For The People

Mhudi and the Critics

As part of the School of Humanities faculty’s Seminar Series, Sol Plaatje University hosted Dr Brian Willian in the Humanities seminar room, speaking on the novel Mhudi by journalist, linguist, politician, translator and writer, Solomon T. Plaatje, which will celebrate its centenary next year.

Mhudi was published in 1930, albeit written in 1920 in London. It boasts the first novel written in English by a black writer and is a cornerstone of African literature. The novel is a political historical novel which explores the development of the Transvaal Kingdom, led by Matabeleland. It re-envisions the standard Eurocentric narrative of history which supported Apartheid and its racist infrastructure.

“The author has excelled himself in depicting the relationship between white and black in those distant days as explaining the tradition of the typical Boer attitude towards Africans in the present day. It constitutes the political core of this novel because it demonstrates the root causes of the race problem in South Africa, showing just where the road of racial amity part, and provoking hard thinking over the discovery of the necessary panacea for future race adjustments,” says Willian.

What makes the novel even more significant for inhabitants of the Northern Cape is that the author is from the province’s capital. The only university in the Northern Cape is named after Sol Plaatje, furthermore, residences of Sol Plaatje University, such as Mhudi Hall, Moroka Hall of Residence, Ra-Thaga and Tauana Hall of Residence, are named after characters in this historical novel.

The significance of the author is celebrated 87 years after his death.

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