Apartheid street names replaced

Publié le par hort

What took them so long? Not only should all the racist names be removed in South Africa but all over Africa. I am often insulted when I go to Africa and find a street bearing the name of a European or Amrerican president, but no Marcus Garvey or John Henrik Clarke.  Street names are extremely important because this is how the ordinary people who are usually not bookworms learn their history. When they see a street name, they remember it and sometimes  prompts them to find out more about that person. Africans have underestimated the importance of plastering the names of our heros on streets, on buildings, etc. It's time that Africans and Caribbeans begin to correct that major flaw. Hort

http://www.buanews. gov.za/view. php?ID=080602151 51002&coll= buanew08

Apartheid street names replaced

By Lucille Davie

02 Jun 2008

The City of Johannesburg has exchanged Hendrik Verwoerd for Bram Fischer, and in the process has rejected the architect of apartheid for a gentle, caring advocate who despised the oppressive system.  Hendrik Verwoerd Drive in Randburg has become Bram Fischer Drive. Another street in the suburb has also been renamed: Hans Strijdom Drive has become Malibongwe Drive, according to the city's official website. Mr Verwoerd was the prime minister of South Africa from 1958 to 1966, when he was assassinated by Dimitrios Tsafendas.

Mr Strijdom preceded Mr Verwoerd as prime minister, from 1954 to 1958. During his term coloureds were removed from the voters' role, and the Treason Trial began in Pretoria in 1956. The new street signs were officially unveiled on Friday and to underscore the significance of the occasion, many of the people who remember Fischer with great fondness, were present.  Fellow advocates Joel Joffe, George Bizos and Arthur Chaskalson were there to pay tribute to him. The four lawyers all represented the Rivonia trialists in 1964; two of those trialists were also present to pay their respects: Ahmed "Kathy" Kathrada, and Denis Goldberg.

The Johannesburg Development Agency oversaw the renaming, and chief executive Lael Bethlehem said: "It is a very humbling experience to welcome you here – we are here today in the presence of giants who have brought us our freedom ... Today we have cause for real celebration; this is a small justice, some wrong is being put right." Advocates George Bizos, Arthur Chaskalson and Joel Joffe, who together with Mr Fischer, defended the Rivonia Trialists in 1964.

She explained that changing these street names took some time because of wide consultation with the relevant people affected by the change. Five street names in Randburg were named after National Party ministers and senior officials. "It is not Hendrik Verwoerd we wish to honour; today it is Bram Fischer we wish to celebrate. It is not Hans Strijdom we wish to honour; today it's the women we wish to celebrate."

Malibongwe, meaning "let them be praised", refers to the women who marched in August 1956 to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, registering their protest against having to carry pass books. The women marched singing that by striking a woman, you would be striking a rock. "Hans Strijdom will be remembered as someone who did strike a rock - the policies of apartheid that were crushed," Ms Bethlehem added. Bertha Gxowa, one of the women on the historic women's march, was also a guest. She spoke with nostalgia about the protest, and said that today there was one identity book for everyone in the country, issued irrespective of colour or creed.

"We must go back in history and remember where we came from. If we don't remember we won't be able to get where we want to [go]," she said, breaking into song, leading the assembled crowd with a song called Malibongwe. Mr Verwoerd and Mr Fischer were both Afrikaners; whereas the former entrenched the oppression of blacks, the latter fought for equal rights for all. He was jailed for nine years for being a communist.

Mr Fischer was the son of a distinguished Free State family, his grandfather the prime minister of the Orange Free State, his father the judge-president of South Africa. "Bram Fischer was one of the most courageous opponents of apartheid," said Ms Bethlehem. Randburg was undergoing a major revitalisation, to turn it into an area "fitting to the names that we have in these streets. "May we remember the lessons of these magnificent lives, may we remember our history, and build a more democratic, more compassionate world. I really believe Bram Fischer would have expected no less," she concluded.

Ilse Fischer and Ruth Fischer Rice, his daughters, were present. Ruth Fischer Rice said: "I am delighted my father is being remembered and honoured in this way ... Bram was a passionate man who loved his country and his people. He dedicated his life to working for a just South Africa." She said that he never lost sight of the ordinary people of the country, but at the same time he always had a "unique capacity to see the big picture". She described him as a modest man. "He was proud of being an Afrikaner but modest about his achievements.  "He would have been pleased with the country's constitution that enshrines the values he held dear."

The new names were approved in June 2007. Two years ago DF Malan Drive, also in Randburg, was renamed Beyers Naude Drive - Malan was the first National Party prime minister, from 1948, while Naude was an Afrikaans dominee who fought for equal rights for all.


Publié dans African diaspora

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