Dr Riana Scheepers



  • BA Communication Science (1978)
  • BA Honours Afrikaans (1984)
  • MA Afrikaans (1987)
  • PhD Afrikaans and Dutch (1997)

Riana Scheepers was born in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal, where she grew up with Zulu children. Riana learnt to speak Zulu at an early age and visited the Zulu narrator at night to listen to his stories. In 1975, she matriculated as head girl from the Vryheid High School. She won several prizes in poetry, writing, and debating competitions. She participated in various sports and acquired Northern Natal colours for athletics, swimming, and decorative diving.

She obtained a BA in Communication Studies, BAHons in Afrikaans, and MA in Afrikaans (all cum laude) at the University of the Free State (UFS). During her years at university, she excelled in various fields. Among others, she was editor of the student magazine, Irawa, and in 1979 she was elected to the Central Student Representative Council. 

From January 1985 to March 1988, she worked as academic assistant in the Department of Afrikaans-Dutch at the UFS. After this, she accepted a post as lecturer at the University of Zululand, and later as lecturer in Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of Cape Town. From 1992, she was a part-time radio reporter for Die Burger, and in 1995 she joined Tafelberg Publishers as liaison editor. She continued her studies, obtaining a doctorate in Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of Cape Town in 1997.

In 1999, she accepted a teaching post at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch, where she started the Stellenbosch School of Writing and Creative Thinking. She resigned in 2001 to devote more time to her creative writing. After marrying her second husband in September 2002, she worked as farm manager in the Wellington district and with the women in the vineyards, presented
literacy classes for adults in the farming community, as well as an annual course in Writing and Creative Thinking. She ran a guesthouse on the farm, and in 2009 the farm’s boutique brandy received a gold international Michelangelo award. In 2015, she moved with her husband to Wildernis near George.

Riana has been Huisgenoot’s social adviser for the column Vra vir dr Adri since 2002. She managed several
columns and wrote sketches for, among others, Volksblad, Beeld, Die Burger, the Belgian newspaper De Morgen, Finesse, De Kat, and Rooi Rose. In 2000, she became a member of the South African Academy for Science and Arts.

She undertook several lecture tours on her own work and on Afrikaans literature in the Netherlands, Friesland, and Poland. The Flemish Parliament invited her to participate in its 30th anniversary celebrations on 11 June 2002, during which 24 poets from the Dutch speech community recited their poetry in  Parliament. She was the only Afrikaans poet invited to this event. She has been a speaker at schools, reading circles, and study groups on numerous occasions.

Riana’s hobbies include hiking, cycling, gardening, cooking (she published two cookery books), and the protection of the highly endangered Knysna dwarf chameleon.

Riana Scheepers has had an exceptional career, both in South Africa and abroad. She has made important contributions as a writer and language pedagogue. She is a dynamic person and an artist that the UFS can be proud of. 

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