- Drum (magazine)
"Drum" is a
South African family magazine mainly aimed at Black readers and contains market news, entertainment and feature articles. It has two sister magazines: " Huisgenoot" (aimed at White and Coloured Afrikaans-speaking readers) and " YOU" (aimed at White English-speaking readers).
"Drum" was started in
1951by Jim Bailey (James R. A. Bailey), an ex- R.A.F.pilot who was the son of the late Sir Abe Bailey a South African financier. He picked a friend whom he had known at Oxford, Anthony Sampsonas editor. Later Sir Tom Hopkinsonwas the editor. Sylvester Steinedited the magazine from 1955until 1958. The deteriorating political situation resulted in him leaving for England. He was a white South African Jewwhich resulted in an empathy for his journalist's frustrations. His book "Who killed Mr Drum?" describes the life and times of "Drum" magazine.
"Drum"'s heyday in the
1950sfell between the Defiance Campaignand the tragedy at Sharpeville. This was the decade of potential Black emergence, the decade when the Freedom Charterwas written and the decade when the ANC alliance launched the Defiance Campaign. The aim was to promote an equal society. The Nationalist government responded with apartheid crackdowns and treason trials.
It was also the decade of the movement to the cities, of
Sophiatown, of Black jazz, the jazz opera "King Kong" with a Black cast, an adoption of American culture, of "shebeens" (illegal drinking dens) and flamboyant American style gangsters ("tsotsis") with chrome-laden American cars who spoke a slang called Tsotsitaal.
"Drum" described the world of the urban Black; the culture, the colour, dreams, ambitions, hopes and struggles. Lewis Nkosi described Drum's young writers as "the new
African [s] cut adrift from the tribal reserve - urbanised, eager, fast-talking and brash."cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Lewis Nkosi | date= | publisher= | url =http://www.answers.com/topic/lewis-nkosi | work =answers.com | pages = | accessdate = 2007-02-19 | language = ] Peter Magubanedescribed the atmosphere in the newsroom. "Drum" was a different home; it did not have apartheid. There was no discrimination in the offices of "Drum" magazine. It was only when you left "Drum" and entered the world outside of the main door that you knew you were in apartheid land. But while you were inside "Drum" magazine, everyone there was a family." cite news | first=Peter | last=Barlow | coauthors= | title=To the point with Peter Magubane | date=2006-08-14 | publisher=Rhodes University | url =http://ruactivate.wordpress.com/2006/08/14/to-the-point-with-peter-magubane/ | work =Activate | pages = | accessdate = 2007-05-03 | language = ]
Drum's stellar cast of Black journalists included such names as Henry (Mr Drum) Nxumalo,
Can Themba, Todd Matshikiza, Nat Nakasa, Lewis Nkosiand others such as William Bloke Modisane, Arthur Maimane, and Casey Motsisi. Together, they were known as the "Drum Boys". This group lived by the dictum "live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse". cite book |author=Mike Nicol |title=A good-looking corpse |publisher=Secker & Warburg |location=London |year=1991 |pages= |isbn=0-43-630986-6 |oclc= |doi=] Most of these journalists went on to publish works in their own right. [ Can Thembawrote "The Suit" and a selection of his output appears in "The world of Can Themba", a selection of Nat Nakasa's output appears in "The World of Nat Nakasa", Lewis Nkosiwrote "Home and Exile" and "Mating Birds" among others, Bloke Modisanewrote "Blame me on history ", Arthur Maimanewrote "Hate No More" and a selection of Casey Motsisi's output appears in "Casey & Co ". Refer to the individual entries for the ISBN numbers.] The other journalists who worked there include Bessie Head[Almost all of Head's important work was written in Serowe, in particular, the three Serowe novels "When Rain Clouds Gather", "Maru", and "A Question of Power". She also wrote short stories, including the collection "The Collector of Treasures".] , Lionel Ngakane[Ngakane is most remembered for his 1966 short film "Jemima and Johnny" inspired by riots in Notting Hill.] and Jenny Joseph. [Joseph's best known poem, "Warning", was written in 1961 and was included in her 1974 collection "Rose In the Afternoon" and in the " Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse".]
It wasn’t only the writers – the pictures were also important. The main photographer and artistic director was
Jürgen Schadebergwho arrived in South Africa in 1950 after leaving a war ravaged Berlin. He became one of the rare European photographers to photograph the daily lives of Black people. He trained a generation of rising black photographers, including Ernest Cole, Bob Gosaniand later Peter Magubane. Magubane joined "Drum" because "they were dealing with social issues that affected black people in South Africa. I wanted to be part of that magazine". cite news | first=John | last=Cook | coauthors= | title=One-Man Truth Squad | date=1997-06-01 | publisher= | url =http://www.motherjones.com/news/outfront/1997/05/truth.html | work =Mother Jones | pages = | accessdate = 2007-05-02 | language = ] Alf Khumalowas another well-known photographer on the staff.
Henry Nxumalo was the first journalist and specialised in investigative reporting. For example, he got a job on a potato farm where he exposed the exploitative conditions (almost slave-like) under which the Black labourers worked. In
1957, Nxumalo was murdered while investigating an abortion racket. cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Henry "Mr Drum" Nxumalo (1917 - 1957) | date=29 September 2005 | publisher= | url =http://www.info.gov.za/aboutgovt/orders/2005/nxumalo.htm | work =National Orders awards | pages = | accessdate = 2007-02-27 | language = ]
Todd Matshikiza wrote witty and informed jazz articles about the burgeoning township jazz scene.
Dolly (the agony aunt) helped many a confused, young lover to get their lives back on course. The "Dear Dolly" letters were written by
Dolly Rathebe, a popular actress, pin-up and singer. In reality, they were ghosted by other "Drum" writes, notably Casey Motsisi.
Arthur Maimane, under the pseudonym "Arthur Mogale" wrote a regular series entitled "The Chief" where he described gangster incidents he had heard about in the
shebeens. Don Mattera, a leading Sophiatowngangstertook exception to this. "The gangsters were pissed off with him and there was a word out that we should wipe this guy off."
The office telephonist,
David Sibeko, became leader of the Pan-African Congress.cite news | first=Denis | last=Herbstein | coauthors= | title=Arthur Maimane | date=2005-07-15 | publisher= | url =http://www.guardian.co.uk/southafrica/story/0,,1528877,00.html | work =Guardian | pages = | accessdate = 2007-02-19 | language = ]
"Drum" also encouraged fiction.
Es'kia Mphahlele(the fiction editor from 1955to 1957) encouraged and guided this. During that time over 90 short stories were published by such authors as Todd Matshikiza, Bloke Modisane, Henry Nxumalo, Casey Motsisi, Arthur Maimane (alias Mogale), Lewis Nkosi, Nat Nakasa, Can Thembaand others. These stories described the people of the street; jazz musicians, gangsters, shebeenqueens and con men and were written in a uniquely Sophiatown-influenced blend of English and Tsotsitaal. This creative period has been called the "Sophiatown renaissance".cite news | first=Ntongela | last=Masilela | coauthors= University of California | title=Black South African literature from the ‘Sophiatown Renaissance' to ‘Black Mamba Rising': Transformations and Variations from the 1950s to the 1980s | date=1990-04-30 | publisher= | url =http://www.pitzer.edu/new_african_movement/general/essays/nxumalo.htm | work =Center for Black Studies | pages = | accessdate = 2007-03-05 | language = ]
The backbone of the magazine was crime, investigative reporting, sex (especially if across the colour line) and sport. This was fleshed out by imaginative photography.
The formula worked and made for compulsive reading. Each issue of "Drum" was read by up to 9 people, passed from hand to hand on the streets, in the clubs or on the trains. It became a symbol of Black urban life. 240,000 copies were distributed each month across Africa. cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Drum Beat in Africa | date=1959-09-07 | publisher=Time magazine | url =http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,825925-1,00.html | work =Time | pages = | accessdate = 2007-02-28 | language = ] This was more than any other African magazine.
"Drum" was distributed in 8 different countries viz.
Union of South Africa, Central African Federation, Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeriaand Sierra Leone. cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Drum Beat in Africa | date=1959-09-07 | publisher=Time magazine | url =http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,825925-1,00.html | work =Time | pages = | accessdate = 2007-02-28 | language = ]
Sadly, because of the immovable force of apartheid the promise and dreams it described turned to frustration and despair. Sophiatown was bulldozed and the writers died or went overseas. [
Can Thembadied of alcohol-related complications in exile in Swaziland, Todd Matshikizadied in exile in Zambia, Nat Nakasacommitted suicide in New York and William Bloke Modisane died in exile in West Germany.] "The creative output of the Sophiatown Renaissance came to an end as the bulldozers rolled in." [cite book |author=Essop Patel (Editor) |title=The World of Nat Nakasa: Selected Writings of the Late Nat Nakasa (Staffrider Series, No 27) |publisher=Ravan Pr of South Africa |location= |year= |pages= |isbn= 086975050X |oclc= |doi=] "Drum" slowly lost its pre-emptive position and faded.
1984 Naspersacquired Drum Publications, the publisher of City Press, "Drum" and True Love & Family.
"Drum" claims to be the sixth largest magazine in
* "The Drum decade : stories from the 1950s" / edited by Michael Chapman, University of Natal Press, 2001, ISBN 0-86-980985-7
* "Drum : an index to Africa's leading magazine", 1951-1965, Dorothy C. Woodson, University of Wisconsin-Madison, African Studies Programme, 1988, ISBN 0-94-261504-2
* "The Beat of Drum : the story of a magazine that documented the rise of Africa as told by Drum's publisher, editors, contributors, and photographers", Heyns, Jacky, Ravan Press, 1982-1984 ISBN 0-62-006911-2 (the full set), ISBN 0-86-975219-7 (vol. 1)
* "The Beat of Drum. Vol. 4, The Bedside book : Africa's leading magazine", editor in chief J.R.A. Bailey, editor H. Lunn, James R.A. Bailey, 1984, ISBN 0-62-006911-2
* "Drum : South Africa's Black picture magazine", Creative Camera, 1984
* "Drum : the making of a magazine", Anthony Sampson, Jonathan Ball, ISBN 1-86-842211-9
* "Drum", Anthony Sampson, Hodder & Stoughton, 1983, ISBN 0-34-033383-9
* "Good-looking Corpse: World of Drum - Jazz and Gangsters, Hope and Defiance in the Townships of South Africa", Mike Nicol, Secker & Warburg, 1991, ISBN 0-43-630986-6
* "Who killed Mr Drum?", Sylvester Stein ; with a foreword by Anthony Sampson, Mayibuye Books, 1999, ISBN 1-86-808451-5
* [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,820505-2,00.html 1952 Time magazine article – South African Drumbeats]
* [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,825925,00.html 1959 Time magazine article - Drum Beat in Africa]
* " Drum", a film about "Drum" and one of its journalists
Come Back, Africa", a film shot in Sophiatownin the 1950swith writing credits by Lionel Rogosin, Bloke Modisaneand Lewis Nkosi
Have you seen Drum recently?", a film by Jürgen Schadebergusing photographs drawn from the Drum archives
* "Come Back, Africa".
Lionel Rogosin& Peter Davis, STE Publishers, ISBN 1-919855-17-3 (The book of the film)
References and notes
* [http://www.media24.co.za/generic.aspx?i_BusinessUnitID=2&lang=Eng&i_CategoryID=73 Official website]
* [http://www.coldtype.net/Assets.06/Essays.06/0606.DrumBook.pdf Drum 1976-1980 - An exhibition from the pages of "Drum" magazine]
* [http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/artsmediaculture/arts/media/drum.htm SA history page on "Drum"]
* [http://home.worldonline.co.za/~afribeat/archiveafrica.html "Drum" magazine article at "Worldonline"]
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