Rike Olivier

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Rike Olivier (1946-2007) was a librarian, writer, translator, critic and academic.

She also worked under the name of Rike Vaughan.


Born Frederike Emilia Martha Antonissen in Antwerp, Belgium, the daughter of renowned linguist, literary critic and historian Rob Antonissen. Soon after, her family moved to South Africa, where her father became professor at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

She studied at Rhodes-universiteit and the Katolieke Universiteit Leuven (in België), taking Afrikaans, Dutch, German and English, to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967, a second BA in Afrikaans en Nederlands ("Afrikaans and Dutch") in 1972, a Higher Diploma in Librarianship in 1975, and a Master of Arts in Afrikaans and Dutch with a thesis on the work of Belgian author Gerard Walschap.

In 19** she married Vaughan, with whom she had two children.

In 200* she completed a doctorate on Medieval drama, with the title Middeleeuse konvensies en die dramatiese diskoers: 'n ondersoek na taalhandeling en gender as strukturele en interpretatiewe strategieë by drie Middelnederlandse tekste vir toneel: Lanseloet van Denemerken, Elckerlijc en Mariken van Nieumeghen at the Rand Afrikaans University.

After completing her two BA degrees, she left for the United Kingdom, where her activities included teaching English and working at the South African Embassy. In 1975 she returned to South Africa and Grahamstown, where she was appointed senior librarian at the university. Later she was appointed bibliographer at the Institute for English Studies in Africa (1978) and worked first as graduate assistant and then as lecturer in the Department of Dutch and Afrikaans until 1987.

From 1987 to 1991 she worked as lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, after which she became senior librarian at the University of Venda. In 1992 she was appointed senior lecturer at the Centre for African Languages, Arts and Culture at the University of Venda.

In 1989 she met and married Fanie Olivier, then professor at the University of Venda,

She and her husband Fanie Olivier went to work in Poland where they had obtained employment at the Adam Mickiewicz University and helped to launch the South African Studies programme. She also worked at IFA for one year. In 2005 she was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and in January 2006 she returned to South Africa with her husband and passed away on 28 June, 2007.

Over the years she regularly presented papers at international conferences within the fields of Dutch Philology, Comparative Literature and Feminism.

Writer and translator

She published short stories in three collections, namely Vrou: Mens Verhale deur vroue oor vroue ("Stories by women for women") (compiled by Corlia Fourie) Cape Town (1992), Lugspieëlings (Mirages) (compiled by Myicelie Pienaar) Randburg (1994) and LyfSpel/Body Play (compiled by Rachelle Greeff) Pretoria (1994).

Rike also translated Dutch and Afrikaans literature into English as well, including John Miles's Kroniek uit die doofpot (as Deafening Silence, Cape Town, 1997) and Breyten Breytenbach's 'n Seisoen in die Paradys (as A Season in Paradise, New York,1997).

Contribution to theatre

She reviewed new Afrikaans books (especially plays) in various South African magazines and newspapers, under the names Rike Vaughan and Rike Olivier.

She translated Jozef Van Hoeck's play Voorlopig Vonnis into English as Suspended Sentence. Published in Johannesburg, 1977, under the name Rike Vaughan and apparently directed the first performance of the text herself in 1977(?).


In Memoriam: Rike Olivier - 1946-2007[1]

Bekende oud-lektor en taalkenner oorlede, Zoutnet, 06 July 2007[2]


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