Bro Willie, We Met Before We Met
A Tribute to Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile, SA’s National Poet Laureate.
By Morakabe Raks Seakhoa
It was in the heady ‘70s, just on the eve of the 1976 eruptions that shook the apartheid substructure to its very core that you gallantly marched into our youthful consciousness.
Your larger than life, your gigantic lyrical, fiery lines of conscientising poetic mrhabulo illumined our fierce freedom march no power on earth could delay, nor even crush or stop, whether by intimidation, torture, imprisonment, maiming, disappearings, exile or death.
Your outlawed, inhibited and roadmapping work, long before the rule of the internet, email and cellphone, miraculously and timeously found their way to our forever thirsty and welcoming minds, arming us to the teeth to explode away oppression of one by another, preparing us for the long road to today’s freedom’s birth.
What a marvel when we, at last, now met you in person, at last, at last! That was in 1990, just after you, with your sharp and bomb-like pen, pointed our oppressors’ gaze to the writing on the wall.
The writers’ fraternity, through the Congress of South African Writers (COSAW) you helped sire, welcomed you back like a long-lost guide you truly were. A never-ending festival of life-giving interaction ensued, through poetry-laden socio-political workshops, politically-nuanced and tempered poetics of our times in public readings, new dawn policy formulations, presentations and lectures (the latter you said you never really liked, rather strange for such a towering and world-respected scholar and Professor who’s every breath was you as our untiring teacher).
Post-exile, you wasted no time in getting us to walk with you the streets of our land, retracing your steps through the nooks and crannies of your being before Comrade OR Tambo called you abroad to help broaden, deepen and rebuild our people’s parliament, the African National Congress that the oppressor vowed to obliterate.
Your intellect unparalleled, clarity of mind and thought, sage-like, drew queens, kings, presidents, ministers, premiers and city mothers and fathers like moth to light: making you advisor of choice.
We at the wRite associates take pride in, with the assistance and partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture, being the lightning rod for the process of establishing the South African Literary Awards that bestowed on you the title of the pre-eminent poet of the nation, the South African National Poet Laureate, after your elder brother and comrade, Professor Mazisi Kunene, who handed you this baton after his departure yonder.
As we bid you farewell, Bro Willie, our foremost mentor, Comrade and lodestar, we derive solace in the fact that, much to your chagrin and initial toyitoying against our idea and intention of honouring you, your memory and your precious, precious legacy with the Keorapetse Kgositsile Annual Lecture four years ago, you finally, albeit reluctantly, acquiesced to our request and, to the very end, gave it your unconditional support and presence at all the presentations thereof.
Bro Willie, hard as it is, we have no choice but to accept your departure yonder, in the full knowledge that, with you and your forever beloved, Aus’ Baby’s abiding counsel, in this the fourth anniversary of the Keorapetse Kgositsile Annual Lecture, your fourscore coming of age was, or, rather, is, going to be a bonfire literary affair like no other, “letting countless flowers blossom and innumerable schools of thought contend” amongst your peers, friends he young and old, colleagues and all everywhere.
This way we shall and must salute you, our Prof, our National Poet Laureate, our Bro Willie!
Robala ka kgotso. Robala ka kgutso, Bro Willie, you Forever Young!
Morakabe Raks Seakhoa is a poet, founder director of the wRite associates and the South African Literary Awards, convenor of Africa Century International African Writers Conference and Keorapetse Kgositsile Annual Lecture
For immediate release: 8th November 2017
Issued by the wRite associates
And the 2017 SALA winners are…
“Being recognised by your own is truly special. I have received many awards in my life, but this makes me very emotional. I am deeply grateful,” Dikgang Moseneke, author and former Deputy Chief Justice of the South African Constitutional Court, when accepting the 2017 South African Literary Awards’ Creative Non-fiction Award category for his memoir, My Own Liberator, at the 12th SA Literary Awards ceremony, 7th November, UNISA, Tshwane.
The 2017 SALA Winners Are…
Category: First-time Published Author Award
|Moses Shimo Seletisha||Tšhutšhumakgala||Sepedi|
Category: k.Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award
Category: Poetry Award
|Simphiwe Ali Nolutshungu||Iingcango Zentliziyo||isiXhosa|
Category: Creative Non- Fiction Award
|Dikgang Moseneke||My Own Liberator||English|
Category: Literary Journalism Award
|Don Makatile||Body of work||English|
|Phakama Mbonambi||Body of work||English|
Category: Literary Translators Award
|Bridget Theron-Bushell||The Thirstland Trek: 1874 – 1881
The Thirstland Trek 1874 – 1881
|William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali
Xhosa Histories And Poetry (1873 – 1888)
|DLP.Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange, Historical Poems
Category: Nadine Gordimer Short story Award
Category: Posthumous Literary Award
|Body of work
|!Xam and !Kun
Category: Lifetime Achievement Literary Award
|Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa||Body of work
|Aletta Matshediso Motimele||Body of work||Sepedi|
|Etienne Van Heerden||Body of work||Afrikaans|
Category: Chairperson’s Award
|Themba Christian Msimang||Body of work||isiZulu|
View on Litnet
For immediate release: 13 October 2017
Issued by the wRite associates
Twenty eight (28) South Africa’s authors are shortlisted for the 2017 South African Literary Awards (SALA).
2017 marks the highest milestone of South African Literary Awards (SALA), as the shortlist includes, for the first time, the !Xam and !Kun languages. Listed under the Posthumous Literary Awards, five (5) legendary contributors are drawn from Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd collection of !Xam and !Kun narratives, verses, songs, chants, drawings and other materials consisting of over 150 notebooks running in some 13 000 pages which is considered a unique cultural and literary collection which has been recognised by United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Council (UNESCO) and entered into the memory of the World Register.