Sunday, 4 June 2006

Monument changes 'akin to grave-desecration'

June 03 2006 at 04:50PM

About 200 white Afrikaners met ceremonially at the historic Women's Monument on Saturday in a bid to ensure that the Monument in Bloemfontein remains an Afrikaner symbol.

The event, organised by the Afrikaner Kultuurbond (AKB) started with the hoisting of the old Orange Free State and Transvaal Boer Republic's flags.

It formed part of the AKB's programme of resistance to stop what they called the "vertrapping" (trampling) of the Afrikaner culture.

AKB chairperson, Theuns de Wet, said any changes to the monument would amount to grave-desecration.

'Monuments testify to our nation's heroes'

Buried at the monument are Free State Republic president Martinus Steyn, Boer leaders General Christiaan de Wet and Vader Kestell as well as British sympathiser Emily Hobhouse.

De Wet said the government was slowly stripping white Afrikaners of their identity in terms of language, religion - and now their monuments.

"Monuments testify to our nation's heroes, our religion and our nation's future hopes. (The possible changes) are an effort to strip us of our identity."

The AKB was concerned over a statement by the Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan on possible changes to the monument to also accommodate black women and children.

The monument was unveiled in December 1913 in memory of some 27 000 Afrikaner women and children who died in British concentration camps during the second Anglo-Boer War.

Henk van der Graaff, chairman of the Verkenner culture group, said everybody should know that the land on which the monument stood was Afrikaner property.

"This is Boer (Afrikaner) land and there is no place for the Winnie Mandelas, Phumziles and Saartjie Baardmans. This is not negotiable."

He said he have no problem with monuments being built for South Africa's other communities as long as Afrikaner monuments were left alone.

About 30 statements of support from different institutions in support of the perseverance of the monument in its current form were handed to the organising committee.

They are scheduled to be given to the Free State Legislature, which has apparently investigating the possible changes to the monument. - Sapa


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