It’s one hundred years since Guy Butler’s birth, a centenary he shares with Nelson Mandela. In Prof Laurence Wright’s recent tribute at the National Arts Festival he recalls a moment when Mandela met Butler in 1995, saying to him: "You have done very well. You have done your duty. Your ancestors will be proud of you." Butler was a powerhouse of invention and founded numerous organisations, including the National Arts Festival. He also founded the National English Literary Museum, New Coin poetry journal, the Institute for the Study of English in Africa as well as three departments at Rhodes University: drama, journalism and linguistics. Butler was a consummate administrator as well as an academic and a creative writer — a playwright and memoirist, but principally a poet. When I moved to Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) over 10 years ago I remember hearing talk of "Butler’s boys", the last contingent of academics who’d been personally educated and elevated by Butler and who were now n...

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