The Diary of Sol T. Plaatje
Acutely insightful, humorous, engrossing, and lyrically written, Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje’s Mafeking Diary – published over several decades in three editions under slightly different titles (1973, 1990, and 1999), with a 50th Anniversary planned – provides an extraordinary account of the Siege of Mafeking, itself one of the most famous episodes of the South African War (1899-2001) and a critical episode in British imperial history. The only diary of the war by a black South African to have survived, it opens to entirely new scrutiny the part played by the African population of the town in what was supposedly `a white man’s war` – and offers a critique of the conduct of the siege by the two colonial powers involved in it, British and Boer. At the same time, it affords keen insight into the mind and spirit of a man who was to become co-founder and the first general secretary of the South African Native National Congress (later the ANC) in 1912 and to serve as a major international spokesmen for black rights in the early part of the twentieth century; a man who, despite very limited education, was also to emerge as a prolific journalist and cultural producer, translator of Shakespeare into an African language, author of the first novel by a black South African (Mhudi) and a critically acclaimed political text (Native Life in South Africa), as well as a famously multilingual public intellectual. For the centennial edition of the Mafeking Diary the editors have returned to the original manuscript in order to provide the fullest, most accurate version possible, augmented by new archival and additional documentary research.