Africa ahead.
Listen. Understand. Act.
Home > History

History

History

Why Brazzaville Foundation ?

The Foundation takes its name and inspiration from the Brazzaville Protocol signed in the Congolese capital at the invitation of President Sassou N'Guesso in 1988. A key moment in the history of modern Africa, it was an example of African-led negotiations leading to a peaceful resolution of conflicts in southern Africa. These negotiations paved the way for the independence of Namibia, the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid. In this process, Jean-Yves Ollivier tested his mediation skills, persuading key figures to meet in Brazzaville.

1966: Border war breaks out in Southern Africa

Southern Africa is torn by a border war between South Africa, Angola and South West Africa (now Namibia).

1975: Angola, affected by a civil war

The Angolan territory has suffered from civil war since decolonization in 1975. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba, governs the country. The movement was then challenged by the Union for the Total Independence of Angola, supported by the United States of America and South Africa, which at the same time was trying to neutralize the bases of the independence movement SWAPO, which was working from the capital of Angola for the liberation of Namibia under South African rule.

1987: A plot for peace

In an effort to build confidence in southern Africa, the chairman of theOrganisation of African Unity invited the United States and Angola to meet in Brazzaville. Cuba joined the negotiations three months later. During this time, Jean-Yves Ollivier negotiated a decisive exchange of prisoners for seven months. On September 7, 1987, on the tarmac of Maputo airport in Mozambique, he allowed the release of 133 Angolan soldiers and about fifty fighters for the independence of Namibia, in exchange for South African Captain Wynand Du Toit, which also allowed the release of two anti-apartheid activists detained in South Africa, the French cooperant Pierre-André Albertini and the Dutch anthropologist Klaas de Jong.

 

Strengthened by this success, a few months later, Jean-Yves Ollivier persuaded the South African government to bring together the people who had participated in the success of this prisoner exchange in a hunting lodge in the Kalahari desert. He wanted to allow the actors of these regional conflicts to exchange in the greatest secrecy, and without an agenda, in order to get to know and trust each other. An informal pact is concluded, a "plot for peace", in which a peaceful relationship in the region takes shape, without settling scores and while creating the conditions for the end of apartheid.

Caption: Liberation of South African Captain Wynand du Toit, accompanied by Jean-Yves Ollivier, on September 7, 1987.

1988: The Brazzaville Protocol

On March 9, 1988, in London, the first negotiations between the South African, Angolan and Cuban governments began, organized by Chester Crocker, then Under Secretary of State for African Affairs under President Reagan in the United States. Subsequently, Angola, the United States, Cuba and South Africa met in New York and Geneva in the summer of 1988.

 

Finally, between June and December 1988, five meetings were held in the Congolese capital, leading to a historic agreement on 13 December 1988, officially mediated by the government of the United States of America. Ensuring the gradual and total withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angolan territory, the agreement ensured the application of UN Security Council Resolution 435 (1978) providing for the conclusion of a ceasefire in Namibia and the holding of elections supervised by the United Nations with a view to the country's independence. The Brazzaville agreement, which became the New York agreement, was signed in New York on December 22, 1988 under UN supervision.

1990-1991: The release of Nelson Mandela and the end of the apartheid regime

By paving the way for the restoration of peace in southern Africa, the agreement would condition fourteen months later, on February 11, 1990, the release of Nelson Mandela and the continuation of constitutional negotiations that would lead to the official end of apartheid in South Africa on June 30, 1991.

2014 : The spirit of Brazzaville

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of this event, President Denis Sassou N'Guesso, a key player in these negotiations, had called for the spirit of these agreements to be perpetuated. Inspired by this wish, Jean-Yves Ollivier decided to create, on August 14, 2014, the Brazzaville Foundation. On February 27, 2015, the Foundation was registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales to which it reports its activities and funding (registration no. 1160693).

Caption: President Nelson Mandela elevated Jean-Yves Ollivier to the rank of Grand Officer of the Order of Good Hope in 1995 for his peacemaking efforts.