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117: Penguin African Library, part VII

September 3, 2012

The Penguin African Library (see HERE for earlier cover posts) was the brain child of Ronald Segal, a Jewish South African who grew to despise the Apartheid system and organize against it first as a student, then as an independent intellectual and publisher. Although he identified with the Congress movement (which would later solidify into the African National Congress), he remained fiercely independent. He began publishing Africa South in 1956 out of a desire to create a space for independent political thought and dialogue in Southern Africa. He chronicles the ups and downs of publishing in his great memoir Into Exile. The magazine ran through 21 issues over 6 years (4 per year), ending with volume 6, number 1 in 1961.
By skimming the tables of contents, you can see why Segal was so effective as theb editor of the PAL, many of the writers for that series can be found in Africa South, including Brian Bunting, Basil Davidson, Ruth First, Patrick Keatley, and Freda Troup. In addition, well known and important writers (in Africa and out) are also inside the pages, including John Berger, Nadine Gordimer, Langston Hughes, Nelson Mandela, Ezekiel Mphahlele, and Julius Neyere.
All issues of Africa South are graced with the same basic cover, an illustration of a African profile painted by Lippy Lipshitz (a then prominent South African sculpture), with the color of the cover changing each time. Each issue’s cover has a certain grace to it, but when looking at them all together they become a nice tapestry of diverse and beautiful color. I only have 18 of the 21 issues, so I had to find lo-res covers for the missing ones online, and I apologize for the couple images that are blurry and pixelated.




In 1960, Segal was forced to flee South Africa for London, and the journal picks up the subtitle “In Exile” from here on out.


Culture & MediaHistoryRacial JusticeSocial Movements

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