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Mr Benjamin Pogrund

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Mr Benjamin Pogrund Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the field of journalism and to scholarship on the liberation struggle. His informative writing shone the light on our country during some of the darkest days in our history. He defied those who would deceive the world.
Mr Benjamin Pogrund was born and educated in Cape Town. As a student leader, he fought against the imposition of apartheid at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

He went on to become a member of the Cape and Transvaal provincial committees of the non-racial Liberal Party. He holds four degrees from the UCT and University of the Witwatersrand.

Pogrund worked for the Rand Daily Mail for 26 years. He was deputy editor of the paper when it was shut down in 1985 because of its opposition to apartheid. He also reported on six surrounding countries in Southern Africa, and was Southern African correspondent for the
Sunday Times (London) and the Boston Globe, as well as writing for the Economist (London).

During the anti-apartheid struggle, Pogrund worked with the Cooperative Africana Microform Project at the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) to ensure the survival of thousands of documents relating to the period, including the archives and published works of many labour organisations, political parties, editors and activists. He worked in secret to microfilm important documents relating to the Struggle and sent them out of the country for safekeeping.

This effort, amounting to thousands of items, later contributed thousands of documents to the CRL, an international consortium of universities, colleges, and independent research libraries based in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. These have been designated The Benjamin Pogrund Collection of Southern Africa Materials.

He is a distinguished author, journalist, and peace and human rights activist. As a long-serving reporter for and later as deputy editor of the Rand Daily Mail, he was amongst those journalists who were at the forefront of exposing the myriad injustices of the apartheid system.

He is considered to have pioneered the field of daily reporting covering black political organisations.

He also exposed the conditions of ordinary black people under existing laws at a time when their voices were being systematically silenced by the apartheid regime. For this, he was subjected to extensive police and judicial harassment, including imprisonment.

This reporting led to several widely acclaimed books on apartheid, including How Can Man Die Better: The Life of Robert Sobukwe (now in its fourth edition), the authoritative biography of the Pan Africanist Congress leader; Nelson Mandela: Spirit and Strength of a Free South Africa, a biography of former President Nelson Mandela and War of Words: Memoir of a South African Journalist, about attacks on press freedom under apartheid. He continues to write history on the brutalities of apartheid.