Legendary poet and academic Kamau Brathwaite passed away on February 4, 2020. The Barbados born-poet, one of the titans of post-colonial literature and the arts, was 89.
Kamau Brathwaite, who was born in Barbados and lived all over the world including a stint in Ghana, was widely considered one of the major voices in the Caribbean literary canon. Starting with his first published work Four Plays for Primary Schools (1964), he went on to produce dozens of collections of poetry and important academic work. Some of his other work was Jamaica Poetry (1979), Barbados Poetry (1979), Sun Poem (1982), Afternoon of the Status Crow (1982), Gods of the Middle Passage (1982), and Third World Poems (1983).
Some of the awards for his work include the Neustadt International Prize for Literature 1994, Charity Randall Citation for Performance and Written Poetry from International Poetry Forum 1999, Griffin Poetry Prize 2006, Robert Frost Medal from Poetry Society of America 2015, and the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry 2018.
Writers and poets from across Africa who were also influenced by the Barbadian have been leaving tributes on Social Media. Here are a few;
Kamau Brathwaite was named Kamau by my grandmother in Kenya in 1972. I have a memory of old women, song, dance, goat meat and muratina (probably a false memory- I was only one). But what a reminder of just how afro-diasporic that generation of writers are! https://t.co/UPkjCDYLUa
— Mukoma Wa Ngugi (@MukomaWaNgugi) February 5, 2020
R.I.P. Kamau Brathwaite . SABLE LitMag Expert advisor. I’m so deeply sad. That’s all I can say. pic.twitter.com/XRsFdUqh0d
— Kadija George (@kadijattug) February 5, 2020
I am devastated. Language will never remain the same because Kamau Brathwaite walked this earth and now we must sing to him, for he has become an ancestor. pic.twitter.com/UZRoje03uW
— Romeo Oriogun (@SonOfOlokun) February 4, 2020
i hope you are resting well. thank you for being my teacher. RIP Kamau Brathwaite—we miss you pic.twitter.com/wGRd8bEKoM
— Safia Elhillo (@mafiasafia) February 4, 2020
RIP #KamauBrathwaite – a fierce intellect, the finest of poets and a former officer of the Ministry of Education in #Ghana. The erasure of Nkrumah’s legacy has been so thorough that we’re not only self-destructive, we forget the number of people who put sweat into the 🇬🇭 dream.
— Nii Ayikwei Parkes is BLUE for #Sudan (@BlueBirdTail) February 5, 2020
Kamau Braithwaite, the great Barbadian poet, passed on last night.
I used his poem my PhD dissertation:
“Where then is the nigger’s home?
Or in Heaven? What crime his dark dividing
skin is hiding?
Will exile never
Rest in Peace✊🏿
— Tshepo Madlingozi (@TshepoMadlingo1) February 5, 2020
He gave me the gift of the concept of “nation language”, which smoothed over my path re battles over language with my graduate work.
Thank you E. Kamau Braithwaitehttps://t.co/e4I7QPU266
— Zinduko (@Zinduko) February 5, 2020