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Sol Plaatje

A Life of Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje, 1876-1932
Brian Willan

BUY Paper · 770 pp. · 6.125 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813942094 · $45.00 · May 2019
BUY Ebook · 770 pp. · ISBN 9780813943671 · $45.00 · May 2019

While the story of modern South Africa has long captured global attention, the story of one of its key forefathers has been eclipsed by those of more iconic political figures. In Sol Plaatje: A Life, Brian Willan restores to history the importance of a remarkable man whose contributions as an intellectual, politician, teacher, linguist, and journalist expanded and advanced the vision of a common South Africa.

Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources reflecting decades of archival and field work, Willan animates Plaatje’s personal and professional fortunes in the context of the tumultuous changes that overtook South Africa during his lifetime, spanning the country’s industrialization and the rise of African nationalism in the early twentieth century. A pioneer in the history of the black press and a literary luminary, Plaatje translated Shakespeare into his native tongue, Setswana, the first such into any African language. Plaatje was a founder of the African National Congress in 1912 and led its campaign against the notorious Natives Land Act of 1913, efforts resonant more than a century later as the ANC today seeks to salvage its legacy from the stain of twenty-first-century corruption. This richly woven biography is essential reading for anyone interested in the generation of black leaders who came before Mandela.

For sale in the US only.


Extraordinary. Willan offers fresh perspectives and evidence with a rare richness and depth.

Steven D. Gish, Auburn University at Montgomery, author of Alfred B. Xuma: African, American, South African

Like Plaatje’s writing, this book deserves to be widely read.

American Historical Review

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