The Soweto I Love analysis: Sipho Sepamla’s How A Brother Died

The Soweto I Love” is an anthology of poems written by Sipho Sepamla. It was first published in the year 1977 as a direct response of Soweto Uprising in 1976, but the poem was, however, banned by South African Apartheid regime, which considered it as protest poems. “The Soweto I Love” contains 35 poems. “How A Brother Died” is one of the poems that appears in it.

How a brother Died by Sipho Sepamla is a narrative poem that details the tragic end of a young man. The deceased whose life is tragically cut short in his prime is the poet’s elder brother. This is clearly the sad phenomenon the poet recollects so as to “tell them to my little brother” who was presumably not birthed at the time of the occurred event. The poet pledge to disclose nothing but transparent truth to his brother. The poet’s conviction is that telling the truth will make him to “walk the street tall”.

I want to remember these things

that I may tell them to my little brother

I want to speak from this month only the truth

that I may walk the street tall

Though the incident had apparently happened many years ago, the poet avers
that the scene is still fresh in his mind. He patiently recounts that on the incidental day, his “elder brother walked out of the house” as this has been the elder brother’s daily routine of “heading for his place of work/ where he had been for the last five years”

The poet remembers seeing his elder brother on that faithful day wearing “white shirt/ and grey suit”, and he is not ill but absolutely “good in health”.

I can still see the white shirt

and grey lately dry_ cleaned

fitted well on strong limbs and sturdy shoulders

for he stood well …. good in health.

In stanza three, the poet reveals the deceased’s biography. The deceased “loved his neighbor” and obviously” harboured no grudges” against anyone. He is, however, “no coward”, for he can bravely “look anyone in the eye/ because his hands were not soiled/ by the blood of others.”

He could look any one un the eye
Because his hands were not soiled
By the blood of others

The news pertaining the demise of the poet’s elders brother comes abruptly and shockingly. The messenger who delivers the rueful message claims the deceased “had met with an accident at the train station.” They have to “pillar mother to the scene” in order to suppress any sudden collapse that will stem from seeing and realizing it is indeed her son. True to what the messenger says, they find the deceased “shrouded with newspapers”, lying lifeless, “spluttered with blood”.

Standing beside the lifeless body of his brother, the poet is extremely angry as he feel “the click of my tongue/ my muscles tightening round my chest”. His elder brother does not die of auto crash but “he was being felled/ by that bullet”.

Poetic devices in Sipho Sepamla’s How A Brother Died


The dominant theme in How A Brother Died is murder. The poem portrays the gruesome murder of a young man who is “felled by… bullet” after leaving for work. His corpse is found at the train station.


How A Brother Died” by Sipho Sepamla is written in simple and
straightforward language. The language is concise and it enhances poetic insight of the poem.

The poet uses repeated words for emphasis this is noted in the lines of the poem
“Remember”_ line 1, 5 and 29
“Brother”_ line 2, 6 and 21
” Blood” – line 20 and 25

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