Drum (magazine)

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description Lifestyle magazine
publishing company Media24
First edition March 1951
Frequency of publication per month
editor Esmaré Weideman
Web link Drum

Drum (English for 'drum') is a South African , monthly lifestyle magazine. It is aimed primarily at the country's black population. In the 1950s, Drum was important as an alternative to the ruling apartheid doctrine .


The 1950s

The magazine appeared as The African Drum for the first time in March 1951. The owner of the magazine was the former British fighter pilot Jim Bailey , editor for a few months the former cricket player Robert Crisp, shortly thereafter the British Anthony Sampson . The South African Sylvester Stein edited the magazine from 1955 to 1958. Due to the restrictions of apartheid, he left South Africa and wrote the book Who killed Mr. Drum? , which describes the magazine and its production semi-autobiographically. He was succeeded by Tom Hopkinson.

Drum was most widespread in the 1950s, in the period between the Defiance Campaign started in 1952 and the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. This era was marked by the optimistic mood of blacks. In 1955, for example, the Freedom Charter was drawn up; Especially in the Johannesburg district of Sophiatown , where the magazine was based, an urban black culture emerged, which was shaped by jazz and an urbanity of the American style. In addition to the South African edition, editions for East and West Africa were produced from 1953 onwards.

The atmosphere in the drum editorial office was considered particularly liberal in the 1950s. The strict rules of apartheid were disregarded here. In addition to political topics and short stories, there were reports on topics such as sports, fashion, music and stars, as well as other categories, such as marriage tips. The drum kids were children who were portrayed in photo novels. Numerous journalists also worked as writers and published their first works in Drum, including Henry Nxumalo , Bloke Modisane , Todd Matshikiza , Can Themba , Casey Motsisi , Lewis Nkosi , Nat Nakasa , Arthur Maimane and Ezekiel Mphahlele . Together the authors were known as drum boys . Her motto was: Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse (“Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse”). Henry Nxumalo was the magazine's leading journalist, at times also editor-in-chief. From 1952 he worked in investigative journalism . These articles appeared under the heading “Mr. Drum ". The first report of this kind dealt with the poor working conditions on potato farms near Bethal . In 1957, Nxumalo was murdered while investigating an abortion scandal. The 2004 film Drum Truth At Any Price is about his time with the magazine.

The best-known photographer and head of the magazine's photo editor was Jürgen Schadeberg , born in Berlin, who worked for Drum from 1951 to 1959. Known for his photos of urban black life, he trained numerous photographers such as Peter Magubane , who originally worked as a messenger at Drum. Drum journalist David Sibeko later became a representative of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) at the United Nations in New York . He was shot dead in 1979 while attempting to take over the leadership of the PAC in exile in Tanzania . From April 1959, the future writer Bessie Head worked for Drum for a few months.

In 1959, around 240,000 copies of Drum were sold per month in South Africa, the Central African Federation (now Zimbabwe , Zambia and Malawi ), Kenya , Tanganyika (now Tanzania), Uganda , Ghana , Nigeria and Sierra Leone . Each booklet was read by an average of nine people. This made it the most widely read magazine in Africa.

From 1960

With the evacuation and destruction of Sophiatown in the late 1950s, the magazine began to decline. Many of the authors went into exile; Can Themba, Bloke Modisane, and former music editor Todd Matshikiza died there early.

In 1984, Drum Publications was bought by Naspers , who also published City Press and True Love & Family . Today Drum belongs to the Naspers subsidiary Media24 and is published in Cape Town together with Huisgenoot and YOU . Drum is the African magazine with the sixth highest circulation.


Nelson Mandela , often portrayed in Drum, said of the magazine and the fight against apartheid in 1991:

"In the 1950s [...] Drum was the only magazine in South Africa that reported in detail and fairly about our struggle and our political goals."

- Nelson Mandela



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Jürgen Schadeberg , Klaus Humann: DRUM - The fifties - pictures from South Africa . Rogner & Bernhard at Zweiausendeins, Hamburg 1991, ISBN 3-8077-0248-2 .
  2. In the original Live fast, the young and leave a good-looking corpse in a film from 1949, quoted shortly afterwards in the form of have by James Dean
  3. Report on iol.co.za about Bethal , accessed on December 22, 2012
  4. Time article from 1959 (English), accessed April 9, 2010
  5. Official Website of Media24 ( Memento of 26 October 2007 at the Internet Archive ) (English), accessed 9 April 2010
  6. ^ Website of Jürgen Schadeberg (English), accessed on April 9, 2010