John Kani is calling on the government to support Struggle and cultural artists. Images via X @capetalk

John Kani is calling on the government to support Struggle and cultural artists. Images via X @capetalk

‘We owe them much more’: John Kani’s tribute to Peter Magubane

At Dr Peter Magubane’s funeral, actor Dr John Kani called for an ANC-led government fund to support Struggle and cultural artists.

John Kani is calling on the government to support Struggle and cultural artists. Images via X @capetalk

John Kani is calling on the government to support Struggle and cultural artists. Images via X @capetalk

Speaking at the funeral of esteemed photojournalist Dr. Peter Magubane in Bryanston, veteran actor and playwright Dr. John Kani passionately urged the ANC-led government to establish a dedicated fund for Struggle and cultural artists who significantly contributed to the anti-apartheid movement. 

“I think we should have the veterans of the cultural Struggle (cultural diplomacy), that will give us an opportunity to honour the likes of Peter Magubane.”

“We need to look after them; they cannot depend on Sassa and the R350; we owe them much more.”

Also Read: Iconic anti-apartheid photographer Peter Magubane passes away at 91


President Cyril Ramaphosa recognised Dr. Magubane with a special provincial official funeral, acknowledging his remarkable contribution to the Struggle. Notable attendees included former president Thabo Mbeki, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, and Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa.

Also Read: Dr Peter Magubane: Memorial service and funeral details confirmed

Dr Kani highlighted the challenges faced by veterans of the cultural Struggle and pointed out their role in pressuring the apartheid regime through various artistic mediums. He called for collaboration with the Minister of Arts and Culture to establish a structure similar to the one supporting MK veterans.

“This structure will make sure that those who qualify—that we know their legacy and footprint—will be looked after in their sunset days, where they will be able to say I am not going to Sassa, I have my veterans pension to look after my family.”


Acknowledging the financial struggles of cultural artists, Kani revealed ongoing efforts with Minister Zizi Kodwa to revitalise the Living Legends Trust. He stressed the importance of recognising the legacy and footprint of these artists, ensuring they receive adequate support in their later years.

President Ramaphosa promised to consider the request, while Minister Kodwa mentioned the Van Toeka Af program, which honours cultural artists during their lifetime to avoid posthumous accolades.

Also Read: SA’s anti-apartheid struggle a blueprint for Palestinian independence

Dr. Kani shared a personal story of how Dr. Magubane’s photographic documentation potentially saved his life during his 1972 arrest. 

“I remember when I was arrested in Butterworth in 1972 for putting on a play. We were arrested for furthering the aims of communism, and I said I did a play for crying out loud.”

“And then, when I was in my cell for the 20th day, I saw a piece of paper from the Daily Dispatch with them dragging me. It was the first time I fell asleep because that photograph meant they could not kill me because the world knows they have me. That was the work of Peter Magubane,” Kani said.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi expressed the importance of ensuring Dr Magubane’s legacy in South African classrooms, stating that the history of the country remains incomplete without recognising his contributions.

Also Read: Peter Magubane: Camera once hidden in a ‘loaf of bread’