'Bra Willie, our dream maker through poems and literature' - Ramaphosa

2018-01-16 19:20
(Nation Nyoka, News24)

(Nation Nyoka, News24)

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Late poet laureate Kgositsile helped shape hip hop culture

2018-01-11 15:23

Poet laureat Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile died earlier this month at the age of 79. He will be remembered for his political activism, as well as his support and influence around Arts and Culture in South Africa post-1994. Watch. WATCH

Johannesburg - South African poet and activist Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile's acclaimed work formed part of the celebration of his life as speakers recited quotes from his poems and urged others to read his work.

Members of the ANC in Gauteng, which he worked with leading up to his death, attended the late poet laureate's funeral dressed in the governing party's trademark green, black and gold attire.

The artist's daughter-in-law Gail Mabalane read a letter to the poet from his wife Baby Kgositsile. In it, the professor's wife spoke about conversations they used to have and his final moments in hospital.

'My best friend, soul mate, lover'

"I know that you were my best friend, soul mate, lover... I will never forget your last hours on this earth. I held your hand and read to you," read Mabalane.

Celebrated South African jazz musician Jonas Mosa Gwangwa, who befriended the creative marvel, played one of his favourite songs in his honour.

Although the mood was sombre and many shed tears, Deputy President Ramaphosa said he knew Bra Willie, as he was fondly known, wanted a big celebration for what would have been his 80th birthday this year, suggesting that the celebrations must continue even in the form of a public lecture or festival to honour the fallen giant.

"His words are engrained in our hearts and minds. He will continue serving as a guiding light as we move forward to implement the dreams he had for our people," Ramaphosa said.

He delivered the eulogy at the artist and struggle activist's special official funeral on Tuesday.

Seventy-nine-year-old Kgositsile died on January 3, 2018, following a short illness.

'Words that challenged, inspired and provoked'

"His passing must be a reminder of an important role that writers and other artists play in our society," said Ramaphosa.

The deputy president, like several others before him, relayed stories of Bra Willie's life and involvement in South Africa's struggle for liberation. The professor left for exile at the age of 23 only to return to the country after three decades.

"He chose words that challenged, inspired and provoked," said Ramaphosa.

Several figures from both the political and artistic world also attended the funeral, these included former president Kgalema Motlanthe, the poet's ex-wife National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, ministers Jeff Radebe and Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the Economic Freedom Fighter's Dali Mpofu, and musicians Dorothy Masuka, Jonas Gwangwa and Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuza, many of whom shed tears during the funeral.

Ramaphosa also said Bra Willie's passing should serve as a reminder for South Africa to value its artists, urging for them to be celebrated while still alive.

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  keorapetse kgositsile  |  johannesburg

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