Former South African diplomat, Riaan Eksteen, publishes his memoirs
The top South African diplomat stationed in Namibia at the time before and after Independence, Riaan Eksteen, recently published his memoirs to convey something of the volatile complexities that preceded the elections for a constituent assembly in 1989.
Dr Eksteen needs no introduction. Not only was he a recognised international diplomat for South Africa, he was often credited for his skills to unpack and sell the National Party’s controversial Apartheid development policy. He was also no stranger in Namibia, being the designated High Commissioner to an independent Namibia although he was mostly seen at the Administrator’s residence in the city centre which later became the first State House.
During a colourful career spanning nearly six decades, Eksteen served as junior diplomat, then as senior diplomat before moving to the all-important position as Charge d’Affairs for the then South West Africa, to handle and present South Africa’s position in the dissolution of the war and the run-up to the elections. Eventually, he served 27 years as diplomat before moving to consulting and later, academia.
He was also the Chief Executive of the South African Broadcasting Corporation for a five-year period.
Entitled ‘Beyond Diplomacy,’ his memoirs cover the pivotal moments which sent his lifelong career along specific tangents. He reflects on many of the events that he observed at close range ex officio, or in which he had been involved. In his memoirs, he reveals specific experiences which were largely unknown during the hectic eighties and nineties.
After his diplomatic career his experience in international affairs enabled him to offer credible guidance to several local and international companies to comprehend the political environment in southern Africa.
In 2016, his life took another turn when he read a doctoral degree on the relationship between a country’s high courts and its foreign policy, focussing on events in the United States, South Africa and the European Union. This led him to an academic career with scores of articles to his credit, and many assignments as guest lecturer at various universities around the world.
When he retired, he opted to make Namibia his permanent home, bought a house in Swakopmund and still lives there.
His book is available at bookshops in Windhoek and Swakopmund.