JOHANNESBURG — South African poet and anti-apartheid activist Dennis Brutus, who campaigned successfully for an Olympic ban on the white-rule regime, has died, his family announced Sunday. He was 85.
His son Anthony said Brutus died in his sleep on Saturday at his home in Cape Town after a battle with prostate cancer.
Brutus was jailed with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island for a period in the 1960s.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said Brutus' contribution to the struggle against apartheid and his efforts to bring about social justice in the world "are appreciated and will be remembered for many years to come."
One of his most notable contributions to black activism was his work to get apartheid South Africa suspended from participation in international sport, which eventually led to South Africa?s exclusion from the Olympic Games from 1964 to the end of apartheid.
Brutus was born in 1924 in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia. The son of teachers, he later moved to South Africa where he worked as a teacher and journalist.
His activism brought him to the attention of the authorities and in 1963 he was sentenced to 18 months on Robben Island.
He later went into exile, moving to the United States where he taught literature and African studies at Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburg.
Brutus published several volumes of poetry including "Sirens, Knuckles and Boots" and "Airs and Tributes".
Among his numerous honours are a lifetime achievement award from South Africa's Department of Arts and Culture.
"He always spoke well of others. He wasn't critical," his son Anthony said. "Contact with young people kept him mentally and physically fit.
"After a protest they would grab a bite to eat and he bought everyone a burger and ice cream. He combined caring and enjoying with his activism," he said.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »