Early Black South African Transcriptions of Freedom
This chapter examines the uses of musical and textual notation as a sign of modernity for black South African intellectuals writing in English and vernacular languages at the turn of the twentieth century. Sol Plaatje, John and Nokutela Dube, and Charlotte Maxeke relayed African American musical, religious and political discourses from their studies and performances in the U.S. to their compatriots in South Africa, embedding transnational ties within the nascent nationalism of the ANC through transcription. The work of transcription was literal—writing across mediums and an ocean—and specific, rendering oral and aural texts to a written medium. Through a variety of genres, including essays, newspapers, textbooks, novels, song collections, letters and speeches, these South African intellectuals elaborated close personal and philosophical links with those fighting racism and colonialism elsewhere.
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