University of Cape Town (UCT) students, for the most part, want monuments and symbols reminiscent of South Africa’s colonial and Apartheid past removed.
This follows an incident on Monday during a protest where human excrement was thrown at the feet of a statue of Cecil John Rhodes, to some a monument to South Africa’s pockmarked history and for others a flat out representation of colonialism and imperialism.
On Thursday, UCT’s Student Representative Council organized an open dialogue for students of all views on the subject matter to air their thoughts in a non confrontational manner. But SRC president Ramabile Mahapa said it is frightening that it took faeces being thrown to draw so much attention to the issue.
“The university is now definitely listening to what we’re saying as well as the general varsity population, but each and every year you’ll see something happening to that statue. But this year someone did something different, and it managed to get us all here [talking].”
Mahape says the statue is not the only varsity construction that must be removed or changed, he says several buildings are named after prominent Apartheid or colonial figures, one even named after General Jan Smuts, one of the architects of Apartheid.
Since raising the issue last year, now the majority of the SRC agrees on the matter of transformation by changing monuments on campus.
“It’s amazing, where last year we had so many people opposed to this view, now we have the whole SRC supporting this line of thinking. And before this there were people who were opposed to our view and they’ve since come to agree with us,” Mahape said.
Western Cape African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) chairperson Mohamed Khalid Sayed said the fact that it took faeces to draw such attention to this issue is indicative of black voices not being taken seriously.
Referring to this week’s incident and last year’s poo protests, he said: “I think the fact that people had to resort to using excrement is an indication of how little the government in the province thinks of black people here. That it had to take such an extreme measure must be a sign.” VOC (Andriques Che Petersen)