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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  207 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Mhudi, the first full-length novel in English by a black South African, was written in the late 1910s. A romantic epic set in the first half of the nineteenth century, the main action is unleashed by King Mzilikazi's extermination campaign against the Barolong in 1832 at Kunana (nowadays Setlagole), and covers the resultant alliance of defeated peoples with Boer frontiersm ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published August 30th 2006 by Penguin Global (first published 1970)
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3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  207 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Jan 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Mhudi was the first book assigned for my current English class, Multicultural Literary Studies. The class focuses on African and Caribbean literature, neither of which I'm very familiar with. My professor is a 60-year-old feisty black woman who grew up in the rural Midwest and has traveled to Africa several times (Senegal, South Africa, and Swaziland I believe). Forgive me for my brief departure from the book review, but I just have to say that I love this professor. Most of the class is spent l ...more
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, historical, african
'Mhudi' is the first English novel to be published by a black South African, making this not only a significant piece of writing, but a historic milestone.

The novel opens with the near complete destruction of the Barolong tribe by the Matabele under the rule of Mtzilikazi. Men, women and children were slaughtered indiscriminately. Only Ra-Taga and Mhudi survive. The two meet after many days of wondering, trying to find some human contact, living in terror of stumbling upon further Matabele. From
Puleng Hopper
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
South African literature especially history is plagued with bias, propaganda and inaccuracies. Reason being that it is predominantly penned by White writers who are enabled by readily available resources to them. In Mhudi, Plaatje seeks to give a different perspective to certain false narrations. To give back dignity and truth to those misrepresented in main stream history.

According to White historians , Zulus are barbaric savages who kill for no reason. Barolong and Basotho are painted as timid
Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Plaatje creates a timeless, almost mythical feel in this story of survival and the need for human connections in a violent and uncertain world. The ending is ambiguous: Ra-Thaga and Mhudi head into a future they hope will be more peaceful and settled than their past, but Plaatje and we know the horrors of dispossession and oppression that await them as the Boers settle the land, so it's hard to take the characters' hopefulness at face value.
Mish Middelmann
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How things change...

Forty years ago I was studying African history and devouring every edition of the Heinemann African Writers Series, hungry to connect with the soul and lineage of the people of this land.

Yet this pearl of South African writing didn’t even cross my radar amongst the wonderful books from our neighbours near and far: Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Ama Ata Aidoo, Sembene Ousmane, Bessie Head, and so many more. It was the homage paid to Mhudi by Achmat Dangor in Dikeledi: Chi
Audrey Gerard
Cracks in the ideologies of indigenous resistance coming from a South African author himself. Fast read of a story of wisdom, resistance, and a shifting of the lens that provides a somewhat refreshing narrative compared to some other narratives circulating in 19th century novels.
Steve Mayberry
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
If you're looking for a historical-fiction treatment of the Matabele/Barolong conflict, this is the best one out there.
Thabiso Lakajoe
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I bought Mhudi ten years ago and could not go past the first page.
Grant Earnest
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Mhudi provides a fine fictionalized history of the clashes between rival South African tribes and Boers during the Mfecane era. Where the novel drags is as romance between two survivors of a massacre by the Matabele, a Zulu offshoot. The dialogue is highly expository, which as historical speeches a la Thucydides is fine, but as romance dull. Having read a few novels by/about Africans, I wonder if the Zulu/Bantu languages are as overly formally when translated to English as the conversations in t ...more
Sep 04, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: students interested in African history and folktales
Mhudi is a romance set against the historical backdrop of South African tribes’ clashes with each other and with white colonialists in the 1830’s. It is set in eastern South Africa, and its principal characters are Mhudi and Ra-Thaga, a Barolong couple who meet and marry after their village is destroyed by the fierce Matabele tribe. The Matabele are ruled by Mzilikazi, whose reputation as an unreasonable, bloodthirsty tyrant has forced most area tribes into fearful submission. In the end, howeve ...more
Feb 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: around-the-world
Apart from its historical status as the first novel by a black South African, this is an enjoyable historical novel, but not an especially outstanding one. The two main characters (who meet and become a couple in exile after a massacre of their tribe by a rival nation) are fun, especially the independent-minded Mhudi, but a little too noble to feel realistic. Despite this, it's not a black-and-white story of good and evil: it documents the uneasy alliances of the time between natives and the Boe ...more
Vinicius Ribeiro
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Mhudi is a story of survival, war, love and inter-racial friendship in a late-1800s Southern Africa that was only beginning to learn that such a thing is possible. Plaatje is one of SA's best writers and this book is a classic that I warmly recommend to all of those interested in learning more about this amazing country.
Stephen Ross
Aug 10, 2013 rated it liked it
The story of a Barolongo woman who flees when her village and tribe are massacred in the late nineteenth century, around the time of the Great Trek by the Boers, this is a remarkable novel for its gender dimensions, its complex view of colonialist and indigenous politics, and its weaving of myth with history. As a South African modernist novel, it is extraordinary.
Sep 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. A masterpiece that illuminates the tumultuous period that led to the colonization of South Africa known as the mfecane, but also highlights the most basic instincts and feelings of the human heart.
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first book we read for Modern African Literature and a good one! It can be read in one sitting, portrays the complexities of conflict within southern Africa before the Dutch and British came, and is by a fascinating figure in literary history.
Honestly, I should probably give this more than two stars, seeing how it was the very first novel written by an African, but I just can't. It was pretty bad.
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful African love story!
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This novel is important in the history of fiction in South Africa, and still an interesting read in its own right.
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
First important novel in English by a black South African writer who was a founder of the organization that became the ANC; much more than just historically interesting
Mariet Steinmann
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mhudi by sol plaajte 1 9 Sep 05, 2010 12:09PM  
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Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje was born near Boshof, Orange Free State (now Free State Province, South Africa). He received a mission-education at Pniel. When he outpaced fellow learners he was given additional private tuition by a missionary, Ernst Westphal, and his wife. In February 1892, aged 15, he became a pupil-teacher, a post he held for two years.
As an activist and politician he spent much of
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“One party went to far away Zimbabwe and returned with pack-oxen loaded with ivory, rhinoceros hides, lion skins and hog tusks. They reported finding a people whose women dug the mountain sides for nuggets and brittle stones, which they brought home to boil and produce a beautiful metal from which to mould bangles and ornaments of rare beauty. That was the Matebele’s first experience of gold smelting. [182]” 2 likes
“There’s always a return to the ruins, only to the womb there is no return. [191]” 2 likes
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