“There are dictators and autocrats who are breathing a little easier today.

The intolerant, the narrow-minded, the scared, the defensive, the haters of freedom and particularly freedom of speech, are watching us lay to rest the man who never left them alone.

Like a mosquito on a hot summer’s night, Raymond Louw buzzed around the heads of those who challenged our right to speak our minds. 

They cursed him and tried to swat him away, but he persisted, circling, watching and settling wherever he could to disturb and irritate them. 

Today, they hope they can rest a little easier, because Ray is gone.”

UNTITLED: Mohamed Kacimi, acrylic on canvas, 282 x 256 cm. Courtesy of CMOOA.

“………if we are to be honest, there are also many of Ray’s friends and colleagues who feel that they might get a brief rest. 

Because the man who cajoled and prodded them, who constantly reminded them of the need to be alert and vigilant for new threats to our freedom, the man who volunteered first and then obliged you to follow him, who wrote countless petitions, memoranda and policy documents, who never slowed down, has left us.

Yet Ray was the one with the energy, the steely resolve and the staying power. 

Even at 93 years old, until the last few weeks, Ray was the most solid, consistent and reliable activist in the world of anti-censorship, putting to shame younger men like me. 

When we were exhausted, Ray would keep going. When we wanted to give up, Ray would not let us.”

By Kofi Agorsor, Private collection

“…….the paper [Rand Daily Mail] stood out from its peers for its commitment to fine, critical and independent journalism – and that it was at its best and its strongest during Ray’s 11-year editorship. 

…….. he would not mislead……; he was straightforward, scrupulously honest and firm in his views. 

And it was under Ray that the paper reached its zenith in circulation, impact, and was even in profit.

If we just considered the period after Ray’s editorship, when he gave his time to the cause of anti-censorship, his extensive work there would also present an admirable legacy. 

For around 65 years in journalism, he had our backs.” 

“He didn’t have to like you, or agree with you, and if so he would certainly let you know, but if you produced good journalism, he would defend you and your work with passion and determination.

He read every Bill, he scoured all the news, read every court document, he was vigilant in seeking out any hint of a threat to freedom of speech, and he would be on it: consistently and relentlessly.

So we will remember him as a great editor and a determined activist.” 

UNTITLED: Mohamed Hamidi, oil on board, 99 x 63.5 cm, 1971. Courtesy of CMOOA.

“But Ray was also a man of unbending principle: you never had any doubt about what he believed, what he thought and what he stood for. 

He was firm, consistent and solid as a rock. 

He had a spine of steel. 

And he was an impeccable gentleman.

Every now and then there is a death which gives us pause, a legacy which makes us stop and reevaluate our own lives and values, that has us thinking how much more we can do with our time and our resources and the balance between our public and our private lives. 

Every now and then there is a model of a life lived to the full that we have to stop and ponder, and see if we could possibly match up to it.

Ray’s life was one of those.”


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