To be a man: changing constructions of manhood in




НазваниеTo be a man: changing constructions of manhood in
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To be a man: changing constructions of manhood in Drum magazine 1951-1965.1


Lindsay Clowes


Manhood, as represented by the early Drum, was achieved through the social recognition of the male roles of husband and father, brother and uncle, son, grandson and grandfather. In portraying a ‘man’, the early Drum acknowledged the complex and mutually supportive relationships centering around family members inside and outside the home, and provided public recognition of a social ‘manhood’ that was rooted in an extremely wide variety of domestic obligations inherent in these roles. Over the course of the 1950s this began to change such by the 1960s it was a man’s relationships with his colleagues and bosses that were privileged in the pages of the magazine. At the same time Drum recognised fewer familial obligation to the point that, by the middle of the 1960s a man was represented as having little or no domestic obligations beyond that of financial provider. By the middle of the 1960s Drum was producing images of males that established manhood primarily through relationships with apparently independent and autonomous interactions with non kin men outside rather than inside the home, as well as (although not the focus of this chapter) through sexual relations with women (Clowes, 2002).


The first edition of the African Drum - later to be known simply as Drum - appeared on South African streets in March 1951. The post World War II society into which the magazine was born was one in which the the twin processes of industrialization and urbanization had seen a significant change in South Africa's racial demography. Replacing the migrant labourer workforce upon which white industrialists had previously relied, the 1940s had seen the emergence of an urban black working class that was both ‘settled’ and ‘permanent’ according to a government commission of 1948 (Fagan nd: 7) In the 1950s this urban black population was to become Drum's main audience.


Getting off to an uneven start in the first half of 1951, sales rapidly increased to the relief of the white owner and editor, reaching in the region of 100 000 by the beginning of 1954 (Sampson 1956: 198). Growth in sales was matched by an increase in the number of employees: employees who were, in contrast to the owner and editor, almost without exception black and male. Through the 1950s and until the middle of the 1960s, every editor and almost every writer published in the magazine had been male. Even when stories were attributed to women, men were frequently the authors (Driver 1996; Nicol 1991). The audience too, was imagined to be largely male, because, as an early editor noted, it was urban black men 'who were the main buyers because they had the spare cash' (Sampson 2000). Edited and owned by white men, Drum magazine was written and produced by black men for an urban black male audience. Images of local and international black sportsmen, politicians, entertainers, businessmen and even criminals thus competed with the images of white Hollywood gangsters that, as Fenwick (1996) notes, had been so influential in shaping the urban South African gang cultures of the post war period.


The political climate of the time was marked by the growth of authoritarianism, political repression and racial segregation (apartheid). Intimately touching the lives of both producers and consumers of Drum, these racially charged conditions infused both black and white notions of sex and gender and helped shape the particular images of manhood and masculinity produced by the magazine. Continuously protesting against racist legislation, the magazine regularly alerted readers to the appalling impacts of the unequal power relations between black and white South Africans. But as hooks notes, ‘[s]ince competition between males is sanctioned within male-dominated society, from the standpoint of white patriarchy, black masculinity must be kept ‘in check’’, and ‘black males... made subordinate in as many cultural arenas as possible’ (1995: 99). Thus if apartheid is imagined to be - at least in part - an attempt to construct and maintain a subordinate masculinity defined by race, then Drum’s challenges to the apartheid state can be seen as repeated attempts to assert the manhood of black men. Growing increasingly intolerant of opposing voices, the patriarchal white state made a number of increasingly successful efforts to limit these challenges what could be said: Drum was amongst several publications forced to repeatedly defend both itself and its writers in court in the 1950s and 1960s (Merrett 1994).


Manhood in the early Drum


The ways in which the early Drum treated men as males whose lives were shaped in important ways by kith and kin, hearth and home was in marked contrast to accounts in magazines aimed at white audiences such as Outspan and Femina. Articles in Drum about soccer stars, musicians and community leaders acknowledged both that mothers and wives played significant roles in men's public lives, and that men, as husbands, fathers and sons, also had domestic roles to fulfil. Drum seemed to see nothing extraordinary in the photograph of well known local musician Wilson “King Force” Silgee of the Jazz Maniacs cooking bacon and eggs for his wife (February 1955: 38). Or that Marshall Zibi, whose claim to fame was his newly acquired status as husband of cover girl, Priscilla Mtimkulu, washed dishes after meals and helped hang out washing (April 1956: 40,41). Drum casually observed that an 18 year old soccer player lived “with his parents and his elder brother, Lucas, at Moroka Section JX, Johannesburg. His brother and he are the only children at home, and as he is the youngest, he does most of the domestic work. With mother's help Steve does the cooking, cleans the home and washes and irons the family's clothes” (November 1955: 39).


Articles about older men frequently observed that as young boys they had been expected to fulfil their share of the domestic chores, thus Drum divulged the information that as a child the ex mayor of Benoni location had received a “thorough spanking for forgetting to wash the pots and pans for his mother at home” (November 1955: 61). The young Ezekiel Mphahele (later one of South Africa's most eminent novelists) had, said Drum, been responsible for several chores including fetching and carrying washing for his mother (January 1956: 6). Photographs of local heroes engaged in a variety of domestic chores and contexts reinforced the idea of men as males intimately connected to the home. Golfing champion Simon 'Cox' Hlapo for instance, was snapped washing dishes in his parent's house, another photograph captured a defeated boxer engaged in the task of reading to his grandmother, while yet another depicted Peter Clarke hugging his mother on receiving the news that his entry had won Drum's short story competition (February 1955; June 1955; April 1955).


If a man's public achievements were related to the part played by a wife this too could be freely acknowledged. The high economic status of ANC leader, Dr James Moroka, was, said Drum, largely the consequence of his wife's business acumen. “A woman of exceptional business ability” she loomed large in an article about her husband, while “under her management, the dividends of wise investments, and the profits of progressive farming were added to the emoluments of the consulting room” (April 1952: 7). Privileging family in another way, an article about Oom Piet Gwele entitled “Old Man Cricket”, began with the words:


We found the Gwele family cuddled around a glowing fire on a chilly evening: parents, children and grandchildren. Mama Nancy Gwele had a bad 'flu, and eldest daughter Edna Mnguni had left her boxing promoter husband in Germiston to nurse her - and contracted the 'flu too (November 1954: 21).


The first mention of Oom Piet himself, only occured in the second paragraph. Readers were informed of the successes and ambitions of each of Oom Piet's offspring, while photographs of his extended family framed the text. In stark contrast were the articles constructed by Femina and Outspan which downplayed white men's experience of domesticity, having little if anything to say about the home lives of their subjects. Even on those rare occasions when white readers were promised something more than a simple account of someone's public life they were disappointed. Outspan published a feature on Dudley Nourse, Captain of the national cricket team for instance, noting that “[i]t seems queer, somehow that these great national figures should live quite ordinary, suburban lives and go to work everyday just as lesser mortals do.” But despite promising that “we [will] tell you about the man very few people really know” the text held almost nothing other than a summary of Nourse's cricketing career, mentioning Nourse's father simply because he too had been a cricketer and that young Dudley had equalled “his father's record as the country's most prolific runner” (May 18 1951).


In contrast it was Jake Tuli's children who took centre stage in Drum's coverage of the boxer's fights. “Jake loses crown, kids comfort him”, declared the headline when Tuli lost the Empire flyweight title, while two of the three pictures published featured his children (December 1954: 41). Similarly it was two daughters and a niece who accompanied King Edward Masinga in the photograph attached to an article lauding his position as the first black radio broadcaster to be employed by the South African Broadcasting Corporation, an article which further emphasised the large debt he owed his mother (April 1955). Likewise, Israel Alexander, hailed by Drum as “South Africa's richest African” was photographed with his daughter, Joy, at work, and with his family at home (December 1954: 21). Even political and traditional leaders - as the coverage of future Botswanan President Seretse Khama, his wife and children made clear - were portrayed against the backdrop of their families, while at another end of the social scale it was “husbands” and “fathers” rather than “men” who were the victims of homicide attacks (July 1955; June 1955). Further demonstrating the richness and complexity of male relationships, notable men without children of their own were often featured with younger cousins or siblings (January 1955; May 1956).


Even the investigative journalism of Drum centred men in their families and communities. Drum's exposure of harsh conditions on farms and the dangers of the 'tot' system (by which labourers were paid with alcohol), while critical of the country's racist laws, focused on the destruction of family life as the most serious feature of the tot system. Of the seven men whose views were sought, four were recorded as expressing concern over its effects on family life. One “had all too often seen homelife spoilt”, another argued that “people who have tots don't care a hang for the family”. A third believed it led “to the breakdown of families”, while a fourth complained that drink played havoc with domestic life (June 1952: 8).


Advertisements, too, suggested that husbands, and men generally, were intimately acquainted with mundane household matters such as buying and using washing powder and other household cleaning products. “I tell my wife she must always use Rinso for the washing” declared a black man in a sparkling white shirt (March 1954: 4). Advertisers' assumptions that fathers, were concerned for and involved with the well being of their sons, if not their daughters, were demonstrated very clearly in advertisements in the early to mid 1950s. Perhaps constructing the black male breadwinner as guardian of the family purse, these advertisements also tapped into notions of black fathers' pride in their sons to sell products. A variety of advertisements featuring black men and babies but not mothers (which were almost unthinkable later on, and which did not appear in magazines aimed at white audiences) clearly privileged the role of father, suggesting that at least some advertisers believed the route to a man's pocket lay through his male offspring. “Your baby is a fine healthy son” declared a female nurse to a solitary man in an advertisement for the antiseptic liquid, Dettol. “How happy a father feels when he hears those words” commented the text (September 1952: 12), while another advertisement for Dettol, in portraying one man congratulating another on “a healthy childbirth - and such a fine baby” erased both the female nurse and the mother who had given birth, (October 1952: 30).





Advertisements such as these constructed an explicit emotional link between black fathers and sons. A black father's happiness was linked to the health of his son, which was in turn implicitly connected to the involvement of his father in the domestic preparations for his arrival in the world. But a black father's part was not limited simply to preparing for a new arrival in the reality represented by advertisements in Drum. Manufacturers clearly believed that black fathers continued to be involved in child rearing after the birth, and drew on this belief to boost sales. Ovaltine, a hot milky drink, was marketed to men on the basis that, amongst other things, it gave tired fathers the strength to play with their children (September 1955). As early as April 1952, an advertisement for baby food had appeared in which father rather than mother seemed to be holding the child (April 1952).





Similarly, and, in contrast to the kind of advertisements placed in both Outspan and Femina which used only white women and white babies, the manufacturers of Nutrine baby food employed both black and white fathers of sons to sell their product.

Utilising the racialised hierarchies so familiar to South African audiences, and tapping into local working class aspirations of upward mobility, Stanley Msomi, a skilled mechanic is confronted by his white male boss. “You used to be a good worker Stanley, now you stand around doing nothing. What's wrong?” Msomi explained that it was domestic affairs that had impacted so adversely on his work. “I'm worried about my little boy. He's thin and weak and always crying.” The supervisor's response, as another knowledgeable and concerned father, was to identify with Stanley's problem, and recommend Nutrine. “My son was thin and weak too till Nutrine made him strong. You should try Nutrine.” The next frame shows Stanley informing his wife Rose of the values of Nutrine and declaring that “we must get it”, followed by the penultimate frame in which Rose informs us that “Nutrine certainly is nourishing. It has made baby fat and strong in only 3 months”. The final frame presents the reader with a smiling Stanley Msomi who “works better than ever now” (November 1952).





In contrast, the very few advertisements drawing attention to white fathers published in magazines aimed at white audiences identified a narrow financial obligation as the province of men. Old Mutual life insurers for example, which did not advertise in Drum at this time, also drew on the discourse of 'the family' to sell insurance. But the images used tended to portray children and weeping women, or solitary children whose future had been 'smashed', to draw attention to absent men (Outspan, March 9 1951: 56). In stark contrast to those published in the early Drum, advertisements for cleaning products in both Outspan and Femina employed women and children only.


The early 1950s saw the male writers, editors and publishers of Drum, as well as its advertisers, position the males they portrayed firmly inside nuclear and non nuclear families and households where members relied on each other through a fluid rather than a rigid gendered division of labour. In the early Drum males were portrayed as men through the strong social and emotional ties they had with the home, through their intimate involvement in domestic matters, household chores and child raising. Even though many wives, children, parents and grandparents lived apart from their husbands, fathers and sons, most of the successful males whose stories appeared on the pages of the early Drum were, in contrast to magazine coverage of white men, established as men via a rich variety of relationships. In the early Drum it seemed that males became men through social recognition of their richly complex roles as sons, grandsons, fathers and husbands, brothers and uncles, a recognition rooted in a wide variety of domestic obligations inherent in these roles.

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