News & events


The Statues and Monuments South Africans Want:

12 April 2016
09:30 - 13:30

Understanding the motivations for new symbols in a transformative state


Ms Josephine Makhukwane Malala
University of South Africa
Dr Alude Mahali
Human Sciences Research Council
Mr Vuyani Booi
National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre, University of Fort Hare
Dr Mathias Fubah Alubafi
Human Sciences Research Council
Mrs Sipokazi Sambumbu
University of the Western Cape
Dr Olga Bialostocka
Human Sciences Research Council
Benjamin Roberts
Human Sciences Research Council
Date:      12 April 2016     
Time:     09:30 – 13:30
Venue:     HSRC Video Conference Centres (Pretoria, Durban & Cape Town)

Download presentations below:

Monuments and symbols were used in the global South, and in Africa in particular, as cultural tools to foster the project of imperialism. However, following the achievement of independence by most African countries in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, most of these symbols were removed or demolished and replaced with new monuments to reflect the iconography of the new dispensation. In Kenya, for example, the lifting of “colonial rule by the British created a space in the city’s symbolic landscape for the expression of resistance and inscription of new voices” (Larsen 2013, 1). Similar observations have been made about colonial monuments and symbols in West Africa, most notably in Mali (Arnoldi 2007).

The end of apartheid saw the newly democratic South African state take an explicit stand to preserve and protect colonial and apartheid-era statues as part of a collective national “heritage”. Recent calls for the removal or demolition of these statues and monuments across the South African landscape have challenged and pushed the official narrative about memorialization, heritage preservation, and indeed the state’s reconciliation and social cohesion narratives. Through recent student movements across South African campuses, from #RhodesMustFall through to the recent unrest at the University of Free State, statues have become central objects on which to act and enact performances of resistance.

This one day symposium seeks to explore and understand some of the key motivations behind the recent call for the removal of statues across South Africa. In doing this, the symposium aims to identify and critically examine interventionist strategies that resonate with the post-apartheid master narrative of giving voice to previously marginalized communities and their heritage. Through these interventions, the symposium hopes to challenge the rhetoric of the “rainbow nation” while at the same time providing new insights into the type of statues and monuments that South Africans want.

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of DST.

RSVP by 5 April 2016

Cape Town : HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Carmen August, Tel (021) 466 7827, Fax (021) 461 0299, or ;

Durban :  The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001 , Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or , or Hlengiwe Zulu at e-mail

Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria.