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SOUTH AFRICA: MONUMENTS TO APARTHEID STILL STAND


English/Nat

The monuments to apartheid are still standing across South Africa, a year after the country’s first multi-racial government came to power.

But a sense of political correctness is spreading in Nelson Mandela’s new South Africa even creeping into the police museum.

The architect of apartheid, former prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd.

The first president of the Transvaal republic, Paul Kruger.

The Voortrekker monument in Pretoria commemorating the Battle of Blood River in 1838 when 500 travelling Boer farmers killed 10 thousand Zulu warriors.

And the Police Museum which houses uniforms and artifacts from the often controversial South African police force.

This is the physical evidence of the old South Africa and this country’s colonial and racist past.

Some see the continued existence of these monuments and statues as an insult, reminders of an injustice that must never be repeated.

The South African Police say their museum will never be closed down, instead they are making it more politically correct.

Rooms which used to house grisly pieces of evidence from the country’s most sensational murder trials are now being refurbished to house memorabilia from the apartheid years.

The statute books in which apartheid laws such as those forbidding mixed marriages and the free movement of black people were recorded, will be displayed.

And the dreaded pass book that every black person was forced to carry to avoid detention will also be shown.

Posters, stickers and any other material that used to be regarded as subversive will now have pride of place in the museum.

SOUNDBITE:
We’re trying to change our image. The reason is this is the new South Africa. We have to learn how to adapt to this situation.
SUPER CAPTION: Constable Shuaib Syed.

In Bloemfontein, the removal of Hendrik Verwoerd’s statue from a building by the same name caused more of a stir.

Many Afrikaners objected to this unceremonious demise of the architect of apartheid and prime minister from 1958 until his assassination in 1966.

Yet most believe that both the old and the new have a place in South African culture.

SOUNDBITE:
It’s part of our history – you can’t throw the history away.
SUPER CAPTION: Unidentified passer-by.
Yes, because when I grew up I found him here.
SUPER CAPTION: Unidentified passer-by.
There is room for part of our history that has not been portrayed up to now. But I don’t believe you can take away the history that has been portrayed. I think there is space for both of them.
SUPER CAPTION: Unidentified passer-by.

It’s expected there will be a gradual introduction of new monuments, the insertion of a part of history that South Africans were once forbidden to talk about.

The first home of President Nelson Mandela in Orlando West, Soweto; the memorial in honour of Hector Peterson, the first student killed in the 1976 student uprising; and the grave of Housing Minister and communist leader Joe Slovo – and hundreds of others who died in the name of the struggle – are the monuments to the new South Africa.

Andre Odendal, a member of the task group appointed by the arts and culture ministry to develop a new policy in this sphere believes the recovery of South Africa’s forgotten history is crucial to the process of transformation.

SOUNDBITE:
Don’t expect a sort of wholesale destruction of old monuments or the emptying out of old museums. I think the challenge is going to be to recontextualise the museums – to explain them in a different way.
SUPER CAPTION: Andre Odendal, historian & member of task group
investigating a new arts and culture policy for South Africa.

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