SPU History



SPU History, Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (9 October 1876 – 19 June 1932) was a South African intellectual, journalist, linguist, politician, translator and writer. Plaatje was a founder member and first General Secretary of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC), which became the African National Congress (ANC). The Sol Plaatje Local Municipality, which includes the city of Kimberley, is named after him, as is the Sol Plaatje University in this city, which opened its doors in 2014.



Early Life

Plaatje was born in Doornfontein near Boshof, Orange Free State (now Free State Province, South Africa), the sixth of eight sons. His grandfather’s name was Selogilwe Mogodi but his employer nicknamed him Plaatje and the family started using this as a surname. His parents Johannes and Martha were members of the Tswana nation. They were Christians and worked for missionaries at mission stations in South Africa.



When Solomon was four, the family moved to Pniel near Kimberley in the Cape Colony to work for a German missionary, Ernst Westphal, and his wife Wilhelmine. There he received a mission-education. When he outpaced fellow learners he was given additional private tuition by Mrs Westphal, who also taught him to play the piano and violin and gave him singing lessons.

Career

After leaving school, he moved to Kimberley in 1894 where he became a telegraph messenger for the Post Office. He subsequently passed the clerical examination (the highest in the colony) with higher marks than any other candidate in Dutch and typing  At that time, the Cape Colony had qualified franchise for all men 21 or over, the qualification being that they be able to read and write English or Dutch and earn over 50 pounds a year. Thus, when he turned 21 in 1897, he was able to vote, a right he would later lose when British rule ended.



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Personal Life

He was married to Elizabeth Lilith M’belle, a union that would produce five children – Frederick, Halley, Richard, Violet and Olive.

He died of pneumonia at Pimville, Johannesburg on 19 June 1932 and was buried in Kimberley. Over a thousand people attended the funeral.

Recognition

Decades passed before Plaatje began to receive the recognition he deserved.

In the 1970s interest was stirred in Plaatje’s journalistic and literary legacy through the work of John Comaroff (who edited for the publication of The Boer War Diary of Sol T. Plaatje, and by Tim Couzens and Stephen Gray (who focused attention on Sol Plaatje’s novel, Mhudi.)

Rapidly, his intellect and influence became widespread and respected. Among the many posthumous tributes to Plaatje

Conclusion

Sol Plaatje University is privileged and honored to bear the name of this  intellectual giant of South Africa. His legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of all who are part of this young university, the first to be established in the Northern Cape Province.



About SPU

Sol Plaatje University (SPU) opened in 2014, the first of two new universities to be established in post-apartheid South Africa. It is also the first university to be established in the Northern Cape Province.

Positioned as a niche university

Positioning itself as a niche university, SPU offers academic programmes of a high intellectual nature in fields that meet the needs of the South African thrust to develop a nation that is proud of its heritage and roots.

In developing the focus for its academic disciplines, SPU has looked to the unique needs, competence and characteristics of the Northern Cape region. This approach brought the current focus areas of teacher education, ICT and data science, heritage studies, paleo-sciences and creative writing in African languages to the fore.

Furthermore, in an era of concern about global warming and the more-serious threat to arid regions like the Northern Cape, SPU is developing future programmes in agricultural sciences with a focus on water-stressed conditions. The availability of physical resources together with the intellectual capacity to deliver such programmes will determine how quickly they can be implemented.

Solid relationships with stakeholders

SPU wants to be a serious contributor to the enduring human attempts at giving meaning to complexity, in the particular context of the region.  To do this, the University is forming solid and respectful partnerships with social and institutional structures in Kimberley and in the Northern Cape more generally.  It is in these partnerships that the idea of a university in the Northern Cape presents its most exciting prospect.

Developed as city university

SPU has been developed as a city university in the town of Kimberley. It occupies a combination of existing and purpose-built structures. The architecture of the new buildings has a unique personality and embraces a modern approach to light and space and is inclusive of artwork and design reflecting the heritage of the area.

An important characteristic of a great city is that it also has a good university. Here is the nexus that aligns the development strategies of the city and the University and that demands of SPU to develop and sustain high quality, exciting academic programmes that will be attractive to staff and students from the region and beyond to learn, work and live in Kimberley.

Pride in its namesake

SPU takes pride in the fact that it bears the name of Sol Plaatje, a visionary South African intellectual who embraced the values and ethos to which the University subscribes.

More about Sol Plaatje University

The vision of SPU is  university critically engaging in learning, research and development – while enhancing democratic practice and social justice in society.