A Seminar of Statues, Foreigners, Colonialists, and Myopic Misconceptions


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Historical Statues Seminar Notice

After having accepted the above invitation to attend a seminar held on 30th April organised by Durban’s Libraries and Heritage Department, I should have known better than to arrive punctually for the advertised time of 09h00.  Admittedly, that gave me ample opportunity to enjoy the refreshments, which were lavishly provided and enthusiastically attacked, and to listen to a jazz band whose music, I must confess, was not in a style I admire.

Statues Seminar Venue

The meeting commenced at 10h10.

After National Anthem and introduction formalities, the president of University of KwaZulu Natal’s Student Representative Council, Dithobe Mosane, delivered an emotional and rambling diatribe against ‘symbols of white supremacy’ being kept in public places.  In the process he revealed an abysmal lack of knowledge of history as well as a tenuous grasp on reality.  He said, for example, that the settlers (local being understood) had taken the land from the black owners by fighting spears with guns.  He gave rabble-rousing rhetoric against the fact that Howard College was called that – that this was to commemorate the son of the donor of the land as a condition of donation carried no weight, in his opinion.  These were still ‘men who stole land from our grandfathers and killed them’. Little details like grants of land from King Shaka of the Zulus seem to have escaped his attention, as well as the fact that Shaka and Co killed lots of grandfathers using superior spears and strategies.

It was just another reflection of the disgusting urge towards heritage destruction and lack of historical perspective which has been in evidence with the Rhodes statue in Cape Town.

Professor Sabine Marschall of UKZN put forward quite eloquently that xenophobia and symbol destruction historically reflect outpourings of frustration at poverty and service delivery issues – that the ‘stirring’ is happening at more privileged levels made her arguments unconvincing.  The CEO of the National Heritage Council, Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa, did counsel (haha) against dismantling the symbols, rightly pointing out that they were part of history, but felt they should be removed to ‘theme parks’.

University of Johannesburg’s Professor Ashwin Desai spoke passionately in favour of keeping the symbols in public spaces.  However, both he and the learned advocate lost credibility when rabbiting on with the African buzzword of ‘decolonising’ – which none of them seem to realise is a joke and an impossible dream unless reversion to a wheel-less, mud-hut society is envisaged.  Colonialists kick-started (literally in many cases, it must be confessed) the process of local transformation towards the same levels of knowledge and Zulu Kingtechnology already long attained in their countries of origin.  All of the progress since would not have occurred without them.  So what ‘colonial’ do you remove? It would have to be extremely selective unless their whole lifestyle were to collapse. Small example – the Zulu King in his natty western comic-opera-style military uniform.

My desire to make these and many other points was frustrated due to the fact that the floor was allowed only the tiniest fraction of the time allocated, and some idiots waffled a lot – as always happens in these instances.  I also wanted to counter some comparisons of the colonists as ‘Hitlers’ made by certain of the squeakers by pointing out that the xenophobic incitement recently in evidence was exactly the sort of way Hitler-types set about brainwashing the populace and turning them into mindless mobs.

All I was able to put across, however, was that, as a South African with ancestry going back some 300 years, I had a right to feel put out when parts of my heritage were destroyed, and I also mentioned the idiocy of targeting the Dick King statue – although I readily admitted that Ndonweni as his companion for most of the historic ride should have received at least equal recognition.

That was it.  The meeting closed to allow the consumption of an excellent buffet. It does not seem to be the African way to stint on these occasions – but the irony of allowing such overindulgences at ratepayer or taxpayer expense while wailing about the poor does not seem to register.

© Colonialist May 2015 (WordPress)
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About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies.
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24 Responses to A Seminar of Statues, Foreigners, Colonialists, and Myopic Misconceptions

  1. The Asian says:

    If I was given half a chance, I would have let everyone know exactly what was on my mind

    Like

  2. haydendlinder says:

    So it’s not just the Roman culture in the U.S that is screwed up. You guys suck too!:)

    Like

  3. Gobetween says:

    This SA trend of decision makers having endless meetings (opportunities to sleep & enjoy extended lunches) & those who plunder & riot does make our country a circus. The sad part is that it costs lives of hard working citizens and affects the stability of our economy.

    Thanks for sharing what you witnessed.

    Like

    • colonialist says:

      It also gives a sad reflection of the fact that the mental processes of these decision-makers are as much in need of repair/overhaul/replacement as the machinery which has been so utterly neglected.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a circus! At least you had some tasty snacks, probably paid for out of your taxes. The news coming out of South Africa these days doesn’t make me wish I was back there at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. bulldog says:

    Ja well… what more do we expect in the new SA… money is spent on such seminars instead of municipalities paying their escom bills… oh hold on .. maybe that is also a symbol of white supremacy and must therefore be dismantled… it always surprises me that the prior black on black killings of long ago are never mentioned, that some tribes were almost decimated to extinction… hold on that doesn’t count.. that’s xenophobia and that’s allowed…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. People need to see they are a product of all the past – not just one part (they like) or another. They are a total – a sum. ALL of it counts
    Sigh.
    You know how people scorn the old civilizations that came in and destroyed any sign/art work of the culture that came before them – and called the “new group” short sighted and foolish? History just repeats.

    Like

  7. Grannymar says:

    They stopped blowing up statues over here, now they just kill people and fight over ‘Flegs! Read Flags.

    Like

  8. Arkenaten says:

    Sometimes a difficult call, especially when the person ”leading” the investigation/debate is coming on strong with all the hooha.
    What happened to a measured approach?
    Maybe the idea of a historical theme park is at least an idea worth considering? Best of a bad situation, perhaps?
    It is a concern and it must be confronted one way or another. If not and the extremists have free reign than there won’t even be any discussion.

    Like

    • colonialist says:

      It is much the same logic employed as replaced street names which reflected people who had made a real contribution to the welfare of all South Africans with those of overseas revolutionaries. That really stuck in my craw.
      The most balanced idea coming across was to leave them at the original site, but balanced with more recent heroes and perhaps moved from previous prominence.

      Like

  9. Pussycat44 says:

    I appreciate your feed-back tremendously.
    It’s no surprise to me that the speakers have no cooking clue about the positive effects colonisation has had, For one, they do not know how their watches actually tell time and are not just for show. I bet they all enjoyed the “colonial” food, too.

    Like

  10. The whole thing seems decidely OTT.

    Liked by 1 person

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