Author and award-winning poet Antjie Krog will read from her book Country of My Skull and will then be in a conversation with Margie Orford in which they will discuss the role of the South African TRC.  Issues to be discussed will include:

* assessing the achievements and failures of the TRC a generation later, 
* whether the mandate of the TRC could have been broader and included, for example, a clearer focus on the impact of racially discriminatory law and practice in South Africa, the role of private organisations including corporations and the media, as well as questions of distributive justice
* how we should assess the failure of government to address the question of compensation for gross human rights violations, and
* whether in deeply unequal societies every generation could benefit from a TRC.

Antjie Krog is an Afrikaans poet, writer and Professor at the University of the Western Cape. She published twelve volumes of poetry in Afrikaans of which three volumes were compiled with English translations: Down to my Last Skin (2000), Body Bereft (2006) and Synapse (2014). She also published three non-fiction books: Country of my Skull (1998), on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission; A Change of Tongue (2004) about the transformation in South Africa after ten years and Begging to be Black (2009) about learning to live within a black majority. Krog has also co-authored an academic book There was this Goat (2009) with two colleagues Prof Kopano Ratele and Nosisi Mpolweni, investigating the Truth Commission testimony of Mrs Notrose Nobomvu Konile. A book of essays was published in 2013 Conditional Tense – Memory and Vocabulary after the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission as part of Seagull Books’ African List.

‘Country of my Skull’ and ‘A Change of Tongue’ have been nominated by South African librarians (LIASA) as two of the ten most important books written in ten years of democracy. She was also asked to translate the autobiography of Nelson Mandela, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ into Afrikaans.

Krog had been awarded most of the prestigious awards for poetry, non-fiction, journalism and translation available in Afrikaans and English in South Africa. Internationally she was awarded the Stockholm prize from the Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture for the year 2000, the Open Society Prize from the Central European University (previous winners were Jürgen Habermas and Vaclav Havel) and the Dutch Gouden Ganzenveer 2018 as well as an Honorary Doctorate from the Tavistock Clinic of the University of East London UK. Her work has been translated into English, Dutch, Italian, French, Spanish, Swedish, Serbian, Arabic and Chinese.


Margie Orford is an internationally acclaimed writer, an independent scholar and feminist free speech activist. Her novels explore gendered violence in South Africa and are published in the USA and the UK. They have been translated into ten languages. Extracts of her memoir were published in Granta magazine in February 2019. She is an award-winning journalist who writes regularly for papers in the United Kingdom and in South Africa.  She has written a number of children’s books, several works of non-fiction and is the author of a number of scholarly articles. A Fulbright scholar, she has Masters in Comparative Literature from the Graduate School of the City University of New York and is currently completing a PhD by publication at the University of East Anglia. 

She was the John Tilney Writer in Residence at the University of York in 2015, was writer in residence at Cove Park in Scotland and is Civitella Ranieri Fellow. She has been a regular guest at a number international literary festivals including the Edinburgh Festival, Harrogate, the PEN World Voices festival in New York, Quais du Polar in Lyon, The Adelaide Writer’s Festival and Cape Town’s Open Book Festival. She has given public lectures at the universities of Cambridge, Yale, City University of New York, Oxford, Cape Town, York and East Anglia.

Margie was a judge of the 2019 Caine Prize for African Literature. She is an honorary fellow at St Hugh’s College, Oxford and she was a Visiting Research Fellow at The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities. She served as a member of the executive board of PEN International and is a co-author of the PEN International Women’s Manifesto. She was President of PEN South Africa, the patron of Rape Crisis in South Africa and is on the advisory board of the Johannesburg Review of Books.