His political views can be clearly seen from his works. Serote's poems contain a strong element of political protest; he was tested to the limits of endurance in 1969 when he spent nine months in solitary confinement, though in the end was released without being charged.
Starting out with poetry, it was in the 1980s that Serote realised he would also need another form if he wanted to record and describe apartheid’s everyday experiences, the struggle, the interior of the lives of people whose “incredible strength in the face of adversity” he had a clear notion of as he wrote his first novel, To Every Birth Its Blood (1981). Set in Alexandra, Johannesburg, and infused with mood and jazz, the novel reflects strong characters with a deep sense of having to find a way to live and survive. As Serote noted, the book allowed him to portray many horrid moments without abandoning the “utter optimism” visible even in people’s faces – faces that harbour pain, but reveal a “beautiful, friendly smile” at the same time.
Party affiliation: Black Consciousness Movement