The life and work of legendary South African poet and educator Professor Keorapetse "Bra Willie" Kgositsile is being celebrated around the world, with tributes streaming in via social media.
South Africans are continuing to pay tribute to National Poet Laureate, Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile- He died in Milpark hospital in Johannesburg yesterday at the age of 79 after a long illness. Kgositsile is the former husband of Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete #sabcnews pic.twitter.com/uhgtOMpFKO— SAfm news (@SAfmnews) January 4, 2018
He died on Wednesday at the age of 79 at Milpark Hospital after an illness.
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa reminded the country of the man's extraordinary achievements.
We begin 2018 on a very sombre note with the passing of one of South Africa's most influential and exceptional poets, who went on to become the wRite Association's National Poet laureate & a member of @ArtsCultureSA's Living Legends Legacy Programme, Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile. pic.twitter.com/ydjjl1jyD5— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) January 3, 2018
Born in 1938, Prof Keorapetse "Bra Willie" Kgositsile developed a keen interest in literature in the 1950's, when he was approached by his teacher at Matibane High School the now late Mr Sims, who read his assignments and advised him to take up a professional career in writing. pic.twitter.com/rFzqenHc6Q— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) January 3, 2018
In the 1950's Prof Kgositsile discovered a book by African American writer Richard Wright published in 1945 titled "Black Boy", which went on to greatly influence Prof Kgositsile and helped him realise that he did not have to be a typical English writer. pic.twitter.com/rvFIbVJsiD— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) January 3, 2018
Watch: During #NationalBookWeek in 2011, while he was a Special Advisor to the then Minister of @ArtsCultureSA, Prof Keorapetsi "Bra Willie" Kgositsile revealed the title of the book that influenced him the most in high school. pic.twitter.com/cSoe24Tqq9— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) January 3, 2018
Even president Jacob Zuma offered condolences, and praise for Kgotsile.
"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," Zuma said in a statement.
President Zuma mourns the sad passing of Professor Willie Kgositsilehttps://t.co/vxhPpAv3Oq— PresidencyZA (@PresidencyZA) January 3, 2018
Twitter users used the moment to remember some of the poet's best works:
"When fogs of despair jump up thick in our heads— MphontleYaLehatshe (@MphoMatsitle) January 3, 2018
When struggle becomes the next bottle
Or the warmth between a willing woman's thighs
Sucking into her our hasty greed
Remember O comrade commander of the ready smile
This is pain and decay of purpose"
~ Bra Willie 😭
Peace and liberation to your spirit, our beloved Bra Willie. You said, "either you are a tool of oppression or an instrument of liberation." Your generosity of presence, your gifts of word and heart, your unwavering commitment to justice, liberated us all.#KeorapetseKgositsile— Shailja Patel (@shailjapatel) January 3, 2018