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Dennis Brutus

Dennis Brutus

We are going to say to the world: There’s too much of profit, too much of greed, too much of suffering by the poor...

I met Dennis in Chicago through a close friend.  I had just finished reading his first collection of poems, Sirens, Knucles, Boots.  Dennis came to the U.S. in-exile from South Africa and taught in several U.S. colleges and universities throughout his stay.  He became one of the most visible symbols of anti-apartheid.  At the time the Reagan administration waged what seemed to many of Dennis' friends a "war" to deny him his status as a political refugee in order to return him to South Africa.

Ironically today, many know Dennis for the work he did for social justice and global peace.  However, his story started in the 1950s. Though known as a poet who advocated for the poor of his country,  Dennis assumed a pseudonym, A. de Bruin (meaning "a brown" in Afrikanns) and wrote a sports column that dealt with issues of race and sports.  Consequently, he was banned from writing.  While attempting to flee from police custody in 1963 he was shoot and almost lost his life. Dennis was imprisoned in the notorious Robben Island prison for eighteen months.  He broke rocks next to Nelson Mandela for raising his voice and pen against the injustice of his country's racial policies.