Keorapetse Kgositsile, a notable poet from South Africa who used his artistry and platform as an avenue for activism, has died at the age of 79, the Huffington Post reported. Kgositsile, who was a 2006 South African Poet Laureate Prize recipient, succumbed to a battle with ongoing circulatory issues at the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg on January 3.
Kgositsile was instrumental in the African National Congress liberation movement during the 1960s. He worked at the New Age newspaper in Johannesburg. He later moved to the US and earned a master’s degree in fine arts from Columbia University. As his career evolved he began to make a larger impact in the arts; publishing his collections of poems entitled Spirits Unchained and My Name Is Afrika and opening up the Black Arts Theatre in Harlem in 1971. In his later years, he served as a professor at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and was an advisor to the minister of arts and culture in South Africa, reports the source.
Kgositsile is the father of rapper Earl Sweatshirt, who often credits him as the inspiration behind his music. After news spread about Kgositsile’s passing, several people publicly shared their condolences, including South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma.
“Our country mourns the sad passing of one of the giants of our liberation struggle who was renowned for his accomplishment as well in the education‚ arts and culture sectors,” said Zuma in a statement, according to the Huffington Post. “He was highly regarded even beyond the borders of our country and was a celebrated arts intellectual in the continent. We extend our deepest condolences to the family. May his soul rest in peace.”
Kgositsile’s son Earl Sweatshirt took to Twitter to thank those who have expressed their condolences.