Link our histories, says ANC

2010-03-30 20:05
Pretoria - The Freedom Park and the Voortrekker monuments in Pretoria should be linked in a single precinct, the African National Congress said on Tuesday.

"We must systematically own all our history and heritage and undo the appropriation of parts of our history and heritage to individual nationalities in the country," said secretary general Gwede Mantashe addressing the media after a meeting of ANC officials on Monday.

"It means you move none of them... but you integrate their work into one precinct."

"So we link them, in a big way, into a single precinct. Even if you call that precinct the Freedom precinct, you can even call it that. Because that history is our history."

Freedom Park is a monument to democracy in Pretoria, the nearby Voortrekker monument commemorates the history of Afrikaners in South Africa.

Take ownership


ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu, flanking Mantashe, said all South Africans should "take ownership" of the country's heritage.

"Even apart from the geographic spaces that these monuments occupy, in our hearts we must be truly South Africans."

"We must take ownership of everything that is South African so that there is no history and heritage that belongs to a particular grouping and history and heritage that belongs again to another grouping," he said.

"All of us as South Africans, everything that is before us, that is part of our history, all of us should take full ownership of that, including our struggle songs."

The briefing followed heated public debate about the use of the words "dubula ibhunu" contained in struggle songs.

Mantashe was speaking after the words, which mean "shoot the Boer" were banned by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Friday - a decision which irked the party and which it is bent on having overturned.

Concern

It will appeal the decision, a legal matter which the party believes will end up in the Constitutional Court.

Mantashe conveyed concern by ANC members that interest groups were using the courts over political matters and were seeking to erase the country's history through "unenforceable" judgments deeming struggle songs unconstitutional.

The party has committed to take part in initiatives to preserve the country's history.

"We must be more open about the longest struggle for freedom carried out by the oldest liberation movement in the continent and the various phases thereof."

"We must accept that 30 years of this struggle had armed insurrection as one of the pillars," Mantashe said.

He said the genocide against the Khoi San, the wars of dispossession and the concentration camps during the South African war must be spoken about more openly.

Preserve history


"We must all come together and discuss ways and means of preserving this history and heritage, cautious enough to avoid offending each other."

"Easy legal victories by any grouping in society will further polarise our society."

Mantashe said a nation that forgot where it came from "will never know where it goes", this was the relevance of singing struggle songs today.

"For this nation to be confident about the future, it must be confident about where it comes from."

"Actually these songs must be sung for many generations to come, so that many of these generations must know exactly where we come from."

"And those songs must be sung to remind us that it is determination, it is perseverance, it is patience that will ultimately give us full freedom in our country."

"Freedom is not about voting every five years, it is being the full citizen in all respects, and that struggle continues."
- SAPA
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