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DENNIS BRUTUS 1924–SOUTH AFRICAN POET AND ACTIVIST. ADELEYE TIMILEHIN BOLARINWA REGISTRATION NUMBER: 1740201056 SOUTH AFRICAN LITERATURE PROF OGWUDE
Dennis Brutus 1924–South African poet and activist. Brutus is regarded as one of the most distinguished contemporary South African poets. He employs traditional forms and rich language in his poetry to detail, without self-pity or bitterness, the physical and mental anguish he had suffered as a political prisoner and as an exile. Brutus is well known for his involvement in the antiapartheid movement and has opposed apartheid in his works. In Aspects of African Literature, R. M. Egudu has deemed Brutus's poetry as "the reaction of one who is in mental agony whether he is at home or abroad," adding that this agony is "partly caused by harassments, arrests, and imprisonment, and mainly by Brutus's concern for other suffering people." Biographical Information Brutus was born in 1924 in Harare, Zimbabwe, which was then called Salisbury, South Rhodesia. His parents, teachers Francis Henry and Margaret Winifred Brutus, were South African "coloureds" who raised their son in Port Elizabeth. After receiving a bachelor's degree in English at Fort Hare University College in 1946, Brutus taught at several South African high schools. In the late 1950s, Brutus began to protest apartheid actively, concentrating on the conflict over race in sports. He was instrumental in the sanction to exclude South Africa's segregated sports teams from most international competitions, including the Olympics. In 1963, Brutus was arrested at a sports meeting for defying a ban which prohibited him from associating with any group. He fled the country after his release on bail but he was apprehended and returned to Johannesburg. Brutus again tried to escape but was shot in the stomach by police pursuing him. He was subsequently sentenced to 18 months of hard labor at Robben Island Prison—a notorious, escape-proof facility off the South African coast. During his imprisonment, his first volume of poetry, Sirens, Knuckles, Boots (1963) was published. In 1965, Brutus was released and allowed to leave South Africa on the condition that he never return. He emigrated to England in 1966 and then to the United States in 1970. Major Works Sirens, Knuckles, Boots includes love poems as well as poems protesting South Africa's racial policies. These poems, like many of Brutus's later pieces, are highly personal and meditative, interweaving references to his personal experiences while developing such themes as love, pain, and anger. Brutus's work was awarded an Mbari Prize from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Because Brutus was forbidden to write poetry in prison, he instead wrote letters. These formed the basis of his next collection, Letters to Martha and Other Poems from a South African Prison (1968), which was not published until after he left South Africa for England in 1966. In this volume, Brutus recounted his prison experiences through letters to his sister-in-law; the poems,

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