To Those Who Knew Russel Botman by Hearsay Only

Russel Botman dedicated his doctoral dissertation to his children, Hayman, Lizelle, Ilse and Roxanne and “to those who will know apartheid only by hearsay”.

On 18 October 2018, the Russel Botman Bursary Fund that he established on his 60th and last birthday, celebrates its fifth anniversary. The recipients, who also only know him by hearsay, are students at Stellenbosch University and have been granted bursary opportunities. It is evident that he included them in his thinking in 1994 through his research rooted in the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian persecuted by the Nazis. In these young women and men, I find that we can, in a certain sense, confirm his impact.

I was further reminded of his profound impact on inspiring others to, in hope, build in the present to reach a new future where justice and peace prevail. One such example is an assignment published by Ashwin Thyssen [1]. In his writing he depicts Russel Botman as “Protestor, Pastor, Professor” and his reading of Russel Botman: A Tribute, 1953-2014, captures some of the pivotal aspects of his life, work and thought. He concludes his assignment, “In the final analysis, Russel Botman is one who has invited all persons into dialogue as knowledge partners and thought leaders – all in an attempt of realising the hope of Africa.”

He knows Russel Botman only by hearsay.

To all those who walked this earth with him and might share the sentiments and thinking of Ashwin, I appeal to you to donate to the Russel Botman Bursary Fund, for the sake of those who knew him only by hearsay.

Written by Beryl Botman

[1] Written as a creative assignment for the module Systematic Theology 444. Modern and Contemporary Theology: Thinkers and Themes.