Some people in South Africa are getting angry about statues; there is a campaign to remove all symbols of colonialism.
The statue of Cecil Rhodes at Cape Town University had to be removed from its plinth because of protests from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). This group objects to any symbol of colonialism which they view as the cause for the country’s present economic problems.
In Port Elizabeth, the Horse Memorial, erected in 1905 after the Second Anglo-Boer War, was damaged by the same group. The kneeling soldier holding a bucket of water for the horse to drink has been pulled off the base. They left the thirsty, bronze horse still standing, commemorating all the gallant animals that perished during the conflict. This inscription is written on the plinth:
“The greatness of a Nation consists not so much upon the number of its people or the extent of its territory as in the extent and justice of its compassion.”
The Boer War Memorial statue in Uitenhage’s Market Square was “necklaced” – activists set fire to a car tyre draped over the soldier’s shoulders. They used a sledge hammer, but could not bring down the statue. This triggered a newspaper cartoon showing a replacement statue, depicting the brutal necklacing and beating of a man.
Security guards have been trying to protect the statue of Paul Kruger (the President of the South African Republic from 1880 to 1900) in Church Square, Pretoria, after EFF activists splashed it with lime green paint. He fought against colonialism and the British imperialists.
Even the statue of Mahatma Gandhi was defaced with white paint in Johannesburg. And he was arguably the most famous freedom fighter of the twentieth century.
Is nothing sacred?
Apparently not. In Cape Town, a small statue resembling President Jacob Zuma was erected on the hill, Lion’s Head, overlooking the city. It depicted a short, fat, naked man, with a large pink sex toy in its hand. Zuma has a reputation as a philanderer. When he was on trial for alleged rape, Zuma stated that he protected himself from HIV infection by having a shower after sex. The statue was cut in half and destroyed.