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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)

Sentletse, be careful where you dip your pen

Words have consequences. That is why the Germans speak of 'Schreibtischtaeter': people who were innocent of killing any Jews, gays or Gypsies in person, but who contributed to the holocaust through their writing.

Of Bosluisbasters and other hybrids

“My father and them trekked with a donkey cart”, Floors explained. “It was a long distance to cover in that way and some families had…