He was extremely influential as a linguist and grammarian, especially in southern Africa, to the extent that Herbert refers to Doke as ‘the single most important figure in the history of Southern African linguistics’ (2). It is a great pity that for Bantu publications the demand is at present so small among the Bantu themselves that books such as this have to be written in English.Doke’s sense of mission and strong ethical principles also led him to oppose the increasing segregation of South African society. With regard to books suitable for general and cultural reading in the upper classes, Zulu is not in so fortunate a position as is Xhosa. There is still a dearth in Zulu of imaginative literature, and a Zulu novelist has yet to be found.
Inspiré alors par la publication de romans d’auteurs sud-africains noirs en anglais, Doke créa la collection afin de permettre à des auteurs de publier dans les langues africaines locales.
Cet article se propose d’examiner l’histoire et l’impact de la collection Because it is an international language, and for historical reasons, English is often considered the language of scholarship in South Africa, so this is hardly surprising.
But the press would not have earned this reputation without the commitment of Professor Clement Doke.
Inspired by the publication of novels in English by black South African authors, Doke established the series to provide a publications outlet in the local African languages.
The title-page bears the title ‘The Bantu Treasury,’ and gives promise of a series to be, in which the best literary work of Bantu writers in their own languages shall be made available for their natural audience, and so shall become a stimulus to intellectual and spiritual growth.
There is a steadily increasing group of young Africans who are possessed of literary talent and are working hard to perfect themselves in various media of expression.
For one thing, the usual author profile of the university press was white males, with an occasional female author.
Very few black authors were published, outside of this series, until the 1980s.
As a result, it could be argued that WUP was not itself dedicated to African language publishing from the start, as it was only as late as 1960 that the university press would take over the sales and administration of the Bantu Treasury Series and other books from the Department. Herbert describes, ‘to initiate an intellectual revolution in the study of African languages and in the making and creation of Bantu literature’ (2). The novel was published in English rather than Setswana – indeed, it is often identified as the first novel in English by a black South African author – and Doke is said to have initiated the series in response, to support writing in the African languages.
His sense of mission, however, did not abate; rather, it turned to his academic interests, and specifically to African languages. In 1925, Doke’s doctoral work focused on , and in 1931, he was appointed Chair of the Department. In a review of Mr Plaatje has done a good service in writing this.