Generic instability and the national project: History, nation, and form in Sol T. Plaatje's Mhudi

Michael Green*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the way in which Plaatje, in recreating in Mhudi the genesis of the failed "Union" of South Africa in 1910, keeps open the oppressive history of the present and looks forward to a South Africa that could give scope to his social, cultural, and political ideals. In many ways, such a South Africa is remarkably similar to the one that technically came into being in 1994, but the temptation to bring such historical closure to a text premised on historical open-endedness is one that must be avoided. In tracing the significance of the various editions of Mhudi that have appeared over the years, this paper tries to situate the work in relation to changing senses of the South African national project. It follows the text as it shifts from being read as an appeal for inclusion in the state, to being an oppositional document against the state, to becoming firmly situated within the political orthodoxy of the state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-47
Number of pages14
JournalResearch in African Literatures
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes

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