Memorial in Massachusetts for Brutus

(NNPA/GIN)—Dennis Brutus, 85, world-renowned political organizer, a former poet-in-residence at Worcester State College and one of Africa’s most celebrated writers, died early Dec. 26 in Cape Town in his sleep.

Even in his last days, Brutus was busy in the environmental movement and promoting reparations to Black South Africans from corporations that benefited from apartheid.

BEACON OF HOPE— This file photo shows activist Dennis Brutus during a panel discussion about human rights at Worcester State College in Worcester, Mass.

Born in Harare in 1924, Brutus moved with his South African parents to Port Elizabeth and graduated from Fort Hare University with a distinction in English and a second major in psychology. Further studies in law were cut short by imprisonment for anti-apartheid activism.

Leading the new South African Sports Association as an alternative to White sports bodies, he was banned in 1961 under the Suppression of Communism Act. In 1963, Brutus was shot in the back while attempting to escape police custody.

Memorably, it was in front of Anglo American Corp. headquarters that he nearly died while awaiting an ambulance reserved for Blacks.

Brutus was jailed at Robben Island with Nelson Mandela in the mid-1960s. He helped persuade Olympic officials to ban South Africa from competition from 1964 until apartheid ended nearly 30 years later.

“Dennis Brutus was a beacon of hope for human rights around the world,” said Worcester State President Janelle Ashley at the recent memorial. “The entire campus community and lovers of freedom everywhere will miss his great spirit. Worcester State College is so very fortunate to be the permanent home of his books, papers and journals.”


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