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RIP Dennis Brutus, 1924-2009

Poetry and ProtestDennis BrutusDennis Brutus, poet and political prisoner, passed away on December 26, aged 85. Brutus was active up until weeks before his death, particularly against climate change. Below, read his Open Letter to the UN Climate Change Gathering in Copenhagen and watch a clip of him reading his climate poem, “Longing”. We’ve also included an important podcast that Victor Dlamini recorded with him in 2007.

World-renowned political organizer and one of Africa’s most celebrated poets, Dennis Brutus, died early on December 26 in Cape Town, in his sleep, aged 85.

Even in his last days, Brutus was fully engaged, advocating social protest against those responsible for climate change, and promoting reparations to black South Africans from corporations that benefited from apartheid. He was a leading plaintiff in the Alien Tort Claims Act case against major firms that is now making progress in the US court system.

Podcast with Victor Dlamini

Brutus on the Copenhagen Conference

Allow me to make a few points about the current international negotiations which are likely to make a huge impact on the future of the planet. At the heart of the issue is the trade off that has to be made between those who want to continue on a path of exploitation and the protesters marching in the streets for a new path of being less prodigal.

South Africa, post 1994, eliminated the debt attributed to Namibia in a gesture of reconciliation. We fell short of distancing ourselves from the odious debt of apartheid and subsequently lost momentum in overcoming the backlogs in education, health and housing that doing so would have allowed. We should not fall short again, when a deal is signed to cap the carbon emissions for the industrial countries, with a deferred cap for developing countries in the considerably hotter next decade.

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