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Staffrider

writers south communities editorial

a South African cultural magazine (taking its name from the young men who ride ‘staff’ on the crowded commuter trains from Johannesburg's black townships, by climbing on the carriage roofs or standing on the steps), which first appeared in March 1978, produced by the radical book publishing house Ravan Press. The magazine's first editorial stated its aim as being ‘not to impose “standards” but to provide a regular meeting place for the new writers and their readers, a forum which will help to shape the future of our literature’; its policy was ‘to encourage and give strength to a new literature based on communities, and to establish important lines of communication between these writers, their communities, and the general public’. Controlled by an informal editorial collective, and drawing on a wide range of contributions—poetry, fiction, drama, interviews, reviews, photography, and graphic art—it went on to become one of the most successful literary journals in South Africa and has played a crucial role in the spread of a democratic culture, interacting with all the significant political and historical developments over the years since its inception. Its non-élitist orientation has meant that it has been an outlet for young and often inexperienced writers, as well as for well-known names such as Njabulo Ndebele, Nadine Gordimer, Es'kia Mphahlele, Miriam Tlali, Mongane Wally Serote, Lionel Abrahams, Mothobi Mutloatse, and Mtutuzeli Matshopa.

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