Monuments play a key role in society

Friday, February 23, 2018

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa says the monuments in the country serve a legitimising role in society, cultivating popular acceptance and consent to the authority of the state.

“Monuments are not innocent pieces of architectural work. They embody a strong symbolical power. Monuments, statues and place name project the foundational values and authority of the state,” Minister Mthethwa said.

The Minister was speaking at a presentation of the final report on the transformation of the heritage landscape at Freedom Park, in Tshwane on Friday.

The report back is a result from a national consultative meeting convened by the Minister in 2015, following incidents of attacks on numerous pre and post 1994 statues across the country, and a topical national debate on the issue.

The incidents were sparked by the “Rhodes Must Fall” protests ignited by the University of Cape Town students.

The meeting resulted into 21 resolutions which were adopted by the participants.

To chart a way forward, a task team of diverse stakeholders was formed to study the resolutions, solicit views from South Africans and draw a programme of action.

The task team then embarked on a nation-wide consultation with targeted stakeholders.

Minister Mthethwa said that consent derives from identification with the state, which implies that “people have to embrace the values espoused by the state”.

“Monuments are therefore a constant, public reminder of the foundational values of the state and those in power. Their role is to conscientise the public. It also clearly shows to ordinary citizen the linkage between memorialisation and political order,” he said. -

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