Kabelo Sello Duiker was born in Orlando West, Soweto, Johannesburg. Duiker was the eldest of three brothers and his parents were well-educated and affluent. His father is the former soccer player Judah Duiker. He was sent to the elite Redhill School, where he was one of only two Black children in the entire school. Having been born at the height of Apartheid, Duiker became very conscious of the political climate of the country he lived in.

After completing matric, Duiker took a gap year and went to France after a brief period of schooling in England. Upon his return he enrolled at Rhodes University, where he studied journalism and art history. He later moved to Cape Town where he found his writing voice. He studied copy-writing and worked for an advertising company before moving on to work as a scriptwriter for the television drama Backstage.

In 2001, Duiker’s first novel Thirteen Cents won the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for first book, Africa Region. Thirteen Cents explores issues of race, identity and street children in Cape Town. His second novel, The quiet violence of dreams won the Herman Charles Bosman Prize in 2002. As in the first novel, The quiet violence of dreams also addresses issues of race and identity in a racially diverse setting like South Africa. Duiker is reported to have said that he wrote the book for his contemporaries. As a Black man with an Afrikaans surname meant that he had to deal with some identity issues in his own life. His great-grandfather had changed his African name to Duiker so he could be classified as coloured and get better employment opportunities.

In 2004, Duiker suffered a nervous breakdown. It is believed that the medication suppressed his creativity and he struggled to write. Disillusioned, Duiker took his own life on 19 January 2005. He was working as commissioning editor at the SABC at the time of his death, a job he apparently did not like. At his funeral, his father described him as someone who detested racism.


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