Dennis Brutus RIP


Dennis Brutus RIP


South African poet and former political prisoner Dennis Brutus, who fought apartheid in words and deeds and remained an activist well after the fall of his country’s racist system, has died. He was 85.
In the height of his activism he had been incarcerated in the cell next to that of Nelson Mandela on Robben Island from 1964 to 1965 for anti-apartheid activities. He was later instrumental in the banning of South Africa from the Olympic Movement from 1970 to 1992. Brutus poetry was widely read and he regularly taught as visiting professor at universities around the world.

Even in his last days, Brutus was fully engaged, advocating social protest against those responsible for climate change, and promoting reparations to black South Africans from corporations that benefited from apartheid.

Viva la Revolution

Today we lost a bright light, may his work inspire others to pick up the torch and help bring change to our fading systems.

Here is one of my favourite poems by the man himself:

Their Behavior

Their guilt
is not so very different from ours:
who has not joyed in the arbitrary exercise of power
or grasped for himself what might have been another’s
and who has not used superior force in the
moment when he could,
(and who of us has not been tempted to these things?)
so, in their guilt,
the bare ferocity of teeth,
chest-thumping challenge and defiance,
the deafening clamor of their prayers
to a deity made in the image of their prejudice
which drowns the voice of conscience,
is mirrored our predicament
but on a social, massive, organized scale
which magnifies enormously
as the private dehabille of love
becomes obscene in orgies.


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