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Hamilton Wende


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Hamilton Wende is an author, journalist and TV producer with 40 years of experience. He has worked all over the world, covering historical events and some 17 different wars and conflicts. He is a multi-award winning journalist, being a two-time winner of the 2022 and 2023 National Press Club's Journalist of the Year: Print/Online Features/ Investigative Journalism Award and a 2023 Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Award. He has produced films and documentaries for a number of international networks including National Geographic, ARTE, Al Jazeera’s People & Power, CNN, BBC, and many others. He is the author of 9 books. House of War, Only the Dead and The King’s Shilling are thrillers based on his travels around the world as a journalist. His latest book Red Air is based on his experiences filming with the US Marines in Afghanistan.

He is also the author of the popular children’s books: Arabella, the Moon and the Magic Mongongo Nut and Arabella the Secret King and the Amulet from Timbuktu which are set in Johannesburg and Knysna. He is working on the third volume in the series which will be published in 2024.

In 2012 Hamilton Wende was part of a National Geographic team in Afghanistan, on a mission deep into the desert, heading into the front lines with a company of US Marines.

“It’s going to be a physical, mental and spiritual odyssey,” the captain said.

They were ambushed at least three times a day by the Taliban as they struggled through some of the toughest terrain in the world. He came to experience the deepest fear he has ever known, in a place where there was no way out.

This is a story of taking one step after another, of discovering the courage to go on no matter where you find yourself.


As a seasoned conflict journalist who has "seen it all," Hamilton recounts his experiences on assignment with the US Marines in Afghanistan with lucid and compelling authenticity, honesty, and humility. For a journalist who has been thrust into countless global theatres of war, his compassion and humanity for those that were engaged on both sides of this bloody conflict are extraordinary. His presentation provides an amazing and unique "behind the scenes" showcase of the realities of war and those that wage it. - Richard Pike

I’ve known Hamilton for a number of years and I am always inspired by his ability to make a story come alive.  The talk on the Marines was very informative and despite it being a war story and potentially very dreary, the human component with subtle humoristic elements were certainly the focus.I can certainly recommend attending any future story telling evenings with Hamilton - Lunice Johnston

Hamilton invited me to an evening talk on his journey as photo journalist into the war-torn country of Afghanistan with the US marines. This was an extraordinary event for any untrained journalist to experience. They were on foot for the entire duration  of the mission, making contact with the enemy on occasions and ultimately not completing the mission due to the geography of the land with an impassable river crossing, inhibiting the marines from getting to their target! It was an entertaining evening, Hamilton raconteured the events of the mission with detail, wit and incredible passion. It was gripping to say the least and an event I was most grateful for to have been invited to. - Dennis Williams

Through Hamilton's experience of having been embedded with the US Marine Corps in a hot war in Afghanistan he came to experience the life changing effects of good leadership. Nothing concentrates the mind more than being in extreme life-threatening situations where the difference between good and bad leadership could be life or death. His experiences have shown this to be true in its most visceral form. - Patrick Atkinson former Member of Parliament

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