In a packed John Kani Theatre at the Market Theatre, mourners from all walks of the art life weaved an image of a compassionate, strong and loving literary giant. A man who loved his people and was an activist for the advancement of the arts.
The life of the late national poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile who was affectionately known as 'Bra Willie' was honoured in a fashion identical to how he lived, with beautiful words that were charged with sadness and a spirit resistance. Another love of his was used to to honour the poet, his love of jazz.
Bra Willie died earlier this month after experiencing problems with his health since late last year. Speaking to The Star last week, friend and fellow writer Mandla Langa said the national poet laureate died at Milpark Hospital after he was operated on.
“He suffered from blood circulation problems. He was ill during the festive season, and in the new year he got critical and was hospitalised. He was operated on but sadly passed away.He was with family members when he passed away,” Langa said.
MCs for the third official memorial service were poet Lebo Mashile and chairman of the Market Theatre Foundation Kwanele Gumbi. Guests included among others the Kgositsile Family, Mongane Wally Serote, Jonas Gwangwa, former minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan. See below some of the performances at the memorial:
Bra Willie will be laid to rest on Tuesday January 16, and a special arts celebration of his life will take place at Marks Park Emmarentia.