CAPE TOWN, January 4 – President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday joined those paying tribute to renowned South African author and poet Professor William Keorapetse Kgositsile who died in Johannesburg on Wednesday. He was 79.
In a statement, the Presidency said Zuma had “learned with sadness of the passing of renowned and highly respected author and poet and a giant of the struggle for liberation”.
The Presidency noted that Kgositsile was South Africa’s first National Poet Laureate and a recipient of the National Order of Ikhamanga for his contribution to the field of literature.
“Today our country mourns the sad passing of one of the giants of our liberation struggle who was renowned for his accomplishment as well in the education, arts and culture sectors. He was highly regarded even beyond the borders of our country and was a celebrated arts intellectual in the continent. We extend our deepest condolences to the family. May his soul rest in peace,” said President Zuma.
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Wednesday also hailed the contributions of internationally renowned writer, activist and revolutionary, Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile, who died in a Johannesburg hospital earlier in the day. He was 79.
In a statement, the ANC said the tributes pouring in from around the world for the national Poet Laureate, fondly known as Bra Willie, was an indication of the breadth of his influence on young and old alike – and the impact of his work.
“Comrade Kgositsile has left an indelible mark on the cultural and artistic life of not only the land of his birth, but also of Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia and Harlem, New York,” the party said.
The ANC said Kgositsile was an ANC stalwart who dedicated his life to the liberation of South Africa, and that he was a founding member of the ANC’s Department of Education in 1977 and Department of Arts and Culture in 1983.
“A prolific and celebrated writer and poet, he was bestowed with the Order of Ikhamanga in 2008. During his time in the United States he wrote extensively on the influence of jazz music on African-American culture and on the unity of the African diaspora. He was a passionate pan-Africanist whose work was infused with his commitment to the ideal of a free, prosperous and united African continent.
“The tapestry of South African cultural life is all the poorer at his loss and the ANC joins all South Africans in mourning the passing of this great man.”
The ANC called on government to forge ahead with its quest to make more African literature available in the country’s schools in order to expose new generations of South Africans to the works of Bra Willie and many others.
The ANC extended its condolences to the Kgositsile family and wished them strength during this difficult time.
“Hamba Kahle Bra Willie; legend, patriot, revolutionary.”
Parliament on Wednesday paid tribute to anti-apartheid struggle stalwart and National Poet Laureate, Professor Keorapetse William Kgositsile, who died earlier Wednesday. He was 79.
In a statement, Parliament said Kgositsile, born in 1938 in Johannesburg, had distinguished himself as an academic, a poet par excellence, and a champion for freedom and social justice throughout his life in South Africa, while in exile in many countries of the world and on his return home.
“Through his sharp and progressive pen, he contributed in cutting open the oppressive blanket of the apartheid system to keep the liberation spirit burning in the country and abroad,” the statement said. “For this contribution, the world, the African continent and our nation honoured him with numerous literary awards, including the Order Of Ikhamanga Silver he received in 2008, for his ‘excellent achievements in the field of literature and using these exceptional talents to expose the evils of the system of apartheid to the world’.
“The remarkable legacy of Bra Willie, as he was affectionately known, cannot die, but will live on to continue to inspire many to use culture to advance the development of people of South Africa.”
Parliament sent its heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.