Barry Gilder was born in South Africa in 1950. He went into exile in 1976, composed and sang struggle songs at anti-apartheid events in Europe and elsewhere, underwent military and intelligence training with the ANC, served in the ANC’s intelligence structures until his return to South Africa in 1991. He served the democratic government as deputy head of the South African Secret Service, as deputy head of the National Intelligence Agency, as director-general of the department of home affairs and as South Africa’s coordinator for intelligence until his retirement in 2007. From 2007 he worked on his book 'Songs and Secrets: South Africa from Liberation to Governance' in which he describes his experience of the South African liberation struggle and the challenges of post-apartheid governance. The book was published in 2012 by Jacana Media in Southern Africa and Hurst Publishers internationally. In 2010 he helped establish the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA), a policy think tank set up by former senior leaders in the democratic government. He currently serves as Director Operations at the Institute. Barry recently graduated with a Master of Arts in Creative Writing (with distinction) from the University of the Witwatersrand. His new novel, 'The List', was published by Jacana Media in September 2018.
The List, the debut novel by former anti-apartheid activist and uMkhonto weSizwe member Barry Gilder, is a meditation about betrayal, faith, loss and trust, writes Jacob Dlamini.
‘If anyone is going to write a novel based on the South African security services during apartheid and since the first democratic elections in 1994, Barry Gilder is a very good candidate.’
One of the more intriguing aspects of Barry Gilder’s gripping spy novel comes in the Author’s Note. In Songs & Secrets, his non-fiction account of his life in exile, from where he returned to senior positions in government, he was ‘invariably asked: Why are there not more secrets’ in the book. The ‘Songs’ reflect another part of Gilder’s identity as an accomplished musician.