Posted on April 15, 2015

Poet’s Statue Covered in Paint

Charmel Payet, IOL News, April 12, 2015

Another statue in Durban has been defaced as the colonial statue debate in South Africa rages on.

The bust of famed Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa who lived in South Africa from 1895 to 1905, situated on an island between Dr AB Xuma (Commercial) Road and Monty Naicker (Pine) Street was covered in red paint this week.

Written in red alongside the bust were the words “EFF response”.

This is the second statue in Durban to be defaced. The statue of King George V at the University of KwaZulu-Natal was covered in white paint with the words “End white privilege” scrawled across it.

The EFF’s Vusi Khoza denied that their party was responsible for the damage but saluted the “courageous person who had taken a stand against a symbol and reminder of apartheid oppression.”

“We support the destruction, defacing and dismantling of apartheid symbols. But this was not done by the EFF. Why would we put our name on it? It could have been anyone. But we agree with what has been done,” Khoza said.

Manuel Sousa from the Associacao Portuguesa Do Natal in Durban was disgusted by the act.

“You can’t erase history like that. And this man was not a politician, he was an artist, a poet. I am very sorry about what has happened because they are eradicating South Africa’s history, not Portugal’s.

The debate around the apartheid era and colonial symbols started as a result of the “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign at Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town.

Students and activists called for the removal of the 81-year-old statue of Cecil John Rhodes at UCT. He was a colonial mining magnate and politician after whom Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, was named.

The statue was moved from the university to an undisclosed location on Thursday.

The 110-year-old Horse Memorial in Port Elizabeth was also damaged this week. The bronze statue was erected in memory of horses that served and died in the Second Anglo Boer War and showed a kneeling soldier holding a bucket of water for his horse. The soldier was ripped off the statue.