Monday, August 16, 2010


There is no way this can be a totally chronological blogo-biography. Some issues, like politics, have pervaded my life from when I was very young. I started writing letters to the editor of the Daily Dispatch in my teens, attacking apartheid. And I drew many of the protagonists. During my years at art school (1975-9), I continued to do so, and kept up the practice in the army and later when I worked briefly for the liberal opposition to apartheid, the Progressive Federal Party. Anyway, here are some of the drawings I did over a period of about five years.

Steve Biko was killed by the Security Police in 1977, and in the Eastern Cape he was a well known figure by then, as head of the Black Consciousness movement. It was Daily Dispatch editor Donald Woods who helped Biko publicise his ideas through his paper. One of the Prog stalwarts in East London was Joe Yazbek, a former mayor, who is the guy on the right.

Of course I was much aware of what was going on in the African countries around us, including Zambia. Here I did a drawing of its president, Kenneth Kaunda, like the others from a press photograph.

Who was this bloke? I've racked my brains but can't place him, except I suspect he was a member of the United Party.

No mistaking the grimace on this face. Die Groot Krokodil, PW Botha, was prime minister and later president of South Africa at the height of apartheid.

Some Nats were unhappy that PW sought to co-opt puppet leaders from the black urban townships and coloured and Indian communities into a new system of reformed apartheid. One was Andries Treurnicht. Here I have him sowing the seeds of segregation.

One of the coloured leaders who was co-opted was Labour Party leader Allan Hendrickse, who would later turn around and bite his master.

Here I had some fun with the stolid features of the Lion of the North, Treurnicht. The writing paper was from a time when I was briefly based at Kan Kemp Dorp in the northern Cape while doing two years' military conscription.

One of the brains behind the Progressive Federal Party's constitutional proposals, which included a national convention, was Dr Nic Olivier.

Nic was drawn on the back of this, which is a canvas card which were used in the PFP offices around SA for canvassing purposes.

This was another PFP stalwart, Ray Swart.

Another view of Labour Party leader Allan Hendrickse.

Van the Man. It was the dynamic Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, who died earlier this year, who led the PFP to great heights around 1980 until he quit parliament in the mid-1980s.

Another view of the PFP leader, whom women were said to find attractive.

Profile of courage. Slabbert turned his back on his Afrikaner nationalist roots and saw a future non-racial SA as the only solution.

I did quick caricatures of various leaders. This is Slabbert.

My hero, growing up, was the courageous Daily Dispatch editor, Donald Woods, for whom I worked as a cub reporter just after school in 1975, before I went into art.

Zac de Beer gave up a lucrative career in industry to bolster the liberal PFP. He would later lead the party briefly as it joined with disenchanted Nats to form the Democratic Party in the mid- to late-1980s.

This is Nic Olivier again.

The power behind the PFP for many years was one-time leader Colin Eglin, who had a long and distinguished parliamentary career alongside the likes of Helen Suzman and Slabbert.

The Krok. PW Botha came across as belligerent and aggressive, but some say he had a sense of humour, though he kept it well hidden.

A close friend of Slabbert was Eastern Cape farmer Errol Moorcroft. I think they were at Oxford together. Moorcroft was the only PFP MP from the East London area, albeit that just a part of his Grahamstown constituency was located there, in a vain bid by the Nats to weaken the student vote.

After the United Party crumbled, one Vause Raw formed the New Republic Party, a muddle in the middle which soon became the Now Redundant Party.

Chairman of the PFP's federal executive for many years was Dr Alex Boraine. He would hire me as a party organiser in East London in late 1981, and fire me about three years later due to lack of finances to support two organisers in the city.

PW lent himself to parody, as did the parliament his party ran.

Homeland independence was the objective of grand apartheid. We had two next to us, the Transkei and the Ciskei. This is Ciskei leader Lennox Sebe. If I recall correctly, the flag pole really did topple during a ceremony to mark Ciskei's independence.

One of the PFP's many losing candidates in elections around 1980 was Errol Spring, who used the term, "ladies and gentlemen", a tad too often.

I'm note sure what this is all about, but it does seem to point to the nasty nature of politics.

I could almost believe the little oke on the left is me, looking on as the adults of the country bully and bash each other, and the oppressed masses, into submission.

1 comment:

  1. Today, the name of Vause Raw, for no apparent reason, suddenly tumbled from my memory into my conscious mind. I wondered whatever became of him. He has a few lines on Wikipedia nowadays. An image search on Google brought to light that your drawing of him is the one and only image of him on the web.

    Thanks for a trip down memory lane. And yes, that flag pole really did fall over when the Ciskei became, er, "independent." ;-)

    Your art is quite awesome: keep up the good work!