Today’s Google Doodle Celebrates The First Black South African Woman Author To Publish a Novel

The book was about the struggles of black women under apartheid rule.

Today would mark Miriam Tlali's 85th birthday, the South African author who died on February 24, 2017, aged 83. She was born on November 11, 1933. Today's Google doodle celebrates the icon who wrote about injustice at a time when it came at a steep price.

Tlali was the first black South African woman author to publish a novel in the country. Her debut novel Muriel at Metropolitan was first published in 1975 by Ravan Press. The author didn't like the book's title, which was originally Between Two Worlds, and had some chapters and sentences edited out of the book.

According to an article on The Conversation South Africa, Tlali agreed to have the book published under that title because her mother was close to dying, and she wanted her to see the novel in print before her death.

In the book, the author wrote about the experiences of being a black woman in apartheid South Africa, highlighting the humiliations that came with it and how the ways of the apartheid regime deterred black women's progress. The book was based on her experience as an administrative assistant in a furniture store in Joburg.

The book made an impact globally, as 45 different editions were published between 1975 and 2005, and it was translated into three languages.

Tlali went on to publish the novel Amandla in 1980, and two collections of short stories, Footprints in the Quag: Stories and Dialogues from Soweto (1989) and Mihloti (1984).

Muriel at Metropolitan was re-issued in 2004 under the original title. She wrote in the preface:

"I returned to my matchbox house in Soweto, locked myself in my little bedroom and cried… Five whole chapters had been removed; also paragraphs, phrases, and sentences. It was devastating, to say the least."

Read more about Tlali here, here, and here.


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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