Tag Archives: apartheid

National Sporting Heritage Day 2017

Today it’s National Sporting Heritage Day and we’re blogging about one of our collections which is particularly relevant to this theme.

Dennis Brutus Collection

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Dennis Brutus was a South African human rights activist, sports campaigner against apartheid, and poet. He is perhaps best known for his campaign to have apartheid South Africa banned from the Olympics. In the 1960s there were issues surrounding participation in the Olympic Games by teams from apartheid South Africa, where athletes were racially segregated and had to compete in separate trials. South Africa was banned from the 1964 Games, but controversy resurfaced concerning involvement in the 1968 Games in Mexico City. Various athletes threatened a boycott if the team from South Africa was allowed to compete, and South Africa was eventually banned from the Games and from the Olympic movement, not reinstated until 1990.The Dennis Brutus collection held at Brunel is a valuable resource for the study of this controversy.

Dennis Brutus (1924-2009) was a founder of the South African Sports Association in 1961 and of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC) in 1963, of which he became president. He was refused a passport and later imprisoned; other members of SANROC suffered similarly, but the organisation was revived in London in 1966, when Brutus managed to move to Britain. Pictured above are a range of documents on the Olympic boycott.

 

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50 objects 47: Dennis Brutus’ poems on Solomon Mahlangu

Dennis Brutus (1924-2009) was a poet and human rights activist who grew up in South Africa. He taught in a high school until he was dismissed for activism against apartheid, and he became instrumental in the movement against racism in sport. He was imprisoned and, on release, forbidden from teaching, publishing his writings, continuing to study law, and attending political meetings.

His poems reflect his frustrations and sadness at the political environment, and are frequently concerned with the sufferings of fellow black or mixed-race people.

One poignant set of poems on this topic is In Memoriam: Solomon Mahlangu, published in 1979. Solomon Mahlangu was a South African who was hanged by the apartheid South African government in 1979 after a controversial verdict finding him guilty of murder, and despite the intervention of the UN. The deaths were caused by another man, who was not considered fit to stand trial, and Mahlangu was found guilty on the understanding that he had had a “common intent” with the other man. The booklet begins, and ends,

“Singing
he went to war
and singing
he went to his death”.

The copy of this collection held at Brunel has a handwritten dedication to Brutus’ wife and children.solomon

Another published booklet of poems held in the Dennis Brutus Collection is Thoughts Abroad, by Dennis Brutus but published under the pseudonym John Bruin in order that it could be published in South Africa, where Brutus’ work was banned. This copy has been updated to attribute the work correctly and explain more about Brutus and his work.

There also handwritten poems and drafts by Dennis Brutus, and various works by other poets. The copy of Restless Leaves, a booklet of poems by Mark Espin, is dedicated to Dennis Brutus in thanks for the inspiration he provided.

espin

hearing1

End of a poem written by Dennis Brutus during a UN hearing

 

Further reading on Dennis Brutus:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/dennis-brutus

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/feb/23/dennis-brutus-obituary

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Dennis-Brutus

 

 

50 objects 31: South Africa and the 1968 Olympics

This Friday, the 2016 Olympic Games open in Rio. As well as promoting excellence in sport, the Olympic movement has a much wider remit to seek friendship and fair play worldwide.  The IOC states “The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

Sometimes that ideal has been hard to reach. In the 1960s there were issues surrounding participation in the Olympic Games by teams from apartheid South Africa, where athletes were racially segregated and had to compete in separate trials. South Africa was banned from the 1964 Games, but controversy resurfaced concerning involvement in the 1968 Games in Mexico City. Various athletes threatened a boycott if the team from South Africa was allowed to compete, and South Africa was eventually banned from the Games and from the Olympic movement, not reinstated until 1990.

The Dennis Brutus collection held at Brunel is a valuable resource for the study of this controversy. Dennis Brutus (1924-2009) was a South African-born poet and human rights activist who spearheaded a successful campaign to ban apartheid South Africa from international sport competitions, including the Olympics. He was a founder of the South African Sports Association in 1961 and of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC) in 1963, of which he became president. He was refused a passport and later imprisoned; other members of SANROC suffered similarly, but the organisation was revived in London in 1966, when Brutus managed to move to Britain.

Pictured are a range of documents on this topic from the Dennis Brutus collection.

 

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For more on Dennis Bruits and his human rights activism, see for instance http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/dennis-brutus.

 

 

National Sporting Heritage Day

Today it’s National Sporting Heritage Day, and we’re blogging about one of our collections which is particularly relevant to this.

 

Dennis Brutus Collection

Dennis Brutus was a South African human rights activist, sports campaigner against apartheid, and poet. He is perhaps best known for his campaign to have apartheid South Africa banned from the Olympics in the 1960s. His collection here at Brunel includes personal and professional correspondence and a large collection of newspaper cuttings on sport and apartheid in South Africa.

Find out more about the Dennis Brutus collection on our website.