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Discourse on statues and symbols puts transformation questions in the spotlight
2015-04-12

 

Amid various protest actions against historical statues across the country over the last two weeks, the University of the Free State’s Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice presented a three-day discussion session the past week about the role and place of statues, symbols and signs in the transformation attempts of universities.

During these lunchtime sessions, various speakers from different contexts had expressed their opinions about this issue that has become a focal point, not only for universities, but also for the country as a whole.

Thus speakers not only gave their opinions about whether there is a place in present-day South Africa for statues and symbols from colonial and apartheid-South Africa, but also highlighted the cultural-historical values and the more deep-seated issues and symbolism of the statue-debate.

UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Jonathan Jansen, said on the first day of the session that the discourse was not about only one person’s memories, but about everyone’s in the country. He proposed that similar sessions should be held at each university campus.

He also said that, instead of breaking down, people should learn to live together, and everyone should be involved for transformation to occur.

Speakers who served on the panel, included academics from the UFS and Stellenbosch University as well as representatives of the Student Representative Council and of historical and heritage foundations.

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