When the invisible becomes our light

Jul 2023

Recently I attended a truly magnificent and inspiring event. In fact two related events. The first was a conversation between three persons and the second a conversation so vast, I cannot determine the layers of its impact yet. And all of this at the Endler Hall, Stellenbosch University.

Andrew Lilley, a professor at UCT brought Tina Schouw and Mikhaila Alyssa Smith in conversation with one another at the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival. Immediately, I came under the influence that this is not only a conversation about two individuals. It was also conversations between communities, generations, continents, life experiences, institutions of learning, music genres, etc. Then followed the concert.

The conversation continued on a multitude of different levels. Tina Schouw narrated her story so passionately set to the orchestral music Mikhaila Alyssa Smith was commissioned to compose in honour of Schouw and her magnificent contribution to the struggle for democracy and freedom and beyond, as well as community and nation building.

To me it became apparent that it is no accident that this story, Lighting our stories: Tapestries of the invisible was told at SU. Schouw and Prof Russel Botman, from the same generation, were “invisible” in certain contexts in our country. This did not prevent them from sowing the seeds of hope and new possibilities in the face of all manner of discrimination, adversity and exclusion. What I saw, heard and felt was the coming of age of possibility. Schouw with her musicality and Botman his theology in particular and both of them in education, communities and society.

Just like Smith represents testimony that decades of sowing the seeds of hope becomes the new world, so too the beneficiaries of the Russel Botman Bursary Fund. Thanks to the generous donations the Bursary Fund continues to grant deserving students bursary opportunities towards a better, new future for South Africa and the continent. Schouw, Smith and Botman are no longer invisible and so also the beneficiaries of their work. Donate to the Russel Botman Bursary Fund and multiply this influence and contributions infinitely.