The former Head of the Political Studies Department at UWC will receive the Order of Ikhamanga: Silver on 28 April 2023.
UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Pretorius, said: “Adjunct Professor Keith Gottschalk has been a leading activist voice during apartheid and in the democratic era. The acknowledgement of his poetry with a National Order from the President is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate Keith and his contribution to the creative arts and academia as a whole.
The correspondence from the Office of the President outlines Gottschalk’s contribution to the liberation struggle and the fight to end apartheid “for using creativity to draw critical attention to oppressive and unjust laws through performative political poetry. The work provided strength and motivated many people to fight for liberation.”
Gottschalk’s poetry collections include Cosmonauts do it in Heaven (2022), and Emergency Poems (1992). His forty scholarly publications include The African Union’s Africa: New Pan-African Initiatives in Global Governance and Cape Democrats.
Gottschalk is a Fulbright Scholar and has been lauded for his work in academia, but admits that this latest accolade is enormously significant. “It's the first award that my poems have ‘won’.
“I never imagined this in my wildest dreams… this is quite a new experience for me. The award acknowledges all of my struggle poems from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and the performances that I gave at scores of rallies, typically for the United Democratic Front and COSATU across the Cape Flats,” he said.
“The UWC connection to this, besides the fact that I was employed at UWC as a political studies lecturer at the time, is that the Mayibuye Centre, which is at UWC, published these poems in 1992 under the title, Emergency Poems, which is of course a play on the State of Emergency at the time. One is so busy and committed to the actions of the day that you don’t actually get the time to step back and reflect on half a century.”
But when he did reflect on his career, Gottschalk acknowledged the late Sandile Dikeni, who was an SRC member at UWC and a student leader.
“He was the people’s poet of Cape Town as Mzwakhe Mbuli was in Johannesburg, and he gave opportunities for my poems to be presented and performed to some rallies on the Cape Flats, so I owe a lot of appreciation to him.”
[NOTE] On 27 July 2023, the Keith Gottschalk Annual Lecture on African Integration will be held at UWC, and the keynote speaker is Dr Eddy Maloka.
Images by Ruvan Boshoff/UWC Media.