KEORAPETSE “BRA WILLIE” KGOSITSILE [19 September 1938 – 3 January 2018]


Keorapetse William Kgositsile, also known as “Bra Willie” was born on 19 September 1938, Keorapetse was a South African poet laureate and a political activist. He was an influential member of the African National Congress in the 1960s and 1970s, he was inaugurated as South Africa’s National Poet Laureate in 2006. Kgositsile lived in exile in the United States from 1962 until 1975, the peak of his literary career. He made an extensive study of African-American literature and culture, becoming particularly interested in jazz. During the 1970s he was a central figure among African-American poets, encouraging interest in Africa as well as the practice of poetry as a performance art; he was well known for his readings in New York City jazz clubs. Keorapetse was one of the first to bridge the gap between African poetry and Black poetry in the United States.

Keorapetse dedicated his time for the youth, curating the ‘Pass on the Word, Pass on the Batton’ with Khanya College in 2016. He participated in the JBF schools programme for the past 4 years.
Keorapetse Kgositsile will be missed for his selflessness and dedication to the South African youth and the promotion of the culture of reading.