Looking back, going forward

October 2013 saw the establishment of the Russel Botman Bursary Fund on Prof Botman’s 60th and last birthday. Two years later the first Russel Botman Memorial Lecture took place while celebrating the second anniversary of the RBBF at Stellenbosch University and the first bursaries were granted to deserving students who made us proud. True to the life and influence of Prof Botman the themes of the Memorial Lectures are varied just as the study courses of the bursary recipients. Prof Botman lived a life with full acceptance of complexities and relatedness.

This year on 18 October Prof Thuli Madonsela delivers the memorial lecture on the theme of human rights. This reminds us of the speech delivered on Prof Botman’s behalf very soon after his death. What comes to mind is the acceptance of his words and ideas by the youth represented in the congregation at Aberdeen University. They were open to Prof Botman’s challenge to practice and influence the law in order to transform the world.

The youth was always a very important point of reference regarding transformation for Prof Botman. They were the reason for his life’s work in higher education, religious life and society. And indeed, they still continue to be.

In the book, With (-out) You, I wrote about my life after Prof Botman’s passing, my reflections could not be sensibly done without also reflecting on the major impact his death made on so many others, even those who only know him by hearsay, by reading about him, by reading his words written in his lifetime, by listening to stories about him. This makes keeping his legacy alive all the more rewarding.

When Ashwin Thyssen writes a responsive note of appreciation after his reading of the original Afrikaans version, Sedert die dood ons skei that he came to know Prof Botman as “a person of flesh and blood”. Thyssen continues that he accepts the invitation to keep on reflecting “deeply over Prof Botman’s influence on our lives, on our humanity,” particularly because he did not know him personally. Ashwin is a Junior Lecturer at the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University. He is also a beneficiary of your generous donations to the Russel Botman Bursary Fund. Thyssen is part of the living legacy of Russel Botman. Please donate to the RBBF and grant the youth bursary opportunities in the spirit of October, the season of new life and beauty.