We should know a lot more about Miriam Tlali - the first black woman to publish a novel in SA

Miriam Tlali Google doodle screenshot
Miriam Tlali Google doodle screenshot

That great Google Doodle of Miriam Tlali that faced us each time we used the browser this weekend to find the number of a restaurant or visit our favourite news site, reminded us of one of the greatest figures to come from South Africa.

The commemoration of the passing of internationally renowned author and the first published black woman author in South Africa had us remembering the good reads Mam’Miriam gifted us. 

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A number of Ma Miriam’s books were banned, having been published during the apartheid era, such as Amandla, which was based on the historic 1976 Soweto uprising. 

According to this profile on News24, Ma Miriam matriculating when she was only 15 years old and attributed her passion for reading at a young age to who she said were her "very good teachers".

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SA History notes that Ma Miriam wanted to study literature at the University of the Witwatersrand but was not admitted because of the reservation of positions for white students. She later went to study at the University of Lesotho, formerly Pius the XII University but could not complete her studies due to financial difficulties and found a job as a bookkeeper at a furniture store.

Despite the challenges that came her way, Ma Miriam pursued her writing career and went on to publish the most notable books and receive many accolades.

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One of her many honours was being a recipient of the National Orders Recipients in 2008, alongside jazz and opera musician Sibongile Khumalo. The Presidential award, the Order of Ikhamanga (silver), was awarded to her, “For excellent intellectual achievements and contribution to the development of literature in South Africa.”

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Ma Miriam sadly died in 2017, but left behind a wealth of knowledge in the following books:

Muriel at Metropolitan - $9.92 (about R142)

According to Goodreads.com, Between Two Worlds, originally published with the title Between Two Worlds, the novel was banned on grounds of language derogatory to Afrikaners. The book did receive worldwide acclaim.

Between Two Worlds by Miriam Tlali


This book was banned very soon after it was published. According to SA History, the novel based on the 1976 Soweto uprising, was banned only weeks after it was published. It did though gain international popularity and translated to various languages, including Japanese, Polish, German and Dutch.

Amandla by Miriam Tlali

Mihloti - $10.00 (about R143)

This book is a non-fiction collection of short stories and interviews.

Mihloti by Miriam Tlali

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