Basil “Doc” Bikitsha (1930 - )
The Order of Ikhamanga in
Profile of Basic "Doc" Bikitsha
Mr Basil Sipho Neo Bridgeman Bikitsha, affectionately known as “Doc” Bikitsha, was born on 19 November 1930 at the Bridgman Memorial Hospital in Mayfair, Johannesburg.
After passing Matric, Mr Bikitsha went to study at Pius X11 University College known as Roma College in Lesotho. He was expelled for allegedly assaulting a fellow student. Mr Bikitsha came back to South Africa where he continued his studies at the Normal College near Pretoria.
After completing his training, Mr Bikitsha worked as a teacher where he taught his students to read newspapers on world affairs and report back their findings to the class.
Mr Bikitsha lived in Sophiatown before it was bulldozed by the apartheid Government to make way for a residential area exclusively for white people. Mr Bikitsha began his profession as a journalist at the Golden City Post and the Bantu World newspapers where he worked as a reporter.
While working for Bantu World, (later The World), Mr Bikitsha and Mr Can Themba covered the famous 1956 – 61 Treason Trial, which included 156 accused activists, among them then African National Congress President-General Chief Albert Luthuli, Mr Nelson Mandela, Mr Walter Sisulu and Ms Lillian Ngoyi.
Towards the end of the 1950s, Mr Bikitsha left Bantu World and joined Drum magazine where he worked his way up to becoming Assistant Editor. He then left Drum and joined the Rand Daily Mail newspaper from 1976 until 1986.
Mr Bikitsha worked alongside other prominent and celebrated writers known as the Drum generation such as Mr Henry Nxumalo, Mr Bloke Modisane, Mr Lewis Nkosi, Mr Nat Nakasa, Mr Can Themba, Mr Es’kia Mphahlele and Ms Sophie Thema.
Mr Bikitsha also contributed to the authoring of two books, From Jo‘burg to Jozi, which was co-edited by Ms Heidi Holland and Mr Adam Roberts, and Soweto Inside Out, co-edited by Mr Roberts and Mr Joe Thloloe.
After leaving the Rand Daily Mail, he joined Sunday Times. Mr Bikitsha was part of a generation of journalists, mostly mission school-educated, hard-nosed and hard-drinking, whose love of the English language saw them forsake the teaching careers for which they had been trained, for journalism, that was a bridge between the Drum generation and later generations.
Mr Bikitsha died at the Tshepo Themba Clinic in Dobsonville, Soweto on 6 January 2007 at the age of 77.
Mr Basil “Doc” Bikitsha is honoured with the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for being one of the finest journalists of his time, for his outstanding contribution to the profession of journalism and for being an important social commentator in his chosen beat. He was true to his calling up to his last days.