Can Themba Memorial lecture

By Drum Digital
12 June 2013

You are cordially invited to the Can Themba Memorial lecture. Join us as we pay tribute to one of DRUM's legends Can Themba and celebrate the 50th anniversary of his short story The Suit, published by Nat Nakasa's literary journal The Classic.

Date: 21 June 2013

Place: State Theatre Pretoria

Time: 19:00

Guest speakers:  Author Nadine Gordimer,  respected journalist and former Press Ombudsman, Joe Thloloe and academic Mbulelo Mzamane

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About Can Themba:

Can Themba was a major player at DRUM, where his investigative journalism often highlighted the realities and inequalities of the apartheid system.

He worked as a reporter and editor at DRUM, alongside respected journalists such as Lewis Nkosi and Nat Nakasa.

On one memorable assignment Themba decided to see how white churches would react to his presence. “The Presbyterian church in Noord Street allowed me in, yet the one in Orange Grove refused to let me attend their service,” he wrote at the time.

In 1966 he was declared a “statutory communist” and his works were banned in South Africa. In his stories he described the frustrations of university-educated urban black people who were unable to realise their true potential due to the racial restrictions of apartheid.

The guest speakers:

Nadine Gordimer

Born in Springs outside Johannesburg in 1923, Nadine Gordimer has established herself as an influential novelist and essayist. She published her first collection of short stories in 1949, and over half acentury has written 14 novels, over 200 stories, and several volumes of essays.

Gordimer worked very closely with the famous 1950s generation of DRUM writers and was on the advisory board of The Classic, the magazine in which Can Themba’s “The Suit” was first published in 1963. She became the first South African to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. Though nearly 90, Gordimer continues to work as a human rights activist. Her latest book, No Time Like Present, was published in 2012.

Joe Thloloe

Respected journalist and former Press Ombudsman, Joe Thloloe is currently the director of the Press Council. He was chair of the South African National Editors’ Forum, deputy chair of the Southern African Editors’ Forum and president of the Union of Black Journalists and Media Workers Association of South Africa.

Thloloe has over 50 years of journalism experience, having worked at publications such as The World, Rand Daily Mail, Golden City Post and

DRUM. He is also a former deputy editor of Sowetan and editor-in-chief of both SABC News and News. He was awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University in 1988 and the Alan Kirkland Soga Lifetime Achiever in May 2009.

Mbulelo Mzamane

Former president Nelson Mandela described Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane as a “visionary leader and one of South African greatest intellectuals”. He attended high school in Swaziland where he was taught by Can Themba. He obtained a doctorate in English Literature from the University of Sheffield, England. He has held academic positions in Lesotho, Botswana, England, Nigeria, USA, Germany, Australia and South Africa. Mzamane was the first Vice Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare in a democratic South Africa.

Mzamane is the author and editor of over 20 fiction and non-fiction books.He is the 2012 recipient of the African Literature Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Fonlon-Nichols Award for creative writing,scholarship and human rights advocacy.

He is currently the project leader and general editor of the Encyclopaedia of South African Arts Culture and Heritage.

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