Ten issues of the Johannesburg-based literary magazine “Kol” were published between mid-1968 and the end of 1969. The main sponsor of the magazine is thought to have been a bookseller named Marcus de Jong, known for his unique selection of books in his shop in Melle Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Kol was exclusively published in Afrikaans and had a notable editorial team that included prominent regional writers of the time, such as Chris Barnard, P.G. du Plessis, Louis Eksteen/Marthinus van Schoor, John Miles, and Bartho Smit. They were assisted by Hennie Aucamp, A.J. Coetzee, Richard Daneel, Abraham H. de Vries, Etienne le Roux, Johan Nel, Ian Raper, Anna Vorster, and others.
It is important to note that Apartheid was the dominant mindset, and flourishing in South Africa at the time. The magazine’s first issue featured satire by Van Wyk Louw, an exchange between André Brink and Bartho Smit discussing the characteristics of the 1960s moving into the 1970s, and a challenge to the editors by Breyten Breytenbach.
Brink expressed a desire for literature in the 1970s to engage with political and social issues, while Smit felt that the focus on race had been exhausted by the 1950s. Breytenbach, writing from Paris during his self-imposed exile, posed a series of questions to his South African colleagues, seeking their perspectives on various societal issues. He believed that other South Africans, including Zeke Mphahlele, Lewis Nkosi, Alex la Guma, Dennis Brutus, and more, were eager to know where the editors of Kol stood on these matters.
Interestingly, Breytenbach, despite his subsequent imprisonment in South Africa, played a pivotal role in a 1989 meeting between prominent Afrikaners from South Africa and the ANC at Victoria Falls. Breytenbach’s challenge sparked responses from individuals associated with Kol in the second issue, but he did not publish anything further in the magazine.