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Author Focus

Keorapetse Kgositsile
Biographical info

Born in 1938, Keorapetse ‘Willie’ Kgositsile left South Africa in 1961 as one of the first young ANC members instructed to do so by the leadership of the liberation movement.

He has studied and taught Literature and Creative Writing at various institutions in the United States and Africa since his first post at Sarah Lawrence College in New York in 1969. On the African continent he has lectured at the universities of Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Fort Hare.

In addition to ten books of poetry, Kgositsile has published numerous poems in literary journals and anthologies. In the late 1960s he 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 Departments of Education and of Arts and Culture.

In recent years, he followed a pattern of spending six months in the land of his birth and six months in the United States, where he taught at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). 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 journalistic pieces.

In July 2004, he was appointed Special Adviser to the Minister if Arts and Culture, Dr Z Pallo Jordan. Keorapetse Kgositsile is the recipient of various literary awards. His work was again honoured when he was made South Africa’s National Poet Laureate in 2006.