Govt will relocate ‘divisive’ monuments and continue renaming towns – Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa. Image credit: Twitter/GovernmentZA

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government will continue naming and renaming South Africa’s towns and cities as part of “transforming the heritage landscape of our country.”

Ramaphosa made the remarks on Thursday while delivering the keynote Heritage Day South Africa address, whose theme was “Celebrating South Africa’s Living Human Treasures.”

New monuments, relocating ‘divisive’ ones

He added that the government will continue erecting new monuments and statues while relocating divisive ones from the past.

Ramaphosa said, “Monuments glorifying our divisive past should be repositioned and relocated. This has generated controversy, with some saying we are trying to erase our history.

“Building a truly non-racial society means being sensitive to the lived experiences of all this country’s people. We make no apologies for this because our objective is to build a united nation. Any symbol, monument or activity that glorifies racism, that represents our ugly past, has no place in democratic South Africa.”

Ramaphosa’s remarks on Heritage Day South Africa follow similar comments by Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa in Parliament earlier this month.

Relocation to theme parks

Mthethwa said the government is considering relocating statues from South Africa’s apartheid and colonial pasts to theme parks. This follows recommendations from a government “cluster.”

He explained, “Likewise, [the cluster] advised the Department to provide guidance on the relocation of statues that are inimical to the constitution and the founding values of the new democratic order. The cluster advocated for the development of theme parks which would be cultural spaces hosting the relocated statues.

“The cluster further advised that the relocation of these statues and memorials should be conducted in a prescribed and systematic manner.”

The theme parks would be established and maintained under the “old adage of ‘lest we forget,’” the Minister said. “This will ensure that posterity will understand the trials and tribulations that our nation has undergone.”

Earlier this month, the Eastern Cape provincial government also revealed that it was considering name changes for East London and other towns.

Under this plan, East London would be renamed kuGompo and King Williams Town would be called Qonce. Ntabozuko was proposed as the new name for Berlin, while East London Airport would be known as King Phalo Airport.

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