Keorapetse Kgositsile Picture: ANA

Johannesburg - Internationally renowned poet and stalwart of South Africa's liberation struggle, Keorapetse Kgositsile, will be remembered in an official memorial service to be held at the Johannesburg City Hall on Thursday.

Kgositsile, a national poet laureate and popularly known by his pen name "Bra Willie", died at age 79 last week after a short illness.

He was an internationalist of note who touched the lives of many through his poetry and political activism, and his passing has reverberated across the globe. In his three decades of exile, Kgositsile fought injustices through his poetry, teachings and publications. 

He lived in several countries including the United States, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya. Upon his return to South Africa following the jettisoning of the apartheid regime in 1994, Kgositsile worked with several academic and government institutions. 

Read: Tributes pour in for national poet laureate Kgositsile

Three memorial services to be held in honour of Bra Willie

In his lifetime, he mentored a countless number of cultural practitioners, academics and political activists.

Kgositsile was inaugurated in 2006 as South Africa’s second national poet laureate after Mazisi Kunene. He was also a recipient of the National Order of Ikhamanga for his contribution to literature.

A memorial service to celebrate his life was held at the MLA in New York last Saturday and several more are planned in Johannesburg.

Kgositsile will be buried next Tuesday at the Heroes Acre at West Park Cemetery. 

On Sunday, President Jacob Zuma declared a special official funeral, reserved for  distinguished persons, for the late poet. 

Zuma also ordered that the national flag be flown at half-mast at every flag station in the country on January 16, the day of the funeral. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the eulogy.

African News Agency/ANA