Journalism Under Apartheid: ‘You do realise you will be working for a kaffir paper?’

I WORKED in pre-Mandela ZA as a young sub and chief sub and briefly, in charge of Drum the anti-apartheid magazine. I never met Nelson (in jail during the entire time I was there) but knew Winnie. She allegedly had a relationship with one of our photographers at the time, writes an Anorak reader.


drum mandela

My obituary would be:

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013.

Hamba kahle

Hamba kahle is the Zulu farewell it means goodbye and travel safely.

I asked if he had any clippings?

No I burned the lot. Ifound it to be a draining and dispiriting place. You would go into work on things like The Star Jo’burg; and I worked with skilled people. You thought to yourself as a young journalist on the rise the guys around you were fair, honest and believed in their role as advocates for the oppressed.


joburg post


When I announced as was leaving to join Post, a Sunday designed to be totally non-racial, the Chief sub editor of The Star pleaded with me to stay and told me as Copy Taster I was best ever and he couldn’t afford to lose the best Page One sub he had. I told him I felt was the best career move for me as a Brit in a Nationalist run country.

He replied: “You do realise you will be working for a kaffir paper?”

I must have registerered my horror when I told him I would proud and honoured to do so and gave in my notice.

He made a point of later appologising for the remark. I told him not to worry when the time was right I would use it as an example of the nature of prjudice which was crippling South Africa at all levels.

I just have…

Would you like to support Flashbak?

Please consider making a donation to our site. We don't want to rely on ads to bring you the best of visual culture. You can also support us by signing up to our Mailing List. And you can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For great art and culture delivered to your door, visit our shop.