On 19 October 2022, Media Freedom Day in South Africa, the Aggrey Klaaste Trust will host the Aggrey Klaaste Annual Colloquium to commemorate the events that took place on 19 October 1977 – the infamous Black Wednesday.

On that fateful day, the apartheid government clamped down on a number of organisations sympathetic to the Black Consciousness philosophy. More than 19 organisations and three newspapers, The World, Weekend World and Pro Veritate, were banned. Many activists were arrested and thrown into prison. Scores of journalists and editors were also arrested, Aggrey Klaaste among them. At the time, he was news editor of Weekend World and deputy editor of The World under Percy Qoboza’s editorship. The nationwide clampdown was aimed at stifling media freedom and silencing those who opposed apartheid.

The aim of this year’s Aggrey Klaaste Annual Colloquium is to celebrate the courageous spirit of all those journalists, editors and activists who spoke out against apartheid and helped nurture a people’s desire for freedom. In addition to reflecting on Black Wednesday and its aftermath, the colloquium seeks to address pressing issues facing the media and contemporary South Africa.

There were promising outcomes from the 2021 colloquium which we believe will bring about unifying measures to bridge the gap between journalists and the communities they serve. Dr Thami Mazwai, a speaker at the 2021 colloquium,  summed it up perfectly when he stated that:

“One protection the media must always seek is to be relevant to the reader. Once the reader trusts the publication, politicians become afraid of touching the media, because it has exulted itself above the ordinary life of the day to play its rightful role as the watchdog of the people’s liberties.”

The 2022 Aggrey Klaaste Annual Colloquium is largely based on this line of thinking. Last year, South Africans watched in horror as residents stormed the Alex FM radio station to steal equipment during the July unrest. It was estimated that the radio station suffered damages around a whopping R5-million. Exactly one year after that, Alex FM suffered another devastating blow when one of its celebrated music managers and presenters was brutally gunned down and killed in an armed robbery on his way home.

“Because of this, we are kicking off our much-needed national media literacy campaign in the community of Alexandra in partnership with Alex FM and the people of Alexandra,” said executive director of Aggrey Klaaste Trust, Jerome Klaaste.

“The idea is to urgently address the alarming upsurge of attacks on journalists, media freedom and media sustainability by venturing into South African communities to educate our people on the critical role played by the media, and the devastating consequences of the increasing attacks on journalists in our country. We seek to bridge the widening gap, ‘sivale isikhewu’, between journalists and the communities they serve by inviting ordinary people on the ground to participate in our media literacy campaign to help us find solutions to these difficult problems, as opposed to preaching to those who are already converted in the media space.

“As we reflect on the bravery of the many journalists, editors and activists who took a stand against tyranny on 19 October 1977, we must ensure that their sacrifices were not in vain,” said Klaaste. “Let’s stand together, as they did, to vehemently protect our hard-won freedoms by creating platforms that encourage ordinary South Africans to protect our journalists whenever they are intimidated and attacked.

“We invite you to join us on 19 October 2022, Media Freedom Day, at the Pan Africa Mall for the launch of our national media literacy campaign. It promises to be an educational, riveting and thought-provoking day of commemoration. Nation building is needed now more than ever.”

For more information, contact Jerome Klaaste:
074 066 3886