New name of UJ Arts Centre theatre announced

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, announced the UJ Arts Centre theatre’s new name at the opening of ‘Hlakanyana’.

In tune with Africa Day celebrations, UJ announced that the UJ Arts Centre Theatre has been named after renowned poet Professor Keorapetse William Kgositsile. Chosen by the UJ Transformation Committee after a robust consultative process, UJ is delighted to honour South African Tswana poet, journalist, and political activist, best known by his pen name Bra Willie (1938-2018). Kgositsile lived in exile in the United States and later in Tanzania and was one of the first poets to bridge the gap between African poetry and black poetry in the United States. He returned to South Africa in 1990 and wrote of his experiences in the new South Africa. Kgositsile was named South Africa’s first National Poet Laureate in 1996. He later went on to receive the National Order of Ikhamanga for his contribution to literature.

“It is a fitting tribute that today I announce the Keorapetse William Kgositsile Theatre, in honour of Bra Willie’s memory and the impact he had on the arts. Bra Willie was a much loved and prominent figure who stands out as a representation of this intersection. His poetry addressed themes of black solidarity, displacement and anticolonialism with an uncompromising directness. These are themes that still hold great weight today. Indeed, his art continues to transcend and hold lessons,” said Professor Tshilidzi Marwala at the occasion that was attended by close family of the late Laureate.

The announcement was paired with the opening of a new South African musical, ‘Hlakanyana’, that was developed and co-produced by UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), in partnership with Madevu Entertainment. After a long development journey since the advent of Covid-19, ‘Hlakanyana’ is set to bring folklore, award-winning music, and magic to the Keorapetse William Kgositsile Theatre at the UJ Arts Centre. Directed by South African theatre icon, Janice Honeyman, and featuring some of South Africa’s most promising emerging artists, ‘Hlakanyana’ casts a spotlight on a cunning, unethical creature, depicted in animal or human form, and who is the long-awaited son of the chief of a village, but instead of being a uniting force he leaves devastation in his wake. For more information visit


About UJ Arts & Culture

UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) produces and presents world-class student and professional arts programmes aligned to the UJ vision of an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. A robust range of arts platforms are offered on all four UJ campuses for students, staff, alumni and the general public to experience and engage with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists drawn from the full spectrum of the arts.

In addition to UJ Arts & Culture, FADA ( offers programmes in eight creative disciplines, in Art, Design and Architecture, as well as playing home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art & Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre. The Faculty has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance, and engages actively with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approaches to art and design education.