Who Are You? is a series of podcast’s undertaken by Dutch journalist Fred de Vries with key figures and stakeholders engaging on the Transformation and Identity debate in both South Africa and the Netherlands. These podcasts will serve as a digital archive of first-hand recollections and perceptions on this debate.

What is this series about?


Fred de Vries (Rotterdam, 1959) is a highly experienced Dutch writer/journalist, who permanently moved to South Africa in 2003. He started his career as a journalist in Uganda and Kenya, working for Radio Netherlands International and Trouw daily. After completing the one year Post Doctoral Course in Journalism at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam in 1991, he went to South Africa for three years, where he earned a living as a freelancer. Upon his return to the Netherlands he started working for de Volkskrant newspaper as the Africa editor. In 2006 he published Club Risiko, a look at 80s underground music in six cities. His next work was The Fred de Vries Interviews; From Abdullah to Zille, for which he spoke with a huge number of South African cultural movers and shakers. In 2012 he wrote a book about the post-1994 fate of the Afrikaners, called Afrikaners, volk op drift, translated into Afrikaans as Rigtingbedonnerd, a book that has become a standard work on South Africa. That same year he published Gehavende Stad with Erik Brus, an overview of 50 years of literature and music in Rotterdam. In 2019 he completed Wiegelied voor de witte man, a journey into the roots of the blues and racism in America’s Deep South and South Africa.

Club Risiko was nominated for the Gouden Uil book award in 2007, while Afrikaners, volk op drift was nominated for Best Journalism Book and Best Travel Book in 2013. De Vries was nomi­nated for Correspondent of the Year in 2014 and 2015.

About this episode 

Our first guest Emily Marshall is a young first generation South African. She was born in 1994, a couple of months after South Africa’s legendary democratic elections, which makes her part of the born-frees as well as a millennial. Emily’s parents would be classified as ‘immigrants’, with roots in Germany and Zimbabwe. They also have strong Christian beliefs – as does Emily who moved around a lot and eventually ended up in the Western Cape. She is busy finishing her Masters in Occupational Therapy at the University of Cape Town, where she also experienced the increasingly turbulent and polarizing Fees Must Fall protests. How does she fit in? Where does she get her sense of identity from? Is she an insider or an outsider? What does her life look like? What are her ideals and aspirations?

Episode 1 Resources 
Poem: “Touch” by Hugh Lewin (1939 – 2018)  – Click here
Hugh Lewin obituary: Click here
About Hugh Masekela: Click here
Playlist – Hugh Masekela: Click here

About this episode 

Alfred Schaffer is a 48-year old Dutch poet who lives in the coastal South African town of Somerset West, not far from Cape Town. When he’s not writing poetry, he lectures at the University of Stellenbosch. Over the years Alfred has become one of the most, if not the most celebrated Dutch poet. This year he won the most prestigious Dutch literary award, the 60.000 euro PC Hooft Prize for Literature, which makes him one of the youngest winners ever. His mother was born on the small Caribbean island of Aruba, while his father grew up in the southern Dutch province of Limburg, which makes Alfred “a person of colour”. In other words, he’s a brown Dutchman living among brown, black and white people in the most southern tip of Africa. This raises interesting questions about identity, about his Dutchness, his South Africanness, the confusion he encounters, and the art of fitting in.

Episode 2 Resources 
Some of Alfred’s poetry: Click here
Radiohead documentary: Click here
Alfred’s favourite Thom Yorke (lead singer of Radiohead): Click here 
Harry Belafonte song: Click here
On Surinamese writers: Click here


About this episode 

Mark Gevisser is a Johannesburg-born author and journalist who has written a series of outstanding, prize-winning non-fiction books. After a groundbreaking insight into homosexuality in South Africa, Defiant Desire (1996), he made waves with his comprehensive biography of former president Thabo Mbeki, called Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred, which won the Alan Paton Prize in 2008. Equally well received was Lost and Found in Johannesburg, a memoir of place and sexuality, home and identity, which came out in 2012. His latest work, published last year, is The Pink Line, Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers. Time magazine put it in its top 100 must-reads of 2020, while Irish novelist Colm Tóibín called it ‘astute and nuanced’ and ‘engrossing’ in his review for The Guardian. For his research, Mark traveled far and wide to explore how the conversation around sexual orientation and gender identity has come to divide the world in an entirely new way over the first two decades of the twenty-first century. Mark lives in Cape Town with his husband and dog.

Episode 3 Resources 
Read more about Mark Gevisser: Click here
Read “The Pink Line” by Mark Gevisser: Click here
Read a review in LA Time of Mark Gevisser’s book, “‘Lost and Found in Johannesburg’ maps the growth of a writer and nation” Click here

About this episode 

Deborah Poynton is a Cape Town based artist, who specializes in huge canvasses with hyper realist figurative paintings. She had her first solo exhibition in 1998 and is represented by Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town. She currently has career overview of 57 works in the Drents Museum in the Dutch town of Assen, which runs until the 5th of October. Poynton has a somewhat different sense of belonging than most of us. She was adopted shortly after her birth and lived in three different countries before returning to South Africa at the age of nineteen. Her work represents her continuous search for a home as well as for the sublime.

Episode 4 Resources
Stevenson Gallery website: Click here
Poynton website: Click here
Opening exhibition: Click here
Preview exhibition: Click here
Tom Adams covers for Agatha Christie books: Click here

About this episode 

Dr. Nomalanga Mkhize (1981) is a historian who lectures at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape. She is fluent in five languages and has led a nomadic life, moving from KwaZulu-Natal to Mpumalanga to Swaziland and back to various places in South Africa. Apart from writing academic papers and thoughtful opinion pieces, she has also published three children’s books. The last one, In Africa with Avi and Kumbi was translated into Dutch as In Africa met Avi and Kumbi, and published in the Netherlands in 2020 by Van Holkema & Warendorf, who promote it as ‘a book about the real African history’. Dr. Mkhize is married and lives in Makhanda, previously known as Grahamstown.


Episode 5 Resources
Interview Mkhize: Click here
Opinion: Click here
Miriam Makeba ‘African sunset’: Click here

About this episode 

Mmusi Maimane is a 41-year old South African politician. He was born in Soweto near Johannesburg and currently lives in Cape Town. For over four years Maimane was leader of the biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance. On October 23rd 2019 he stepped down, a few days after his political foe Helen Zille was elected as the DA’s federal council chairperson, a highly influential position. Since then, Maimane has concentrated his political efforts on the One South Africa Movement, a civic organisation which aims to make an end to staid political situation in the country, which, despite numerous serious corruption scandals, has been dominated by the ANC for the last 27 years.

Episode 6 Resources
One South Africa Movement: Click here
Mmusi Maimane: Click here
Wayne Visser: Click here
I’m an African: Click here