Drum Magazine and The Baileys African History Archive

We are currently hosting an exhibition in the foyer of The Edge. The aim of the exhibition is to share the “untold” or sometimes forgotten stories of African women. St Mary’s was given the opportunity and privilege to utilise Drum magazine and the Baileys African History Archive as a starting point.

Not only is Drum magazine a truly African publication with readers spanning the continent but it has also become an iconic South African symbol. In particular, Drum was able to capture the zeitgeist of urban culture during apartheid. Our exhibition focuses on the year 1958, looking back 60 years at the position and portrayal of women. We ask what has changed and what remains the same?

What is unique about Drum is that it opposed the typical apartheid narrative of black women being merely victims of a system. Rather, the magazine elevated women to powerful, beautiful and aspirational figures. In addition to creating a platform for writers such as Can Themba, Henry Nxumalo and Casey Motsisi or photographers like Bob Gosani and Jurden Schadeberg, it enabled women to engage in conversations – whether they were domestic, frivolous or political.

In a collaboration between the Art, Drama, History, Sesotho and Zulu departments we have created an installation providing a snapshot of the past and more importantly, celebrating women.

This exhibition will remain in the foyer of The Edge until the end of this term.

Alison Andrew

English and History teacher

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