A simple lust: Dennis Brutus and the anti-apartheid campaign



Publication Details

Collett, A. A. 2010, 'A simple lust: Dennis Brutus and the anti-apartheid campaign', in H. Yeatman (eds), The SInet 2010 eBook (Proceedings of the SInet 2009 Conference), Social Innovation Network (SInet) University of Wollongong, Wollongong, pp. 70-82.


A number of South African writers could be said to have had a significant impact on the demolition of the Apartheid state in South Africa. In particular, those whose works were censored or banned within South Africa but gained circulation in the world beyond national borders so influenced the international community as to have constituted a major force in effecting social and political change. This essay focuses on the cultural and political work of South African poet, Dennis Brutus, to argue a case for the power of poetry, or more broadly, literature, to effect social change on two fronts: the first being the power of literature to affect the individual, that is, the power of poetry to stimulate imagination, encourage empathy and its associated desire to alleviate suffering; and the second front being the power of the cultural authority of the poet or more generally, the writer, to enhance the effectiveness of his or her associated actions in the 'real world' of politics.