London Literature Festival, Benjamin Zephaniah and South Africa

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.   

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