Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dennis Brutus, anti-apartheid poet

Renowned South African poet and activist Dennis Brutus died in his sleep on December 26th in Cape Town. He was 85 years old.

Brutus was a leading opponent of the apartheid state. He helped secure South Africa’s suspension from the Olympics, eventually forcing the country to be expelled from the Games in 1970. Arrested in 1963, he was sentenced to eighteen months of hard labor on Robben Island, off Cape Town, with Nelson Mandela (Democracy Now).

With the opening of the film Invictus, it should be noted that Brutus was instrumental in liberating South African sports from the culture of apartheid. His writings and teachings were banned in the old South Africa.

Chicago can at least partially claim Dennis from his days as a political refugee and activist professor here at Northwestern University. R.I.P. Dennis


  1. Viva to a South Africa that is slowly getting to normal, thanks to the likes of Dennis Brutus this eventually starting to happen now. Sad day indeed. RIP

  2. Thank you for posting this. I thought about Dennis a lot when I saw Ivictus the other day. Pittsburgh also has some small claim to Dennis as well through his work at the University of Pittsburgh and Thomas Merton Center. I am going to miss him dearly as a friend and mentor.
    Celeste Taylor

  3. thought you might be interested in a new documentary, Fair Play, which tells the story of the anti-apartheid movement sports boycotts he played such a key role in. Here’s a trailer:


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