There are two good reasons for the publication of this book. Firstly, the name of Pixley kaIsaka Seme is today almost completely unknown. Yet it was largely because oft his ideas and inspiration that the African National Congress was founded on an overcast but calm day in 1912.
There is no full biography of Seme. Indeed, very little is known about his life. This book, then, aims to make available hitherto unknown material connected with his early years and to give insight into an individual who was one of the South Africa's important historical figures.
Secondly, this book is intended to honor the memory of Dr. Richard Rive, the late South African scholar and writer. Dr. Rive was brutally killed in 1989. His death was a shock to all those who knew him. An understanding of his death can only be located in the complexity of the South African society in which he lived most of life. Dr. Rive left behind him an uncompleted manuscript which contained the story of an important discovery about Seme.
In 1986, Dr. Rive met C. Yvonne Jones, an officer of Northfield Mount Hermon School (in northwestern Massachusetts) who was visiting Cape Town in regards to her school scholarship program for South African students. Dr. Rive, who had just been appointed as a Visiting Professor at Harvard University learned from Ms. Jones the fact that Seme had been a student at Mount Hermon around the turn of the century. This incidental meeting led to Dr. Rive's visit to Mount Hermon school in 1987 and the discovery of documents relating to Seme's life, activities and interests.