David Monyae | Jan Smuts' legacy: Some things need to be clarified

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Students at University of Cape Town covered the bust of the statue of Jan Smuts with plastic and tape.
Students at University of Cape Town covered the bust of the statue of Jan Smuts with plastic and tape.
Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

Following the removal of Jan Smuts' name from a men's residence at the University of Cape Town, David Monyae writes that the painstakingly slow rate of change marked by sporadic flare-ups of protest and activism on the country's campuses illustrates a failure of government to initiate in a real way the decolonisation project.

In June 2021 the University of Cape Town's university council sat and approved a name change for the residence previously known as Smuts Hall. This was because of growing calls to advance the decolonisation project that was started by the #FeesMustFall student led-movement in 2015, when they called for #RhodesMustFall. This was part of a protest to take down statues of colonial leaders such as Cecil John Rhodes on campus.

The protests for colonial and apartheid monuments to be taken down have spread across the country and indeed the globe, with people from as far as Cambridge University taking down a bust statue of Jan Smuts in 2018.

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