Sunday, December 27, 2009
South African poet and former political prisoner Dennis Brutus has died at age 85. His publisher says the writer died in his sleep at his home in Capetown, South Africa yesterday. Brutus was an anti-apartheid activist who was jailed with Nelson Mandela in the mid 1960's. His activism led Olympic officials to ban South Africa from competition from 1964 till apartheid ended nearly 30 years later. Brutus was exiled from South Africa in 1966 and moved to London and in 1970 to the United States. He taught literature at several universities and eventually came to the University of Pittsburgh where he chaired the Black Studies Program starting in 1986. He retired from Pitt in 1999. Ending apartheid was not Professor Brutus' only cause....he fought against the death penalty and urged wealthy nations to cancel the debt of poorer countries.