In celebration of our African Pioneers: diggers of history

By Phindile Xaba

Celebrating a centenary issue this month is a worthy milestone, as the Pioneers section we managed to profile over one hundred black media players and proprietors, connecting historical dots to bring our readers a wealth of hidden gems.

We made rare finds of the most hidden treasures that defied even global boundaries. We were able to cover impeccable stories of scribes, historians and captured socio-political commentators who were of African origin all around the world. Their contribution to the media had common threads – most started out their media or journalism careers as activists or commentators and somewhat progressed to exploit the media as their mouthpiece defying the British, and the subsequent erstwhile apartheid rulers, only using the might of the pen to address socio-political ills of the day.

Researching and unearthing media pioneers of the late 19th to early 20th centuries was a journey worth taking for us as diggers of history, leading us to different branches of information. Like archaeologists with chisel and hammer, digging into the ground to crack it open and discover fossils with loads of information towards the timeline of humanity, we took to all corners of the world armed with our notebooks and pens, recorders, and any form of tool that would aid in recording this important part of history.

We met family members of these media giants, historians, authors, did internet searches, email communication exchanges happened with academics and more researchers and the circle grew bigger as we continued to publish more of these pioneers’ stories posthumously.

Some with keen interest in our work, found their way to our e-office, our website. The result was an introduction to the cream of the crop of women pioneers who didn’t only break new ground but made an impact in the literary world of South Africa. Profiling these remarkable women earned The Journalist a seat at the Jozi Book Fair 2017, making us the only online publication which has not published a book to curate a discussion as well as an exhibition on Women Media Pioneers. Shining the spotlight on South Africa’s Black Resistance Press. As a result, The Journalist made an appearance on KayaFM’s Karibu for an in-depth conversation.
This has indeed been an enriching journey and a great honour to have chronicled such greatness, thus observing intricate connectedness of most of the pioneers in numerous ways – by academic institutions they attended; sharing working spaces – some edited while others contributed to each other’s publications; there were family ties that kept some connected – their children married each other; they created business empires in the media industry; they even spent time together in political activism circles; and enjoyed time at the cultural events together.

We are delighted to share just some of the three highlights of the Pioneers section. The great media pioneers delves into the vibrant Indian Media of the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as defiant women journalists including Joyce Sikhakhane Rankin and Sophie Tema. Our article which featured prominent female voices in the South African media included Imbongi and writer Nontsizi Mgqwetho, writer and activist Ruth First and of course journalist Helen Nontando (Noni) Jabavu.

Our piece on the history of resistance and the black press delved into independent black owned and controlled press emerged in the late 19th century, which gradually overshadowing what was referred to as missionary journalism and media.

Catch up on all our articles and enjoy learning about more of our Pioneers.

Contributors

Phindile Xaba

She is a seasoned journalist and media practitioner across multiple platforms. She began her career in print media at age 17; and then moved on to explore the TV industry where she worked as a television production manager, scriptwriter, publicist, producer/director, language advisor/trainer and researcher, with some of her work being showcased on SABC, M-Net, […]

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