Our Guests

Sindiwe Magona

Sindiwe Magona

Dr Sindiwe Magona, Anglican Archbishop Ndungane’s official biographer (From Robben Island to Bishopscourt), is an award-winning author, storyteller, motivational speaker, actor, Xhosa teacher and translator. She has written over 120 children’s books, stage plays, books of short stories, including Living, Loving and Lying Awake At Night (one of Africa’s 100 Best Books of the Twentieth Century), autobiography, novels, radio plays, and a screenplay. Her novel Beauty’s Gift was shortlisted for the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Africa).



Her writings tell of an impoverished childhood in South Africa and of her personal and political struggles as a black woman living under apartheid. (CUT: She wanted to achieve racial and gender harmony in South Africa. She draws on the traditional Xhosa storytelling techniques from her early childhood.)


She obtained her matric by correspondence as a single parent, mother of three and domestic servant with no fixed home. She graduated with a BA degree from the University of South Africa. She obtained her Master of Science Degree in Organisational Social Work from Columbia University. She was has received

Honourary Doctorates Hartwick College, Oneonta New York and Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. The New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow gave her an award in the non-fiction category. In 2007 she was awarded The Grinzane Award for writing that addresses social concerns, the Molteno Gold Medal for promoting the Xhosa culture and language, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award for contribution to South African Literature. In 2011 she was given the Order of iKhamanga; a Presidential Award and the highest such award in South Africa, and in 2012 she was joint winner with Nadine Gordimer of the Imbokodo Award.


Sindiwe allows her writing to challenge and influence public opinion while empowering black youths and women for roles that they should play in the new South Africa. She has received numerous other awards in recognition of her work in women’s issues, the plight of children, the fight against apartheid and racism, and the environment.


She spent 25 years in New York working for the United Nations in the Department of Public Information where she worked in the Anti-Apartheid Radio Programmes till June 1994, and for the UN till her retirement in 2003. She has since relocated to Cape Town, and is currently Writer-in-Residence at the University of the Western Cape.



Steven Friedman

Steven Friedman

Steven Friedman is Research Professor in the Humanities Faculty of the University of Johannesburg.


He is a political scientist who has specialized in the study of democracy. He researched and wrote widely on the South African transition to democracy both before and after the elections of 1994 and has, over the past decade, largely written on the relationship between democracy on the one hand, social inequality and economic growth on the other. In particular, he has stressed the role of citizen voice in strengthening democracy and promoting equality.  He has a particular interest in political theory which he is currently applying to key topics of public controversy such as the decolonisation of higher education.


He is the author of Building Tomorrow Today, a study of the South African trade union movement and the implications of its growth for democracy, and the editor of The Long Journey and The Small Miracle (with Doreen Atkinson), which presented the outcome of two research projects on the South African transition. His current work focuses on the theory and practice of democracy. His study of South African radical thought Race, Class and Power: Harold Wolpe and the Radical Critique of Apartheid  was published in 2015 and his examination of democratic theory, Power in Action: Democracy, Citizenship and Social Justice in 2018. He is currently working on a book which will examine the growth path of post-1994 South Africa. The book will argue that the country’s trajectory is best understood by applying the notion of path dependence, which explains who societies can undergo substantial political changes but remain trapped in the social and political patterns of the past.


He writes a weekly column in Business Day on current political and economic developments


Gareth van Onselen

Gareth van Onselen

Gareth van Onselen obtained a Masters in Sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 2001 he joined the Democratic Alliance. He served in various capacities, primarily concerning political communication, research and analysis. He served as Head of Research, Chief of Staff to Tony Leon and, later, as Executive Director of DA Communications. In 2012 he left the DA to become a journalist. He has worked for the Sunday Times and, as a columnist, for the Business Day and Financial Mail, focusing on politics and governance. He has published two books. The first, an analysis of Jacob Zuma’s personal convictions; the second, a collection of essays on the South African condition. In 2018 he was hired by the South African Institute of Race Relations as Head of Politics and Governance. He retains his Business Day column.

Sithembile Mbete

Sithembile Mbete

Sithembile is a lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of

Pretoria where she lecturers international relations and South African politics.

She is also an Associate Fellow of the Centre for Governance Innovation (GovInn)

at the University of Pretoria. She has a doctorate from the University of Pretoria

on the subject of South Africa’s foreign policy during its two elected terms in the

United Nations Security Council (2007-2008 and 2011-2012). In 2014 she was a

visiting scholar at the Department of Political Science and Balsillie School of

International Affairs at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Since 2018 Sithembile has been a facilitator of the Apolitical Academy, the

flagship programme of the Apolitical Foundation started by former

parliamentary leader of the Democratic Alliance, Lindiwe Mazibuko. In addition

to this, Sithembile has done research, consulting, speaking and facilitation work

for organisations including Teneo Intelligence, Liberty, Electoral Institute of

Southern Africa, Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), Barclays Africa and Edelman South

Africa. She has done work for the South African Parliament, several South

African government departments, the United Nations Human Rights Council and

several foreign embassies in South Africa.

She comments frequently in the media on a range of issues in South African

politics. She is Kaya FM’s resident political analyst and has a regular slot on

David o’Sullivan’s breakfast show. Sithembile has been part of eNCA’s team of

analysts for the ANC’s 2017 elective conference, the State of the Nation Address

in 2018 and 2019, and the 2019 National and Provincial election.

Sithembile joined the University of Pretoria from The Presidency of South Africa

where she was a researcher in the secretariat of the National Planning Commission.

She contributed to the drafting of the National Development Plan in the areas of

public service reform, anti-corruption policy and community safety.

Charles Villa-Vicencio

Charles Villa-Vicencio

Charles Villa-Vicencio was the former national research director of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Subsequently he became the founder and executive director of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.


Formerly the Professor of Religion and Society at the University of Cape Town, he is currently a visiting professor in conflict resolution at Georgetown University in Washington DC in the northern hemisphere fall-semester of each year. He spends the rest of each calendar year at home working in South Africa and on the African continent.


His publications include:

African Renaissance and the Afro-Arab Spring (with Ebrahim Moosa);

Walk With Us and Listen: Political Reconciliation in Africa;

Conversations in Transition: The South African Story;

Looking Back, Reaching Forward: Reflection on the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission (with Wilhelm Verwoerd)

Zackie Achmat

Zackie Achmat

“Zackie Achmat has been a political activist and socialist since 1976.”

Conrad Kemp

Conrad Kemp

Conrad Kemp is a South African writer and actor. He graduated with a MA Creative Writing (cum laude) from the University of Cape Town in 2018. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in the United Kingdom, short stories published in South Africa, written for theatre in Ireland and South Africa, an operetta in Norway, and written for television in South Africa. Conrad has also contributed editorial pieces on performance and theatre to major newspapers in South Africa and contributed to academic journals, in particular Shakespeare in Southern Africa.


Conrad studied acting in Ireland at the Gaiety School of Acting. He has performed in principle roles on the West End (Stones in his Pockets, 2006) and Broadway (Romeo and Juliet, 2013), and principle roles in award winning and acclaimed films opposite actors that include Forest Whitaker, Orlando Bloom, Imelda Staunton, Toby Jones, and Sienna Miller (The Girl, Zulu, Bram Fischer).


Prior to becoming an actor, he studied Law and English Literature at the University of Stellenbosch, where he was awarded his honours blazer for debating and public speaking. Conrad joined Nedcor as part of their Leadership Development Programme.


He has also taught debating and argumentation, improvisation, story and empathy, and text, subtext and context at secondary, tertiary and corporate levels. He has a great interest in behavioural change, empathy and memory and has conceived, created and presented workshops on these subjects.

Adv Tembeka Ngcukaitobi

Adv Tembeka Ngcukaitobi

Tembeka Ngcukaitobi is a human rights advocate based in Johannesburg. He specialises in the areas of land law, labour law, public law in his practice as an advocate. He appears regularly before the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeal and the High Courts of South Africa in public interest cases. He is also an author, public speaker and activist. His book, “The Land Is Ours: South Africa’s First Black Lawyers and the Birth of Constitutionalism” combines his passions for history, politics and the foundations of constitutionalism. He is involved in popular discourses on a range of issues, including the land question, where he has expressed his views that the Constitution as presently formulated accommodates expropriation without compensation and that any land reform programme which is not rooted in constitutional principles is doomed to fail. In 2019 he delivered the Robert Sobukwe Lecture at the Constitutional Court on 21 March 2019 and the Inaugural Boipatong Massacre Memorial Lecture at Vaal University on 5 July 2019. He continues his research on the uses of the law by black lawyers in the era of apartheid and colonialism as an instrument of resistance.