[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Activist poet Dennis Brutus to receive honorary doctorates from NMMU & Rhodes, April 17th
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed Apr 15 11:40:44 BST 2009
Activist and poet, Professor Dennis Vincent Brutus, in recognition of
his contributions to South African letters and to human rights,
democracy and justice, will receive Doctor of Literature degrees from
both Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Rhodes University on
Two honorary doctorates are to be conferred on UKZN Centre for Civil
Society Honorary Professor (and renowned poet), Dennis Brutus, on April
17. The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Rhodes University
will be honouring him in this way. Paterson High School, where he was
educated and later taught, will host an alumni celebration on April 16th
at The Southend Museum in Port Elizabeth.
Amongst Africa's best-known poets, Dennis Brutus was born in Harare
(then Salisbury) in 1924. He was educated in Port Elizabeth, including
Paterson High School (where he later taught) and Schauderville High
School, before entering Fort Hare University on full scholarship in
1940. He graduated with a distinction in English and a second major in
Psychology, and studied law at the University of the Witwatersrand,
until his arrest at the South African Olympics Committee office in 1963.
He is presently Honorary Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal
Centre for Civil Society and Professor Emeritus at the University of
Pittsburgh Departments of English and Africana Studies (which he chaired
from 1975-78). He was formerly professor at Northwestern University
English Department, visiting professor at the Universities of Denver and
Texas, and Distinguished Visiting Humanist at the University of
Colorado. He has lectured worldwide as well as in South Africa, and was
appointed Research Fellow at the University of Durban-Westville in 1997.
He holds six honorary doctorates, including from University of
Durban-Westville (now UKZN). He was the recipient of the Langston Hughes
Award in 1987 (the first non-African American to receive that award),
and was honoured with the first Paul Robeson Award in 1989 for artistic
excellence, political consciousness and integrity. He was one of the
first South African poets to be widely read internationally, and his
work found early critical acclaim. His first book, Sirens, Knuckles,
Boots was published by Mbari Press at Ibaden University, Nigeria in 1963
(he won the Mbari Literary Prize but turned it down on grounds of racial
exclusivity), at a time he was imprisoned for defying a banning order by
the apartheid government. This banning was the result of his ultimately
successful campaign to desegregate the South African Olympic team.
After being shot in the back by the Special Branch secret police during
an escape attempt in 1963, and then breaking rocks for 18 months at
Robben Island prison alongside Nelson Mandela, Brutus was exiled in
1965. He resumed simultaneous careers as a poet and anti-apartheid
campaigner, and in 1968 was instrumental in achieving the apartheid
regime's expulsion from the Mexican Olympics and then in 1970 from the
Olympic movement. He won numerous awards for poetry, and helped organize
key African writers organizations with his colleagues Wole Soyinka and
Chinua Achebe. Upon moving to the U.S., Brutus served in several
academic positions, defeating high-profile efforts by the Reagan
Administration to deport him (1980-83). Following the transition to
democracy in South Africa, Brutus remained active with grassroots social
movements in his home country and internationally. In the late 1990s he
became a pivotal figure in the global justice movement and a featured
speaker each year at the World Social Forum. In the anti-racism,
reparations and economic justice movements, he continues to serve as a
leading strategist. In South Africa, he is a key figure in the Social
Movements Indaba, a coalition of progressive activists, and Jubilee
South Africa. In 2006 he published the autobiographical book Poetry and
Protest (Haymarket Press and UKZN Press). In 2007 he was inducted into
the Sports Hall of Fame but turned down the honour on grounds of
residual racism in professional sports. In 2008 he received the South
African Literary Award for Distinguished Lifetime Literary Achievement.
Brutus's poetry collections are:
* Sirens Knuckles and Boots (Mbari Productions, Ibaden, Nigeria and
Northwestern University Press, Evanston Illinois, 1963).
* Letters to Martha and Other Poems from a South African Prison
(Heinemann, Oxford, 1968).
* Poems from Algiers(African and Afro-American Studies and Research
Institute, Austin, Texas, 1970).
* A Simple Lust (Heinemann, Oxford, 1973).
* China Poems (African and Afro-American Studies and Research Centre,
Austin, Texas, 1975).
* Strains (Troubador Press, Del Valle, Texas).
* Stubborn Hope (Three Continents Press, Washington, DC and Heinemann,
* Salutes and Censures (Fourth Dimension, Enugu, Nigeria, 1982).
* Airs & Tributes (Whirlwind Press, Camden, New Jersey, 1989).
* Still the Sirens (Pennywhistle Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1993).
* Remembering Soweto, ed. Lamont B. Steptoe (Whirlwind Press, Camden,
New Jersey, 2004).
* Leafdrift, ed. Lamont B. Steptoe (Whirlwind Press, Camden, New Jersey,
* Poetry and Protest: A Dennis Brutus Reader (Haymarket Books, Chicago
and University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg, 2006).
link to intinery - http://www.ukzn.ac.za/ccs/default.asp?2,68,3,1692
University of KwaZulu Natal
Centre for Civil Society
Howard College Campus
T: +27 (0)31 260 3577
F: +27 (0)31 260 2502
M: +27 (0)79 584 4313
More information about the Debate-list