Using the structure of a crime novel combined with documentary material, Cape Town - Stockholm (On Thembo Mjobo) explores the strong ties between Sweden and South Africa’s liberation movements during the apartheid regime.
Cape Town - Stockholm (On Thembo Mjobo) takes as its starting point a tape found among journalist Nils Strömberg’s belongings after his death in Afghanistan in 2005. The tape, which was unlabelled, contained an interview with a former operative of the Swedish secret police and the conversation revolved around Thembo Mjobo, a man at the core of the intricate Swedish-South African relationship.
From this audio document, the project developed into a book, which unravels as an album leading the reader through a maze of documents including photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, hand-written notes, posters, cartoons. In addition, interviews with ao., Florah Mjobo, Dumise Ntsebeza, Paul Schori, Thabo Mbeki, Lars-Gunnar Ohlsson are included.
Thembo Mjobo was born in Cape Town’s famous racially mixed District Six in 1949, the year after apartheid was established. Initiated into activism by his uncle, Mjobo served as a courier for the ANC during his childhood and adolescence, and spent some time in prison. In the 1960’s, he joined Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC, and was trained in the Soviet Union and Tanzania. He eventually left for Sweden in 1976, in the aftermath of the Soweto uprisings, and settled in Stockholm, where he stayed until his sudden death in 2000. Mjobo quickly became a crucial actor and witness of the Swedish-South African relationship, when Sweden was the strongest political, moral and financial supporter of the liberation movements in Southern Africa. After the fall of the apartheid regime, Mjobo was appointed the European representative of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Investigations Unit.
Thembo Mjobo’s life gives us special insight into the intricate relationship between Sweden and South Africa during apartheid, and helps us recall this recent yet almost forgotten history.
Cape Town – Stockholm (On Thembo Mjobo) is a project by Michael Blum, produced by MAP, Stockholm in collaboration with SR c, Swedish Radio, and Propexus Publishing house. The project has been supported by the Framtidens Kultur, the French Institute Stockholm, and Bundeskanzleramt, Austria. Special thanks to Konst-ig and all those who helped with research and contributed with material.