Google celebrates South Africa’s first black woman novelist

Internet giant Google yesterday celebrated the legacy of author and activist Miriam Tlali, South Africa’s first black woman to publish a novel back in 1975.

Tlali died last year in Joburg. She would have turned 85 yesterday.

Her work touched the nerve of the apartheid regime and was frequently banned. Tlali was one of the first people to write about the 1976 Soweto students’ uprising in her second novel Amandla. Her first novel, Muriel the Metropolitan, was published in 1975.

An online search shows that the novel was written in 1969 but not published for at least six years due to many publishing houses in South Africa rejecting it.

In 1975, Ravan Press published it only after removing certain extracts it thought would offend South Africa’s literary watchdog the Censorship Board. Muriel the Metropolitan was banned almost immediately after it was published, as the board considered it undesirable for the political environment at the time.

Amandla is her other acclaimed work, described by University of Cape Town English Professor Barbara Boswell as one of South Africa’s most detailed accounts of the 1976 Soweto uprising from the perspective of a number of young revolutionaries of the time.

“Based on events Tlali witnessed as a Soweto resident during 1976, the novel offers a detailed portrayal of black consciousness ideology in the service of anti-apartheid activism, while explicating gender relations between men and women activists and members of the larger community.”

In 2009 a book club named Miriam Tlali Reading & Book Club was formed in her honour. African News Agency.


Written By:  Getrude Makhafola

First Published 12.11.18:


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