Juby Mayet, the ‘freedom writer’ who refused to be a victim and lived a rich life

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Freedom Writer by Juby Mayet, with an afterword by Susanne Klausen. (Jacana)
Freedom Writer by Juby Mayet, with an afterword by Susanne Klausen. (Jacana)

BOOK: Freedom Writer: My Life and Times by Juby Mayet, with an afterword by Susanne Klausen (Jacana).

The following names have something in common with Juby Mayet: Ruth First, Bessie Head, Todd Matshikiza, Bloke Modisane, Gwigwi Mrwebi, Can Themba, Jim Bailey, Hugh Margolies, Zeke Mphahlele, Lewis Nkosi and Alf Kumalo. Known as "The Drum Generation", these activist communicators shared a passion for justice and used their creative gifts to speak truth to the oppression of the apartheid regime by bearing witness through writing, speech and photography, along with their musical peers.

Unfortunately, this was a male-dominated environment. Mayet's name is hardly mentioned in public and academic discourse about the impact of this generation of writers on the social and media landscape, even in post-apartheid South Africa. Bessie Head was Mayet's contemporary and stood in for her at The Golden Post when she was on maternity leave. Head's acclaim was possible because of her exile in Botswana, where she could write freely, without fear of reprisal, imprisonment or banning orders. Mayet, on the other hand, was banned by the apartheid government, and this effectively destroyed her career.

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