Reflecting the people's will

Kgalema Motlanthe - Former President of SA

Former Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe arrives for his wedding.
Kgalema Motlanthe Former Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe arrives for his wedding.
Image: GCIS

For many South Africans like me, it is inconceivable to think of the history of our country since the turbulent 1980s without Sowetan looming large.

Since its formation in the year 1981 Sowetan has assumed a liberatory tone, sharing the majority of South Africans' psychological yearnings for freedom.

Sowetan editors were acutely conscious of the calling of their profession as the mirror to and conscience of society, configuring their paper as such morally and professionally.

Almost all the classes of the oppressed, from the well-heeled to the white-collar workers, from the blue-collar workers to the dirt-poor and under-classes, all cottoned on to Sowetan to make sense of their world: to catch up with news in their localities, the sporting front, some lighter moment stuff as well as the drudgery of daily social existence that characterised the lives of black people generally.

Across the barriers of class and locality, black readership appreciated the central role Sowetan played in their lives.

Such a role - beyond the parameters of a daily newspaper - saw Sowetan immersed in the lifelong struggles of the oppressed as we sought to prise open the doors of freedom. This it did without for a moment losing sight of its defining character as a media entity with an ethos of independence.

As one of the oppressed South Africans and an anti-apartheid activist myself, I could not help but identify myself with Sowetan in many ways in my daily life.

This developed into a psychological state of shared affinities whereby I felt deficient in mental content if I missed the luminous editorial comments of the late Percy Qoboza and Joe Letakgomo after him, who was succeeded by the late Aggrey Klaaste.

Even after our nation had transitioned into a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and just society that it is in the process of building right now, Sowetan continues to fly the flag of nation-building while impeccably playing its part as independent media which continues to reflect the drama of our daily lives back to society.

I am confident that Sowetan will continue in this vein into the future. For this I would say "more power to your elbow!"