25 March 2020
Fleming, Tyler, and Toyin Falola. “Africa's Media Empire: ‘Drum'‘s Expansion to Nigeria.” History in Africa, vol. 32, 2005, pp. 133–164.
This article details the history of Drum, a South African lifestyle magazine that was particularly successful during the ‘50s and ‘60s. The magazine still exists today but is remembered especially for its representation of township life during apartheid. Ultimately, it had an influence on American fashion and music cultures. The magazine was created by Africans for Africans.
The focus of the article is on Drum’s expansion from South Africa into the West and East African markets and, in particular, Nigeria and Ghana. However, the article is useful for providing a straightforward narration of the magazine’s creation and development. It introduces many topics relevant to the magazine’s history, such as apartheid, production, distribution, shifting cultural tastes, and market differences within Africa. It does not dive deeply into any one area.
How does this relate to scenography?
Notably, the article does not contain images. This is important because many American design students may know Drum mainly through appropriation. For example, images from Drum are featured prominently within the popular music video for Janet Jackson’s song “Got Til It’s Gone.” Reading an article like this can help balance visual familiarity with historical knowledge. Appropriation is a major theme.
This article is also important for promoting the history of a non-Western publication which is admired for its visual appeal and influence, particularly within the commercial sector.