It’s Independance day in the US and there is a black president. He is coming to South Africa soon which is where I am now. Buzz Aldrin the second man to land in the moon is at The London Literature Festival at Southbank Centre to read from his new book. I’m 6,000 miles away in South Africa. But I feel close to the London Literature festival. I return on 10th to introduce Benjamin Zephaniah onto the stage that same evening. Here in South Africa my producer tells me how Benjamin and Helen Suzman at her behest helped campaign to free South African poet Muzwhake from jail. Benjamin wrote to Nelson Mandela in which he said “you can tell how well a country is by how it treats the poets.”
Eventually the president visited Mzwakhe in jail taking him fresh fruit and shortly afterwards Mzwakhe was free. I will quote that line when I introduce Benjamin onto stage when I am back in England on 10th July. It is my greatest honour to introduce him to the Southbank Centre.