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While sorting out my books during the holidays, I paused at Rex Gibson’s beautifully written story on the last days of the Rand Daily Mail. For many, especially those of us who worked there, the RDM was the finest newspaper ever printed in South Africa. Rex, its last editor, called his book The Final Deadline. His own arrived at his Hermanus home in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Gibson’s daughter Kerry told me yesterday she imagines Rex is already sharing jokes and drinks with his best friend, the late Harvey Tyson, long-time editor of The Star. They met as cub reporters, competed as rival editors of anti-apartheid newspapers, and were business partners in Editors Inc before retiring together to the seaside town 18 years ago.
Kerry says her dad, who was 88, would want to have been remembered as a principled journalist and editor whose finest hour was in standing up against the apartheid regime. An accurate epitaph. During those dark years, those who worked in the same building drew inspiration from the courage and leadership of Gibson, Alister Sparks and predecessors Raymond Louw, Lawrence Gandar and Joel Mervis. Sad to realise they’re all gone.
Gibson’s decades-long partner Pat, herself a former journalist, told me he was disappointed that democratic South Africa and its leader Cyril Ramaphosa hadn’t lived up to potential. Rex’s view, she shared, was the only thing Ramaphosa lacks is confidence in his own undeniable ability. Gibson had a knack for getting to the nub of things. In that respect, too.
From Biznews community member Robbie Vermont
So sorry to hear of Rex’s passing.
Condolences to all his family, friends and colleagues.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.