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Sol T. Plaatje (Solomon Tshekiso Plaatje) Biography

(1878–1932), (Solomon Tshekiso Plaatje), The Boer War Diary of Sol T. Plaatje, The Tswana Gazette

war african south africa

South African novelist, linguist, journalist, and statesman, born near Boshof, Orange Free State. He served as an interpreter with the British Army during the Anglo-Boer War (18991902). The Boer War Diary of Sol T. Plaatje (1973), written during the siege of Mafeking, is an important document about the experience of black Africans in that conflict. From 1901 to 1908 Plaatje lived in Mafeking and edited a Setswana weekly journal whose title translates as The Tswana Gazette. During the First World War he led an unsuccessful delegation in London to protest against the Natives' Land Act, forerunner of later apartheid legislation. In the same period he wrote a pamphlet, The Mote and the Beam (1920), which exposed racism in South Africa, and a historical novel, Mhudi (1930). It was the first novel in English published by a black African and deals with violent conflict between the Barolong and the Matebele tribes, and the encroachment of the Boers. Tim Couzens in his introduction to the 1975 reprint draws attention to Plaatje's use of proverb and fable in his fiction, a practice which was to be followed by many later African novelists writing in European languages, notably Achebe. Plaatje produced a scholarly work, Native Life in South Africa (1916), a compilation of Sechuana Proverbs (1916), and translations of Shakespeare into Tswana.

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