A man walks past a statue of Voltaire, a leading thinker and writer of the French Enlightenment, who owed part of his fortune to colonial-era trade, Monday, June 22, 2020. Two statues related to France's colonial era were covered in graffiti Monday amid a global movement to take down monuments to figures tied to slavery or colonialism. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
A man walks past a statue of Voltaire, a leading thinker and writer of the French Enlightenment, who owed part of his fortune to colonial-era trade, Monday, June 22, 2020. Two statues related to France's colonial era were covered in graffiti Monday amid a global movement to take down monuments to figures tied to slavery or colonialism. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)

LETTER: Instead of tearing down statues why don't we contextualise them with plaques?

By S Pather Time of article published Jun 23, 2020

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OPIONION - I do not believe that anyone thinks history can be undone: what happened, happened.

However, I do believe that history can, and should, be rewritten. And this, I believe, lies at the heart of the calls for the statues and monuments which recall unsavoury persons and events of the past to come down.

The full story of these people and events is rarely depicted. Monuments and statues tend to glorify such episodes and their perpetrators, and those who insist on their upkeep tend to be associated with such characters and episodes.

If a statue of an architect of apartheid must stand, it does not have to do so in a place of prominence, and must be accompanied, as K Moonsamy argued in “Statues of racists reflect suffering” (Daily News, June 18), by a plaque which describes this person’s role in perpetuating this barbaric, inhuman system of governing people in no uncertain terms, instead of simply stating that they were president or prime minister.

That is only a small portion of their history. The shameful parts, which brought hurt, shame and death, must also be told. It is time to take off the rose-tinted lenses through which the past is viewed and see people and events for who and what they really were.

S PATHER Durban

Daily News

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