Last month the Russel Botman Bursary Fund celebrated its ninth anniversary at the annual Russel Botman Memorial Lecture. It was once again another occasion for us to remember the life and impact of the man Russel Botman. This year Prof Thuli Madonsela related stories of their joint experiences in public speaking on issues of justice and shared spaces in Kliptown (this, without knowing one another during our divided past).
Having had the opportunity of telling a story of mine in ‘With (-out) You’, my story after his passing, I realise how precious such an autobiographical work by Botman would have been. Unfortunately, Prof Botman was not afforded the opportunity to tell us his life story in a comprehensive way, but certainly left behind some of his story as he told it, or in the way that we experienced him. In Russel Botman: A Tribute, 1953-2014[i], some of this story is being shared. All of the contributors relate stories of his life experiences from his youth through the eyes of his siblings, extended family, fellow students, teachers, principal, and documents like testimonials and application letters. What Botman did leave us is some of his poetry, letters, documents, and statements.
In the different roles that he has fulfilled in his life story and the impact thereof on society – church theology, teacher and lecturer, manager as vice-rector and rector, and academic leader in Africa and beyond its borders, it becomes clear that his story is indeed a story of much significance. His story is so significant, that his legacy creates new stories for even those who have not met him.
Luzay Zimri, a recipient of the RBBF, related a story of participating in a ceremony at his graveside at the end of the first leg of the Pilgrimage of Hope undertaken in December 2021 in which they, those who only know him by hearsay, become part of his story.
Please continue to be part of the Russel Botman story and donate to the Russel Botman Bursary Fund to afford deserving students bursary opportunities at Stellenbosch University. Grundlingh, A. et al, 2017, Russel Botman: A Tribute, 1953-2014, African Sun Media, Stellenbosch