DAMAGED STATUE STILL IN RUINS
Pic by: Siyanda Nkonyeni
In 2015, scenes of students vandalising Cecil John Rhodes statue in protest of what was alleged to be a symbol of colonialism at the University of Cape Town ( UCT ) campus played out in the media. Months after that incident and about a 1000 km away, King Williamstown residents woke up to a defaced and partially destroyed statue of Queen Elizabeth 2 at the town square. Almost two years later the statue remains in the sorry state of broken and charred stone, an eye-saw that has become almost familiar to the town’s residents.
The incident has been the talk of the town since and evoked emotions, and different reactions from the community around the area.
Young acclaimed artist and sculptor James Mama was aghast when he first witnessed such act of vandalism, he called for the Buffalo City Municipality to engage all stakeholders so as to avoid further damages to statues locally.
“The activism we witnessed some time back around the country calls for the municipality to involve communities so that we can find a positive platform over our public spaces,” said Mama.
Community member Sicelo Kotsele said that when dealing with erecting of monuments in general, a holistic approach to our history is needed, and bemoaned the lack of recognition of local heroes who made immense contribution to the freedom and democracy we enjoy today.
“The statue you see here celebrate a certain time in our history and you do not see black leaders who are coming from around King Williamstown celebrated here. This is a show of frustration and instead of being damaged, these statues should be placed in designated areas as this is part of our history,” he said.
Another concerned community member Monde Ndwalaza echoed the same sentiments and highlighted the importance of the country’s history as a symbol of the country’s diversity.
“These statues represent the time and era when white people were celebrating their heroes and so we have no right to vandalise them, We can put our own next to these ones to represent where we come from and were we are today for educational purposes.” he said.
Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) member Lubabalo Royi blamed the slow pace of government to get rid of anything that represented the injustices of the past.
“If the government sees no need to remove the statues then people should take it upon themselves to get rid of these symbols of oppression. We cannot blame them for showing their feelings, this country is not completely healed from apartheid because most things like streets, towns and universities are still representative of the ugly past”.
Both brick signs bearing the name “Welcome to King Williamstown” at the entrances to the town were also vandalised and the Xhosa name eQonce and EFF spray painted on them.