Heritage symbols in post-colonial contexts

AFAI will host a public debate on heritage symbols in post-colonial contexts, titled How do we interpret and manage living history in South Africa?’ on Monday, June 29 at 5.30 pm at the District Six Museum.

Panelists include Gcobani Sipoyo from the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA), Dr Ashraf Jamal from CPUT, Mohammed Shabangu from the Open Stellenbosch Collective and Brian Kamanzi from the Rhodes Must Fall movement (UCT). The debate will be chaired by the D6M Director Bonita Bennet.

The recent removal of a statue of Cecil John Rhodes on the University of Cape Town’s Upper Campus stimulated vociferous debate on social media, public fora, seminar rooms and informal spaces around the country.

While much of the debate was about the structural racism that still defines many South African Higher Education institutions, the debate was also about heritage, collective memory and living history.

This debate seeks to tease out some of the different ways in which the ‘nation’ deals with statues and buildings that represent an oppressive past, and also articulate a complex and problematized present. In addition, the debate seeks to interrogate the ways in which, the ongoing project of transformation – both within universities and public spaces – can be dealt with in a post-colonial context.

In this way South Africa can reflect on recent events in light of how other post-colonial societies have managed the telling of history and the transformation of cultural/ heritage objects and symbols that shape a community’s consciousness (take India or Zimbabwe as examples).

The District Six Museum is at 25A Buitenkant Street, Cape Town, 8000. Please RSVP to Sophia at sophia@afai.org.za by Monday, June 29 10 am.

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