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Conrad Steenkamp

Posts published by “Conrad Steenkamp”

Conrad Steenkamp is a social anthropologist and writer.

In 1976 he and some friends founded a youth group optimistically dubbed "South African Youth and Future 2000". It brought together young people from different backgrounds for discussion and exchanging views, an unusual experience at the time. He left South Africa in 1985 to avoid deployment in the townships during military camps.

For the next seven years he lived in Munich, talking politics, selling bratwurst in an underground station, working as an English teacher, painting houses, and writing a script for New Constantine Film. He got a bursary from the Heinrich-Boell Foundation of the Green Party, which enabled him to continue studying in Germany and later in Switzerland.

In 1994 he returned to South Africa, overqualified and with great ideas - and just in time for affirmative action. For the next two decades he worked as a consultant in land reform, community-based natural resource management, protected area and World Heritage Site management, cultural and heritage tourism, and marketing. This included a six year stint as a post-doctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, in the course of which he set up and managed an international research network focusing on protected area management and transboundary protected areas in southern Africa.

He recently worked in Afghanistan, the Netherlands and now the UK. His first novel, Thomas en die gat in die Heelal (Thomas and the hole in the universe) was awarded the Ernst van Heerden Prize for Creative Writing. He is hard at work on a set of novels.

“Ons is ‘n bastervolk met ‘n bastertaal”.
Breyten Breytenbach, 1973.
(We are a bastard nation with a bastard language)

Happy endings in Afghanistan

“All that has to happen is for the Taliban to lob a couple of hand grenades over the walls of one of the guesthouses,” the…

The ancestors strike back

The angry whispering of my ancestors, black, tan and white, refer. They speak about the words of some Deployed Writers in this middle-class space about…

Fear in Afghanistan

I had moved to a new guesthouse which looked and felt like a death trap. I had to travel even further to work and the…

Trust in Afghanistan

“Don’t trust anybody,” an old consultant told me one morning in the corridor of the government office, sotto voce and all that. “I mean —…

Forgiveness in Afghanistan

Kabul airport was a run-down, high-security version of “Bloemfontein international”. It was dotted with military freight planes and helicopters, hidden behind concrete walls and sandbags.…

En route to Afghanistan

I was offered a job in Afghanistan. Exactly what kind of work is not at issue. It was everyday stuff, though the context was unusual.…

‘Don’t call me a kaffir’

Recently, about five-thirty in the afternoon when everybody was stuck in traffic, 5FM exposed its listeners to the following lyrics: Kom hier, kaffir, kom hier!…