n English in Africa - Traversing social landscapes : Sol Plaatje's and the question of community

Volume 41, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



In the announcement of his death in on 20 June 1932, Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje is celebrated as a builder of community who managed to traverse diverse communal boundaries with ease in the bid to create a South Africa in which every citizen, but especially the African, would feel enfranchised. It becomes immediately clear that the stakes of this undertaking were very high: in a country which, after the Union of 1910, introduced more and more discriminatory legislation to curtail the rights of its black population, the question of who belongs to the national family literally becomes one of fortifications, walls and exclusions. This is the paradox of the term "community" to which Jacques Derrida and John D. Caputo refer in the epigraphs to this article: while to identify as a member of a community may generate many important contributions to that community (the "promise"), it also may exclude, and exclude with fierce intensity and even violence (the "threat"), those perceived to be outsiders to that community.

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