Foreword . . .
A more suitable title than Beyond Diplomacy for Riaan Eksteen’s autobiography would be hard to conjure. lt fully sums up or takes in a lifetime as a professional diplomat, business executive and academic. But those two words skilfully hide high drama, massive tensions, wars and nailbiting diplomacy. This is the legacy of Koedoe Eksteen which he now pens in what I view as the most informative book on a hugely important time in South Africa’s modern history.
“Riaan Eksteen reflects on his remarkable journey that took him from a diplomatic career under the previous South African dispensation to serving the new South Africa as an ambassador to several countries, including Namibia. As South Africa’s first ambassador to Namibia he worked with our government to lay the foundations of a new relationship between our two countries. He shows that it is possible to draw lessons from life, to convert challenges into opportunities, and to build friendship even with former political opponents.”
“From the vantage point of an active participant in various capacities, Riaan Eksteen chronicles the events, issues and personalities that helped to shape South Africa’s foreign relations and domestic politics over five decades. He makes a vital contribution to the country’s recorded diplomatic history and also provides fascinating insights into the political machinations of both the old and new South Africa.”
“Beyond Diplomacy is testimony to Eksteen’s professional approach. The versatile Eksteen was able to establish a wide diplomatic network and also a large circle of friends and associates within Southern Africa and intenationally over decades. Anyone who reads Beyond Diplomacy attentively will take a fresh Iook at one of South Africa’s top diplomats.”
Riaan “Kudu” Eksteen’s life story took place over more than five decades in South Africa’s public domain. He started working as a young diplomat during the government of Hendrik Verwoerd. During his time under B.J. “John” Vorster, P.W. Botha, F.W. de Klerk and N.R. “Nelson” Mandela, Eksteen served as an ambassador to several countries and to the United Nations (UN) in New York and Geneva. He was also Director-General of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Eksteen is currently active in the academic sphere and is a political consultant
Riaan (Koedoe) Eksteen se lewensverhaal speel af oor meer as vyf dekades in Suid-Afrika se openbare domein. Hy het as jong diplomaat begin werk tydens die bewind van Hendrik Verwoerd en onder John Vorster, P.W. Botha, F.W. de Klerk en Nelson Mandela in verskeie lande en by die Verenigde Nasies in New York en Genéve as ambassadeur gedien. Hy was ook direkteur-generaal van die Suid-Afrikaanse Uitsaai-Korporasie (SAUK) en is deesdae akademies aktief en ‘n politieke konsultant.
Riaan Eksteen. 2022. Beyond Diplomacy:My life of remarkable transitions and the moments that made the difference.
Eksteen dui in Beyond Diplomacy die doel van sy memoir aan. Hy wil daarin oor sommige van die gebeure wat hy van digby beleef het of waarby hy betrokke was reflekteer. Die boek gee dus nie sy lewensuitkyk, sy loopbane of ’n historiese oorsig in besonderhede weer nie
Fifty-eight years span the continuing professional career of Riaan ‘Koedoe’ Eksteen – from Hendrik Verwoerd to Nelson Mandela and beyond.
The best of those moments come as a professional diplomat, representing his country in Washington DC, the United Nations in New York and the United Nations in Geneva
Wanneer ‘n deurwinterde diplomaat, SAUK-baas, adviseur en uiteindelik bewese navorser sy storie vertel, kan jy maar jou ore spits.
Die publikasie van Riaan “Koedoe” Eksteen se boek Beyond diplomacy (Protea) bied aan lesers ‘n kykie agter die skerms van sommige van die gebeure wat die skrywer oor ‘n baie lang loopbaan meegemaak het.
Die boek is vroeër die week op Stellenbosch bekend gestel, in die teenwoordigheid van sommige van die mense wat ‘n lang pad met hom gestap het. Dit het Ton Vosloo, gewese joernalis en voorsitter van Naspers, ingesluit, wat ook die voorwoord vir die boek geskryf het.
Riaan Eksteen shares his life story. His involvement in South Africa’s diplomacy covers 27 years. He also deals with the four other careers he pursued.
Riaan Eksteen reflects on his remarkable journey and shows how to draw lessons from life, to convert challenges into opportunities, and to build friendship even with former political opponents.”— Peter Katjavivi, Speaker of Namibian National AssemblySWAKOPMUND, NAMIBIA, ERONGO, NAMIBIA, November 2, 2022
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.
“’n Mens moet tot die aand wag om te sien hoe uitmuntend die dag was.”
Só haal Riaan Eksteen Sofokles aan in die slot van sy boek wat pas verskyn het. RENÉE RAUTENBACH CONRADIE het met hom gesels.
Riaan (“Koedoe”) Eksteen woon sedert 1993 in Swakopmund, Namibië, waar hy permanente residensiële status het. Hierdie outobiografie som die belangrikste herinneringe uit sy loopbaan tot sover as beroepsdiplomaat, uitsaaibestuurder, konsultant en akademikus op.
One of Southern Africa’s foremost diplomats, Riaan Eksteen, now living in Swakopmund, can be regarded as one of the great compliments of the Namibian story of war, transition, democracy and constitutionalism.
Testimonial from Dr Wilmot James, Senior Research Scholar in the School of Professional Studies at New York Columbia University’s Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, Faculty of Arts and Science.
Riaan Eksteen spent nearly 30 years in the South African diplomatic service – first during some pivotal years while white rule in the country was coming under increasingly fierce criticism on the international stage, and later also during South Africa’s period of transition from minority rule to a post-apartheid system and in the early years of that country’s democratic era.
At the cutting edge . . .
Beyond Diplomacy covers Riaan “Koedoe” Eksteen’s eventful career — from being South Africa’s youngest ambassador at the time, taking the helm and transforming broadcasting in South Africa, to being closely involved in Namibia’s pre- and post-independence. Events and altercations that have never before been aired or documented are now put in a new context. His experiences and involvement in South Africa’s diplomacy stretched over a period of 27 years starting way back when Verwoerd was prime minister. During his extraordinary career he served as ambassador under John Vorster, P.W. Botha, F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela.
Now for the first time Riaan “Kudu” Eksteen shares his life story in his own words. In his memoirs, he covers nearly six decades of extraordinary and remarkable career and life transitions. He describes each of these crucial moments and the difference each one made.
Riaan is still active as an academic. The six years after his 74th birthday were particularly productive. During this time he wrote a doctoral thesis and two books, one of which was published in Europe. In 2019, he was invited to deliver two lectures in Europe and the USA at international conferences. He was also requested by experts in Europe to contribute chapters for two books. He also published 14 articles for international journals. On more than 20 occasions, he addressed audiences in Europe and the US through Zoom. As a visiting professor, he lectured to law students at the University of Uzbekistan. He serves on the Board of the “Global Institute for Research, Education and Scholarship (GIRES)”, Amsterdam. In June 2022 he became a member of the South African Academy of Science and Arts.
By The Author
Sneak Peak – Preface
Get the feel of the book
It is not the intention of this memoir to catalogue my life from birth. Equally, what follows is neither a blow-by-blow account of the varied careers I have pursued nor a presentation of an egotistical journey or a sharing of life philosophies. It is also not an attempt to provide a detailed historical narrative of events. When the context requires this, I quote briefly from or refer to authors who supply such detail in depth and with much more authority than I can muster. A full catalogue of these sources is contained in a volume that I presented to the African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL), the only multidisciplinary academic knowledge institute in the Netherlands devoted entirely to the study of Africa and an interfaculty institute of Leiden University.
My objective, rather, is to reflect on some of the events that I had been fortunate to have observed from close range or in which I had been privileged to have been involved. In some of these I occupied a particular vantage point. Looking back, I have no regrets about the choices I have made or the decisions I have taken in my professional careers or private life.
The names of places and of persons and their positions are given in their proper historical context. Using first names of personalities denotes no disrespect; instead, it serves the useful purpose of ridding this account of the burden of formality.
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