Africa: his home, his passion

In everything, a son of the African soil.

Paying tribute to Prof Russel Botman, would be empty if his inclusion of and participation in issues of importance to the continent of Africa were not mentioned. Being African was always part of the framing of all his professional work. This piece of writing wishes to point to the particular tributes paid regarding Africa, in the anthology that speaks to his role as church leader, lecturer, theologian, academic manager and leader.

There are so many examples cited where his passion for Africa and particularly in addressing the challenges that the continent faces becomes clear. He made “directive contributions to focus the world’s attention theologically” on the “economy of exclusion” in Kitwe, Zambia (1996), which led to his presentation in 1997 Debrecen, Hungary (p.64 & 87). So continue reading to explore the outcomes of these initial undertakings that lead to the Accra Declaration.

The inaugural speech as rector and vice-chancellor of Stellenbosch University in 2007, “A multicultural university with a pedagogy of hope for Africa” truly speaks to Africa. This we know by the follow-through of these initial intentions in the establishment of African and international projects of hope. Chapter 8 tells of the relationships Prof Botman started building at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and continuing at Stellenbosch University establishing networks that led to Hope International. Hope@Africa is discussed in Chapter 9 as an initiative that is “focused on building a dynamic civil society, focusing African intellectual capacity on uniquely African challenges” in partnership with other African universities (p.186).

Celebrating Africa Day was not an annual event for Prof Botman. It was always a real engagement of taking Africa forward for the sake of Africans. He also knew that students at Stellenbosch University need to be recognised for their potential to further contribute to the development of Africa. It is with this investment in mind that he established the Russel Botman Bursary Fund. Please honor his legacy and donate to this fund to afford our youth bursary opportunities.

In celebration of Africa Day