And so it began …

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Sarah Thompson

When Clive Murphy and Clive Wilson approached me in March 1996 to head up the advertising department of a new weekly newspaper, I had no idea of how momentous a day that would turn out to be.

Sarah Thompson

We met in the hallowed precincts of the Harare Club, while they laid out their proposal

l. An outstanding editor in the person of Trevor Ncube had become available and this was an opportunity not to be missed.

They had both recently emerged from a trading moratorium following the sale of the Financial Gazette to Elias Rusike, and could see a real need in the market for a publication that embodied the best in journalistic integrity.

And so it began …

At the time I was freelancing from home on a number of publications, so it was a simple matter for me to start selling the advertising on the very first issue before we had finalised the move to our premises.

Using many valued contacts in the advertising world, and assisted by my trusty fax machine (remember them?) it all began to come together. We were aware that we were in direct competition with the Fingaz, but it seemed that the major advertisers did not want to miss out on what could (and did) turn out to be a really good thing and something quite unique. The fact that the principals involved were highly regarded in business circles didn’t hurt, either.

While all this was going on I also had to locate suitable staff for the fledgling advertising department. There were some teething problems, but using the time-honoured method of poaching personnel from our rivals, I soon had an excellent team on board.

At the launch for advertisers the feedback was overwhelmingly positive; by then we were all feeling slightly euphoric — well, I was, anyway! It was one of the most amazing periods of my life and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

The excitement mounted as the deadline drew nearer. Every advert that came in, particularly the full-page ones, drew high fives all round. We were a close-knit family back then and the atmosphere became increasingly jubilant.

The 10th of May 1996 finally dawned. It was particularly exciting for me as my son Howard was also getting married on that day.

The morning passed in a frantic flurry, as advertising media heads called to say their copies had not yet arrived, and I leaped into my car and scurried round taking voucher copies to each and every one.

Their regular copies did turn up in the end. But that just shows the level of anticipation — they could not wait.

Finally the last copy had been safely delivered and I was able to rush home to change, pick up my husband and arrive at the Ruwa Country Club where the wedding was to take place, a little late and slightly out of breath but very happy.

I still have my copy of the May 10, 1996 issue of the Zimbabwe Independent as a treasured reminder of a very special day.

Thompson is one of the Independent’s founders.

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