Why do we want to deface history?

2011-05-07 00:00

IT is 11 days before the local government elections and political parties have moved into top gear as they wrestle with each other for votes, which translate into seats in local councils across the country.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is trying to make inroads in the African National Congress’s (ANC) heartlands, while the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is fighting for dear life to hold on to the few councils it controls. In the mix of all this, the ANC is fending off the DA and the IFP like a hen trying to protect her young ones from eagles. It is a “dog-eat-dog” world.

The IFP has accused the ANC of being in cahoots with the National Freedom Party (NFP) and stabbing the IFP in the back. The DA has accused the ANC of being all talk and no action, while the ANC has accused DA mayor Helen Zille of “double dipping”. The ANC has taken this further by accusing the DA of harbouring apartheid sentiments after it initially refused to remove the statue of apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd in the Midvaal council it controls. This is the time for politicking as electioneering turns into a mud-slinging contest.

With regard to the Verwoerd statue, why did the ANC fail to remove the statue when it was still in power in the area? Is it a case of them not removing it because they did not want to upset the Afrikaans voters, but they made the DA remove the statue so that the latter would lose votes?

We all know what Verwoerd stood for and what his actions did to this country. We still see the damage, in structures and in people, across the country. It is all part of our history and why would we want to deface history, or even worse, get rid of it?

The problem is that people want to get rid of things they do not agree with, but how can we agree when we were on different sides? Why do we not want to accept our differences and just agree to disagree? Some people could vote while others could not — that was the situation at the time. That was where we were as a country. We cannot start crucifying each other for what is history.

Blacks, including myself, see Andrew Zondo  — the freedom fighter who placed a bomb that killed white people in Amanzimtoti, which is where I live — as a hero who expedited our journey to freedom. He paid with his life but remains a hero in our hearts and minds.

Verwoerd, Paul Kruger and others like them, are heroes among some Afrikaners and there are other heroes among white people, but blacks have different opinions about these heroes as it was blacks who were on the receiving end of some of the most cruel actions by these men. Keep the Verwoerd statue, the Paul Kruger streets around the country and Andrew Zondo Road in Toti so that history is restored and not distorted.

As a rainbow nation, we have a rainbow history and if we remove one of the seven colours in the rainbow, it ceases to be what it is: a complete rainbow with seven colours. To continue to remain complete, tolerance should be our point of departure.


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