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Keorapetse Kgositsile on Exile, Art, and Freedom: “What I write defines who I am”

Internationally renowned poet and activist ‘Bra Willie’ Kgositsile passed away on January 3. In his loving memory, Praxis Center is republishing this interview with Kgositsile that took place while he was visiting Kalamazoo for the 2014 Without Borders Conference.

A note from Senior Editor, Lisa Brock:
My dear Willie. You were so smart, so witty, and your poems just blew us away. Pablo Neruda, Richard Wright, and Amiri Baraka were some of your muses. It was your poem entitled “The Last Poets” that inspired the 1970s Afro-futurist group to take that name. Red Song by Vusi is based on another of your poems. So happy we were able to hang out in Kalamazoo and in South Africa over the last few years. I’ll never forget you and Pedro Perez-Sarduy at the old Hothouse in the 1980s reading poems of liberation. I’ll always remember being in your car in Jo’burg with Muddy Waters blasting through the speakers. l’ll never forget the comedic rumba you and Gloria Rolando [Magaly Rolando Casamayor] acted out at the Arcus Center. I’ll never forget you telling my students that English is actually a commercial language that one had to tame to make beautiful. And then there was Nikky Finney and you talking about being black and colonized and writing, on stage. And so much more. My students in 2009 and faculty from K in 2016….you greeted them in South Africa. My condolences to Thebe and the rest of your family. You were clearly a man of the people and of the Pan-African Left. Apartheid forced you into exile, yet because of that you blessed us with your presence You were family. Go well Comrade.

The State of Black Art and Life: A Conversation with Photographer Iris Dawn Parker

By Stephanie Shonekan, Contributing Editor, Art, Music, & Pop Culture

Throughout the month of November, the Praxis Center website is featuring the stunning photography of Iris Dawn Parker. An African American whose lens has been focused on the everyday lives of Black folk across the Diaspora, Parker has done more than just take the shots. She has embedded herself in the experiences of the people she cares most about, living in cities and townships, mentoring and engaging young Africans and African Americans to dig deeply into their identities to find the treasures that are essential to building self worth and collective freedom. Armed with the trappings of formal education—she has an MFA from Ohio University—and years of experience as a practicing artist, Parker is uniquely positioned to capture the evolving landscape of Black life. From her upbringing in North Carolina to her current life in Johannesburg, South Africa, she has documented many facets of Black life, including Zulu weddings, Mouride Muslims, South African musicians, and everyday life in a South African township. She was even able to photograph Nelson Mandela a few weeks before he passed away. In this interview, I had the chance to ask Iris about what drives her as an artist and as a human being.

Keorapetse Kgositsile on Exile, Art, and Freedom: “What I write defines who I am”

Internationally renowned poet and activist ‘Bra Willie’ Kgositsile passed away on January 3. In his loving memory, Praxis Center is republishing this interview with Kgositsile that took place while he was visiting Kalamazoo for the 2014 Without Borders Conference.

A note from Senior Editor, Lisa Brock:
My dear Willie. You were so smart, so witty, and your poems just blew us away. Pablo Neruda, Richard Wright, and Amiri Baraka were some of your muses. It was your poem entitled “The Last Poets” that inspired the 1970s Afro-futurist group to take that name. Red Song by Vusi is based on another of your poems. So happy we were able to hang out in Kalamazoo and in South Africa over the last few years. I’ll never forget you and Pedro Perez-Sarduy at the old Hothouse in the 1980s reading poems of liberation. I’ll always remember being in your car in Jo’burg with Muddy Waters blasting through the speakers. l’ll never forget the comedic rumba you and Gloria Rolando [Magaly Rolando Casamayor] acted out at the Arcus Center. I’ll never forget you telling my students that English is actually a commercial language that one had to tame to make beautiful. And then there was Nikky Finney and you talking about being black and colonized and writing, on stage. And so much more. My students in 2009 and faculty from K in 2016….u greeted them in South Africa. My condolences to Thebe and the rest of your family. You were clearly a man of the people and of the Pan-African Left. Apartheid forced you into exile, yet because of that you blessed us with your presence You were family. Go well Comrade.

Amplified Voices from an Unequal Platform

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06AAOLHE5xQ Over the past decade lesbians, gays, trans and intersex persons in Africa have experienced high levels human rights abuses. Some of these abuses are committed by the State, which deny us the right to education, health care, bodily safety, freedom to express and associate. We face humiliation, victimization, which often leads to death and trauma. Homophobia and transphobia is everywhere in the world, but never has it been so vocally advocated as in Africa, by state presidents, religious leaders and ordinary citizens. This is most evident within Southern Africa, as Iranti-Org documents and reports on these abuses in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. Iranti-Org is an African collective comprised of LGBTI activists. We are a collective of media advocates who use media tools and platforms such as an online space or a face to face spaces to advocate for the rights of LGBTI persons. We can longer live…

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