Tearing down statues will not change history - Mbeki

2016-05-25 18:52
(Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

(Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pretoria - Removing South Africa's colonial-era statues will not change the country's history, former president Thabo Mbeki said in Pretoria on Wednesday.

When he was still president, a young woman asked him why there were statues of statesman Jan Smuts and Dutch colonial administrator Jan van Riebeeck at the Union Buildings. 

"She said to me, 'but how could you do that? How could you leave those people there?' I said to her 'why not? They are part of our history. We have our heroes and heroines. Why don't we build our own statues in addition, instead of saying remove these?'‎"

Removing statues would not erase the country's history, he said at an Africa Day event in Pretoria.

"We can't say that by removing Paul Kruger, you therefore remove that past. It's a pretence. It's a show, and in some instances leads to failure to attend to real challenges. You think the symbol is gone, but the substance hasn't gone," he said.

In April last year, following student protests, the statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes was removed from the University of Cape Town's campus. Several statues of the country's colonial and apartheid-era figures were subsequently vandalised in towns and cities across the country. There were calls for all reminders of the country's past to be removed from public spaces, in order to "decolonise" the country and eradicate institutionalised racism.  


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.