Poet, Anti-Apartheid Activist Dennis Brutus Dies

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

One of the heroes of South Africa's anti-apartheid fight died over the weekend at age 85. Poet Dennis Brutus was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island for his protests against South Africa's apartheid system. He helped persuade Olympic officials to ban South Africa from competition from 1964 until apartheid ended nearly 30 years later.


A hero of South Africa's fight against apartheid has died. Dennis Brutus was 85. He was a protestor and also a poet in the days when a white minority ruled.

Mr. DENNIS BRUTUS (Poet): What the world whispers, apartheid declares with snarling guns. The blood the rich lust after, South Africa exposed in the dust.

WERTHEIMER: That is Dennis Brutus reading one of his poems on our member station WGBH.


Now, in the 1960s, Brutus objected to South Africa's all-white sports establishment and was thrown into prison alongside Nelson Mandela. Before his death of prostate cancer, Brutus had the satisfaction of outliving the injustice he decried.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from