Seetsele Modiri Molema’s Sol T Plaatje: Morata Wabo is the first biography of Solomon Plaatje written in his mother-tongue, Setswana, and the only book-length biography written by someone who actually knew him. The manuscript had long been housed in the Wits Historical Papers and accessible only to scholars. DS Matjila and Karen Haire have mined the archive to produce the first English translation of Molema’s biography, Lover of his People.
Molema balances Plaatje’s public and political persona – as a pioneer black politician and man of letters – with an intimate account of Plaatje the human being: his physical features, habits, temperament, talents, personality, character, fears, struggles, dreams and aspirations. He illuminates the spirit of Plaatje, painting a personal portrait.
Recognizing that the biographer was an extraordinary scholar, intellectual and politician in his own right, the book includes a chapter on the life and legacy of Seetsele Modiri Molema and his contribution to South Africa’s black intellectual heritage. The editors highlight some of the ways in which the book might be relevant to contemporary South African readers and, in inspiring them about a local historical figure, prompt critical thinking about pertinent issues such as gender, the future of African languages and the re-writing of history.