Original Research

The role of CASSAS in the liberation struggle of the southern African region, 1976 to the early 1980s

Matseliso R. Motsoane, Chitja Twala, Mokete L. Pherudi
New Contree | Vol 90 | a241 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/nc.v90i0.241 | © 2023 Matseliso R. Motsoane, Chitja Twala, Mokete L. Pherudi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 March 2023 | Published: 21 December 2023

About the author(s)

Matseliso R. Motsoane, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Chitja Twala, Department of History, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Mokete L. Pherudi, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Abstract

Historically, the period 1976 to the early 1980s in Lesotho shows that at the students of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) played an important role in the struggle for liberation. This article acknowledges that scholarly work has been performed in addressing student activism during the period under discussion, with specific focus on those at NUL. While conceding that in most cases student activism was not well-coordinated, the article indicates that with the formation of Committee for Action and Solidarity for Southern African Students (CASSAS) at NUL, a partially unified approach was adopted. This partial unity resulted from the fact that students belonged to ideologically different formations which at some point became antagonistic to one another. Despite the relentless efforts by NUL management, state agencies and to a lesser extent the South African apartheid regime to stifle such activism, the influence of CASSAS was noteworthy. Through CASSAS, students became critics of the university’s management, as well as the ruling Basutoland National Party (BNP) under the leadership of Chief Leabua Jonathan. As in many African countries, for example in Uganda (Makerere) and Zimbabwe (University of Zimbabwe), universities were designed as either state-controlled or state-directed. In this article, we use the publication called The Vanguard to highlight students’ activism under CASSAS at NUL.

Contribution: This article delves into the impactful role of National University of Lesotho students in the 1976-1980s liberation struggle. Focusing on CASSAS, it unveils a partially unified approach amid ideological differences. Despite suppression, CASSAS emerged as a significant influence through The Vanguard, critiquing both university management and political leadership.


Keywords

National University of Lesotho; Basutoland National Party; Marxism; The Vanguard; student activism.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

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