Cape Town – South Africans needed to embrace their “collective history and heritage … the good, the bad and the ugly” as a step towards consolidating an inclusive sense of South Africanhood.
So said Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula at the Castle in Cape Town on Friday when she unveiled the statues of former kings Cetshwayo, Langalibalele and Sekhukhune and 17th century resistance leader, Doman.
The three kings had once languished in the castle’s gloomy cells, and Doman had known first-hand the penalty of contesting the power that resided within it.
The statues, Mapisa-Nqakula said, were the “tangible recognition of these, and thousands of other unsung heroes and heroines in colonials wars of resistance”.
The commemorative project, which forms part of the Castle’s 350 anniversary celebration this year, was, she said, “the beginning of an ongoing commitment to honour all those who gallantly fought against colonial conquest and in turn inspired future generations of freedom fighters”.
Mapisa-Nqakula delivered the formal address at the event on behalf of President Jacob Zuma, who was scheduled to unveil the statues, but was detained in Pretoria because of a programme change in the visit of Zambian President Edgar Lungu.
Delegations from the amaZulu, amaHlubi and BaPedi royal houses and from the Khoisan leadership in the Western Cape joined in officiating at the unveiling ceremony.
Mapisa-Nqakula noted the Castle “offers us a unique opportunity to revisit, reinterpret and re-write our complex, brutal colonial and apartheid history in a manner that is fully inclusive, restorative, respectful and educational”.
This would be advanced through the launch of a Centre for Memory, Healing and Learning at the Castle. The centre, sponsored by the Department of Military Veterans, was intended to break “the curse of oppression, persecution and ignorance”.