Traci Mackie was born to a working-class family, in an industrial village called Blackburn in Scotland. When she was nine years old, her parents decided to move to South Africa. The family settled in King William’s Town, Transkei (now Eastern Cape Province), after a brief stay in Port Elizabeth. Her new hometown introduced Mackie to the politics of the country for the first time, as the funeral of Steve Biko, the leader of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) and someone whom she would soon become intrigued with, made her aware that all was not well. Witnessing the injustices that were happening in the country would later inspire her to become a journalist.
Immediately after high school, eighteen-year-old Mackie started working as a reporter at the Daily Dispatch newspaper in East London, Eastern Cape. Later, she recalled how challenging it was to be a journalist during apartheid as the government would often interfere and even harass journalist. Although some of her colleagues became informers, she stood her ground and did not allow the regime to intimidate her.
She reported on various apartheid crimes during the 1980s. One of her biggest career highlights came during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1996 when Mackie was working at The Herald newspaper and The Weekend Post. After persistently probing Gideon Nieuwoudt, a former member of the apartheid security police who was notorious for having a hand in numerous apartheid crimes, to find out if he had been involved in the death of Mathew Goniwe, Nieuwoudt instead revealed that he had been involved in the murder of Biko. Mackie exposed Nieuwoudt to the world, helping to bring light to a missing piece of the puzzle of the death of the revered anti-apartheid activist.
Her other career highlights include reporting on the first democratic elections of 1994, the release of struggle veterans, as well as Chris Hani’s assassination, which lead to an angry mob stoning her car outside the New Brighton police station in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.
While she was still a young journalist, Mackie met the late liberation struggle hero and government Minister, Steve Tshwete, and his wife, Pam Tshwete. This chance meeting ignited a political flame that would later culminate in her becoming a member of the African National Congress (ANC) following her retirement as a journalist in 1999.
In 2004, she was requested by the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Dr Nosimo Balindlela, to work alongside struggle stalwart and Rivonia trialist, Dr Raymond Mhlaba, as a communication and media advisor in the Premier’s office. It was during her time there that she was exposed to community work. She attributes her work as a journalist that enabled her to assist in the establishment of Kwam eMakana Homestays, a poverty-alleviation programme in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape.
For her contribution in exposing Nieuwoudt and her overall work in unmasking the ills of apartheid through journalism, she was awarded the National Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze in 2018. This award is presented to individuals who have excelled in the fields of art, culture, journalism, literature, music and sport.
After retiring from journalism, she has become a businesswoman and is currently the CEO of the Raymond and Dideka Mhlaba Foundation (RDMF), which is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the socio-economic reality in the Eastern Cape Province.
Furthermore, she has published two books, namely, Nelson Mandela Bay: A Brand New Day (2009) and Feel It Forever: 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa (2011).
AbeBooks. (n.d). Mackie, Traci, [online], Available at: https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/author/MACKIE,-TRACI?cm_sp=brcr-_-bdp-_-author. (Accessed on 25 June 2020)
Gillham, S. (2018). Top honours for PE women, [online], Available at: https://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/2018-04-20-top-honours-for-pe-women/ . (Accessed on 19 May 2020)
Matsipane, O. (2018). Three Eastern Cape women receive national order awards, [online], Available at: https://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/three-eastern-cape-women-receive-national-order-awards/. (Accessed on 19 May 2020)
Mhlaba Foundation. (n.d). Raymond and Dideka Mhlaba Foundation welcomes you, [online], Available at: https://www.mhlabafoundation.org/. (Accessed on 25 June 2020)
SABC News. (2018). In conversation with the Order of Ikhamanga recipient Traci Mackie, [online video], Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxBHmrZCmlI. (Accessed on 21 June 2020)
The Presidency. (n.d). Ms Traci Mackie, [online], Available at: http://www.thepresidency.gov.za/national-orders/recipient/ms-traci-mackie. (Accessed on 19 May 2020)