A Luta Continua : A History of Media Freedom in South Africa
African Sun Press | 20 October 2020
Paperback | 486 pages
What has media freedom entailed over the couple of centuries and successive governments of the geopolitical region that became South Africa since it was colonised by Westerners? And why can media freedom be described as both pillar and cornerstone of a democracy? It's simple, as in the words of Nelson Mandela, first state president of a democratic South Africa: Press freedom is the "lifeblood of democracy".
This book tells the tale of the various states of press freedom, or unfreedom, from colonial times to today - from a British governor called a dictator and a despot, through apartheid's "pigmentocracy", or "sjambokracy", where the rule of law "has been replaced by the rule of the whip", up to the dawn of liberation, with media freedom entrenched in Article 16 of South Africa's Bill of Rights. And why should all of this concern you? Because media freedom is not about the freedom of the media. It is about your freedom. As was formulated by an editor under apartheid: "If we don't have a public sympathetic to a free press, not only will we not have a free press, we won't have a democracy either." Or, in the words of former Sowetan editor and SANEF chair, Mpumelelo Mhkabela: "Media freedom has nothing to do with the media, but with the freedom of citizens."
And that is why you should know that a free media is the only guarantee for your freedom. As we have seen, both under apartheid and also under a democratic dispensation, it is a matter of a luta continua. The struggle continues. But you, the public, are the guardian of those that guard democracy. Help ensure the rights of a free media, and thereby your democratic rights and a democratic South Africa