Legendary Miriam Tlali, South Africa’s First Black Woman Novelist‚ Is Dead

 

President Jacob Zuma has expressed his condolences on the passing of legendary author Miriam Tlali‚ who died last weekend.

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Tlali‚ the first black woman to publish a novel in South Africa‚ was 83.

“We have learned with deep sadness of the passing of one of the country’s internationally celebrated black female authors‚ Ms Tlali‚ who played a critical role during the liberation struggle by telling a true South African story through her anti-apartheid novels‚ among other writings‚” Zuma said in a statement.

“She will be remembered for her outstanding literary work which earned her several accolades and honours including the Order of Ikhamanga which was bestowed on her for her excellent intellectual achievements and contribution to the development of literature in South Africa. We wish to convey our deepest condolences to her family‚ relatives and all in the arts and culture industry. May her soul rest in peace.”

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Some of her novels

Tlali was born in Doornfontein in Johannesburg and grew up in Sophiatown‚ according to sahistory.org.za. Tlali applied to study literature at the University of the Witwatersrand‚ but could not gain entry because of racial policies‚ and instead went to study at Pius the XII University (now University of Lesotho). After being forced to drop out because of financial constraints‚ Tlali found a job as a bookkeeper at a furniture store.

Tlali’s groundbreaking novel‚ Muriel at Metropolitan‚ was published in 1975 and banned four years later by the apartheid government. Her second novel‚ Amandla‚ was based on the 1976 youth uprisings and suffered the same fate shortly after publication. Both novels were translated into several languages‚ including Japanese‚ Polish‚ German and Dutch.

Tlali’s literature took her all over the world‚ including a residency at Yale University in 1989.

In 1995‚ the Department of Arts‚ Culture‚ Science and Technology honoured her with a Literary Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2008 she received the Presidential Award‚ Ikhamanga Silver.

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