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Special Collections

Clearer Pic of Isaacman

This remarkable collection of books, ephemera, posters and serials represents the concentrated and systematic gathering of both currently available and scarce out of print publications for more than 40 years. 

The Isaacman Collection is considered one of the finest collections on Mozambique's complex history in private ownership and includes rare publications, either not held in the world's great libraries or else present in three or fewer. 

Although the collection primarily concentrates on Mozambique, there is also topical coverage of other Southern African states' social sciences and history.

Primary sources: government reports, contemporary accounts under colonial administration and Independence, 19th-century descriptions and travel narratives, and documentation created and issued by FRELIMO. (40 leather-bound volumes of collected documents)

Secondary works: over 2000 titles. Monographs in Portuguese, English, literary works, entire series of Heinemann African Social History and Ohio University New African History.

Portrait of Joseph Rotblad: British Physicist

Prof. Joseph Rotblat was a nuclear physicist and staunch supporter of nuclear disarmament. He worked tirelessly, developing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Rotblat worked on the Manhattan Project, which created the atomic bombs, later dropped on Japan. Discovering the American plans to drop the bombs on Japan and that the Germans could not make the bombs, Rotblad left the project before completion as a matter of conscience. The lasting effects of this experience motivated Rotblat's future work.

Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell founded a group called Pugwash, named after the town in Canada, where the group held its first conference. Pugwash mainly included nuclear scientists concerned about the staggering increase in nuclear weapons and testing during the Cold War. Members often influenced governments from behind the scenes to reorient their foreign policies and held workshops, seminars, conferences and meetings to this end. In 1995 the Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded to Prof. Rotblat and Pugwash.

The majority of Rotblat's work is at the Churchill Archive Centre at the University of Cambridge, and many of his other books are at Bradford University. The remaining books from Prof. Rotblat's library were donated to UWC by Pugwash London.

The Joseph Rotblat Collection consists of 400 books and extensive runs of 15 journal titles: nuclear physics.

On 11 February 1966, under the Group Areas Act of 1950, the Apartheid Government declared District 6 a white-only area. This declaration legitimised the forced relocation of more than 60 000 people to Cape Town's barren outlying areas, known aptly as the Cape Flats. By 1982 bulldozers had flattened the site, and the community's life was over.

District Six, a vibrant community with close links to the city and port, got its name as the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town in 1867. District Six Attracted people from various geographical origins comprising formerly enslaved people, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants; this variety of language, religion, economic class, and culture strengthened the community's characteristics. District Six represented diversity on many levels and reflected the complete opposite of what the Apartheid government wanted people to internalise.

The last unofficial name for District Six was Kanaldorp (kanaal is the Afrikaans for 'canal'), a name supposedly derived from the series of canals running across the city, some of which had to be crossed to reach the District. Over time this led to some people referring to the area as Kanaladorp (kanala being derived from the Indonesian word for 'please'). Therefore, the name likely stems from a fusion of the two meanings. 

Established in 1992 and funded by the Arts and Culture Department, the pioneering Mayibuye Centre for History and Culture in South Africa is located on the UWC Campus within the Main Library. Material collected by the International Defence and Aid Fund (IDAF) forms the core collection.

The IDAF was banned in South Africa in 1966 and continued in London until dissolving in 1991. After the unbanning of political organisations in 1990 and IDAF's closure, their collection was relocated to South Africa, forming the Mayibuye Centre collection's nucleus.

Many activists and activist organisations donated their collections to the Mayibuye Centre, resulting in a unique multimedia collection focussed on resistance to Apartheid both within and outside South Africa's borders.

In September 1996, the South African Cabinet established the first official heritage institution of the new democracy with the Robben Island Museum (RIM) incorporating the International Defence and Aid Fund (IDAF) Film Archive and the Mayibuye collections.

On 1 April 2000, after intensive negotiations between RIM and UWC, a decision was made to implement a comprehensive co-operation agreement. The agreement states that:

"Both institutions concur that the collection is a national treasure which needs to be preserved in perpetuity for the nation within the parameters of South African Law."

Over the years, the Mayibuye Centre has hosted many exhibitions, studies, publications, and documentary films.

Events like these help the centre develop as a rich resource for anyone interested in exploring the struggles waged against the Apartheid system.

Keith Gottschalk is an Extraordinary Senior Lecturer in the Political Sciences department and served as Head of the Department from 2004-2006; simultaneously, he hosted the SA Association of Political Studies biennial conference. In addition, Gottschalk has produced over forty scholarly publications, primarily on South African political dynamics.

Gottschalk's current research and publications focus on the African Union family of organisations, African integration, and space policy for developing countries. Keith has also published a poetry collection, Emergency Poems, plus over one hundred poems in literary journals. In addition, Keith is the Vice-President of the UWC Convocation, Chair of the Friends of the UWC Library, and an Exco member of the South African Space Association.

Keith Gottschalk donated an extensive collection of local newspaper clippings related to political developments from the 1970s onwards. To view a broad inventory, click here.

Prof Vernon February (1938 – 2002)

Born in Somerset West, Prof. February went into exile in the Netherlands in 1963 and spent 33 years as a senior researcher at the African Studies Centre in Leiden. He published books and articles in African languages and literature, the literature from the Dutch Caribbean (Surinam and the Antilles), and Afrikaans literature. He was also a poet, storyteller and activist in the anti-Apartheid movement in the Netherlands. He became an extraordinary professor in the department of Afrikaans & Nederlands at the University of the Western Cape in 1991.

The Vernon February collection comprises two parts: his library and some manuscripts.

The Library collection extends to 75 shelves containing books that reflect his research interests: Africana, African Diaspora and South African languages and literature, particularly Afrikaans. Around a quarter of the collection are well-known literary works; the remainder might be described as a specialist collection, providing a rich depth of material that may no longer be easily obtainable. Some titles may be the only copies in the country.

Picture of Africana Books on a shelf

Africana refers to materials, such as books, documents, or art objects, relating to the history or culture of African peoples. The University of the Western Cape's Africana Collection focuses on works dealing with sub-Saharan Africa.

The collection concentrates on historical and heritage studies, arts, fauna and flora, biographies and theology.


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Friday 8:20 AM — 8:00 PM

Saturday 9:00 AM — 1:00 PM

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