André Odendaal is the vice-chancellor’s writer-in-residence and honorary professor in history and heritage studies at the University of the Western Cape.
He received his first degrees from Stellenbosch University and his PhD from Cambridge University. Thereafter, he spent thirteen years at the University of the Western Cape, where he started and directed the pioneering Mayibuye Centre for History and Culture in South Africa, with its large multi-media archive on apartheid and the liberation struggle. He launched the Mayibuye History and Literature Series and, as joint series editor, oversaw the publication of 85 books on South African history (including the re-issuing of many titles of the previously banned IDAF).
During the 1980s, Andre was active in various anti-apartheid groups including the United Democratic Front, the National Education Crisis Committee, the South African Council on Sport and the National Sports Congress. He was the only provincial first-class cricketer classified white to migrate across the racial divide to join the non-racial SA Cricket Board during the apartheid years and, in 1987, he attended the much-publicised Dakar Conference between the banned ANC and Afrikaner ‘dissidents’ in Senegal. In the early 1990s, he became a member of the secretariat (and later head) of the ANC’s Commission for Museums, Monuments and Heraldry. After the 1994 elections he was one of 23 people appointed to the Arts and Culture Task Group (ACTAG) to advise the new Minister on cultural policy for the new democracy.
From 1996 to 2002, after the closure of the notorious Robben Island Maximum Security Prison, he was the first (administrator and) founding director of the Robben Island Museum, democratic South Africa’s first national heritage institution and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He is co-author of Robben Island Rainbow Dreams (BestRed, 2021) dealing with this process.
After that he became CEO of the Western Province Cricket Association (2004-2016), operationally responsible for over 20, 000 amateur cricketers in Cape Town, as well as one of the six professional cricket teams in South Africa – the Cape Cobras – and over forty international matches at the historic Newlands cricket stadium. He served in various capacities ion Cricket South Africa, inter alia as an Interim Board member and as chairperson of the Transformation Monitoring Committee. In 2002, he was awarded the President’s Award for Sport (Silver Class) for his contribution to non-racial sport.
After heading institutions for over twenty years, Andre started working full-time as an independent researcher, writer and publisher in 2016. He has published and co-published twenty books under his small independent African Lives series imprint. His writings include Vukani Bantu! (1984), The Founders: The Origins of the ANC and the Struggle for Democracy in South Africa (2012), and Dear Comrade President: Oliver Tambo and the Foundations of South Africa’s Constitution (2022). These books deal with South Africa’s deep-rooted African intellectual and constitutional traditions. He has also written extensively on the social history and politics of sport, including, The Story of an African Game (2003); The Blue Book (2012), Cricket and Conquest (2016), Divided Country (2018), Pitch Battles (2020) and Swallows and Hawke (2022), most with co-authors.
He has travelled to over 50 countries and is currently a member of the advisory council of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), and also serves on the board of trustees of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, which aims to perpetuate the legacy of one of Nelson Mandela’s closest friends. Andre is married to Zohra Ebrahim and they have three children, Rehana Thembeka, Adam and Nadia Odendaal.
For a full CV, please contact me via email at andre[@]andreodendaal.info