”Keorapetse ‘Bra Willie’ Kgositsile was not an ordinary man. He was an extraordinary man and he pursued ideas. For a nation, devoid of ideas shall surely die and a nation full of ideas shall succeed. His passion for the spoken and written words was unparalleled.” These were the words of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Prof Tshilidzi Marwala when he saluted renowned laureate poet and political activist Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile at his state memorial service on Thursday, 11 January 2018.
Prof Marwala reflected on when he first met Prof Kgositsile in 1989. “I was in high school when I first read Present Is a Dangerous Place to Live. His ability to convey the collective consciousness of the South African people through words was inspiring.”
As a poet and writer, Prof Kgositsile spent a great deal of time sharing his ideas with UJ students.
“His passion for the African people both at home and in the diaspora, his patience, humour, honesty, and willingness to teach and learn, are characteristics we should emulate,” said Prof Marwala.
Prof Marwala echoed the words of Prof Kgositsile that all cultural explorers start off from specific roots which colour their vision and define their allegiances of the work of art they produce.
“These words shall remain etched in the collective memory of the University of Johannesburg,” said Prof Marwala adding that the University is planning name to honour Prof Kgositsile by naming a lecture hall after him.
Prof Kgositsile passed away in Johannesburg on January 3 at the age of 79 after a short illness.