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Drum is the name of a South African magazine, and also the name of a 2004 film about the magazine.

(Not to be confused with the 1976 film of the same name which was the sequel to the 1975 American movie, Mandingo.)

Drum - the magazine

(Usually written in capital letters (DRUM) Originally an immensely influential magazine focused on black urban culture, it is today one of many South African family magazines, though mainly aimed at black readers, containing market news, entertainment and feature articles.

Founding and early history

Founded as African Drum by Bob Crisp and Jim Bailey and published its first edition 1951. Initially paternalistic, providing tribal representations of Africans. it soon changed and turned to focus on the urban black townships, notably Sophiatown. In its heyday, in the 1950s and 1960s, it described the world of the urban Black; the culture, the colour, dreams, ambitions, hopes and struggles.

After the clampdown of the Apartheid government from the mid 1960s onwards the fortunes of the magazines waned and by May 1965 it had become a fortnightly supplement to the Golden City Post. It was revived as a magazine in 1968 and in 1984 Naspers acquired DRUM Publications, the publisher of City Press, DRUM and True Love and Family. Though DRUM was still described as "the first black lifestyle magazine in Africa" in 2005, but had become just another gossip magazine.

Impact on SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Its early reportage on the cultural life of the black communities in South Africa during the 1950s and 1960s encompassed numerous photographs and reviews of shows, musical events, films, and other events, an invaluable resource on the township theatre which arose in this period.

Drum was also the training ground and mouthpiece for a large number of new black writers, including Henry Nxumalo, Can Themba, Todd Matshikiza, Nat Nakasa, Lewis Nkosi, Bloke Modisane, Arthur Maimane (known also under his alias: Arthur Mogale), Casey Motsisi, Bessie Head, Lionel Ngakane, Richard Rive, Jenny Joseph, and Es'kia Mphahlele.

The magazine also produced a number of superb photographers under the guidance of Jürgen Schadeberg, among them Ernest Cole, Bob Gosani,Peter Magubane and Alf Khumalo.

Besides a number of documentaries, a film called Drum was made about the Drum period (see below).

The play Sophiatown also uses the Drum period and a real incident in which Nat Nakasa and Lewis Nkosi had advertised in Drum magazine for a Jewish girl to come and stay with them in Sophiatown as context for an exploration of South Africa under Apartheid.



Lesley Cowling. 2016. "Echoes of an African Drum: The Lost Literary Journalism of 1950s South Africa", in Literary Journalism Studies Vol. 8, No. 1, Spring 2016[1]

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Drum - the film (2004)

Not to be confused with the 1976 Hollywood film by Steve Carver.

A film based on the life of South African investigative journalist Henry Nxumalo, who worked for the popular Drum magazine, and deals with the issues of apartheid and the forced removal of residents from Sophiatown. Written by Jason Filardi and directed by Zola Maseko.



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