Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Remembering Dennis Brutus and all he stood for

"If you have a sense that there is this global struggle going on, where one is winning little victories in a number of places, then the real question in my mind should be how do we combine all these successes and develop them into a powerful voice. But it certainly seems to me that the mere fact that one is occasionally winning a few victories, however small they be, is one way to keep going" Dennis Brutus 2008
Twelve months have passed since Dennis Brutus- South African poet, political activist, environmental and social justice activist and freedom fighter- passed on.

Brutus's achievements were many, notably his poetry, his anti-apartheid activism and his leadership of the anti-apartheid sports boycott campaigns, which played a key role in ending apartheid. As a tribute to Dennis Brutus's legacy the excellent US online publication Truth Out has published Beverley Bell's euology for Dennis Brutus, A Small Tribute to a Giant Man. Bell reminds us of Brutus's humility and compasssion and his profound commitment to the struggle against injustice. She writes that Brutus's message was:

" .. in the humility with which he carried himself, the kindness with which he treated others, and the wisdom and clarity of his words. His message, and his life, lay also in the strength of his convictions and the energy with which he worked for them whether the cause be liberation form oppressive regimes; reparations to victims of apartheid from corporations that made profits off the system; the dissolution of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organisation; or control over corporations creating climate change"
There is much we can learn from Brutus's example. Bell points out that Brutus urged activists to direct their anger at unjust systems and policies and not waste it on the individuals behind them. He urged people to keep their eye on the ultimate goal; the principles at play.

Bell tells us that Brutus was tireless and fearless into his 80's and until the day he died he was working and fighting for social, economic and environmental justice. At the time of his death Brutus was fighting global corporations who had propped up and benefited from the apartheid regime.
"He lobbied us all to involve ourselves, to turn out, to unite our voice and strength, to do more than we were already doing".
I have written before about the legacy of Dennis Brutus's life, work and poetry. A piece I wrote on his death in 2009 has been republished on this blog. Other pieces can be found here.

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