Meet Miriam Tlali, first black woman to publish a novel in SA

Meet Miriam Tlali, first black woman to publish a novel in SA

- Miriam Tlali was South Africa's first black female to publish a novel

- The novel, Muriel at Metropolitan, shared her experiences in apartheid South Africa

- The apartheid regime banned it, but it was published internationally

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The late Miriam Tlali made history as the first black woman to publish a novel in South Africa back in 1975.

Global search engine Google honoured Tlali with a "Google Doole" on its website to celebrate what would have been her 85th birthday on 11 November.

Google in Africa paid tribute to her on Twitter, writing that she "courageously spoke out against injustice at a time it was almost impossible to do so."

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Who was Miriam Tlali?

Tlali was born on 11 November, 1933 in Doornfontein, Johannesburg. In 1962, the apartheid regime forced her family to move to Meadowlands, Soweto.

According to TimesLIVE, she matriculated at the age of 15 and excelled in languages. Although she enrolled for a BA at Wits University, apartheid's laws meant she couldn't study.

Tlali then enrolled at the University of Lesotho, but had to drop out because of financial difficulties.

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Miriam Tlali's writing career

Tlali later found a job as a bookkeeper at a furniture store in Johannesburg, Briefly.co.za learned. However, she resigned in 1969 to care for her mom-in-law.

It was at this point that she wrote a novel, Muriel at Metropolitan. It was a semi-autobiographical account of her life under apartheid. In an interview, she said:

I was surprised that I was the first black woman to write a book. I took it for granted that there must be someone else who had authored literature.

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The novel was published in 1975, but the apartheid regime banned it in 1979. Fortunately, it was also published internationally.

Tlali's other titles include Amandla (1980), Mihloti (1984), Footprints in the Quag: Stories (1989), and Dialogues from Soweto (1989).

Her books tackled various themes of life under apartheid, especially gender based violence. She received several awards, including the Order of Ikhamanga (Silver) in 2008.

Tlali passed away in 2017, leaving behind two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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