Today is the anniversary of Miriam Tlali, the South African author who died on February 24, 2017, age 83. She was born on November 11, 1933. Today Google celebrates the woman who wrote about injustice at times that would bring her trouble.
Tlali was the first black South African woman to release a novel in the country. Her first novel “Muriel at Metropolitan” was first published in 1975 by Ravan Press.
Miriam Tlali was raised in Sophiatown, a black cultural zone that was destroyed by the South African government in the 50ies, forcing the black people to move into Soweto. So Tlali was inspired to write by her experiences as a black woman in South Africa during the apartheid regime.
Even though her first book was banned in South Africa, Tlali returned in the 80s with “Amandla,” which talk about a young activist named Pholoso. She continuously spoke out against injustice and racism, making her a target to the government, that arrested her in an attempt to intimidate her. She even had to bury her manuscripts to avoid having them destroyed.
Tlali established Skotaville Press, which published her 1984 collection of stories “Mihotli.” She was also a co-founder of Staffrider, where she wrote the column “Soweto Speaking.” Staffrider was a black literary journal.
By the 90ies apartheid legislation failed down and was dismissed, and South Africa had its first multiracial democratic elections in 94. Finally in 1995 Tlali was honored by the South African government’s Department of Arts, Culture, Science, and Technology with a Literary Lifetime Achievement Award, and received the Order of Ikhamanga from the President of South Africa in 2008.