Allister Sparks

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Allister Sparks
Born (1933-03-10) 10 March 1933 (age 82)
Cathcart, Eastern Cape
Nationality South African
Occupation Journalist and editor
Years active 1951-
Employer Rand Daily Mail
Known for his editorship Rand Daily Mail during the 1970s
Home town Johannesburg, South Africa

Allister Haddon Sparks (born 10 March 1933 in Cathcart, Eastern Cape) is a South African writer, journalist and political commentator. He was the editor of The Rand Daily Mail when it broke Muldergate, the story of how the apartheid government secretly funded information projects.[1]


Allister Sparks began his journalism career at the Queenstown Daily Representative in 1951.[1][2] In 1955, he reported for the Bulawayo Chronicle in Rhodesia.[3] He worked as an editor under Donald Woods, who was editor-in-chief at the East London Daily Dispatch from 1956-1957.[2][3] Afterwards, he worked for the Reuters news agency in Britain.[3] He was a journalist for Rand Daily Mail and then a columnist in the 1960s. Sparks was later the editor of the Sunday Express.[2] The highlight of his career was his editor position at the Rand Daily Mail.[3] He worked for the Rand Daily Mail since 1967 as an editor and was let go when the board decided to target a white audience.[1][2] He followed his position as an editor by working as a correspondent with top-level newspapers, including the Washington Post, The Observer (UK), and NRC Handelsblad in the Netherlands. In 1995, he researched and narrated the documentary series Death of Apartheid.

Publishing highlights[edit]

Sparks later wrote a number of critically acclaimed books on South Africa's transition from apartheid, including The Mind of South Africa (1991), Tomorrow is Another Country (1996), and more recently Beyond the Miracle: Inside the New South Africa (University of Chicago Press 2006). Sparks also wrote the book First Drafts (2008), as well as an Tutu: The Authorised Portrait of Desmond Tutu, with a Foreword by His Holiness The Dalai Lama written with Tutu's daughter, and published in 2011 for Tutu's 80th birthday.

Developing African journalism[edit]

Sparks founded the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in South Africa and was its executive director from 1992 to 1997. The IAJ has focused on the education of African journalists and fostering better communication between professionals across the continent.[4]

Awards and honors[edit]

Sparks was a Nieman Fellow from 1962-1963.[5]

He won the Louis M. Lyons Award while with The Observer[6]

1996 - Media Institute of Southern Africa presented Allister Sparks with is Press Freedom Award. According to MISA, " It was during his tenure at the Rand Daily Mail in the late 1970’s that Allister distinguished himself as a journalist of great valour and strength, willing to stick his neck out for a story even though it might have reached into the deep echelons of government." He was the first South African journalist to receive the award.[2]


  1. ^ a b c "Allister Sparks: Journalist and lecturer". theglobalist. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "MISA Press Freedom Award: Previous winners". Media Institute of Southern Africa. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Speakers on the conference The Power of Culture". Power of Culture. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  4. ^ "About". Institute for the Advancement of Journalism. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  5. ^ Friedman, Saul (2007-01-07). "Commentary". Nieman Watchdog. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  6. ^ "Max du Preez and Gitobu Imanyara". Retrieved 2012-10-07. 

External links[edit]