Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

Mafeking Diary
A Black Man’s View of a White Man’s War

By Sol T. Plaatje
Edited by John L. Comaroff

“The diary provides an unusual prism through which to examine the famous two-hundred-day siege…Overall, the style comes across as refreshing, vibrant, and always deeply humane, reflecting an extraordinary talent…Comaroff's scholarship also shows him to be a capable historian, making the diary much more than a moving and at times graphic account of the terrors of the siege…This is a must for both Boer War aficionados and all those interested in South Africa.”

Patrick Furlong, The International Journal of African Historical Studies

“The diary contains some delightful descriptive passages; it reveals a fluency and subtlety in conveying the nuances of its author's moods and feelings, and it is enlivened throughout by an imaginative exploration of the capacity of the English language to express the humor and ironies of life under siege, as perceived from a wholly novel perspective.”

Col. W. T. Luckett (Ret.), Journal of Third World Studies

Mafeking Diary is a revelation…It contains a sharp-sighted view of the siege of Mafeking by a budding African intellectual and leader of his people, Solomon Plaatje…Plaatje's prose is crisp, informative, and gripping, and the diary makes marvelous reading.”

Sunday Telegraph

“Sol Plaatje’s Mafeking Diary is a document of enduring importance and fascination. The product of a young black South African court interpreter, just turned 23 years old when he started writing, it opens an entirely new vista on the famous Siege of Mafeking. By shedding light on the part played by the African population of the town, Plaatje explodes the myth, maintained by belligerents, and long perpetuated by both historians and the popular imagination, this this was a white man’s affair. One of the great epics of British imperial history, and perhaps the best remembered episode of the Anglo-Boer war of 1899–1902, is presented from a wholly novel perspective.

“At the same time, the diary provides an intriguing insight into the character of a young man who was to play a key role in South African political and literary history during the first three decades of this century. It reveals much of the perceptions and motives that shaped his own attitudes and intellectual development and, indeed, those of an early generation of African leaders who sought to build a society which did not determine the place of its citizens by the colour of their skin. The diary therefore illuminates the origins of a struggle which continues to this day.”

John L. Comaroff (ed.) in his preface

Sol Plaatje is one of South Africa’s most important political and literary figures. A pioneer in the history of the black press, he was one of the founders of the African National Congress, a leading spokesman for black opinion throughout his life, and the author of three well-known books: Mafeking Diary, Native Life in South Africa, and his historical novel, Mhudi.   More info →

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