The inaugural Aggrey Klaaste Annual Colloquium aim is to commemorate the events that took place on 19 October 1977, the infamous Black Wednesday.

On 19 October 2020, Media Freedom Day, the Aggrey Klaaste Trust (AKT), in partnership with Sowetan, the Journalism Department at University of the Witwatersrand, the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) and DM5 Attorneys, will host a virtual Aggrey Klaaste Annual Colloquium.

The aim is to commemorate the events that took place on 19 October 1977, the infamous Black Wednesday.

On this fateful day, the apartheid government clamped down on a number of organisations and newspapers sympathetic to the Black Consciousness (BC) philosophy. Many activists were arrested and thrown into prison. Also arrested were scores of journalists and editors – Aggrey Klaaste among them. Klaaste spent more than six months at Modderbee Prison, east of Johannesburg. On that day, more than 19 organisations and three newspapers, The World, Weekend World and Pro Veritate, were banned. The clampdown was aimed at stifling media freedom and silencing those who spoke out against apartheid.

Dr Aggrey Klaaste. Image: Supplied by Aggrey Klaaste Trust

The Aggrey Klaaste Annual Colloquium aims to celebrate the courageous spirit of all those journalists and activists who spoke 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 in contemporary South Africa. In recent years, the media has been grappling with critical issues of credibility, accessibility and sustainability. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and ravaged the media industry: many struggling publications have been forced to close down, resulting in hundreds of journalists losing their jobs. Incidentally, these hardships happen at a time when the media is needed more than ever to be a credible voice for forces agitating for a fairer and more just and more tolerant society – from the need for fair reporting on social movements to fight racism and police brutality such as the Black Lives Matter Movement to critical and penetrative reporting on pervasive social ills such as femicide and gender-based violence.

The theme of the inaugural Aggrey Klaaste Annual Colloquium is: “Surviving 2020 and Media Credibility Going Forward.”

As the country gears to rebuild its shattered economy in the wake of COVID-19, we at the AKT and our partners, are inspired by the heroes and heroines of Black Wednesday, those who dared to take a stand.

For the colloquium, we have gathered a group of critical thinkers and visionaries in the media space to find solutions to the difficult problems facing the media and the country at large.

Aggrey Klaaste Annual Colloquium Speakers are:

Prof. Franz Kruger
Veteran journalist, adjunct professor, director of the Wits Radio Academy and Head of Wits Journalism, Prof. Franz Kruger, will welcome everyone to the inaugural Aggrey Klaaste Colloquium and introduce the partners of the colloquium and their respective speakers.

Mrs. Mahlatse Mahlase
Group Editor-in-Chief at Eyewitness News and former SANEF chairperson, Mrs. Mahlatse Mahlase, will host the colloquium.

Dr Joe Thloloe
The renowned veteran journalist and pro-liberation activist, Dr Joe Thloloe, will reflect on his experience in detention during Black Wednesday and expound how media freedom and credibility since 1977 has changed and what his predictions are for the future.

Mrs. Nwabisa Makunga
Sowetan editor, Mrs. Nwabisa Makunga, will talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic, amongst other challenges, has affected the newsroom and the media industry in general.

Mr Sibusiso Ngalwa
SANEF Chairperson, Mr Sibusiso Ngalwa, will share his view on the issue of credibility in the media, touching on the findings of the Independent Media Ethics and Credibility Inquiry Report and his suggested solutions to the problems currently facing the media.

Mr Styli Charalambous
Daily Maverick publisher and CEO, Mr Styli Charalambous, will explore some of the reasons the media is struggling and how to fix it going forward.

When: Monday, 19 October 2020

Time: 15:00 – 16:30 CAT

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