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Keorapetse “Bra Willie” Kgositsile. Image from HeraldLIVE.

To honour the country’s late National Poet Laureate, Keorapetse “Bra Willie” Kgositsile, the government of South Africa has commenced a three-day “special official funeral.” The memorial began on 11 January and continued on 12 January, to end on 16 January. Kgositsile passed away on 3 January in Johannesburg, aged 79. President Jacob Zuma ordered that the national flag be flown at half-mast, while Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was tasked with delivering the eulogy.

Born in 1938 in Johannesburg, Kgositsile launched his writing career at the anti-Apartheid newspaper New Age, publishing reports and poetry. During the 1960s-70s, he was a prominent member of the Arican National Congress (ANC). He then spent 29 years in exile in Tanzania and the U.S.A., where he studied at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania University, University of New Hampshire, and Columbia University, and published his poetry collections Spirits Unchained and My Name Is Afrika. Founder of the Black Arts Theatre in Harlem, Kgositsile returned to South Africa in 1990, and, in 2006, was made Poet Laureate by the Department of Arts and Culture. In 2008, he received the National Order of Ikhamanga, Silver, for his “excellent achievements in the field of literature and using these exceptional talents to expose the evils of the system of apartheid to the world.” Most recently, he appeared at the Abantu Book Festival in Soweto.

Here are details for the memorial, as reported by The Johannesburg Review of Books.

ANC John Nkadimeng Branch Memorial Service:

Date: Thursday, 11 January 2018
Time: 12—4 pm
Venue: Johannesburg City Hall

Official Memorial Service:

Date: Friday, 12 January 2018
Time: 2 pm
Venue: Market Theatre

Funeral Tribute:

Date: Tuesday, 16 January 2018
Venue: Marks Park
Time: 9 am

Burial:

Venue: West Park Cemetery

Luncheon:

Venue: Marks Park

Rest in peace, Bra Willie.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017), for which he was shortlisted. His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. His conversations appear in Africa in Dialogue, Bakwa, SPRINNG, and Dwartonline. He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (October 2016), focuses on Nigerian cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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