Dennis Brutus: An ironclad sense of solidarity

Published on Pambazuka News, by Patrick Bond, 2010-01-07.

Patrick Bond collates excerpts of testimonials about the late Dennis Brutus (28 November 1924 – 26 December 2009), ‘a poet whose work will be celebrated forever, and whose wisdom in so many campaigns for social justice will be sorely missed’, from institutions, individuals and the media.

testimonials from Institutions: … // 

  • … NEW UNITY MOVEMENT (Port Elizabeth): ‘We salute his memory and dedicate ourselves anew to striving for the more humane, and just socialist order in which he so fervently believed.’
  • PATERSON SECONDARY SCHOOL (Port Elizabeth): ‘Paterson is proud to have played a role in his high school education and was blessed to have had him back some years later as educator. Brutus will forever be remembered in the history of Paterson High. He penned the lyrics of our school song and, together with his poetry, his legacy will live on’ … etc. …
  • … SOCIAL MOVEMENTS INDABA – KZN (Durban): ‘The world will be a little less friendly, a little emptier but we know that he will live forever in the minds and hearts of those who knew him.’
  • SPLIT THIS ROCK POETRY FESTIVAL (Washington): ‘Split This Rock mourns the passing and celebrates the life of Brutus, who shared his prophetic vision with us as a featured poet at Split This Rock’s inaugural festival in March 2008’ … etc. …

… testimonials from Individuals:

  • Tina Abreu: ‘Our best tribute will be to continue campaigns and fight for causes he believed in and illuminate others with his insights.’
  • Lionel Adriaan: ‘I was a pupil of Dennis at Paterson High School in the late 50s. I had the good fortune of playing table tennis with him. I also witnessed his skill in the field of jive during his leisure time and was often worried that he would break his thin legs. His favourite “swear” word often used for the difficult, troublesome and simply dumb pupils was MUGWUMP!’
  • Lawrence Africa: ‘I was in his English Class at Paterson High school in 1959 and 1960, and owe him much: “Now I understand what he tried to say to me, how he suffered for his sanity…”’
  • Biko Agozino: ‘He achieved a lot more in those final years than he could have achieved in exile, at least judging by all those honorary doctorates that our Baba Dolphin gathered, compared to the sterile chlorinated pool that he resisted being deported from when the wild sea was still ruled by apartheid sharks!’
  • Chadwick Allenbaugh: ‘A beacon in my memory with his enduring spirit, infectious laughter, unrelenting sharpness, his great appreciation for sport and chess, and humble service and true leadership for causes greater than one person, yet courage to stand… to act… to speak and prove one person can and did make a difference for many far beyond himself, his loves, his country.’
  • Isaac Otidi Amuke: ‘A name that to me meant resilience, you inspired many all over the world, you took the right position of the writer/poet in society, spoke the talk and walked the walk.’
  • Farouk Araie: ‘A political icon and legend. He was an Ajax defying the lightning of despotism and an ardent foe of racism. He also taught us not to be subservient at the cost of liberty. He was the intrepid vindicator of what he conceived to be the absolute rights of those whose cause he espoused.’
  • Graham Bailey: ‘Dennis would want us to celebrate his life by learning from and mimicking his leadership, indefatigable energy, and total commitment to the ongoing struggles.’
  • Azwell Banda: ‘I first met Dennis through his poetry, when I was in high school, in Zambia. He took pride of place among some of Africa’s greatest writers such as Cyprian Enkwensi, Elechi Amadi, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Wole Soyinka, and so on.’
  • Nnimmo Bassey: ‘Dennis was such a huge inspiration. He lived his life to the full. Always at the forefront of the struggle. Never gave up hope!’
  • Walden Bello: ‘Dennis was a beacon to all of us. We will all sorely miss him’ … etc. …

(full long text).

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