Wednesday, 22 April 2015

#RhodesMustFall: Outcome and Process Going Forward

I just saw this on my timeline, well done South African leadership, this sounds like a wonderful opportunity for education, discussion and creativity. Artists will be commissioned to create new works, landscapers... builders... I am pleased with the proactive stance, I love that 'learning' will now occur as a result.

I'll be watching this process with keen interest!


In the wake of recent protest actions over statues and symbols that many viewed as honoring South Africa's colonial legacy‚ the government has proposed plans to handle the fate of the remaining statues and symbols countrywide.

In March protests erupted at the University of Cape Town following the launch of the #RhodesMustFall campaign on social media.

This was initially sparked by student Chumani Maxwele throwing sewage over the statue of Cecil John Rhodes which stood prominently in the university premises.

The statue was eventually removed as a result.

However‚ the sentiment over "colonial statues" later spread countrywide and resulted in debates over whether the country still needs to have them‚ which ones needed to be removed and which ones should be left standing.

The government's proposed plan is set to include the appointment of a task team to ensure the acceleration of the process of identification‚ consultation and relocation of statues for a period of between a minimum of three years and a maximum of not more than five years.

An audit of existing names‚ symbols and sites will be made to identify those that are considered offensive. These will need to be changed within a specified period.

In the instances where there may be a need for disposal of some of the symbols and statues‚ proper disposal processes and guideline policies will be designed.

A monitoring and evaluation unit will be tasked with an oversight role to ensure that objectives are met‚ requisite processes are followed and complied with.

An awareness campaign will be launched to implement a series of vigorous public education and awareness creation campaigns.

This will focus on retained or changed names and statues and public education campaigns about these symbols countrywide.

A forum for public dialogue‚ whose emphasis will be on public dialogue and consultative processes‚ will be set up to engage legal structures over these symbols and statues.

The establishment of a historical theme park to give a detailed history and narrative of the evolution of the South African society. Strong emphasis should be placed on foregrounding African civilization‚ history and influential figures.

A process to review and build the capacity for regulatory bodies at all levels of government will also be established.

A heroes' acre will also be built to house those selected leaders who fought for liberation and or contributed to the building of a new South African society.

Above all‚ the plan includes a special programme to be established to celebrate African history on the continental scale to affirm African identity‚ as an antidote for South African "exceptionalism".

Government also plans to conduct an intra-African dialogue to promote multi-cultural consciousness.

A special attention will be placed on the Khoi and San people.

The project's non-partisan criteria will encourage a recognition process that goes beyond political figures to include other change makers who contributed to nation building.

Monuments established will be inclusive to represent more than individuals or a particular culture.

Places of national or international importance will be subjected to a national consultative process than those in local municipalities for change or review.

Transformation of the heritage landscape will preferably be informed and replaced by all inclusive symbols or themes/categories such as justice‚ youth‚ women‚ peace and reconciliation.

- The Times

Sandy Bigara

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