Me & Twenty10: Dennis Brutus R.I.P

26/12/2009 at 15:25 2 comments


This  blog was meant to be solely about soccer, the world cup, 2010 in South Africa, groups matches and  so on. But today, I am making an exception. Because today, an exceptional South African has passed away: Dennis Brutus.

Born in what now is called Zimbabwe, Dennis Vincent Brutus dedicated much of his life to the fight against apartheid, oppression, and inequality. He for instance worked to get South Africa suspended from the Olympics, which eventually led to the country’s expulsion from the games in 1970.

He then joined the Anti-Coloured Affairs Department organisation, a group which was against the establishing of the Coloured Affairs Department  to institutionalise divisions between black South Africans and South Africans of mixed race. In 1963, he was arrested and jailed on Robben island for 18 months.

While in prison, he wrote Sirens, Knuckles and Boots, his first collection of poetry. AS he was not allowed to publish in South Africa, the book was published in Nigeria. It later won the Mbari Poetry Prize. Because of the award being aimed at black poets of distinction, Brutus turned it down on the grounds of its racial exclusivity.

After his release, Brutus fled South Africa and ended up in the United States where he was granted to right to stay as a political refugee.   Years after he was unbanned in 1990, he returned home to South Africa. Over the years, he was  based at the University of kwa-Zulu Natal.  Despite his old age, Brutus continued to fight to fight for equality and against Hneo-liberal policies in contemporary South Africa.

I once had the honor to meet Mr Brutus, earlier in 2009. It was an experience I will never forget. This man has meant so much for South Africa. May his spirit live on, forever.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. hyhfairplay  |  18/01/2010 at 08:23

    thought you & your readers might be interested in a new documentary, Fair Play, which tells the story of the anti-apartheid movement sports boycotts Brutus played such a key role in. Here’s a trailer:http://activevoice.net/haveyouheard_fairplay.html.

    Reply
    • 2. Miriam Mannak  |  18/01/2010 at 08:33

      Thank you so much for this! I knew there had been a documentary about him, but did not know which one. Has it been released already? I met Mr Brutus last year, during a book launch. Spoke to him briefly, and I think about it regularly. He was a great human being, and his death is a great loss.

      Reply

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