Black Poets: Keorapetse Kgositsile

2014/09/17. Professor Keorapetse William Kgositsile during the Poetry Reading hosted by department of Arts and culture held at National library in Pretoria on the 16th of September 2014. Picture: Tshepo Kekana / Sunday World.

Keorapetse Kgositsile, who wrote under the pen name Bra Willie, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1938. An influential member of the African National Conference (ANC), he was South Africa’s Poet Laureate in 2006 and was deeply interested in African American literature and arts stemming from his time in exile. He died in January 2018 in his native Johannesburg.

Anguish Longer Than Sorrow

If destroying all the maps known
would erase all the boundaries
from the face of this earth
I would say let us
make a bonfire
to reclaim and sing
the human person
Refugee is an ominous load
even for a child to carry
for some children
words like home
could not carry any possible meaning
must carry dimensions of brutality and terror
past the most hideous nightmare
anyone could experience or imagine
Empty their young eyes
deprived of a vision of any future
they should have been entitled to
since they did not choose to be born
where and when they were
Empty their young bellies
extended and rounded by malnutrition
and growling like the well-fed dogs of some
with pretensions to concerns about human rights
Can you see them now
stumble from nowhere
to no
nothi ng
the premature daily death of their young dreams
what staggering memories frighten and abort
the hope that should have been
an indelible inscription in their young eyes
I should just borrow
the rememberer’s voice again
while I can and say:
tohave a home is not a favour

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