A life devoted to writing

This week we profile 2006 poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile.

This week we profile 2006 poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile.

Kgositsile spent most of the 1960s in exile around the world, including the United States.

In his collection, About If I Could Sing, which he wrote over four decades in foreign countries, Kgositsile explores a wide spectrum of emotions and a need to participate in the struggle to liberate the land of his birth.

Born in 1938, Kgositsile left South Africa in 1961 as one of the first young members of the ANC who were instructed to do so by the leadership of the then liberation movement, now the ruling party.

Kgositsile has studied and taught literature and creative writing at various institutions in Africa and the US since his first post at Sarah Lawrence College in New York in 1969.

In Africa, Kgositsile lectured at the universities of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Nairobi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Fort Hare in Eastern Cape.

In addition to his 10 books of poetry, Kgositsile has published numerous poems in literary journals and anthologies.

In the late 1960s, Kgositsile compiled an anthology of modern poetry from Africa, titled The Word is Here. It was published by Doubleday in New York.

In exile, Kgositsile was a founding member of the ANC's departments of education and of arts and culture.

In recent years, Kgositsile followed a pattern of spending six months in the land of his birth and six months in the US, where he taught at the University of California in Los Angeles. In 2001, he finally returned to settle in South Africa, and made his home in Johannesburg.

After working as strategic support for the arts, culture and heritage services of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council for two years, Kgositsile joined ThisDay newspaper, where he served on the editorial board and occasionally contributed articles.

In July 2004, Kgositsile was appointed special adviser to the Minister of Arts and Culture, Pallo Jordan.