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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Solomon Plaatje's decade of creative mobility, 1912-1922: the politics of travel and writing in and beyond South Africa
Author:Remmington, Janet
Year:2013
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies (ISSN 0305-7070)
Volume:39
Issue:2
Pages:425-446
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:prose
travel
1910-1919
About person:Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (1876-1932)ISNI
Abstract:This article foregrounds the hitherto relatively unexplored travel-writing nexus that characterized the extraordinarily mobile and textually productive decade (1912-1922) of Solomon T. Plaatje, founding General Secretary of the South African Native National Congress (later African National Congress) and South Africa's first black novelist in English. Drawing on cross-disciplinary work, it argues that Plaatje's strategic travel within South Africa and to Britain and North America, combined with the production, publication and circulation of his writing during the tumultuous period of South African segregationist legislation and the First World War, were telling symbiotic means of African political assertion, cultural nationalism, and self-inscription as a modern global citizen. 'Native Life in South Africa' (1916), a construct of crisis and political charge against the 1913 Natives' Land Act and associated subjugation of the black majority, is read as a personalised political travelogue, not least aimed at calling for intervention by metropolitan Britain to aid the native cause. 'Mhudi' (1917-1921/1930), with its more complex, searching impetus in the context of increasing disillusionment with imperial rule is treated as an historicised fictional travel account of the young, black female which challenges colonial, Afrikaner, and traditional African historiographies, while probing possible futures for South Africa in the light of betrayal of black peoples by white. The works concern themselves in part with excavating African, and particularly Bechuana, cultural stores for interplay in the modern world and national asset-building; however they - especially 'Mhudi' - also register something of a modernist search for moorings in a world in upheaval and apparent retrogression. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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