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ARTICLE: ‘DECOLONISING’ OUR CAMPUSES AND BURNING THE MEMORIES OF THE PAST

UCT optIn the 10th Annual Helen Joseph Lecture last month, Prof Njabulo Ndebele, the Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, mused about the burning earlier this year by UCT Rhodes-Must-Fall activists of portraits and commemorative objects symbolising the university’s “colonial” past. One of the objects was a plaque honouring Jan Christian Smuts. At first, Ndebele was shocked by this “burning of memory”.

However, after he had ‘mediated’ his thoughts, he saw the incident in a different light. It represented instead a clash between two historic periods – on the one hand “the legacy of the history of conquest” represented by Smuts – and on the other “the nascent moments” of the history that had begun in 1994.

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