The beginnings of the Basler Afrika Bibliographien (BAB) go back to the initiative of Carl Schlettwein (1925-2005). Carl Schlettwein lived in former South West Africa (today Namibia) for many years during the 1950s and 1960s. In these years, he began systematically collecting publications on the country and founded the BAB in 1971. This enabled the formation of institutional partnerships and the editing of initial publications. Gradually, the book collection activities were complemented by the collection of other formats such as rare books or maps.
With the launch of the Carl Schlettwein Foundation in 1994, the basis was established for sustainable continuation of the collections, which were further developed and expanded systematically. Today, the BAB is firmly anchored in Basel as an integral part of Switzerland’s most significant hub for African studies. The institute’s activities have grown to include the organisation of events on scholarly, cultural and socio-political issues involving southern Africa.