KWWF Speaker Programme

Winter Wool Festival Speaker Program 

Paradigm shifting speakers are lined up for your listening pleasure. They will be speaking about agricultural economics, regenerative farming, the future of farming in South Africa and the importance of natural fibres in South African fashion. These intellectual keynote speakers are something that can’t be missed. 

Wandile Sihlobo

Wandile Sihlobo is a renowned South African agricultural economist and author. He is known for his expertise in agribusiness and global agricultural trends. Sihlobo serves as the Chief Economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa. His works often focus on the intersection of agriculture, economics, and policy, providing valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing the agricultural sector.

His recently published books, “A Country of Two Agricultures: The Disparities, The Challenges, The Solutions” and “Finding Common Ground: Land, Equity and Agriculture“ are both highly regarded as fantastic works explaining the current South Africans agricultural landscape.

He is a Senior Lecturer Extraordinary at the Department of Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University.

Sihlobo is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, and a Research Associate at the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at Rhodes University.

Sihlobo was appointed as a member of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Presidential Economic Advisory Council in 2019 (and re-appointed in 2022), having served on the Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture from 2018.

He is also a member of the Council of Statistics of South Africa (Stats SA) and a Commissioner at the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC).

Sihlobo is a columnist for Business Day, The Herald and Farmers Weekly magazine.

We just can’t wait to have Wandile back at Dwarsvlei to lead the discussion around agriculture and specifically agriculture in the Karoo! Be sure not to miss it!

Dr Bruce Rubidge

Dr. Bruce Rubidge is a renowned paleontologist whose work in the Karoo region of South Africa has significantly advanced our understanding of prehistoric life and evolutionary processes. With a distinguished career spanning decades, Dr. Rubidge has become a leading authority in the field of paleontology, particularly in relation to the Karoo Basin.

Throughout his career, Dr. Rubidge has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Karoo Basin, unearthing fossilized remains that provide invaluable insights into ancient ecosystems and the evolutionary history of life on Earth. His work has focused on various aspects of Karoo paleontology, including the evolution of early mammals, reptiles, and other vertebrates.

One of Dr. Rubidge’s most notable contributions is his research on the therapsids, a group of mammal-like reptiles that flourished in the Karoo during the Permian and Triassic periods. His discoveries have shed light on the transition from reptiles to mammals and have helped to elucidate key evolutionary events that shaped the diversity of life on our planet.

In addition to his fieldwork, Dr. Rubidge has played a pivotal role in fostering collaboration among scientists, educators, and policymakers to preserve the Karoo’s fossil heritage and promote scientific research in the region. His leadership as Director of the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research has been instrumental in advancing paleontological studies in South Africa and beyond.

Dr. Bruce Rubidge’s tireless dedication to unraveling the mysteries of the Karoo Basin has earned him international recognition and acclaim. Through his pioneering research and passionate advocacy for scientific exploration, he continues to inspire future generations of paleontologists and deepen our appreciation for the evolutionary history preserved within the rocks of the Karoo.


Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd stands as a stalwart figure in the realm of wool textiles, weaving a remarkable career that spans several decades. His journey in the industry commenced in the mid-1970s, where he immersed himself in the nuances of the wool textile trade. For an impressive thirty-year tenure, Ackroyd spearheaded the British Wool Textile Export Corporation, steering the ship of an industry association dedicated to championing the overseas marketing interests of worsted and woollen spinning and weaving mills in the UK.

In 2006, Ackroyd embarked on a new chapter, establishing his consulting company while simultaneously assuming the role of Global Strategic Advisor to the Woolmark Company in Sydney, Australia. A pivotal moment in his career unfolded in 2008 when, alongside Sir Nicholas Coleridge, he played a key role in founding the Campaign for Wool. This global initiative, under the patronage of His Majesty King Charles III, aimed to celebrate the versatility and sustainability of wool. Ackroyd’s commitment to the cause became evident during South Africa’s formal entry into the Campaign in 2011, an event witnessed during a visit to Cape Town with the then Prince of Wales.

Presently serving as the Chief Operating Officer of the Campaign for Wool, Ackroyd’s influence extends globally. From his role as the President of the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) from 2011 to 2019 to his current position on the Executive Committee of IWTO, Ackroyd remains deeply entrenched in the strategic developments of the wool industry. His advisory role in the Strategy Committee of Première Vision, a leading textile trade fair in Paris, coupled with his wide-ranging experiences in wool business, underscores Ackroyd’s profound impact on the international textile landscape. Today, he continues to advise wool processors on global market opportunities, reflecting his enduring dedication to the growth and sustainability of the wool industry worldwide.

The Threads Team 

We are incredily excited to welcome the Threads team to Dwarsvlei to discuss their amazing installation that has recently been displayed at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale. La Biennale Architecturra, hosted by La Biennale di Venezia, stands as one of the globe's premier architectural gatherings. Drawing a diverse array of academics, practitioners, writers, and critics from across the globe, this event serves as a platform to showcase, discuss, and deliberate upon a wide spectrum of ideas through the lens of architecture.

'The golden thread of Johannesburg’s history started some two billion years ago when a massive meteorite crashed into the earth approximately 100kms south of the city sending debris and gold deposits flying, which eventually came to rest in an arc-shaped ridge radiating from the Vredefort Dome – now a world heritage site.  The discovery of this gold in 1886, and the gold rush that followed, led to the establishment of Johannesburg and the start of a Dangerous Liaison - between land and people, between great wealth and exploitation.  

Unlike a linear, patriarchal recording, ‘threads’ tells a story that is a simultaneous, intuitive reading of landscape and social geographies, told through age-old traditions of craft and making by hand. '  - Kate Otten Architects 

The team of Kate Otten, Mbali Mthethwa and Frances van Hasselt will be discussing the story behind the installation as well as exploring how art plays such an important role in telling the stories of our shared heritage and history.