English: Conflict, repression and resistance had an alienating effect on a micro- and macro-level in apartheid South Africa. This brings to mind Hendrik Willem van der Merwe as a person who united South Africa’s enemies. This article explores auto-ethnographic insights in a discussion of his approach to mediation, involvement with the Centre for Intergroup Studies and his establishing of the South African Association for Conflict Intervention (SAACI). His approach differed from others at the time such as the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA). The value of his work is noted and further research advised. The article suggests that scholarly activism (or the activist scholar) is again needed to build peace and justice in the context of South Africa and our continent.