Miriam Tlali: The First Black Woman To Publish A Novel In South Africa Is Dead

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One of South Arfrica’s internationally acclaimed authors Miriam Tlali has passed on.

President Jacob Zuma extended his condolences on the passing of the legendary novelist who died on 24 February, 2017. She was 83.

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“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‚ amongst 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.”



Miriam Tlali was the first black woman to publish a novel in South Africa. Her debut novel‚ Muriel at Metropolitan‚ was published in 1975. Nevertheless, it was banned four years later by the then apartheid government. In 1976, she published her second novel‚ Amandla‚ based on the youth uprisings and it was also banned. Both novels were translated into different foreign languages‚ including Japanese‚ Polish‚ German and Dutch.

Born in Doornfontein, Johannesburg in 1933, the novelist was refused admission to study literature at the University of the Witwatersrand because of racial policies. She later went to study at Pius the XII University (now University of Lesotho).

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However, Tlali was forced to drop out because of financial challenges and later got a job as a bookkeeper at a furniture store.

Tlali has won many awards through her outstanding literary works which took her around the world.