Drum magazine founder dies

Published Mar 1, 2000


By Eddie Jayiya

Jim Bailey, the founder of Drum magazine, which revolutionised black journalism in the early 1950s, died at his Lanseria home on Tuesday after a short illness. He was 80.

Bailey moved from Oxford, England, to South Africa in 1946 to wind up his deceased father's affairs and started farming in the Colesberg district.

In March 1951, he jointly started Drum and later became its sole proprietor. He published Drum in English-speaking southern, central and western African countries for more than three decades.

In its heyday, Drum - through its outstanding photographs and inspired reporting - recorded the transition of the continent. It initiated photojournalism in Africa and produced a generation of African journalists.

Photographer Alf Kumalo described Bailey as stimulating and approachable. "He treated his staff with utmost respect. He championed black journalism when most publishers were scared of apartheid. No publication dared to do what Bailey did for the country in terms of highlighting black people's plight. He and his editors made sure that journalists were bailed out - they even went personally to fetch them from prison."

After 33 years of publishing, Bailey sold Drum to Nasionale Pers in 1984, and established Bailey's African History Archives on his farm near Lanseria. In 1996, he was honoured as a Commander of the British Empire.

He will be buried on March 7 after a service at St George's Church in Parktown at 3pm.

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