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Drum The Making of a Magazine by Anthony Sampson

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Drum The Making of a Magazine 2005 edition by Anthony Sampson Soft cover in good condition Jonathan Ball, South Africa, 2005. Soft cover. Jurgen Schadeberg ( photographer) (illustrator). In this updated edition the author has added a foreword and afterword describing what happened later to the main characters and assesses Drum's place in history. Sadly, Anthony Sampson passed away during the production of this edition in December 2004. The story of Drum, the crusading black magazine of the fifties, has long been a legend. For over half a century it has been the subject of books, dramas, TV programmes and now a major feature film. Yet much of its real spirit has been forgotten or sentimentalised. First published in 1956, it has since been regarded as a classic. Sampson describes with spontaneous freshness and humour how as a young man of 25 he was invited by Jim Bailey, a rich South African friend, to come out from England to help him turn around an ailing magazine. The story reveals the unique circumstances under which they recruited an extraordinary team of writers including Henry Nxumalo, Can Themba, Todd Matshikiza and Arthur Maimane, who gave Drum its unique voice and vigour and how, against overwhelming odds, they prepared scoops that became a significant part of history. Article: Anthony Sampson is known for his astute analysis. This characteristic is already present in his first book Drum : a venture into the new Africa (1956) (republished in 2005, unchanged except for a new Foreword and Afterword, as Drum : the making of a magazine). It is an account of his time as editor of Drum. In the book we meet the people not only of Drum but also of South Africa. As he says in his foreword to the 2005 edition, he felt that he had “left the characters to speak for themselves with their authentic dialogue and voices”. While we see the people Sampson meets through his eyes, those of a young Englishman, he does, to a large extent, stand back and allow them to speak to the reader directly. The reader meets the journalists with whom Sampson and Bailey work, a talented group of young black men whom owner and editor wisely allow to dictate the direction of Drum as they know what the black citizens of Johannesburg want to read about. They are the doyens of black journalism and writing: Henry Nxumalo, Can Temba, Casey Motsisi, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Arthur Maimane and Todd Matshikiza among others. It was allowing them to write about what they felt passionately, that, through many ups and downs, eventually propelled the magazine to new heights. They covered such topics as poor conditions on farms and in prisons, the latest jazz groups to hit the music scene, the lives of gangsters and the South African favourite: sport. And the articles were “devoured” by its readers. Through the book the reader meets famous people, such as Nelson Mandela and Trevor Huddlestone, infamous gangsters, shebeen queens, musicians and ordinary people. Each is seen through the keen eyes of Anthony Sampson. We see the effects of apartheid and discrimination on the black, coloured and white people of Johannesburg and we see the failed attempt by the ANC to prevent the removal of people from Sophiatown to Meadowlands. For a fresh and perceptive account of a magazine, a city and its people at the beginning of the apartheid era, Drum : the making of a magazine is a book well worth reading.
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