[DEBATE] : Brutus poem, 'Sharpeville', 21/3/09

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Mar 21 09:12:26 GMT 2009


(From hospital this morning, Dennis alerts his son, Julian, about his 
condition, and is happy for this info to be posted to those concerned 
about his condition. He looks fighting fit to me, and 4 nearly-finished 
poems are scattered on his bed here at Parklands Hospital. If you want 
to be in touch, he'll probably be discharged today, and can be reached 
at dennisbrutus2002 at yahoo.com ... and a decision on an operation follows 
soon.)

Dennis: "While at Northwestern University in 1973, I was invited to 
Madison to speak at an anti-apartheid rally at the University of 
Wisconsin. Unable to go, I sent this poem instead. I said, at the end, 
'be glad' - to honour those who sacrificed, for their willingness to 
engage in civil disobedience, burning their passbooks. On March 21 1960, 
at Green Street in the Port Elizabeth city centre, we had a meeting of 
radical teachers (Teachers League of South Africa), and afterwards we 
listened to the radio and were shocked to hear live reports coming from 
Sharpeville, reports of the killing of unarmed people in a protest at 
the ghetto called Sharpeville - named after the supervisor, Mr Sharpe. 
It was at that moment, I believe, that I understood very clearly that 
the government would be willing to kill in order to stay in power. And 
we who opposed the government stood a fair chance of being killed. It 
was also at that moment that I decided that I was committed to the 
struggle and that I would if necessary die in the cause of liberation: 
'Freedom or Death'. It was a very simple resolve."

Sharpeville

What is important
about Sharpeville
is not that seventy died:
nor even that they were shot in the back
retreating, unarmed, defenceless

and certainly not
the heavy caliber slug
that tore through a mother’s back
and ripped through the child in her arms
killing it

Remember Sharpeville
bullet-in-the-back day
Because it epitomized oppression
and the nature of society
more clearly than anything else;
it was the classic event

Nowhere is racial dominance
more clearly defined
nowhere the will to oppress
more clearly demonstrated

what the world whispers
apartheid declares with snarling guns
the blood the rich lust after
South Africa spills in the dust

Remember Sharpeville
Remember bullet-in-the-back day

And remember the unquenchable will for freedom
Remember the dead
and be glad

1973

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Julian, please circulate this message
Date: Sat, 21 Mar 2009 01:41:50 -0700 (PDT)
From: Dennis Brutus <dennisbrutus2002 at yahoo.com>
To: julian brutus <heyjaybee at yahoo.com>
CC: patrick bond <pbond at mail.ngo.za>

Hope you are well. Just to keep you posted. Have been examined at 
hospital and the news is good and bad. My lungs are ok. But the prostate 
is acting up - and may become serious. This may require an op. 
Preferably before I come to London in early June. I'm feeling good. 
March 21 is the anniversary of the day I made my commitment to 
liberation struggle, in 1960. All the best. Please pass the message to 
everyone. Love to all, and I will keep you posted. dee





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