- Category: PA 2006
Dennis Brutus (1924), poet, distinguished educator, and Freedom Fighter, was born in Zimbabwe of South African parents and educated in South Africa. Known as the "singing voice of the South African Liberation Movement", Brutus’s political campaigns led to his being banned from all political and social activity and his subsequent arrest and incarceration on Robben Island, where he spent time breaking stones with Nelson Mandela. He left South Africa in 1966 and made his home in England until 1983 when he won the right to stay in the United States as a political refugee.
Brutus’ first collection of poetry, Sirens, Knuckles and Boots, was published in Nigeria while he was in prison. Although Brutus’s work is protest poetry and records his experiences of misery and loneliness as a political prisoner, there is a maturity and restraint in his poems that prevent them from ever becoming self-pitying.
Currently living in the USA, he is a Professor of African Studies and African Literature, and is Chair of the Department of Black Community Education Research and Development at the University of Pittsburgh. He was formerly visiting professor at the Universities of Denver and Texas, and was Distinguished Visiting Humanist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has lectured worldwide as well as in South Africa, and was appointed Research Fellow at the University of Durban-Westville in 1997. Dennis Brutus was the recipient of the Langston Hughes Award in 1987 (the first non-African American to receive that award), and was honoured with the first Paul Robeson Award in 1989 for "artistic excellence, political consciousness and integrity".
The charismatic Dennis Brutus is an inspiring and highly respected speaker, in great demand by international audiences, and a dedicated activist with his current focus on the injustices of the IMF and World Bank policies in Third World countries.