The South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) is a liberation movement in Namibia.
SWAPO was founded on 19 April 1960 by Andimba Toivo ya Toivo as the successor of the Ovamboland People’s Congress, an organisation established in 1957 and renamed into Ovamboland People’s Organisation in 1959. The reason for the renaming was that although the organisation had its base among the Ovambo people of northern Namibia it wanted to be representative of all Namibians.
During 1962 SWAPO had emerged as the dominant nationalist organization for the Namibian people, co-opting other groups such as the South West Africa National Union (SWANU), and in 1976 the Namibia African People’s Democratic Organisation. SWAPO used guerrilla tactics to fight the South African military. On 26 August 1966 the first major clash of the conflict took place, when a unit of the South African Police, supported by South African Air Force, exchanged fire with SWAPO forces. This date is generally regarded as the start of what is known in South Africa as the Border War. In 1972 the United Nations General Assembly recognised SWAPO as the ‘sole legitimate representative’ of Namibia’s people. The Norwegian government began giving aid directly to SWAPO in 1974.
Angola gained its independence on November 11, 1975 following its war for independence. The leftist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), supported by Cuba and the Soviet Union, came to power. The MPLA offered SWAPO bases in Angola to launch attacks against the South African military in March 1976.