Poetry and jazz dominated the official state memorial service of poet and academic Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile’s memorial at the Johannesburg City Hall yesterday.
The dignified service was attended by dignitaries such as Ronnie Kasrils and Pallo Jordan, as well as the MEC for infrastructure development Jacob Mamabolo, the director-general for Arts and Culture Vusumuzi Mkhize and ANC chairperson Parks Tau.
Poets attended, such as Lebo Mashile, Tumi Molekane, Sello Maake Ncube, Steve Dyer, Natalie Molebatsi and Jonas Gwangwa.
Speaker after speaker acknowledged Bra Willie’s humility and selfless spirit.
“He was an embodiment of the best we can be and was far ahead of us. He understood that things come to an end. His words give us comfort and warmth as he showed us it is possible to be successful and yet remain humble. And that we should not use our success and achievement to humiliate others,” Mamabolo said.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, the director-general for the department, Vusumuzi Mkhize said the minister and his office would make sure they keep his legacy alive.
“It is indeed a sad day for our nation. The minister sends his heartfelt condolences to the Kgositsile family. Indeed as the minister said: ‘A giant tree has fallen’.
“He was not only a father and a husband but a freedom fighter and a soldier, who shall be remembered for his distinct intellect and assertive, carefully considered words.”
Gwangwa who shared plenty of memories of the professor from high school all the way to exile and back also paid tribute to his long-time friend, acknowledging his contribution to speeches he wrote for Miriam Makeba and others.