GUSTAVIUS RENWICK

WRITER DIRECTOR

If This Life Is All We Have

My conversations with author and activist Louise Meriwether, the co-star of my upcoming documentary Playing the Numbers, have exposed me to a cadre of artists/activists. Here is a poem by one of her former colleagues Dennis Brutus. He sounds like someone I could have an old fashioned cocktail with. 

Below is an excerpt from his Wilkipedia page and pic.  Dennis Vincent Brutus (28 November 1924 – 26 December 2009) was a South African activist, educator, journalist and poet best known for his campaign to have apartheid South Africa banned from the Olympic Games. Born in Harare, Zimbabwe (then Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia), to South African parents, Brutus was of indigenous Khoi, Dutch, French, English, German and Malaysian ancestry. His parents moved back home to Port Elizabeth when he was aged four, and young Brutus was classified underSouth Africa’s apartheid racial code as "coloured".[1] Brutus was a graduate of the University of Fort Hare (BA, 1946) and of the University of the Witwatersrand, where he studied law. He taught English and Afrikaans at several high schools in South Africa after 1948, but was eventually dismissed for his vocal criticism of apartheid. He served on the faculty of the University of Denver, Northwestern University and University of Pittsburgh, and was a Professor Emeritus from the last institution. In 2008, Brutus was awarded the Lifetime Honorary Award by the South African Department of Arts and Culture for his lifelong dedication to African and world poetry and literary arts. Brutus was an activist against the apartheid government of South Africa in the 1960s. He learned politics in the Trotskyist movement of the Eastern Cape. Although not an accomplished athlete in his own right, he was motivated by the unfairness of selections for athletic teams. He joined the Anti-Coloured Affairs Department organisation (Anti-CAD), a Trotskyist group that organised against the Coloured Affairs Department, which was an attempt by the government to institutionalise divisions between blacks and coloureds. Brutus was arrested in 1960 for breaking the terms of his "banning," which were that he could not meet with more than two people outside his family, and he was sentenced to 18 months in jail. However, he "jumped bail and fled to Mozambique, where Portuguese secret police arrested him and returned him to South Africa. There, while trying to escape, he was shot in the back at point-blank range. After only partly recovering from the wound, Brutus was sent to Robben Island ... for 16 months, five in solitary." He was in the cell next to Nelson Mandela's. Brutus was in prison when news of the country's suspension from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, for which he had campaigned, broke. Brutus was forbidden to teach, write and publish in South Africa. His first collection of poetry, Sirens, Knuckles and Boots, was published in Nigeria while he was in prison. The book received the Mbari Poetry Prize, awarded to a black poet of distinction, but Brutus turned it down on the grounds of its racial exclusivity. He was the author of 14 books. Source Wilkipedia    

Below is an excerpt from his Wilkipedia page and pic. 

Dennis Vincent Brutus (28 November 1924 – 26 December 2009) was a South African activist, educator, journalist and poet best known for his campaign to have apartheid South Africa banned from the Olympic Games.

Born in Harare, Zimbabwe (then Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia), to South African parents, Brutus was of indigenous Khoi, Dutch, French, English, German and Malaysian ancestry. His parents moved back home to Port Elizabeth when he was aged four, and young Brutus was classified underSouth Africa’s apartheid racial code as "coloured".[1]

Brutus was a graduate of the University of Fort Hare (BA, 1946) and of the University of the Witwatersrand, where he studied law. He taught English and Afrikaans at several high schools in South Africa after 1948, but was eventually dismissed for his vocal criticism of apartheid. He served on the faculty of the University of Denver, Northwestern University and University of Pittsburgh, and was a Professor Emeritus from the last institution.

In 2008, Brutus was awarded the Lifetime Honorary Award by the South African Department of Arts and Culture for his lifelong dedication to African and world poetry and literary arts.

Brutus was an activist against the apartheid government of South Africa in the 1960s. He learned politics in the Trotskyist movement of the Eastern Cape.

Although not an accomplished athlete in his own right, he was motivated by the unfairness of selections for athletic teams. He joined the Anti-Coloured Affairs Department organisation (Anti-CAD), a Trotskyist group that organised against the Coloured Affairs Department, which was an attempt by the government to institutionalise divisions between blacks and coloureds.

Brutus was arrested in 1960 for breaking the terms of his "banning," which were that he could not meet with more than two people outside his family, and he was sentenced to 18 months in jail. However, he "jumped bail and fled to Mozambique, where Portuguese secret police arrested him and returned him to South Africa. There, while trying to escape, he was shot in the back at point-blank range. After only partly recovering from the wound, Brutus was sent to Robben Island ... for 16 months, five in solitary." He was in the cell next to Nelson Mandela's. Brutus was in prison when news of the country's suspension from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, for which he had campaigned, broke.

Brutus was forbidden to teach, write and publish in South Africa. His first collection of poetry, Sirens, Knuckles and Boots, was published in Nigeria while he was in prison. The book received the Mbari Poetry Prize, awarded to a black poet of distinction, but Brutus turned it down on the grounds of its racial exclusivity. He was the author of 14 books.

Source Wilkipedia

 

 

By Eric Koch / Anefo - Nationaal Archief, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27924949

By Eric Koch / Anefo - Nationaal Archief, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27924949

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