A proposal to resolve the perception of key symbols at UCT
It’s been a long time since the UCT Community has heard from the UCT Executive and its commission set up to resolve how to deal with key controversial symbols on campus.
So, here’s a suggestion.
Create a “Short climb to freedom” stretching from the site once occupied by Rhodes’ Statue to the current Jameson Hall.
Replace Rhodes’ Statute with one of a KhoiSan family, representing the sub-continent’s (and possibly Earth’s) First People. One might also consider a statue of a hominin, e.g. Australopithecus or a non-sapiens Homo (naledi?).
Change the name Smuts Hall to Smuts/Gandhi Hall to call attention to the deep philosophical connections between these close friends who were political adversaries.
Change the name Fuller Hall to Fuller/Gool Hall.
In both cases, add busts of the new person.
In the intervening parking area commission statues of Nelson Mandela and Helen Suzman standing side-by-side, perhaps even holding hands.
Formally name the steps leading to the Memorial Hall as “The Jammie Steps”. This will preserve a tradition treasured by most UCT alumni.
Rename Jameson Hall “Sobukwe [or Sobukwe Pan-African] Memorial Hall” to commemorate the Pan-Africanist leader who dreamed of a non-racial, United States of Africa, but who opposed its violent genesis.
Commission a video [MOOC?] narrated by eminent and/or famous South Africans/alumni (e.g. Charlize Theron, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Hermann Giliomee, Pieter-Dirk Uys, Mamphela Ramphele, Anusaya Chinsamy-Turan, “Thuli” Madonsela, Tim Noakes, Jennifer Thomson, Jill Farrant, Francis Thackeray, et al.) that guides the viewer through the history underpinning the “Climb”. First and foremost, the video should emphasize what makes the Climb’s historical figures fascinating components of human evolution, science, social anthropology/linguistics (especially the KhoiSan) and African history. Then, complement this with a ‘warts-and-all’ history of the Climb. This could give Rhodes and key donators (e.g. Sir Otto Beit and Sir Julius Wernher) credit as UCT’s and the Rhodes Scholarship’s benefactors, contrasting this with his/their various nefarious acts. I would also favour a history of the statue’s history, including the pain it caused to Afrikaner and black students, plus a full account of the RhodesMustFall Movement.
The video should end with a large crowd of current students, alumni/staff/leaders (Aaron Klug, Athol Fugard, J.M. Coetzee, the Pitanya brothers, Mamphela Ramphele, David Maynier, Helen Zille, Naledi Pandor, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, George Ellis, Brian Warner, Ebrahim Rasool, Nick Mallett, Breyten Breytenbach, Jeremy Cronin, Geoff Budlender inter alia), alumni families (invited from all over the world), major donors (e.g. the Oppenheimers, Mark Shuttleworth), Fallists opposed to violence and current/past Chancellors/VCs/DVCs making the inaugural climb.
This would be a wonderful gesture of unity and an excellent way of attracting financial support needed for UCT’s adaptive decolonization.
What to my fellow Ikeys think?