‘Goodnight my love’ - Keorapetse Kgositsile’s wife and others bid farewell to the late poet laureate

The wife of internationally renowned national poet laureate Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile paid tribute to him in a heartfelt and poetic letter during his state funeral held in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The letter titled “Love leaps and soars beyond” was read by TV personality Gail Mabalane on behalf of Baby Kgositsile.

Baby described her late husband as her lover‚ companion and confidante.

“All things come to pass‚ when they do. If they do. All things come to an end. When they do. To every birth‚ its blood. To every birth its pain‚ all else is death with life. We are the Gods of our day‚ and us‚ panthers of claws of fire. And songs of love for the newly born‚” the tribute read.

In the letter‚ Baby thanked Kgositsile for loving her even when he was often criticised for loving a ‘township girl”.

“I’m unapologetically a township girl. Goodnight my love.”

Poetry met jazz when Jonas Gwangwa and Dorothy Masuka graced the stage. Their musical dedication was followed by a eulogy by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Paying homage to the late poet‚ Ramaphosa labelled Kgositsile a “prophet of hope”.

“The brave and indestructible poet of the South African revolution will‚ to the bitter end‚ remain our nation’s light and sacred hope. Like the raging fire in his honest and uncompromising words‚ we will say‚ death and destruction unto all systems that perpetuate white supremacy and the normalisation of centuries of black pain‚” Ramaphosa said.

The people’s poet‚ fondly known as ‘Bra Willie’‚ was an internationally acclaimed poet and an activist who had left a great legacy in both the cultural and political landscapes. Many remembered him as a humble character - one who lived in the United States for almost two decades but came back to South Africa and settled in Soweto‚ close to his roots and people. “He is remembered as the epitome of humility‚ frankness‚ compassion‚ fortitude and endless wisdom.” said Ramaphosa.

Politicians‚ poets‚ musicians‚ friends and family members paid their last respects to Kgositsile‚ who died in Johannesburg on January 3 at the age of 79 after a short illness. He is survived by his wife‚ Baby Dorcas Kgositsile‚ seven children and several grandchildren.

National poet laureate Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile was laid to rest on Tuesday. His ceremony was one serenaded with literature by fellow poets and scholars, and other artists who knew Kgositsile.

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