The apartheid system of racial segregation lasted in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. During this period, a revolutionary anti-apartheid movement challenged the system in the streets. Meanwhile, a cultural movement also helped create cleavages in the racist regime.
One of the means of resisting racism was the media. Drum magazine, which began publication in the early 1950s, promoted change through its positive portrayal of South Africans of color as beautiful, intelligent and sophisticated, despite living in impoverished segregated townships.
In Have You Seen Drum Recently?, director Jürgen Schadeberg, teaches the viewing audience of this influential publication. He tells the story of Drum through still photographs from its archives. Thus, the viewer actually gets to see the images that South African urban dwellers saw of themselves. These images countered those accepted as fact by much of the white minority in power during the era.
On a simple level, Drum demonstrated that South Africans of color possessed the intellectual capacity to think deeply. It also challenged prevailing notions of beauty by regularly publishing images of its people in their entire splendor. Last, Drum also provided a space for intellectuals and future politicians to air their grievances against the status quo.
The film provides a view into the anti-apartheid movement not seen before. Too often, the focus has been upon a few notable actors, events and organizations. Instead, as the film demonstrates, the battle against South Africa’s racist system involved many people and various ways of protest.
The pages of Drum were themselves a site of protest. Have You Seen Drum Recently? makes this fact clear by capturing the humanity of a people relegated to second-class status in their own land.
Have You Seen Drum Recently? The Story of a Black Magazine in a White World
Run Time: 77 Minutes
Copyright Date: 1998