Family, friends and comrades of late activist Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile gathered at Johannesburg city hall on Thursday to bid to remember him. Professor Kgositsile passed away on the 3 January after a short illness.

The 79-year-old Kgositsile became a social and cultural activist while working as a scribe for The New Age in 1950.

Due to political unrest in the country, the African National Congress (ANC) leadership ordered him to leave South Africa in 1961. The memorial was like a festival in celebration of the life of a giant.

Colleagues and friends lined up to share their fond memories of Professor Kgositsile as well as the manner in which he touched their lives. Amongst those is musical icon Jonas Gwangwa.

A number of artistic community members were also in attendance to honour a man who dedicated his life towards arts and culture particularly through literature and poetry. Veteran actor Sello Maake kaNcube performed a poem in honour of Prof Kgositsile.

The presence of high profile political activists at the memorial service did not come as a surprise due to his role in the liberation struggle under the ANC. Amongst those who were present are senior party members such as Ronnie Kasrils, Mac Maharaj, Pallo Jordan, Essop and Aziz Pahad as well as national assembly speaker Baleka Mbete.

Parks Tau spoke on behalf of the Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee. “Bra Willie is a giant of our struggle because he lived by his actions and his words. We have learned from him, that leadership ultimately is not concerned with the pursuit of selfish individual interests. Rather, for him leadership is defined by the pursuit of collective, selfless interests. In our country, the demands placed on selfless leadership are underscored by the challenges we are faced with in an environment of diminished economic growth and a low commodity cycle.  As such, we require leaders who will articulate a vision we can all share and aspire towards in application. We need leaders who understand the relationship between good governance and effective service delivery.”

Professor Kgositsile will be buried next week and is survived by his wife Dorcus, seven children and several grandchildren. Click below for more on the story: