The local eThekwini Municipality in the city of Durban is set to erect bronze statues of the late Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo on one of the city’s major highways. The statues are the work of artist Lungelo Gumede and will be placed alongside the statues of current president Cyril Ramaphosa and former president Jacob Zuma.
South Africans have expressed considerable criticism after the news of eThekwini Municipality having struck a “two for the price of R20 million (approximately $1.4 million)” deal with Gumede for his bronze statues of the two late Apartheid struggle veterans. The statues are going to be placed along Durban’s M4 highway.
The municipality has already begun to receive backlash for what can only be termed political buffoonery on their part. In an interview with the eNCA below, the head of parks and recreation Thembinkosi Ngcobo speaks of how the municipality views the acquisition of the statues as being essential to political identity as well as black unity.
Ngcobo goes on to say that:
“The triumph we had over the apartheid system also forced us to be together, and because of that we gained our identity and in politics, there is nothing more important in my view than the politics of identity. Whoever will oppose this is someone who is going to be benefiting if black people were to be less united than they are now, because obviously for them they will have some benefits out of those divisions.”
Owing to the scourge of Apartheid, the country has rightly set about a transformation and decolonization project which sees the reclaiming of spaces that intentionally excluded Black South Africans. This project has included the renaming of roads after struggle veterans, the renaming of universities and spaces within them, the removal of symbols of colonial oppression such as the Cecil John Rhodes statue at the University of Cape Town and yes, the erection of statues of the many heroes of Black South Africans.