The history of Sol Plaatje


sol new websiteThe Sol Plaatje Municipality is named after Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje who was a South African Intellectual, Journalist, linguist, politician, translator, and writer. Solomon Plaatje was born just outside Boshof formally the Orange Free State (now Free State Province, South Africa).

He received a mission-education at Pniel. He was given additional private tuition by a missionary, Ernst Westphal, and his wife. In February 1892, aged 15, he became a pupil-teacher. As an activist and politician he spent much of his life in the struggle for the enfranchisement and liberation of African people. He was a founder member and first General Secretary of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC), which would later become the African National Congress (ANC).

As a member of an SANNC deputation he would travel to England to protest the 1913 Native Land Act, and later to Canada and the United States where he met Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. Du Bois. Mr. Plaatje who was fluent in at least seven languages was a court interpreter in court during the Siege of Mafikeng and also translated William Shakespeare’s works into Tswana. His passion for langauge led to him becoming the first black South African to write a novel in English titled Mhudi.

He further explored his talent  in the field of journalism and writing and became editor and co-owner of Koranta ea Becoana in Mafikeng and in Kimberley Tsala ea Becoana. In Kimberley, the house at 32 Angel Street, where Plaatje spent his last years, was declared a National Monument in 1992 (as was his grave in West End Cemetery, in 1997), when it became the Sol Plaatje Museum and Library, run by the Sol Plaatje Educational Trust, with donor funding.