Unknown Photographer
© BAHA, Drum Magazine

Linda Mhlongo & Ruth Nkonyeni, April 1961
Pigment print on acid-free photographic paper 
Edition of 250

Image courtesy Aspire Art Auctions, South Africa
Drum magazine, founded by the son of financier Abe Bailey in 1951, modelled itself on the popular picture magazines so prevalent in that time, like Life and Picture Post. The magazine’s approach was based on the photo-essay, where photographs played a central role in the storytelling. Drum photographers and writers set a standard for picture magazines unparalleled in Africa.

“Drum’s self- conscious urbanity” manifested in a new figure of what was termed  “the ‘modern miss”, differentiated from older adult women… Drum concentrated upon young women’s dress and sexual and marital behaviour, talked about these in a political language of ‘rights’ and freedom yet almost never represented young women as formal political actors. In these articles young women’s economic empowerment and sexual availability were the signs of her modernity and this was signalled most clearly by what she wore and the visibility of her body,”opines Rachel Johnson in ‘The Girl About Town’: discussions of modernity and female youth in Drum magazine 1951- 1970 (2009).