Thursday, 12 May 2016

JUBY MAYET: An Odyssey

By Mpikeleni Duma

Veteran journalist Juby Mayet, one of the few surviving scribes from the Golden era of Drum Magazine in the 1950s and 1960s has been laudably and nigh-comprehensively honoured.

The Luncheon honour Mayet was held at the SABC Radio Park on 23 April 2015.

A gathering mostly of retired black journalists and editors meets annually to honour some of it finest. It was the chance of Mayet.

Veteran journalist Willy Bokala will Bokala welcome journalists and guests at the function. In His welcome statement, Bokala praised Mayet for her role in journalism and the working class journalism.
Bokala worked with Mayet in the Media Association of South Africa[MWASA], a trade union for journalists and the predecessor of the Union of Black Journalist.

"We are here to honour Auntie. As we used to refer to Mayet. It is a wonderful experience and courage to welcome guests at her function.

"I can a long way with Auntie from the Writes Association of South Africa and to MWASA. I have being at Aunties place on many times to promote working class journalism," Bokala told the Lunch On.
Bokala said he slept at Mayet's place running from the apartheid-era security branch police hence her role in black journalism must not be forgotten.

Mayet is one of the few surviving members of that class of journalists who brought a vibrancy into the social life of early Johannesburg, the now defunct Sophiatown and Alexandra through their distinct colourful writing.
During that time, she worked on the Golden City Post together with legendary scribes such as Ezekia Mphahlele, Casey Motsisi, Bloke Modisane, Henry Nxumalo and Lewis Nkosi.
Political activist and master of ceremony Mmagauta Molefe reminded the gathering that she was held at the Fort Prison with Mayet and other women political detainees in 1976.

" We detained together with Mayet and other woman comrades. It was difficult but we managed to stay strong and black powered. We never give up the stuggle and that is way we were banned after our release from prison," said Molefe.

Mme Cecilie Palmer and woman detainee said it was a great honour to speak at the function to celebrate her comrade in ideas.

"We have been together with Mayet in the struggle for the past 50 years. The struggle must continue in different ways.
"We could not support our children while with Mayet in Prison but they were always in our minds and we missed them in many ways."

Palmer added: " I am disappointed with the current crop of young journalist. They don's research and take their work serious. Also they lack passion for the job."

Mayet remains celebrated as one of the few women journalists to have opened the doors to many other female scribes who joined the craft thereafter.

Mike Mzileni, former City Press Pictures editor and veteran Drum magazine photographer says he knows Mayet close to 50 years. He said he covered stories of force removals with Mayet in the 50s.
He said he also ended at the office of Robert Sobukwe, founder of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania in Johannesburg in the late 50s.

Mzileni joked to the laugh of many at the function that he was not entering politics but she was explaining for how long he had known Mayet

Mzileni said she had pleaded with Mayet to write a book or request people to write her life story in black journalism. "We dont know our black journalism story and once we die our history will disappear.
Joe Thloloe, veteran journalist who also worked for Drum, Golden City Post, The World, Sowetan as well as SABC TV NEWS said he vividly remembered Mayet visiting him in detention.
He said Mayet managed to convince the security police to him in detention in Pampierstad near Vryburg in the North West. Thloloe said he was surprised to see Mayet in the police office.
"In our times we used to cover stories far away from Johannesburg in places like Vryburg in the North West. We will slept in the car and continue to file stories and inform the black readers and the world.," said Thloloe.
Thloloe said he also remember one episode in which veteran journalist Jon Qwelane took a battalion of patients where he was treated to Mayet's place for a booze for three days.
"We were shocked to find Qwelane at Mayet's house with a battalion of patients. They careless but drinking in a joyous mood.
"We were part of left-wingers and anti establishment. The Union of Black Journalists was formed and it became the back bone of black journalism," emphasized Thloloe.
He added: " The road ahead is still long. The road ahead is still long and that is coming."
Professors Saths Cooper and keynote speaker of the day said he remembers Mayet as a young activist in his 30s with the rise of Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa
" Fast forward to 1994, as one poet describes as "general-erection" and now we are witnessing #The Fees Must Fall, #Zuma Must Fall Movement and #Rhodes Must Fall."
Cooper was part of the SASO-BPC Trialists that were sent to Robben Island Prison for staging the Viva Freelimo Rallies that were banned in South Africa in 1975.
He said the both the print and the electronic media covers news from a minority perspective. He said this is glaring in the coverage of service delivery protests.

"Ours is  a very ungracious society. Juby was arrested and banned. She remains an inspiration. We must give credit to Bailey[Drum magazine owner] for his plan to play done the aspiration of the masses with the coverage of news by his publication," says Cooper.

Mayet (pictured above here in her resplendent youth) replied in the following words: I am a firebrand. If something must happen it must happen now. Juby is not a fool and see what is happening in the state of the South African media. We need a total overwhelm transformation of the media."
Zana, daughter of Mayet in high spirit said she was proud of her mother and thanks her for her courage. She thank the younger sister of her mother Zubieda for taking care of her while Mayet was in detention.
Thabo Leshilo, former Sowetan newspaper Editor in Chief in his vote of thanks said it was a great pleasure to speak at the function of Mayet.
He thanked everybody for gracing the occasion.

The honouring of Mayet was organized by a group of veteran journalists and the SABC sponsored the function.

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