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F.W. de Klerk Boulevard… Wait, What?

Duane Jethro | Africa is a Country   in 
February 11, 2015

It is interesting to note how much of the debate about the renaming of Table Bay Boulevard on the edge of downtown Cape Town after apartheid’s last president, F.W. de Klerk, has invoked ideas of memory and amnesia. How can we remember particular role players in relation to South Africa’s transition to democracy? It’s an important question. Memory can be associated with ideas of inscription and re-inscription, since it implies that the act of recollection is also one of forgetting. And that makes it profoundly political.

Indeed, from this perspective, we can see that the controversy surrounding the renaming of Table Bay Boulevard reflects a strange series of turns in contemporary South African political memory.

For example, if you will recall, a few years ago the eThiwkini municipality (how Durban in Kwazulu-Natal is officially known now) initiated a process of renaming a number of roads. One of the more controversial proposed names was that of Andrew Zondo, a young man who in the 1980’s planted a bomb in a shopping centre out of frustration at the brutality of the apartheid state. Four innocent people were killed and many were badly injured. Zondo was tried and eventually executed for his crime.

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