Dennis Brutus, Hon Doc (2009)
Anti-apartheid and political activist, poet and professor Dennis Brutus died in his sleep in Cape Town at the weekend, his family has confirmed.
Brutus''s son Anthony said that his father passed away on Saturday at the age of 85.
Brutus had suffered from prostate cancer for more than a year.
Anthony said he remembered his father''s acceptance of others the most.
"He always spoke well of others. He wasn''t critical. 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," Anthony said.
According to Anthony, poverty, racism and xenophobia were not part of the society for which his father had gone to prison during the apartheid era.
Referring to the society that Brutus had envisioned for South Africa, Anthony said: "I don''t think he believed that we''ve come close to achieving that. "
An activist until the end, Brutus wrote an open letter about the Copenhagen climate change conference earlier this month.
"Better that there is no deal, so that ordinary citizens can make their choices and voices heard, against the marketing excesses for the rich, allowing some to gorge themselves while others starve," Brutus wrote in the letter.
Born in the then Rhodesia in 1924, Dennis Vincent Brutus grew up in Port Elizabeth. He was educated at Fort Hare University and started studies in law, which were cut short by his imprisonment, at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Brutus did extensive journalistic reporting, organised with the Teachers'' League and the Congress movement, and founded the South African Sports Association as an alternative to white sports bodies.
He was banned from teaching, writing, speaking in public or attending social or political meetings in 1961 under the Suppression of Communism Act.
He then fled to Mozambique, but was apprehended and deported to Joburg.
While trying to escape from police custody, he was shot in the back and nearly died while waiting for an ambulance reserved for blacks.
Brutus was imprisoned for violating the ban and incarcerated in the cell next to Nelson Mandela''s on Robben Island from 1963 to 1965.
After his release, Brutus went into exile in London. Through his activism, South Africa was banned from the Olympic Games in Mexico in 1968.
South Africa was subsequently banned from the Olympic movement in 1970.
Brutus moved to the US in 1970, where he taught literature and African studies at Northwestern University (Chicago) and the University of Pittsburgh.
He overcame attempts of the Reagan administration to deport him, when a judge granted him political asylum in the US in 1983.
After the political transition, Brutus returned to South Africa and taught at the University of KwaZulu-Natal''s Centre for Civil Society.
His more recent work includes economic justice movements such as anti-privatisation and debt forgiveness.
Two honorary doctorates were awarded to Brutus in April this year by Rhodes University and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. He held six other honorary doctorates.
The Department of Arts and Culture also awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Brutus publicly rejected induction into the South African Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, famously saying at the awards ceremony: "It is incompatible to have those who championed racist sport alongside itsgenuine victims. It''s time - indeed long past time - for sports truth, apologies and reconciliation. "
Brutus''s poetry was compiled into a number of collections printed between 1963 and 2006.
Brutus had been separated from his wife May for several years.
"Dennis did a lot of things that involved the world, and in a sense the world became his family," his son said.
"I would say that family was a sacrifice that he made. "
However, Brutus maintained cordial relations with May, who currently lives in London.
Brutus is also survived by two sisters, eight children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Friend and former colleague Professor Patrick Bond said: "The memory of Dennis Brutus will remain everywhere there is a struggle against injustice.
"Uniquely courageous, consistent and principled, Brutus bridged the global and local, politics and culture, class and race, the old and the young, the red and green. "