Biographies

"20 Years of Democracy in South Africa" with contributions by:

Carole Bloch is director of PRAESA, a non-government multilingual education organization affiliated to the University of Cape Town. PRAESA researches and develops alternative forms of language and literacy education in South Africa, and drives the Nal’ibali national reading-for-enjoyment campaign to set up reading clubs that promote and sustain the joy of reading and storytelling between adults and children. She is also founder of the “Little Hands Trust,” which develops multilingual children’s literature in Africa.

Rehad Desai is the producer and award winning director of numerous documentary films. He studied history and social history at University of Zimbabwe and University of the Witwatersrand. His documentary film “Born Into Struggle” (2004) screened at many international film festivals and, amongst other awards, won the audience prize for the best South African documentary film at the Encounters Documentary Film Festival in Cape Town. “Miners Shot Down,” his most recent production, is not only playing and opening various festivals around the globe, but has won a number of awards as well, i.e. Best Film at One World Film Festival in Prague. Beyond that it has also sparked international support for the Marikana Justice Campaign.

Jihan El-Tahri is an Egyptian-French producer and award winning documentary filmmaker. She began her career as a journalist, and from 1984 to 1990 she was a correspondent for a number of news outlets, including Reuters, the Washington Post, and the Sunday Times. Her film “The House of Saud” was nominated for an Emmy in 2005. In “Behind the Rainbow” (2008) she examined the development of the ANC in South Africa after apartheid. El-Tahri has written two books: “The Nine Lives of Yasser Arafat” and “Israel and the Arabs: the 50 Years War.”

Nomboniso Gasa is a political analyst, public speaker on gender, politics and culture and a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Law and Society of the law faculty of the University of Cape Town. Her focus is on the intersection of land, living custom, the construction of identities and traditional leadership. In the 1990s, she was executive secretary responsible for policy development in the ANC's Commission on the Emancipation of Women. She was closely involved in the ANC's decisive contribution to the negotiation of a new constitution, focusing specifically on gender equality. Gasa headed the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (I-IDEA) in Nigeria. She conceptualized and drove a massive research program with Nigerian and international scholars. This culminated in a book published by I-IDEA “Democracy in Nigeria: Continuing Dialogue(s) for Nation Building” and multi stakeholder policy dialogues, including politicians, academics, senior religious leaders and civil society. The publication is treated by many Nigerians, other scholars and analysts as seminal work on many contemporary Nigerian issues. Further, her publications include “Women in South African History” (2007, HSRC Press). As an art critic, she has published essays in catalogues and written in popular media. Gasa has been a political activist since her teenage years, which led to her first detention without trial and her torture at the age of 14 in the former Transkei.

Pumla Dineo Gqola is associate professor of African literature and gender studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her research themes include slavery memory, postcolonialism, gendered Blackness, post-apartheid public culture and African feminisms. She has MA degrees from the Universities of Cape Town and Warwick, UK and a DPhil from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Her books include “What is slavery to me? Postcolonial/Slave Memory in Post-Apartheid South Africa” (Wits Press, 2010) and “A renegade called Simphiwe” (MFBooks Joburg/Jacana, 2013).

Christian Kesten is a vocalist, performer, composer, and director who developed a repertoire of expanded vocal techniques in which the main focus is on sound and the fine nuance of tone colors. His work examines the relationships between voice and action, music and language, music and visual arts, and the penetration of sound and space.
As a performer of new vocal music and new musical theater with a number of debut performances and international concerts under his belt, Kesten has worked with Alessandro Bosetti, Lucio Capece, Jacques Demierre, Radu Malfatti, Chico Mello, Makiko Nishikaze, Josef Anton Riedl, Klaus Schedl, Iris ter Schiphorst, Dieter Schnebel, the chamber ensemble Neue Musik Berlin, the Ensemble Modern, Apartment House London, and many others. He is a member of the Maulwerker ensemble. Kesten has received numerous grants, composition commissions, and sponsorships, including a stipend from the Villa Aurora Los Angeles in 2007. Guest lectures, and lectureships in Berlin, Europe, Israel, the United States, and Canada. [christiankesten.de]

Ben Khumalo-Seegelken is a theologist and professor for education, social sciences, Evangelical theology, and religious education at the University of Oldenburg. After completing his studies in South Africa, he was forced to leave the country in 1975 due to his resistance to the apartheid system. From 1985 to 1986 he was assistant professor for systematic and ecumenical theology at the University of Vienna, after which he served as an Evangelical minister in the Rhineland until 1994. In 2004/2005 he directed an integration center for gay and lesbian migrants and organized the events series “Berliner Tage des interkulturellen Dialogs” (Berlin Days of Intercultural Dialogue).

Antjie Krog is a poet, writer, journalist and professor at the University of the Western Cape. She published twelve volumes of poetry and three non-fiction books. “Country of my Skull” (1998) about the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission on which she reported as a radio journalist, and “A Change of Tongue” (2004) about the transformation in South Africa after ten years, have been nominated by South African librarians (LIASA) as two of the ten most important books written in ten years of democracy. Her third non-fiction book “Begging to be Black” (2009) deals with learning to live within a black majority. Further she translated the autobiography of Nelson Mandela, “Long Walk to Freedom” into Afrikaans. Krog won all of the prestigious South African awards for non-fiction, translation and poetry available in Afrikaans and English, as well as the Stockholm Award from the Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture for the year 2000, and the Open Society Prize from the Central European University (previous winners were Jürgen Habermas and Vaclav Havel).

Xolela Mangcu is associate professor of sociology at the University of Cape Town and the Oppenheimer Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is the author and co-author of seven books, including the recently published, “Biko: A Biography” (Tafelberg, 2012). Mangcu was previously a columnist for the Business Day, the Weekender and the Sunday Independent in South Africa and has also been a commentator for CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera. He has held fellowships at the Brookings Institution, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Mangcu obtained his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University and holds MSc (Development Planning) and BA ( Sociology) degrees from Wits University. The Sunday Times (South Africa)has described him as “possibly the most prolific public intellectual in South Africa.”

Pia Marais is an award winning director and screen writer. After growing up in South Africa, Sweden, and Spain, Marais studied photography and sculpture at the Chelsea School of Art in London, the Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, and the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. She then went on to complete a degree in Film at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (dffb). Her debut film was “Die Unerzogenen” (“The Unpolished“) in 2007. In 2010 her second film “Im Alter von Ellen” (“At Ellen’s Age”) premiered at the Locarno Film Festival. Her most recent film, “Layla Fourie,” was shown in the Competition at the 2013 Berlinale, where it received an Honourable Mention from the International Jury.

Hugh Masekela is considered one of the most important jazz musicians in South Africa. His greatest successes include “Grazing in the Grass” (1968) and the song “Bring Him Back Home” (1987), which became the anthem for the liberation of Nelson Mandela. Aided by the British Anglican bishop and anti-apartheid activist Trevor Huddleston, Masekela began to play the trumpet in 1954. In 1961 he went into exile in London before moving to the United States. He later lived in a number of African countries. From 1973 he was active with Fela Kuti and the band Hedzoleh Sounds. After the end of apartheid, Masekela returned to South Africa. Since 2007 he has served as member of the board for the Woyome Foundation for Africa.

Khalo Matabane is an award winning filmmaker, author, and producer. His docufiction “Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon,” which examines the situation of refugees in South Africa, was part of the official program at the Toronto Film Festival and won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2006 Berlinale. “State of Violence” (2010), his first feature film, was widely praised by critics at numerous film festivals including the Toronto Film Festival and the Berlinale. His new film, “Nelson Mandela: The Myth and Me,” a documentary film about the controversies surrounding Mandela’s policy of reconciliation, was released in 2013.

Birgit Morgenrath is an author and journalist for, among other outlets, the ARD’s radio departments. After studying German studies and political science and her education in journalism, Morgenrath worked in the middle of the 1980s as an editor, reporter, and moderator at WDR from 1985 to 1989. She was later a member of the collective Rheinisches JournalistInnen Büro in Cologne until 2011. Her main focuses include history, economics, and environmental issues in South Africa and the southern African region as well as African literature. She is co-author of the book “Deutsches Kapital am Kap—Kollaboration mit dem Apartheidregime,” published by Edition Nautilus in 2003, further she translated Denis Goldberg’s autobiography “The Mission: A Life for Freedom in South Africa” into German.

Njabulo S Ndebele is a fiction and essay writer, public commentator, and one of the key figures in South African higher education. Since 2013, Ndebele has served as chairman of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and in 2012 was appointed Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg. As a publicist he is known for his essays about South African literature and culture as well as his precise interventions in political questions. His most well-known publications include the collection of essays “Rediscovery of the Ordinary” (COSAW, 1991), the Noma Award-winning volume of short stories “Fools and Other Stories” (Ravan Press, 1984), his novel “The Cry of Winnie Mandela” (Ayebia Clarke, 2004), and the essay collection “Fine Lines from the Box” (Umuzi, 2007).

Nozinja (Shangaan Electro) is a music producer and entertainer. After growing up in the rural province of Limpopo, home of the Shangaan, he then moved to Soweto, where he opened a mobile phone workshop in a township. After meeting up with the large and enthusiastic Shangaan dance scene in Soweto, Nozinja began to develop Shangaan Electro—traditional dance and music styles combined with contemporary musical genres such as Kwaito and House. The result was a unique form of Afro-Futuristic electro-dance that soon became popular the world over.

Dumisa Buhle Ntsebeza was a commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995. He obtained his law degree while imprisoned for political activism in the mid- 1970s and early 1980s. Ntsebeza, on several short term periods has been appointed an acting judge of the High court of South Africa and the Labour Court. Some of his judgments have been a subject of extensive reviews in such academic law journals as the South African Law Journal. In 2004, he was appointed by the UN then Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to serve as a commissioner on the UN International Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations in Darfur, Sudan. In 2005, Ntsebeza became the first African Senior Counsel in the history of the Cape Bar, a society of advocates of the High Court of South Africa. Among other leadership positions in the legal profession, he is the founder member and the President of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and the President and subsequently the Deputy President of the Black Lawyers Association. Currently he is also the National Chairman of the Advocates for Transformation. Besides being chairman for the companies Barloworld and Equillore Limited, as well as the Desmond Tutu Peace Trust and others, Ntsebeza however, remains a practicing advocate, and holds chambers in Sandton, Johannesburg, as a member of the Victoria Mxenge Group of Advocates.

Bernd Pickert has worked as an editor for taz. die tageszeitung’s foreign desk since 1994. His main topics of focus are human rights, the United States, and Latin America. From 2000 to 2012 he was a member of the board in the taz cooperative, and for the last few years he has sat on the jury for the taz’s Panther Prize.

Mzukisi Qobo teaches International Political Economy at the University of Pretoria, and is deputy director of the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) at the same university. His main research focus at the centre is on the role of emerging powers in global govervance, as well as Africa’s political economy. Mzukisi has previously served as chief director at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) where he was responsible for developing South Africa's trade policy. In the past he has fulfilled a role as head of Emerging Powers and Global Challenge at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). He has also played an advisory role in the corporate sector, especially in the mining and finance sectors. He is co-author of the book: “The Fall of the ANC: What Next?” He obtained his PhD from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.

Jule Reimer works as an editor for the economics and society department at Deutschlandfunk. She worked as a freelance journalist and ARD-radio correspondent in Brazil and southern Africa (particularly South Africa, Angola, and Mozambique) and reported on the wars in the Balkans. Reimer received a degree in political economy from the University of Cologne, where she also minored in Portuguese. She received her journalistic training at the Kölner Journalistenschule and as a trainee at Deutsche Welle.

Storm Janse Van Rensburg is an independent contemporary art curator and writer. He was senior curator at the Goodman Gallery Cape Town from 2007 to 2012, and has curated numerous group and solo exhibitions, most recently “A temporary admission” by Bridget Baker for the National Arts Festival, Gahamstown, South Africa (2014). Since relocating to Berlin in 2012 he curated the group exhibition “The Beautyful Ones” at the Galerie Nolan Judin and co-curated the exhibition “GhostBusters II” in SAVVY Contemporary. He is project curator for “Oblique” an ongoing travelling exhibition by Abrie Fourie, which was shown at HKW (2012), Johannesburg Art Gallery (2012), and Savannah College of Art and Design, USA (2013/14) amongst others. Janse van Rensburg has written for numerous publications, including Art South Africa, Canvas Magazine and Metropolis M. He is currently a fellow at the Bayreuth Academy for Advanced African Studies and is a co-curator for the research and exhibition project ”Giving Contours to Shadows, “an initiative by Savvy Contemporary in partnership with the Neuer Berlin Kunstverein.

Thabo Thindi is a South African Berlin based independent filmmaker and live performer. Winner of the 2012 best cinematography award for the “48 Hour Film Project Berlin”. He is currently performing on stage in German theatres in Athol Fugard’s “Blood Knot”.
Thabo Thindi is the founder and director of Jozi.tv hub, which produces – amongst multiple other projects – an online TV channel called Jozi.tv. The vision of Jozi.tv is to serve as a multimedia communication platform and voice of Africa in Germany. Its aim is to play a fundamental role in the representation of Africans, developing and documenting African related content across Germany.
Thabo Thindi is also the director and producer of “Exile Faces”; an interview series in which he documents the life stories of South Africans who fled their home country during the apartheid era and for different reasons continue to live in Germany; to this day remaining in a state of Exile.

Barbara Wahlster is the managing editor for literature at Deutschlandradio Kultur. She previously worked as a freelance author, journalist, and critic for radio and other outlets for several years. She has translated from French to German and recently served as Max Kade Visiting Professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.