(activist, educator, journalist and poet 1924 – 2009)
“A troubadour, I traverse all my land exploring all her wide-flung parts with zest probing in motion sweeter far than rest …”
Born in Zimbabwe in 1924, Brutus grew up in Port Elizabeth from the age of four. Having studied as the University of Fort Hare and University of Witswatersrand he taught high school English and Afrikaans but was dismissed because of his political views
He was politicised in the Eastern Cape Trotskyist movement and later, because of his love for sports, became an activist against racial exclusion in sports. He was instrumental in getting South Africa banned from participating in international sports. He was in the prison cell next to next to Nelson Mandela on Robben Island in 1964 when he heard South African had been banned from the Tokyo Olympics.
Having been banned from teaching, writing and publishing in South African his first collection of poetry Sirens, Knuckles and Boots. Subsequently he published 14 books including Poems from Algiers, A Simple Lust, Still the Sirens, Remembering Soweto and Poetry and Protest.
Brutus returned to South Africa and remained an activist and writer. Described by Olu Oguibe as “a fearless campaigner for justice, a relentless organizer, an incorrigible romantic, and a great humanist and teacher.”
Brutus died of prostrate cancer in 2009.
this poem appears in our print quarterly number eight, Dear South Africa.
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