Sol Plaatje is one of South Africa’s most important political and literary figures. A pioneer in the history of the black press, he was one of the founders of the African National Congress, a leading spokesman for black opinion throughout his life, and the author of three well-known books: Mafeking Diary, Native Life in South Africa, and his historical novel, Mhudi.
These books are not Plaatje’s only claim to fame. In the course of a prolific career he wrote letters to the press, newspaper articles and editorials, pamphlets, political speeches, evidence to government commissions of enquiry, unpublished autobiographical writings, and many personal letters. Together they provide both an engaging personal record and a very readable – and revealing – commentary on South African social and political affairs during the era of segregation, from 1899 through to Plaatje’s tragically early death in 1932.
What he wrote has a unique historical importance, all the more meaningful from the perspective of the 1990s.