The TRUST consortium is exceptionally sad to report the news of Andries Steenkamp’s death. Andries was only in his fifties and was heavily involved in TRUST, representing the South African San community. For instance, he was involved in both TRUST videos. In the first he noted: “It is very important for the San to be involved in TRUST. The San have been researched a lot and that has made them careful and nervous. We want to protect ourselves, but we also want to work with people. On the TRUST project we can learn together”. In the second video, Andries compared the San community to a house that researchers want to gain access to. He requested that they come in through the door and not the window, i.e. that they respect community protocols.
Later in the year, one more video with Andries will be released. A photo video illustrating 12 years of North South collaboration between the TRUST PI, Doris Schroeder, and the South African San Institute. Andries, Doris and Roger Chennells audio recorded their thoughts on North South collaborations in June 2016, unaware that this would be their last collaborative effort.
Andries lived in Andriesvaal, a small community of !Khomani San in the Northern Kalahari of South Africa. He was previously the Chairman of the South African San Council and contributed significantly to many of their fights for justice (e.g. land claim, Hoodia benefit sharing agreement, Zembrin benefit sharing agreement). Whilst his home was always within a few miles of where he was born, Andries had the courage to represent his communities’ interests at meetings around the world. He was a highly charismatic speaker in his native Afrikaans and – of late – his English had improved so much that he was able to deliver short speeches to an international audience without translation. His favourite ever meeting, so he said, was the TRUST plenary in Nairobi in May 2016. This shows how much he could still have contributed to the cause of justice. On the topic of vulnerable populations in research, he provided outstanding contributions. We hope to continue his legacy in the remaining two years of TRUST.
The biggest loss, of course, is to his family and the San community in Andriesvaal, who have lost a committed, upstanding, self-educated, trustworthy and honourable leader and a very nice person.