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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

WHO KILLED MR DRUM? (article first published : 2000-02-4)

The Johannesburg-based magazine Drum was one of the heroes of the long struggle against apartheid. Written by and for black people it was a continual challenge to the overweening authorities of apartheid and, in particular, a police force which had virtually no understanding of human rights as far as black people were concerned.

Not surprisingly, the magazine attracted the services of some remarkably talented young black writers, people with wit and courage who were not afraid to push as hard as they could against an unjust and oppressive system.

Ironically, perhaps, the owner of the magazine Jim Bailey was white and so were some of the early editors, including Sylvester Stein. Mr Stein, now a genial and energetic 80, was involved in many of Drumís repeated clashes with the government and the police and in this 245 page paperback, he recalls his experiences of the 1950ís and 60ís and provides a roll call of the many gifted Drum journalists who, one way or another, died before their time.

He writes in a lively and often humorous manner but it is nevertheless a grim story and a timely reminder of some of the horrors of the past. Lest we forget.

There is a touch of inspiration in the decision to illustrate the book with advertisement which appeared in the pages of Drum half a century ago. They provide entertaining yet poignant insights into emerging black urban society at a time of great pain and suffering.




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