Bra Willie contributed towards youth development

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The late Professor Keorapetse William Kgositsile contributed towards youth development and nurtured young talent, says Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“He mentored numerous younger poets, many of whom have become household names today. He always encouraged the youth to hone their skills to empower themselves,” Deputy President Ramaphosa said.

He was delivering the eulogy at the Special Official Funeral of Kgositsile, which took place on Tuesday at Marks Park Sport Club in Emmerentia, Johannesburg.

The renowned professor, who was a veteran activist and a giant of the liberation struggle, passed away in Johannesburg on 3 January after a short illness.

“As the National Poet Laureate, he devoted his time to teaching, imparting skills and knowledge through workshops and public reading, as well as performing poetry across different platforms locally and internationally.

“In paying tribute to him, we must spare no effort in raising our youth – black and white – to grow up to support his vision of pan-Africanism and international solidarity with Africans in the diaspora,” Deputy President Ramaphosa said.

He further called for the revival of the people’s cultural journal, Rixaka, to honour Kgositsile.

Paying tribute to the poet, the Deputy President said he was among the pantheon of writers who used their pen to fight against the injustices of apartheid.

“His involvement in the struggle was driven by a genuine desire to fight human injustice as epitomised by apartheid.

“Bra Willie was a humble character, who never dwelled on his own achievements and contribution to the attainment of freedom and democracy,” he said.

Kgositsile spent a significant number of his exile years in the United States, where he established himself as a poet and political activist while furthering his studies.  

“His passing should be a salient reminder of the important role that poets, writers and other artists play in our society.

“We must do more to sustain the legacy of this icon so that future generations know who Keorapetse Kgositsile was,” Deputy President Ramaphosa said.

He said Kgositsile was continuously seized in ensuring that government addresses the challenges that faced our nation such as poverty, unemployment and inequality.

“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,” Deputy President Ramaphosa said.

Kgositsile is survived by his wife, Baby Dorcas Kgositsile, three sisters and several children as well as grandchildren.

In a letter to her husband, Baby described him as a great father, a man who had a big heart and loved his friends.

“Your love for your children was immense. I will never forget your last hours on this earth. I held on to your right arm and I read to you,” Baby said in a letter that was read by actress Gail Mabalane.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said the life of Kgositsile should be honoured by placing education and the arts at the centre of the country’s efforts to transform the nation to a democratic, equal and just society.

“We can honour him by repudiating intellectual laziness and ethical leadership. He was a man of hope and dreams. We can honour him by renewing our hopes. We can choose to be hopeful.

“We can honour him by having an appreciation for his work,” Premier Makhura said.

Struggle veteran Barbara Masekela told mourners that Kgositsile was a dedicated artist, teacher and a freedom fighter, whose contribution to the liberation struggle is yet to be appreciated in full.

“He regarded his creativity as a legitimate calling. He embraced all people of the world… He was a principled and well informed cadre,” she said. –

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