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Perhaps we need humble monuments to mark massive events

Columns 2 weeks ago

While we can (almost) all agree that statues of murderers and oppressors need to go, we need to find a more humble way to remind future generations of their atrocities, but shifting the focus from the perpetrators to the victims.


26 Jun 2020
PREMIUM!
Perhaps we need humble monuments to mark massive events

The controversial statue of Cecil John Rhodes being removed from the University of Cape Town amid protests in 2015. Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images

I like to think that in South Africa, we’re past our phase of trying to defend exploiters, slavers and killers through statues. The discomfort among many white people felt over #RhodesMustFall seems to have dissipated as we come to understand the pain caused by monuments we took for granted. One doesn’t detect as much attachment to other statues lately. If Queen Victoria’s statue outside the Port Elizabeth Library had to fall, and that one of Louis Botha on his horse outside parliament, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for me. The legacy of those individuals – colonialism and...

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