A Little Voice in the Apartheid Wilderness (1971 – 1974)

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From 1971 – 1974 Izwi/Voice/Stem took over from the literary magazine Wurm. It was a small voice in a vast apartheid wilderness to which few people listened. But it brought together writers and artists of different races, religions, genders and sexual orientations. The common cause that united them was their belief in the equality of human beings and the right to free expression and association. Stephen Gray, one of its editors, who oversaw it from its birth to its death, tells the story of the birth, life and “death of a little magazine”.

Stephen Gray is a South African writer and critic who was born in Cape Town in 1941. Until 1992, he was Professor of English at the Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg.

Gray is a prolific poet and has published eight novels. Recurrent themes include attitudes to homosexuality and the many rewritings of history in South Africa. He has also written for the theatre and edited collections of work by Athol Fugard and Herman Charles Bosman.


  • Thank you to Dr Stephen Gray for giving his permission for his entire article to be put on display on this website.
  • The University of Johannesburg’s Library’s Special Collections has a complete set of Izwi.
  • Please note that the quality of the text in the digital images was determined by the quality of the roneoed text.