A Fireside Chat with Matt

A week or two ago, an intriguing invitation arrived in my inbox from Lieutenant Commander Glenn von Zeil to attend a talk by Matt Tennyson about “The evolution of conflict journalism & interesting people interviewed”. This immediately piqued my interest, as I knew Matt from my involvement in the Cape Town Military Tattoo.

Glenn is is the Manager of Student Housing at UCT and Warden of Groote Schuur Residence and Mansions; in his efforts to introduce students to interesting South Africans, he holds so-called fireside discussions at Groote Schuur Residence in Rondebosch, at which various speakers are invited to share their knowledge and experience on a diverse range of topics.

I remember meeting Matt behind the scenes at the Cape Town Military Tattoo in 2010 – which was the first year I had been granted access behind the scenes with my camera and notebook in hand. I was told that he was a conflict journalist and war photographer who had been to virtually every war zone in the world. He had the world-weary air of someone who had experienced and witnessed the worst side of human beings first hand. But he did not fit my preconceived image of a conflict journalist – loud, confident, brash, a bit of a cowboy, bragging about the dangerous people he had encountered and sharing horror stories of close calls with death. Quite the opposite: he was quiet and unassuming, with a twinkle in his eye and a ready laugh.

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