Antjie Krog

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Antjie Krog
Krog in 2019
Krog in 2019
Born (1952-10-23) 23 October 1952 (age 69)
Kroonstad, Orange Free State,
Union of South Africa
OccupationWriter, poet, philosopher, critic, journalist
NationalitySouth African
Alma materUniversity of Pretoria
Literary movementPostmodern Afrikaans poetry, African philosophy
SpouseJohn Samuel

Antjie Krog (born 23 October 1952) is a South African poet, philosopher, academic, and writer. In 2004, she joined the Arts faculty of the University of the Western Cape.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born into an Afrikaner family of writers in Kroonstad, Orange Free State, South Africa, she grew up on a farm, attending primary and secondary school in the area. In 1970, at the height of John Vorster's apartheid years, she penned an anti-apartheid poem for her school magazine: Gee vir my 'n land waar swart en wit hand aan hand, vrede en liefde kan bring in my mooi land[2] (Give me a land where black and white hand in hand, Can bring peace and love to my beautiful land) scandalising her conservative Afrikaans-speaking community and bringing the attention of the national media to her parents' doorstep.

In 1973 she earned a BA (Hons mwa) degree in English from the University of the Orange Free State, and an MA in Afrikaans from the University of Pretoria in 1976.[3] With a teaching diploma from the University of South Africa (UNISA) she would lecture at a segregated teacher's training college for black South African She then become very famous for her poetry.


Described by her contemporary Joan Hambidge "as the Pablo Neruda of Afrikaans", Krog would publish her first book of verse, Dogter van Jefta (Daughter of Jephta) at the age of seventeen. Within the next two years she published a second collection titled: Januarie-suite (January Suite). Since then she has published several further volumes, one in English. Much of her poetry deals with love, apartheid, the role of women, and the politics of gender. Her work has been translated into English, Dutch and several other languages.


Later, Krog would edit the now-defunct, independent Afrikaans journal Die Suid-Afrikaan, co-founded by Hermann Giliomee in 1984. On the strength of her work there, she was invited to join the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) by Pippa Green, head of radio news. For two years, reporting as Antjie Samuel, she contributed to the radio programme AM Live with items on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Of the commission she said:

If its interest is linked only to amnesty and compensation, then it will have chosen not truth, but justice. If it sees truth as the widest possible compilation of people's perceptions, stories, myths and experiences, it will have chosen to restore memory and foster a new humanity, and perhaps that is justice in its deepest sense.

When the TRC hearings were completed in 1997, Krog took up the post of Parliamentary Editor at the SABC.

Prose writer[edit]

She is best known for her book Country of My Skull, which chronicled the TRC. With Krog's reluctant permission, the book was later dramatised for the screen by Ann Peacock resulting in a film of the same name. Released in the United States as In My Country, it stars Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche. While the film was thought to have its "heart and politics in the right place" it was otherwise panned by The Washington Post as a "formula romance", in which Binoche fails at the Afrikaans accent and Jackson's character, Langston Whitfield, lacks credibility as a Post reporter.[4]

A Change of Tongue, her second work of prose in English, recounts ten years of evolution after South Africa's first democratic elections. A post-modern blend of fiction, poetry, and reportage it explores the surprising and predictable changes that South Africans have made since abandoning apartheid. At times humorous, she weaves strands of autobiography with the stories of others to document struggles for identity, truth and salvation. The title of the book has political and private meanings: the diminishing role of Afrikaans in public discourse is reflected in her own flight into English as the vernacular of her work.

There was this goat, written with Nosisi Mpolweni and Kopano Ratele and published by UKZN Press in March 2009, investigates the Truth Commission testimony of Notrose Nobomvu Konile.

Private life[edit]

She is married to architect John Samuel and has four children: Andries, Susan, Philip, and Willem; Eight grandchildren: Anouk, Antjie, Jana, Philip, Susie, Antjie, Frances and John.


In February 2006, the poet Stephen Watson (poet), writing in New Contrast, accused her of plagiarism. He claimed that she "lifted the entire conception of [The Stars say 'Tsau'] from [his] Return of the Moon", and that she also plagiarised from the work of Ted Hughes. Krog strongly denied the claims.[5]

Literary works[edit]


  • Dogter van Jefta (Daughter of Jephta) (1970)
  • Januarie-suite (January Suite) (1972)
  • Beminde Antarktika (Beloved Antarctica) (1974)
  • Mannin (Difficult to translate: the name of Eve given in Biblical terms if Adam being "man", Eve was called "wo-man") (1974)
  • Otters in Bronslaai (Otters in Watercress Salad) (1981)
  • Jerusalemgangers (Jerusalem-goers) (1985)
  • Lady Anne (1989)
  • Gedigte 1989–1995 (Poems) (1995)
  • Kleur kom nooit alleen nie (Colour never comes alone) (2000)
  • Down to my last skin (2000)
  • Met woorde soos met kerse (With words as with candles) (2002)
  • The stars say tsau (2004)
  • Body bereft (2006)
  • Skinned (2013)
  • Mede-Wete (Synapse) (2015)
  • Broze Aarde (Fragile Earth) (2020)

Poetry for children[edit]

  • Mankepank en ander Monsters (Mankepank and other monsters) (1989)
  • Voëls van anderster vere (Birds of different feathers) (1992)
  • Fynbosfeetjies by Antjie Krog & Fiona Moodie (Fynbos Fairies) (2007)


  • Relaas van 'n Moord (Relaying of a Murder) (1995)
  • Country of my Skull (1998)
  • A Change of Tongue (2003), translated into Afrikaans in 2005 as 'n Ander Tongval
  • There was this goat (2009), with Nosisi Mpolweni and Kopano Ratele
  • Begging to be Black (2010)


  • Waarom is dié wat voor toyi-toyi altyd so vet? (Why are those who toyi-toyi in front always so fat?) (1999)
    • The play, a political tragic-comedy, premiered at the Aardklop Festival in 1999 and was subsequently performed at several locations throughout South Africa, including the Oude Libertas amphitheater in Stellenbosch in February, 2000. The play was directed by Marthinus Basson and starred Tess Van Staden (who was also the Executive Producer) and Nomsa Xaba. The play was considered a powerful contribution to South Africa's ongoing political debate about reconciliation.



Honorary Doctorates[edit]

  • Honorary Doctorate from the Tavistock Clinic of the University of East London UK[8]
  • Honorary Doctorate from the University of Stellenbosch[8]
  • Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Free State[8]
  • Honorary Doctorate from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Antjie Krog". University of the Western Cape. Archived from the original on 23 May 2010.
  2. ^ Scholtz, Hettie (October 2000). "Boekwurm: Antjie Krog". Insig (in Afrikaans). Archived from the original on 9 May 2003.
  3. ^ "Antjie Krog bio". Jack Magazine. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  4. ^ Thomson, Desson (1 April 2005). "'In My Country': Unjustifiable". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  5. ^ Carroll, Rory (21 February 2006). "South African author accused of plagiarism". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  6. ^ "LES ESPAGNOLS CONDAMNENT LA VIOLENCE". L'Humanité (in French). 24 January 2000. Archived from the original on 10 March 2007. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  7. ^ "The SATI Award for Outstanding Translation 2003". South African Translators' Institute. 28 June 2004. Archived from the original on 30 July 2004.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  8. ^ a b c d "Antjie Krog Biography". Beyond Reconciliation. Archived from the original on 5 September 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2010.

External links[edit]