Sol Plaatje is a leading figure in South Africa's liberation history. An extraordinary thinker, he spent much of his life mobilising for the liberation of African people. Two national monuments in Kimberley are testament to his legacy and, a museum in Mahikeng is named after him.

Did you know?

In 1998, with several of his descendants present, an honorary doctorate was posthumously conferred on Sol Plaatje by the North West University.

Solomon Tshekisho 'Sol' Plaatje (1876-1932) had little formal education but his incredible acumen and drive ensured that he became a literary and political icon in South Africa.

His status as a leader, activist, writer, journalist and visionary is documented in the Sol Plaatje Museum and Library at 32 Angel Street, Kimberley, the "Diamond City" where he lived for many years and where he is buried. The Kimberley municipality in the Northern Cape province is also named after him.

Born on a farm in Boshof in the Free State, he was part of the group of mission-educated black South Africans who founded the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) in 1912. This became the African National Congress in 1926.

Plaatje, who was offered the leadership of the SANNC in 1917 and turned it down, spent much of his time travelling to London and the United States in his quest to raise awareness of the racial injustice in the land of his birth.

He was, among other things, the first black person known to have kept a diary during war times, documenting the Siege of Mafikeng during the Boer War. He also translated Shakespeare's works and other novels into his home language, Tswana.

The works of Sol Plaatje include several books. Among Sol Plaatje's literature is the seminal Mhudi, the first book published by a black person in South Africa. He was also an editor of vernacular newspapers and was fluent in English, Afrikaans, Dutch, German, French, Sotho, Zulu, and Xhosa.

His grave in Kimberley, and his house in Angel Street, have been declared national monuments as tributes to a person whose resilience, self-esteem and intellect pushed him to the zenith of life in South Africa despite having to daily confront the potentially crushing and demeaning effects of racial injustice.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Sol Plaatje Museum and Library
Tel: +27 (0)82 804 326

How to get here

The Sol Plaatje Museum is in the old diamond mining town of Kimberley, 430km from Johannesburg. Kimberley also has an airport with regular flights.

Best time to visit

Weekdays from 8am to 4pm, or on weekends by appointment.

Around the area

Don't miss the Open Mine Museum and Kimberley's famous 'Big Hole'. The Transport Museum boasts some fine memorabilia from the early days of steam locomotion. Rhodes' Boardroom on Warren St is also an interesting experience.

Tours to do

Take a drive to the Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre, about 15km north west on the road to Barkly West. Here you'll see some fine examples of San rock engravings.

Get around

Self-drive or book a tour.

Length of stay

Spend two days or more exploring Kimberley and the many activities and wildlife offerings within a short range of the city.

Where to stay

Kimberley has a wide choice of accommodation – from historic to backpackers.

What to eat

Kimberley has a wide range of restaurants and food options.