Mrs. Plum Historical Context

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South Africa and Apartheid

Mphahlele wrote "Mrs. Plum" while he was living in Paris, in exile from South Africa. He had left his country because he could no longer live and work under the restrictions of the system of laws called apartheid.

Records show that various dark-skinned peoples have inhabited the land that is now South Africa since the eleventh century. The first Europeans arrived in 1488, and by the middle of the seventeenth century, Dutch settlers called Boers had begun farming and establishing towns. By 1779, there were fifteen thousand whites living in South Africa and millions of blacks of different ethnic groups. The blacks had complicated systems of kingship and lived mostly by herding and farming. Their lack of sophisticated technology, especially modern weapons, meant that they could not retain their lands and their power against the white settlers. British settlers arrived in 1820, and at the turn of...

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Mrs. Plum from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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