at Patrice-Lumumba University, the other one in Moldova.

53 GARF, P- 9540, file 481, p. 24-25: Letter from Mwakasungura to A.S. Dzasochow, translated into Russian and remitted from J. Jukalow to A.S. Dzasochow on 31 January 1981; file 499, p. 213: Letter from J. Jukalow to A.S. Dzasochow, 5 October 1982.

54 Considering Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, Mwakasungura emphasizes the role of Lesoma members as mediators between the Tanzanian government and the Zimbabwe African National Union and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union.

55 Against the background of the Soviet Union’s demise, and the corresponding lack of radical socialist claims in the UMDF’s program, Heiko Meinhardt described with astonishment the founding of a small splinter party called the Malawi Socialist Labor Party in Dar es Salaam in 1990, led by former Lesoma member Stanford Sambanemanja (Meinhardt 1993: 62–63).

56 Besides Frank Mkandawire, the book lists two more exiles, but neither had any former affiliation with Lesoma. Considering returned exiles, it is striking how uncritically legal consultants from a Malawian NGO, founded by at least one former Lesoma member, adopted the Western discourse on Human Rights which ignores the structural side of socioeconomic inequalities (Englund 2006: 123–169); for a brief interview with this founder, see Mwakasungura and Miller (2016: 212–213).

57 However, Dunduzu Chisiza died in 1962. On rumors about his death see Power (2010: 156-176).

58 Information given by Mwakasungura.

59 Letter from Mwakasungura to Mwaungulu, Norway, 23 October 1983 (Mwaungulu private estate).

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1. Cover of Lesoma’s organ “Kuchanso” (vol. 4, 1977), printed in the GDR. “Kuchanso” means “New Dawn” and “Mpumbulu” means “Revolution”. (Mwaungulu private estate)
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsmsh/docannexe/image/51405/img-1.jpg
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