Miriam Tlali

Miriam Tlali

In the second of our Throwback Thursday Series, we shine a light on South African novelist Miriam Tlali.

Miriam Masoli Tlali was born in Doornfontein, Johannesburg, and studied at the University of the Witwatersrand until it was closed to Blacks during the apartheid era. She later went to the National University of Lesotho (then called Pius the XII University) at Roma, Lesotho. She left that college because of lack of funds, went to secretarial school and found employment as a bookkeeper at a Johannesburg furniture store.

While here, she wrote her first novel, Muriel at Metropolitan a semi-autobiographical novel whose “viewpoint is a new one in South African literature”. Although written in 1969, it was not published for six years, being rejected by many publishing houses in South Africa. This was the first novel written by a black South African female writer. Her new novel was banned almost immediately after publication because the Censorship Board pronounced it undesirable in the South African political context. It was embraced by the wider literary world.

Her second novel, Amandla, which was based on the 1976 Soweto uprising, was also banned in South Africa soon after it was published in 1980. Her books got banned a lot in those dark days. Other books by Tlali include Mihloti, a collection of short stories, interviews and non-fiction, published in 1984 by the black publishing house Skotaville, which she co-founded.

In 1986, the South African apartheid regime finally saw the light and her novels were unbanned.  Better late than never I suppose. Unshackled, she could go about her writing work including her 1989 book Footprints in the Quag, published in South Africa by David philip, was brought out under the title Soweto Stories by Pandora Press.

Here are a few videos about the famous author you can check out on YouTube