I am an African, born in the South African heartland, the 'Vrystaat' (Free State). Throughout my adult life I have longed to realise the true meaning of my birth-place: to live out the freedom of a borderless 'state'; in other words, I am an 'internationalist' by choice.
My academic background: after a post-graduate degree in Mathematics and the pursuit of Philosophy at Stellenbosch University, I obtained a Masters degree in Economics at the University of Oxford. Thereafter I studied Theology (again at Oxford) and more than a decade later, as a researcher and lecturer in the intersection between development economics and nature conservation at the Centre for Environment and Development (KwaZulu-Natal), I obtained a PhD in Critical Systems Thinking. Post PhD my working life continued as a director in provincial government. The work was fulfilling, but after four years a radical rupture in this 'assignment' took me to the Harvard Kennedy School for a six month sabbatical. This was an enormously rich period during which I developed strong friendships with students from across the globe; as a consequence my political interests gained an international perspective with a particular interest in the Middle East.
In the 1980s, during a decade-long gap in my academic life, I was an activist priest and played a leading role in the formation of the United Democratic Front, an anti-apartheid mass movement. As a result, I spent a short period in prison, after which I was recruited into Umkhonto we Sizwe, the underground formation of the then banned African National Congress. Post South Africa's Freedom Day, 27 April 1994, I returned to social/environmental justice work. My activist and academic streams have, more recently, found a focus in the intersection between women's freedom, participatory democracy and ecological wholeness, as exemplified in Rojava (North Eastern Syria) and in Chiapas (Mexico).
From my home in Hout Bay, a coastal village nestled in the Cape Peninsula (South Africa), I have travelled to other parts of Africa, Europe and the Middle East; for commissioned work as well as for volunteer solidarity activities (in Lebanon and Kurdistan).
A visit to the artistic hotspot of Beirut in 2013 inspired my passion for photography. This led to my studying a Masters in Documentary Arts (University of Cape Town). I now combine social and environmental justice research and activism with photography.
As a photographer, I am captured by the beauty of the world that surrounds me and by the inherent humanity, dignity and resilience of people in the midst of the destruction of their livelihoods and natural environment.