Robina Marks was born in Cape Town, and was educated at the University of the Western Cape, the University of Manchester’s Institute for Development Policy and Management and the University of Sussex’s Institute for Development Studies. Ms Marks was an activist and a regional organizer of the United Democratic Front, a national grassroots movement that campaigned for the unbanning of the African National Congress and all other banned organisations, and the release of political prisoners. She was detained and held in solitary confinement under the Internal Security Act 29 during the anti-apartheid struggle.
After the advent of democracy in 1994, Ms Marks served on the boards of various civil society organizations committed to deepening democracy and entrenching non-racism and non-sexism. She has also worked as a Diversity Consultant, Research Fellow, and Lecturer. She was the Department of International Relations’ first Chief Director: Gender in the Office of the Director-General. In October 2011 she joined South Africa’s diplomatic corps and was appointed Ambassador to Thailand. She had a particular interest in researching South Africa-Thai linkages through the slave trade and raised awareness on this neglected part of Thai history with the African continent.
Ms Marks was later appointed as High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, where she was a regular speaker on areas such as transitional justice, gender and Africa-Sri Lanka linkages. She wrote a well-received children’s book about the history of the Slave Trade and the descendants of African slaves brought to Sri Lanka during colonial times. She also established the Afro-Sri Lankan Scholarship Fund for children of African descendants, so as to break the cycle of poverty in this marginalised community. She is now South Africa’s ambassador to Benin.
Shepi Mati has a long history of engagement within the research, heritage, history and education arena and has a B.Journ degree from Rhodes University, Advanced Diploma in Institution Development from Manchester University, M.Ed from the University of Western Cape, M.Phil from University of Stellenbosch. He currently lectures on Audio Journalism, School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University.
Besides being a champion of heritage and history education and having a long track-record in community development, Shepi was a researcher and co-author of ground-breaking heritage research projects of the SA Human Sciences Research Council. Two of these were “The other side of freedom: stories of hope and loss in the South African liberation struggle 1950-1994” co-authored by GF Houston, S Mati, H Magidimisha, E Vivier, and M Dipholo, published by HSRC Press; and “The liberation struggle and liberation heritage sites in South Africa” published by G Houston, S Mati, D Seabe, J Peires, D Webb, S Dumisa, and K Sausi, published by HSRC Press.
Shepi Mati has devoted more than twenty years to the heritage, media and communications sector in South Africa, working for a broad range of organisations including public and community broadcasters and civil society organisations. His professional experience includes production (video, photo, radio, podcast, broadcast journalism), script writing, editing, communications research and teaching, training and development. Shepi has a special passion for community journalism and specifically radio as a medium to promote citizen agency and reflect a diversity of voices in community development. As a patron of the Camissa Museum he brings informed history and heritage insight, communications and organisational development expertise, but also a track-record as a veteran voice of social activism in the Cape.