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11 January 2021 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Supplied
The new book that Dr Tshepo Moloi has co-edited puts a spotlight on liberation struggle radios.

Dr Tshepo Moloi from the Qwaqwa Campus Department of History is the co-editor of a new book called Guerrilla Radios in Southern Africa: Broadcasters, Technology, Propaganda Wars, and the Armed Struggle.
This book is a collection of eleven essays on the histories of the radios attached to the armed wings of the liberation movements in the region. “This book is a shift from a parochial approach, which tended to analyse guerrilla radios within the framework of the nation state. It focuses on the experiences of the broadcasters and listeners during the era of the armed struggle. Using archival sources such as sound recordings of the guerrilla radio stations, together with interviews conducted with former broadcasters and listeners, the essays contained in this volume ask complex questions about the social histories of these stations,” said Dr Moloi.
Dr Moloi added that the essays explore the workings of propaganda and counter-propaganda and probe the effects that the radios had on the activists and supporters of the liberation movements – and, on the other hand, on the colonial counter-insurgency projects. They examine the relationships that these radios have forged at their multiple sites of operation in host countries, and also look at international solidarity and support, specifically for radio broadcasting initiatives. 
Role played by guerrilla radio
“Our volume pushes the frontiers of knowledge production beyond exploration of broadcast content towards a more nuanced conception of radio as a medium formed by social and political processes. Guerrilla radio broadcasting, we argue, became a very powerful technology for disseminating insurgent propaganda messages of the liberation movements and for mobilising African workers, peasants, students and youth in the struggle against white minority domination in the entire region. From Angola to Mozambique, and from Zimbabwe to Namibia through to South Africa, the modern technology of radio has provided the liberation movements in exile with a platform for an aural or sonic presence among the followers of the liberation movements back home. It has become an effective instrument for propagating the ideologies of the liberation movements, as well as for countering the propaganda messages of the oppressive white minority regimes,” he added.
Conceptualisation of the book
He also revealed the thinking behind the book. “The concept arose from the realisation that despite the explosion of research on liberation struggles in Southern Africa, such as memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies of prominent leaders of the movements, as well as a scattering of (auto)biographies of the foot soldiers, there remained a dearth of studies on the media that the liberation movements employed, particularly radio.”
Other editors are Sekibakiba Peter Lekgoathi, a professor of History at Wits University and Prof Alda Romão Saúte Saíde from Pedagogic University in Maputo, Mozambique. The project was funded by the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences’ (NIHSS) Catalytic Research Project.

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