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There is nothing like art—in the oppressors sense of art. There is only movement. Force. Creative power. ” Activist and poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, also known as Bra Willie, died in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 3 January 2018. He was 79.  We celebrate his words and give deepest thanks.

Pics: George Hallett: Sandile Dikeni, Keorapetse Kgositsile – Writer’s Conference, Uni of Pretoria, 2002

“To be fired with the spirit of freedom, to be determined to fight and destroy that tyranny, to usher a new chapter of life…” 36 years after they were first spoken at the Culture and Resistance Symposium in Gaborone, Botswana, Keorapetse Kgositsile’s words gain new life.
In a 1991 essay, Crossing Borders Without Leaving, Kgostitsile describes his first trip back to Johannesburg after exile and reflects on our continual hunger for life and liberation, for uncharted distance and unrelenting intimacy. 
“I am not and I have never been really, opposed to the development and promotion of any language, English included. But at the expense of my own language! So, Mayiblome! to arms! ” In English Language Visa Bra Willie opens fire on the language question.

For  Johnny Dyani

“Johnny you take us out there
where we gasp silently
amidst a bombardment of sound
in the spell of the witchdoctor’s son
where I cannot even ponder
how a witch and a doctor paradox
could be one entity.”

Jazz was crucial to Kgositsile. He wrote of the black aesthetic he pursued and celebrated: “There is nothing like art—in the oppressors sense of art. There is only movement. Force. Creative power. The walk of Sophiatown tsotsi or my Harlem brother on Lenox Avenue. Field Hollers. The Blues. A Trane riff. Marvin Gaye or mbaqanga. Anguished happiness. Creative power, in whatever form it is released, moves like the dancers muscles.” 

As part of Mbizo Day hosted by the Pan African Space Station on 30 November 2016, he paid tribute to musician, composer, painter and friend Johnny Mbizo Dyani, through memories, words and poetry.

 

Poets are Hurting

“The name ‘Last Poets’ was given to them by Willie Kgositsile…” In Giant Steps Geoff Mphakati, Lefifi Tladi, Kgafela oa Magogodi, Otsile Ntsoane, Lesego Rampolokeng and more talk poetry, black aesthetics and power. 
In Propaganda and Politics tunnel vision history of art activism in South AfricaLefifi Tladi reflects on the important contribution of the Black Consciousness Movement to art activism in the 1970s and questions why mainstream art history continues to ignore it.
Shortly before his death on 5 September 2014, Mafika Gwala spoke to fellow poet Lesego Rampolokeng about the ANC, black consciousness, Biko and liberation – then and now.

Staffriding the front line

 Njabulo Ndebele, Achmat Dangor, Mafika Gwala, George Hallet, Sam Nhlengetwa, Malopoets, Es’kia Mphahlele, Chris van Wyk, Andries Oliphant, Thami MnyeleGerard Sekoto and Keorapetse Kgositsile all published in Staffride.
 
Read Staffriding the Frontline  – an essay the age of cerebral haemorrhage by Lesego Rampolokeng and Of “Brothers with Perfect Timing” – An Essay by Mike Abraham.
More in the Chimurenga Library.
 
 
 
 
In our latest edition: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we put food back on the table; asking how we write ourselves and our lives through food, beyond ideas of scarcity, this issue also explores global geopolitics as they are expressed through money exchanges. Additionally, we continue our investigation into higher education across the continent. 

With contributions from Harmony Holiday, Yemisi Aribisala, Kodwo Eshun, Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire and more.

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Other Chimurenga Publications: 

CHIMURENGANYANAS

A pavement literature project consisting of serialized monographs.

CHIMURENGA MAGAZINE

a project-based mutable object, a print magazine, a workspace, and platform for editorial and curatorial activities.

AFRICAN CITIES READER

 A Biennial publication that challenges the depiction of urban life – redefines cityness, Africa-style.