AfriForum and AfriForum Youth encourage participation in consultation process regarding Steyn statue on UFS campus

AfriForum and AfriForum Youth encourage the public to participate in a consultation process on the future of the statue of Pres M. T. Steyn on the campus of the University of the Free State (UFS).

This follows in response to the University’s announcement today that a public exhibition will be hosted during the Free State Arts Festival to ensure that the review process and the statue itself will remain the topic of informed intellectual conversations during the time allotted for public consultation regarding this statue, in compliance with the National Heritage Resources Act.

After some students initially demanded the removal of the statue and the temporary covering thereof had been considered, AfriForum and AfriForum Youth already provided input in this regard. These organisations will again use the public consultation process as an opportunity to comment and in the coming week also be assisted to provide their input.

According to both organisations, it is essential to take note of students’ ideas, but their views must be based on informed opinions. AfriForum and AfriForum Youth therefore appreciate the university’s website, which provides more information on Steyn and why the statue was erected. However, more should be done to ensure that comments are based on knowledge and insight, and not on temporary political agendas.

According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum responsible for heritage issues, South African authorities currently yield much too often to the demands of populists that statues should be removed. Such demands are often based on perceptions or political powerplays, rather than on any real effort to research the history of what statues commemorate, or the role of statues in society in general.

“History and heritage resources such as statues cannot be changed randomly by each generation to accommodate one group’s subjective opinion at a particular time. It should be preserved so that future generations can also add their objective interpretation to it and take note of the good and the bad of the past.”

AfriForum and AfriForum Youth will soon announce further actions aimed at preserving the statue.

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