THEMBA SEPOTOKELE | Klaaste honour recognises role of scribes in freedom

Dr Aggrey Klaaste was a revered and respected newspaperman and editor, notably of Sowetan.
Dr Aggrey Klaaste was a revered and respected newspaperman and editor, notably of Sowetan.
Image: Paul Velasco

Surely this is the best news for the media in general.  A bastion of black journalism and legendary editor of  Sowetan,  Aggrey Klaaste, has been  honoured with a lasting legacy. 

It is befitting that the honour, via a newly built library being named after  him, was crafted by the  Northern Cape government, his home province. Also worth noting is that the honour comes during Freedom Month.   

 Klaaste, who edited Sowetan  between 1988 and 2002,   died on  June 18 2004. He was  the champion of the concept he dubbed Nation Building, which he drove through relevant content published in Sowetan. 

The Nation Building mission was  also recognised by the Northern Cape government through its Community Builders of the Year Awards in 2011, when Klaaste and fellow scribe, Sam Mabe,  were honoured posthumously. 

I beamed with excitement when his son Jerome Klaaste broke the news that his father would be immortalised with a new library named after him, during the country's celebration and commemoration of 30 years of freedom and democracy. 


Personally, it is a highly special gesture as one of the young journalists who learnt under Klaaste's tutelage. It's imperative to keep his name  and those of other doyens of journalism alive. Their activism was not only in documenting the atrocities of the dark days of apartheid to the world, but also in dismantling the shackles of the evil system. 

I have  bemoaned  the fact that as much as government is mostly celebrating political Struggle activists and veterans, it has neglected to honour those who contributed in bringing down apartheid  through the might of the pen, the camera lens  and microphones.

These brave journalists  played a significant role during the apartheid era and during the democratic dispensation. 

 Kudos to the Northern Cape government  for the decision to bestow such an honour to the great newspaperman .


 Klaaste was no ordinary newspaperman, he was a legend, a peacemaker and and an activist, and his work remains relevant till today. 

We need more of our icons celebrated and honoured with schools, streets, bridges, libraries named after them to keep their legacy alive. 

Also, academic institutions should do the same in naming some of the lecture halls after these bastions of journalism to show that their struggle and sacrifice was not in vain.

 It's a terrible indictment on black journalists that we don't have books or literature, be it biographies or memoirs, in their names, despite repeated calls and promises. We should bury our heads in shame.

This is an opportune time to  resuscitate the idea of honouring the bastions of black journalism,  such as the Drum generation of Nat Nakasa, Ken Temba, Caisey Motsisi, Arthur Maimane and Eskia Mphahlele. 

One also hopes that the team presiding over the Presidential National Orders Awards would also do the honours, especially on the eve of the country's three decades milestone and ahead of the historic elections. 

 Klaaste's legacy, including that of all the doyens of black journalism, should not be forgotten. 

  • Sepotokele is a  communication strategist, media trainer and journalism lecturer 

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