Andre Odendaal received his PhD from Cambridge University in 1984 and thereafter spent 13 years at the University of the Western Cape, where he was a member of the History Department before starting and directing the Mayibuye Centre for History and Culture in South Africa from 1991-1998. Heavily involved in the planning of Robben Island Museum, democratic South Africa’s first national heritage institution, he became it first Director (1996-2002). He was awarded the position of Honorary Professor in History and Heritage Studies by UWC in 2001.
For the last six years, Andre has been working fulltime as an independent researcher, writer and publisher, including 20 books published and co-published in his African Lives Series since 2016. UWC this year awarded him a three-year, writer-in-residence Fellowship, based in the Centre for Humanities Research.
Odendaal‘s main areas of interest as a historian are public history, the deep African roots of constitutionalism in South Africa, and the social history of sport.
Since the publication of Vukani Bantu! (Rise up you People), published by David Philip in South Africa and Barnes and Noble in the US in 1984, he has added nearly a dozen books to his name, the most recent being The Founders (Jacana and The University Press of Kentucky, 2012) on the origins of the ANC and the struggle for democracy in South Africa; the co-authored Cricket and Conquest (2016) and Divided Country (2018) published by BestRed, an imprint of HSRC Pres - the first two volumes of a four-part post-colonial history of a colonial game going back to 1795; Pitch Battles: Sport, Racism and Resistance (Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Boulder, New York, London, 2020) written with Peter Hain; and Robben Island Rainbow Dreams (BestRed, 2021), edited together with Neo Lekgotla laga Ramoupi, Noel Solani and Khwezi ka Mpumlwana, which deals with the making of Robben Island Museum. Cricket and Conquest was placed third in the NIHSS book of the year award (edited non-fiaction) and long-listed for the Alan Paton Prize.
He is currently working on a manuscript on the first steps in the making of South Africa’s constitution in the years before the unbanning of organisations in 1990. Titled ‘Dear Comrade President’: How Oliver Tambo laid the foundations for South Africa’s constitution., it emanates from his work with the Albie Sachs Trust For Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law in South Africa (ASCAROL) since 2015.