It is Fredo’s birthday today but he is feeling sad because we have lost a doyen in journalism and a good friend.
[divider]The news of the death of David Shapley, former editor of Fresh Produce Journal, that ageless British fresh produce magazine, has indeed been a shock. One almost assumes that old warriors like David would be around for ever. They are priceless treasures in our rapidly changing world where knowledge and experience are often substituted by short-term experiences by novices – whether it be in politics, finance and in this case journalism.
What an imposing figure and, if I am excused to borrow from the writings of others, an old school journalist which was always much admired by in this case today also another old school journalist.
I met David long before I met a young Chris White, presently Managing Director of Market Intelligence Ltd, the international publication group which Fredo has had the pleasure and privilege of working with since 2001. Fredo I will always remember that David always had time to take out that pipe of his during conversations, have a few puffs, and then make some comments or asked questions that would challenge the person he was interviewing.
On many occasions that person was either myself or Louis Kriel, in his own right a warrior of note who led the South African fruit industry through some of its most difficult times through his own dogged refusal to give up in the face of the most difficult challenges.
[divider]Try as you may, none of us, as good salesmen for our company and industry were required to do in order to create a favourable image for our country’s fruit, could pull the wool over David’s eyes. No sir, never!
I remember him on one of those many British retailer tours to South Africa in the early 1980’s, during which he would quietly blend in, gather ideas and thoughts, almost absorb the atmosphere, and then report in his own balanced and unbiased way on the most difficult stories. He was obviously so well respected by those around him. The writer and scribe to the end!
During the difficult years of isolation, with protests against South African fruit almost everywhere, he knew when to be critical and when to be supportive, but always fair.
Under the African sun we will always remember him.