South African students and political members are erasing the historical past, by burning and destroying statues representing the country’s history. The latest incident happened in Uitenhage, Port Elizabeth, when members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) set a War memorial statue on fire.
The University of Cape Town has been in the spotlight over the last few weeks, as students protested and demanded the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue and to change the name of the campus. The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) supports the removal of this statue, and a Senate has now approved the removal of the Rhodes statue, although the name change will not happen.
Cecil John Rhodes was indeed a part of the South African history. Without the knowledge, wealth and political insight Rhodes gave toward turning the country into a prosperous country, it would not have been steeped in history. The students selected to forget that South Africa was a barbaric and wild place, and it was the insight of Rhodes that helped shape the lives of many generations to gain a decent education.
The participation of destroying the historical past of South Africa and rewriting a new history continues as statues around the country are destroyed. The statue of King George V has been defaced by the students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. “End white privilege” was written on a blanket draped over the statue, after angry students splashed white paint on the statue. The British Empire colonized South Africa while under the rule of King George V.
The latest attack by students and politicians, is to remove the statue of Paul Kruger situated in Church Square, Tshwane. Kruger was president of South Africa from 1883 to 1900. The Mayor of Tshwane has endorsed the call by the ANCYL for the removal of another historical statue. The EFF wants all historical figures from Louis Botha, to Queen Victoria removed, and has called upon the ANC government to implement this action.
The ANCYL believe that the removal of the Kruger statue will have a positive contribution toward the identity of a post-apartheid capital city. The EFF have stated, that statues of former prime ministers located at the Union Buildings must be moved and replaced with statues of ANC presidents.
Perhaps the ANC government have already set a precedence by renaming streets and cities. Names of those past leaders who according to students raise temperatures and as some argue are ruthless apartheid rulers must be dismantled. Can the history of South Africa be unwritten, according to students and politicians it can.
People become discontented through lethargy and are ready to march, vandalize and protest. The statues are part of history, and to erase the history does not become effective when only the removal of white statues are targeted. The students and the EFF political party among others, protest that the apartheid leaders, including Rhodes were cruel, oppressive, and all memory of these perpetrators must be erased. The bemoaning of how terrible the white apartheid leaders were continues to outshine the fact that historical black leaders, like King Shaka were cruel, bloodthirsty and wiped out the nomadic tribes in the Vaal area. The fact that the ANC government was classified as a terrorist organization and killed innocent people to gain world recognition. Statues of King Shaka Nelson Mandela and other prominent black people have a history that students do not want to erase.
It is easy to destroy, yet it does take courage to deal with the history and learn from the past. Resorting to violence and destroying white statues is a form of racial protest and does not help with reconciliation. Is the violence and protests by students a generic lack of self-control, or does the devilish action portray the reality of immaturity?