Statue Revolution 2015

[Originally published in mid 2015] Following a spate of attacks on colonial monuments around the country, paint was splattered on a post-apartheid statue on Gandhi Square in downtown Johannesburg. Eric Itzkin takes up the case of Gandhi and his bronze effigy.

The Settlers Park Monument is in fragments, the Horse Memorial is missing its Soldier, and Queen Victoria has a green dress.  All across the nation, monuments are covered in graffiti and paint. The bronzes are corroding, the marbles are stained, and the iron is disappearing everywhere, but this is all in a day’s work in the life of an art conservationist.

During the past few months a number of South African university campuses have seen a spate of student protests against the presence of statues honouring our colonial past. Rightly or wrongly, these have resulted in the vandalization and removal of some of these memorials.

[Originally published 23 March 2015] The Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA) has noted with great interest the public debate on the matter of colonial-era public memorials and place names – in this particular case those associated with Cecil John Rhodes – for some a great British statesman and industrialist, and for others an imperialist whose colonial and mining labour policies and practices doomed entire generations of black communities – all across the ‘pink’ map of colonial Africa.

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