About Raymond Suttner

Raymond Suttner, based in Johannesburg, is a scholar and a social and political analyst.  He was actively involved in the liberation struggle against apartheid, both in legal political activities and illegal underground work.  He served two periods of imprisonment and after release in 1988 was under house arrest, totalling 11 years.

At one point he was in the leadership of the African National Congress, South African Communist Party and the United Democratic Front.  Currently he is in disagreement with the directions taken by the ANC/SACP alliance and the ANC-led government, for reasons that are addressed in this blog.

As a scholar Suttner has held positions at six South African universities.  Currently he is a part-time professor at Rhodes University and emeritus professor at the University of South Africa.

Suttner holds BA, LLB degrees from the University of Cape Town and completed an inter-disciplinary PhD (history, sociology and political studies) at the University of the Witwatersrand.  In 2007 he was awarded a D.Litt Honoris causa from the Netaji Subhas Open University in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India, for contribution to the development of higher education.

Suttner’s research interests  include politics, history, sociology, gender and sexuality, law, criminology, questions related to identity and representation, interpreting Nelson Mandela, Chief Albert Luthuli-the meanings of his life and examining threats to South African democracy and possible emancipatory routes towards recovering and enhancing the democratic promise of 1994.

He has published Inside Apartheid’s Prison, 2001 (UKZN press and Ocean Press, which was runner up for the Alan Paton prize), The ANC Underground, 2008 (Jacana, and 2009, Lynne Rienner). Together with Jeremy Cronin he wrote 30 Years of the Freedom Charter (Ravan Press and Ohio University Press, 1986), banned for possession by the apartheid government and 50 Years of the Freedom Charter, 2006 (UNISA Press). His latest book, Recovering Democracy in South Africa was published by Jacana media in late February 2015, and will be published in New York in hardback by Lynne Ripener later this year).

Apart from over 85 articles in academic journals, Suttner presented the TB Davie Memorial Lecture at the University of Cape Town, in 1984, published as a booklet entitled, The Freedom Charter-the People’s Charter in the Nineteen Eighties.  He also delivered the Harold Wolpe memorial lecture in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban in 2005, subsequently published in Development Southern Africa, leading to subsequent articles debating his ideas.

Currently Suttner writes a regular column for Creamer Media’s website: polity.org.za and is interviewed on video on current issues. These are found on the Polity website and YouTube. Almost all the articles are reprinted in the Daily Maverick and the Daily Dispatch (East London) and most of these appear in revised form in the new book, Recovering Democracy in South Africa, mentioned above.

Suttner is interested in music -western classical, Indian classical, choral music of various types, jazz, folk music, African American spirituals and songs of liberation struggles. He is interested in art and other cultural activities.

He follows a regular daily exercise ‘regime’ including aerobics, stretch exercises and mindfulness based meditation.

Suttner is married to social, cultural and political analyst,Nomboniso Gasa.


These entries are posted in order to evoke debate.  All items may be freely distributed by individuals and non-profit groups.  In the case of commercial publication, standard fees applicable to the publication are required and are negotiable with the author, who can be contacted at raymond@suttner.co.za.

21 thoughts on “About Raymond Suttner

      • There was another Ray Suttner from East london in South Africa, who died about 8 years ago. My cousin. He may have been there because he was studying business studies or management

      • Dear Prof. Suttner, thank you for information, and sad to hear that he is gone. He must have been 60 or 61 years old now ….

        Kind regards, Mitra

      • I last saw him around 1993. I reckon he died about 2000 or so. His daughter Kirsty Suttner Stride is on Facebook if you are on FB and want to find out the information. I did not know him so well but he seemed very decent and at times they mixed us up and he did not mind being confused with an insurrectionist, which I was around the late 80s early 90s

  1. Dear Prof. Suttner, we are international students studying in Ohio 1970-71 and now are looking for old friends to get together for a reunion in 2014. We had Ray Suttner in our group from South Africa… amazing so similar to your name.
    Thank you for your reply and Happy Thanksgiving..

  2. Dear Prof. Suttner, from what I read about you, you are amazing person… please let me know if you are coming to Sweden. It would be wonderful to meet you.

    • Hi Mia. I am not amazing, but someone who tries to act according to what I think is right. I am open to coming to Sweden but it will only happen if there is some or other conference where I speak.

      • Please let me know what kind of conference you wish to intend, what subjects you wish to discuss, perhaps can have a book launch for one of your books… Would be great to meet you. Mitra

      • Maybe we should know more about one another. Perhaps you could send an email and we can discuss. In the past I have been the guest of the Nordic Africa Institute and I was ambassador to Sweden from 1997-2001. Are you on Facebook? If so, we can send internal message with e mails there. I am not so keen on putting my e mail out here, though it is probably on google.

  3. Dear Professor Suttner, could you please email me in connection with the Civil Rights League. Thank you, Brandon Broll

  4. Hi Raymond, I am one of your old law students ( University of Natal Durban) and enjoy your articles. I am so pleased that you have not compromised your principles and independence. Regards, Graham Theunissen

  5. Dr Suttner’s disagreement with the decisions made by the ANC led alliance are informed by the number of reasons, firstly he knows very well what he wants to happen/see and he doesn’t see. He was an anti apartheid activist in different capacities and all the perspectives driving him to view the alliance in th way the he is viewing it are informed by knowledge, passion and desire to see the poor gaining the proper gains of democracy, and realising the freedom charter’s main objectives. Academics have a broader role to play in influencing the government and especial the progressive academicians, and scholars of different academic disciplines driven by an objective to move this country forward.


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