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Professor Keorapetse Kgosietsile dies at the age of 79

3 January 2018 LATEST NEWS


By: Portia Kobue

South African Poet Laureate, Professor Keorapetse Kgosietsile died today at the age of 79. The esteemed Professor started writing for fun. When the New Age Newspaper, a radical anti-apartheid newspaper employed him as a reporter and poetry contributor, his love for the spoken and written word grew. So did his political activism and membership of the African National Congress, which saw him being instructed by the ANC to leave South Africa in 1961 as a young activist.

His first stop was in Dar es Salaam, where he worked for a magazine. He proceeded to the USA to study at Lincoln University and Pennsylvania University. He also studies at the university of New Hampshire and Columbia University. He obtained a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

He was a founding member of the African Literature Association with Professor Es”kia Mphahlele, Dennis Brutus and Mazizi Kunene.
In 1975, Kgositsile took up a teaching post at the University of Dar es Salaam.
In 1977 he founded the ANC’s Department of Education, and its Department of Arts and Culture in 1983.
Kgositsile returned to South Africa in 1990. Dismayed that the effects of apartheid were still visible and affected mostly the black population, he threw himself back into political activism. He regularly criticized the ANC government for lack of change in the system that oppressed black people.

His poem collection, When clouds clear was published the same year – the first of his work to be available in his native country.
The Former New Age newspaper writer and reporter, received many accolades as a writer, as well as awards for his poetry.

He previously held the position of Advisor to the Minister of Arts and Culture. Prof. Kgositsile was honoured with the South African Poet Laureate Prize in 2006 by the South African Literary Awards, a project of the wRite associates, in partnership with the national Department of Arts and Culture.
In 2008, he was honoured with the National Order of Ikhamanga for his contribution to the field of literature.
He is survived by his wife, Baby Mabalane-Kgosietsile.
He was previously married to National Assembly speaker, Baleka Mbete, with whom he has four children.


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