David Willers was born in 1947, and educated at Stellenbosch and Pretoria universities, where he read philosophy and political science. He also holds an MA in Dramatic Arts from Regents College, London.
His working life began with diplomatic postings to the South African Consulate in Milan, and the South African Consulate in war-torn Luanda. Following a spell as a reporter for the Cape Times, he became assistant director at the South African Institute of International Relations (SAIIA) in Johannesburg, and then director of research and eventually London director of the South Africa Foundation, a private sector organisation which sought to build bridges between local and foreign business communities.
He returned to South Africa as editor of the Natal Witness in the eventful period leading up to the democratic transition. He, Joy, and their two young sons then went back to the UK where he took up a job as London representative of the South African Sugar Association, and later as chair of the International Sugar Organisation, a United Nations initiative. He went on to launch the Better Sugar Cane Initiative (BSI), a global initiative aimed at fostering best sugar cane farming practice.
Career highlights include playing a pioneering role in the dialogue between the South African business community and the ANC in exile, and serving as the first South African chairperson of a UN organisation. His awards include the first ever sugar-cane environmental Bonsucro Sustainability Award.
Besides In Search of the Waratah, David is the author of Biltong: A Memoir (The Highveld Press, 2018). He has also written for various newspapers and magazines on a freelance basis, and served as a radio and television commentator.
He is married to Joy, and they have two sons, Jonathan and Andrew, and two grandchildren. They now live in Wales, but also spend time at their holiday home in rural Provence, and visit South Africa regularly.