Original Research

Attacks on South African monuments: Mediating heritage in post-conflict society

Ntsikelelo B. Breakfast, Gavin Bradshaw, Richard Haines
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 6, No 1 | a184 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v6i1.184 | © 2018 Gavin Bradshaw, Ntsikelelo B. Breakfast, Richard Haines | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 July 2017 | Published: 10 May 2018

About the author(s)

Ntsikelelo B. Breakfast, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Military Science, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Gavin Bradshaw, Department of Political and Government Studies, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
Richard Haines, South African Cultural Observatory, South Africa


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Abstract

The controversy surrounding the notion of national heritage and what constitutes a proper heritage in post-apartheid South Africa intersects with issues of identity and identity formation in a post-conflict society. That it impinges powerfully on social cohesion has been thrust into the spotlight in view of recent protest action related to colonial and apartheid era monuments. We have made the point elsewhere that conflict resolution in South Africa through negotiations, the National Peace Accord and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has, at best, been partial, that it has not always been taken sufficiently seriously to engage with the fault-lines of protracted social conflict in the country. This article has employed a qualitative methodology because it is both descriptive and explorative in nature. The main aim of this article is to provide a critique on how issues of intersectionality (race, class and gender) coincide with the attacks of the monuments by university students in South Africa. This article utilises two theoretical frameworks, namely, classical Marxism and Black Consciousness, simply because both the psychological and class analysis were invoked by the student bodies to diagnose and prognose the challenges of black South Africans within the context of higher education in South Africa. The central thesis of this article is that the attacks on monuments in South African universities were instigated by a group of young people who claim to be revolutionary in thinking and are calling for transformation, free education, dismantling gender oppression and doing away with institutionalisation of racism.

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