Face to face with… Theo Kleynhans

Theo Kleynhans

Question: Tell us about your job.

Answer: I have the easiest job in town, I’m retired. Before I retired I was a lecturer at Fort Hare in economics. To fill my time I try my hand at writing.

Q: What made you get into that line of work?

A: I have been lecturing out for 20-odd years and now I have climbed into the wonderful world of dreams and fantasy with my writing. I play with ideas and test beliefs and feelings.

Q: Describe the most memorable experience that you have had in your line of work.

A: In 1989/ 1990 a bunch of first year students cornered me at the classroom door and threatened me and after that they wrote a petition complaining I’m not the friendliest person and that I don’t know my subject. Less than 34 out of 300-odd students passed – I was then called professor ten percenter. My attitude was that if you get an education it must work for you. You cannot go to university and sit there for three years and get a piece of paper. You either know the subject or you don’t.

Q: What do you do to unwind when you are not working?

A: I like to walk my dogs, smell the salt and while I like a beach walk I do not appreciate sinking very deep in the sand.

Q: What is your motto in life?

A: Live life to the utmost and if it gets dry swallow it down with a beer.

Q: What makes you happy?

A: Engaging with happy and interesting people.

Q: What makes you angry?

A: Negativity and people who deem themselves more important than others.

Q: What do you think about the youth of South Africa? Do you have any advice for them?

A: The SA youth are rather shallow. Who in their right mind goes out and fights for academic freedom and then goes and burns it down? They have opportunities today that we, the majority of us, never had. To go to university used to be an exclusive privilege and we fought long and hard for that to be attainable, and now they burn theirs down. Be more susceptible to good and intelligent guidance and be less politicised and more positive.

Q: What do you like most about Port Alfred?

A: The salt in the air, the calm and stormy seas.

Q: If you could change one thing about Port Alfred…

A: For the town to be a bit more welcoming to strangers and visitors.

Q: What is your favourite music of all time?

A: Light classics and soft music.

Q: Three wishes for South Africa?

A: Intelligent leadership, peace and prosperity.

Q: Who is your role model?

A: There were two people, they came into my life rather late… my athletics coach, Bill Jacobs, at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, and then later on it was Father Bonaventure – I have only read and heard of him but what he said I took to heart. It made me see people in a different light.

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

A: The United States of America. Their whole attitude gives vitality to free thinking and they were very good to me in the six years when I lived there.


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