Deputy President to deliver eulogy at late poet's funeral

Monday, January 15, 2018

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the eulogy at the Special Official Funeral of late Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile on Tuesday. 

The Special Official funeral, as declared by President Jacob Zuma, will take place at Marks Park Sport Club in Emmerentia, Johannesburg, from 9am and will then proceed to West Park Cemetery for the burial. 

In honour of the poet laureate, President Zuma has ordered that the National Flag be flown at half-mast at every flag station in the country on the day of the funeral. 

The Special Funeral Committee spokesperson, Mandla Langa, said the funeral, which will start at the professor’s home in Diepkloof at 7am, is open to the public. 

The renowned professor, who was a veteran activist and a giant of the liberation struggle, passed away on Wednesday, 3 January 2018 at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg. 

Bra Willie (79), as he was affectionately known, was a recipient of the National Order of Ikamanga for his contribution to the field of literature and was inaugurated in 2006 as South Africa’s second National Poet Laureate. 

He taught literature at various institutions across the world such as the University of California in Los Angeles, North Carolina University, State University of New York, University of Denver, University of Nairobi, University of Botswana and the University of Fort Hare. 

In the lead up to the funeral, several events were planned to celebrate and honour the late poet laureate and icon. 

“We are aware of the various events that are organised to celebrate the life of this stalwart in other parts of the country and the world over. We encourage all those concerned to continue celebrating the life of this icon in a dignified manner, befitting an icon of his stature,” said Langa. 

Condolence books have been made available at the family homes both in Killarney and Diepkloof.   

Professor Kgositsile’s memorial service was held on Thursday at the Johannesburg City Hall and in true Kgositsile form, many of the commemorative events included the reading of poetry, jazz music and reflections on society. 

Those who knew Kgositsile personally have described him as a soft-spoken person, who always had a smile on his face. He exuded gentleness and touched the lives of many through his poetry and political activism. 

The life of Keorapetse Kgositsile 

An ANC member, Kgositsile went into exile in 1961 and settled in Tanzania for a year before moving to the United States where he studied worked and published poetry for over a decade. 

In his three decades of exile, Kgositsile continued to fight injustices through his poetry, teachings and publications. 

He lived in several countries including the US, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya. 

Upon his return to South Africa following the jettisoning of the apartheid regime in 1994, Kgositsile worked with several academic and government institutions. In his lifetime, he mentored countless cultural practitioners, academics and political activists. –

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