Internet giant Google on Sunday celebrated the legacy of author and activist Miriam Tlali, South Africa’s first black woman to publish a novel back in 1975.

Tlali died last year in Johannesburg. She would have turned 85 on Sunday.

Her work touched the nerve of the apartheid regime and was frequently banned. Tlali was one of the first people to write about the 1976 Soweto students’ uprising in her second novel “Amandla”.

Her first novel, “Muriel the Metropolitan”, was published in 1975. An online search shows that the novel was written in 1969 and was not published for at least six years due to many publishing houses in South Africa rejecting it.

In 1975, Ravan Press published it only after removing certain extracts they thought would offend South Africa’s literary watchdog the Censorship Board.

Amandla is her other acclaimed work, described by University of Cape Town English Professor Barbara Boswell as one of South Africa’s most detailed accounts of the 1976 Soweto uprising from the perspective of a number of young revolutionaries of the time.

”Based on events Tlali witnessed as a resident of Soweto during 1976, the novel offers a detailed portrayal of black consciousness ideology in the service of anti-apartheid activism, while explicating gender relations between men and women activists and members of the larger community,” Boswell wrote.

On Sunday, she was honoured by Google in South Africa.

Tlali also published a collection of short stories, Mihloti. In 2009, a book club named the Miriam Tlali Reading & Book Club was formed in her honour. The book club has hosted literary giants such as the late national poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile, Nadine Gordimer, Gomolemo Mokae and Pitika Ntuli.

Born on November 11 1933 in Doornfontein, Johannesburg, Tlali grew up in Sophiatown. Her family was forcefully removed to Moroka, Soweto, in 1962. She later lived in the same house.

Tlali, who died in 2017, was the first black woman in South Africa to publish a novel, Muriel at Metropolitan, a semi-autobiography which was based on her time as a clerk at a furniture store in downtown Johannesburg during the height of apartheid.

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