History of the Carl Schlettwein Foundation

Thanks to Carl Schlettwein’s collecting activities and his encounters with people in the former German South-West Africa, virtual spaces for today’s Namibia have been around since the 1950s, long before the country’s official independence. With the founding of the Namibian state in 1990 and the rise of the “African movement” at the University of Basel, the prospects for expansion grew to include existing structures in Basel


Collecting en route to an independent Namibia


both in terms of the Basler Afrika Bibliographien and Carl Schlettwein’s personal situation as well as regarding efforts to reinforce and anchor people’s increasing interest in Africa at the University of Basel. The result of these two strands of development was the establishment of the Carl Schlettwein Foundation in 1994 and the integration of the Basler Afrika Bibliographien as a trademark within the Foundation. 

Further development of the Basler Afrika Bibliographien – collaboration with the University of Basel

In the next 10 years, the Basler Afrika Bibliographien evolved into a Namibia Resource Centre and a Southern Africa Library. Over the same period, both its holdings and its staff tripled and an additional piece of property was acquired. In addition, its collaboration with the University of Basel gave rise to a Chair of African History in 2001 and garnered recognition far beyond Basel’s city limits.

Carl Schlettwein died in 2005. As president of the Foundation and director of the Basler Afrika Bibliographien, he charted the course of the Carl Schlettwein Foundation until shortly before his death.

Consolidation of expertise and anchoring in an international context

Led by new Foundation President Jörg H. Schwarzenbach, the following years were characterised by the development of an organisational model for the Basler Afrika Bibliographien, consolidating its expertise and positioning it internationally under the direction of Luccio Schlettwein. 

As managing director of the Carl Schlettwein Foundation, Luccio Schlettwein acts as the executor and first point of contact for funding and support activities, in addition to overseeing administrative and financial matters.