Nicolette Writes

Professional Freelance Writer and Stay-at-Home Mom

The history of photo stories in South Africa

“The great popularity of photo-stories in the 60s, 70s and 80s seems to be a particularly South African phenomenon…” (Martin 48)

I briefly refer to photo stories in my thesis (“Grace and The Townships Housewife: Excavating South African Black Women’s Magazines from the 1960s”,) and from there my interest in this topic…

A few points on the South African photo/picture story:

(Source: Martin, Lianda. “Republican Press – The Picture-Story as Africana?” Bibliophilia Africana 8 – From Papyrus to Print-Out: The Book in Africa. Ed. Cora Ovens. Cape Town: National Library of South Africa, 2005. 48-54.)

* The Photo story as form of story telling goes back to the mid 17th century

* It was Hint Hyman from Republican Press who made it a veritable industry in South Africa

* Together with Sep Schmidt, his first two photo stories were birthed, called: “Kyk”/ “See”

* In 1964 Dr Hertzog affirmed: no question of television being introduced in SA. This contributed to the popularity of picture stories

* SA writers of photo stories at the time (60s): Andreas du Plessis, Lucas van Vuuren, Gerrit van Zyl (pseudonyms: Gerrie Radlof, Dirk Lubbe)

* Some titles of stories: “Ruiter in swart” (The Black Rider); “Grensvegter” (Fighter on the Border), “Tessa”, “Die Sabouteur” (The Saboteur), “Mark Condor”, “Louise”

* Many such stories also focused on the black reader: “She” (first appearing in the magazine True Africa, 1964 – see photo), “Chunkie Charlie” and “Samson”

When doing research on Grace and The Townships Housewife (two black women’s magazines published in South Africa in the 1960s, see abstract from my thesis), I ‘discovered’ another picture story that seems to have been quite popular among black South Africans: “Sister Faith” (see photo)


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4 thoughts on “The history of photo stories in South Africa

  1. please i am keen to find out about chunkie charlie and if there is any copyright as i want to reinvent him as a TV hero

  2. Hi Dave! Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog!

    I love researching old texts, as the fact that they are difficult to find (and to find information on) makes it so much more of an exciting mystery.

    Regarding ‘Chunkie Charlie’ – have you tried to contact Lianda Martin? She is more of an expert on the topic than I am! Here is her email address:

    I remember contacting her when I did my thesis, and she quickly responded.

    Let me know what you find out. And if you want to, you are welcome to write more here under comments about what you remember of ‘Chunkie Charlie’:-D


  3. I feel sorry for some of them. Littyle salary and big family.

    • Hi Lin! Thank you so much for your comment, and sorry about my late reply – I had our first baby about three weeks ago, and my life has been turned upside down!
      You are welcome to elaborate more here on your thoughts?


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